In the spirit of the holiday, we here at Cult of Mac have decided to spend the day with our friends and families, but before we do, we thought we’d observe the holiday in the most Apple-centric way we know how… by each writing about the Apple product or related product that we’re most thankful for this year. You can find our choices after the jump, and we hope to hear your choices too.
Giles Turnbull: I’m thankful for my iPhone 4. In recent weeks, a family medical emergency has swallowed most of my time and energy. I’ve had to drop everything – normal life, work, everything – and focus all my attention on the family. The iPhone has been an invaluable companion, helping me plan last-minute train journeys, keep in touch with everyone who needs to be kept informed, and providing me with things to listen to and things to read during those long hours in hospital waiting rooms.
The iPhone is tiny, but it offers so much. It remains the best, most useful, most versatile device I have ever owned.
Leander Kahney: I got a lot of great products this year, including the magical iPad (magical) and an 11-inch MacBook Air, which has become like a cybernetic prosthesis because it’s always with me. Likewise the iPhone 4 (best smartphone ever), and Apple’s Magic Trackpad, which has completely replaced my mouse forever.
But I’m most thankful for the multi-room sound system from Sonos, which has brought music to the heart of our house. The Sonos system isn’t cheap (a three-speaker setup runs more than $1,200), but it’s truly a great, modern music system. We have three S5 music boxes scattered about the house, connected to a wireless bridge and a wireless iPod/iPhone dock.
First and foremost, the system plays nice with digital music. It’s easy to hook up to iTunes or an iPod. Better, it seamlessly integrates with streaming music services like Pandora, Last.fm, Napster and Rhapsody (sorry iTunes: these are my go-to sources for music these days). And It’s great for internet radio. I LOVE internet radio. We wake up every morning to radio streaming from London (Setting up alarms couldn’t be easier).
The system is best controlled by an iPad app, which presents a simple, intuitive interface to what can be quite a complex system — because it does so much. Nonetheless, it’s very easy to use. The kids use it. Performance is dead solid. It uses own Wi-Fi-like wireless mesh to stream music about the house.
And of course, it sounds great. Big, roomy sound. It’s quite a trip to pass from room to room and the music comes with you. It literally fills the house with music. Glorious.
Best of all, it’s slowly winning the battle over the TV. The kids now put on the Beatles rather than Glee, and I’m very thankful for that.
The Quirky PowerCurl
David Martin: Cable management is a pain in the backside for many road warriors. So much so that I’m just tired of stuffing my cables into various pockets in my backpack. They often don’t come out in the same state they went in — I’m sure little Gnomes have had a field day learning to tie knots in my cables when they are left unattended stuffed in that backpack. Now dear Gnomes that’s about to change as I anxiously await the arrival of my PowerCurl from Quirky.
Quirky.com, a self-proclaimed “social product development company” relying on user feedback to choose and improve products, says that PowerCurl was designed by Apple enthusiasts in 24 hours. Sure, it makes a great story, but the reality is that the PowerCurl is actually a great cable-management system for Apple MacBooks, MacBook Pros, or MacBook Airs.
Apple’s idea of cable management for their line of notebooks is half-baked, since you can only wrap the thin power cable permanently attached to your MacBook power adapter around the flip-up prongs. Leaving you with the thicker wall-plug cable to roll up and toss in your bag. The PowerCurl secures Apple’s power adapter at its center, and then you roll both cables around the PowerCurl. There’s even a handy clip included to secure the end of the thicker cable and keep it from unraveling. The thinner cable secures with the Apple supplied clip.
I saw this cable management accessory in my friends notebook bag. It was clear that once rolled up, the cables were easy to unfurl for use. The PowerCurl accepted a good amount of rough handling without the cables coming unattached. It was a bit bulky, but not terribly so. It certainly appears to be Gnome proof.
The 45 Watt MacBook Air version of the PowerCurl that I ordered retails for $14.99, but you can get it from Amazon for $9.99 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N3I15M/ref=oss_product). It is available only in Orange, but that might change with the found popularity of the Macbook Air. Other models in a variety of colors are also available for 60 and 85 watt Apple notebook power adapters.
The Livescribe Smartpen
Nicole Martinelli: Livescribe. If you still use pen and paper for anything, get one of these. You can write or sketch with it like a normal ballpoint pen using its special paper and Livescribe records audio plus what you write — so you can go back to the pertinent point in the conference or meeting and check your chicken scrawl with what was being said. To go back and check your notes, just tap the pen on the text in the notebook to replay it. You can also upload the text and audio on your computer — the software offered gratis for Mac integrates seamlessly. Another plus: it looks enough like a regular ballpoint and doesn’t weigh much more than that Waterford you got for graduation but never use.
The 2GB Pulse model holds about 200 hours of audio (there are larger and smaller models, but this is the one I have and the capacity seems perfect for work interviews and conferences) costs $99, that’s $30 less than the regular list price with the current holiday discount. Just remember you’ll need to buy the dot notebooks, too.
The Original iPod
Adam Rosen: The Apple product I’m most thankful for is the iPod. The original iDevice moved Apple into the consumer electronics market, brought increased market share to the Mac, and later spawned the future of mobile computing with its offspring, iPhone and iPad. Apple is now stronger than ever in multiple markets, a benefit to us all.
Apple’s Commitment To Products Left Behind
Lonnie Lazar: Despite all the magical wonderments issuing forth at regular intervals from Cupertino — and notwithstanding my desire to own some of them myself — I am most thankful that iOS development has yet to brick my iPhone 3G, that Tiger still runs my nearly seven year-old 10″ G4 PowerBook like a champ, and that my 2 year-old Mac mini server’s twin 500GB hard drives still have lots of free disk space.
It’s tempting to ride the slippery slope of tech lust with which Steve Jobs dings the universe at least a couple of times a year, and impressive that Apple finds ways to regularly make its stellar line of computer/communication/entertainment gadgetry better and better all the time. But, as a lowly scribe toiling away at my tiny escritoire, I am truly grateful that my past investment in Apple gear continues to offer satisfying returns. I’m complimented regularly on the pictures I capture with my 3G’s humble camera, I love the portability of my PowerBook — one of Apple’s greatest products ever in my view — and I’m very happy with the power and flexibility my mini affords me when I’m ensconced at command central in my cramped apartment.
I’ve been a good boy this year, I really have and if there’s a Santa in heaven maybe he’ll fulfill my wish for a 15″ MacBook Pro (with attached specs). Or maybe my wish for a fully loaded 11″ MacBook Air with which I can finally put my PowerBook to pasture. But if not, or if perhaps I haven’t really been that good, I’m grateful for what I have already.
The Inamorata’s iPod Touch
John Brownlee: Although I have many gadgets, I am not particularly thankful for any of them, which is perhaps indicative of how much I take for granted the next and newest shiny thing than any indictment of Apple’s amazing inventiveness or sense of designThe Apple product, then, that I am most thankful for is not actually mine: it’s my girlfriend’s iPod Touch, which has given her so much more happiness and pleasure (and therefore to me) than any other gizmo that has ever stayed within my ownership.
It’s a lousy Touch, to be honest: a first-gen model covered in scratches, with only 8GB of memory. It has no built-in speakers, and it doesn’t even run iOS 4.0. I bought it used from a friend last Christmas, when money was very tight, but it’s magic isn’t in the cutting-edge tech, but the many mornings it has given us reading news together while sipping tea, or facing off in a game of QRANK, or conspiring over the day’s New York Times Crossword Puzzle, or watching her furrow her brow and wildly tap the screen as she tries to complete a challenge in Plants vs. Zombies whilst simultaneously waving away my know-it-all advice.
These ephemeral moments of no seeming import are easily taken for granted or dismissed in favor of the more passionate and exciting and vibrant periods of our romance, but it is the peaceful moments when there is nothing to prove or demonstrate that have proven to me that this romance is important, that it is not ephemeral. No matter the future, for the rest of my life, these seemingly inconsequential moments will either comfort me or haunt, and the inamorata’s iPod Touch has been a nexus for more of them than I think Steve Jobs or Jonny Ive or anyone who isn’t me could ever possibly comprehend.
I’ll always be thankful for that.