“‘Twas the weekend before Christmas/and all through the stores/the shoppers were panicking/what do Apple fans adore?” If you’re sweating the last few purchases for the Mac and iOS lovers on your Christmas list, we’re here to help. (Of course, we can’t help but think you should’ve been doing all this a bit sooner, but that’s another story…) So without further ado, we present our Top Ten last-minute Apple gifts list for Christmas 2012.
1. iPod Shuffle – At only $49, this half-ounce wonder is just about the perfect stocking stuffer for anybody on your list. It holds 2GB of music, supports multiple playlists, podcasts, audiobooks and Apple’s VoiceOver technology. Choose from 8 brilliant colors to suit any taste. iPod shuffle holds hundreds of songs and gives up to 15 hours of playback time from a full charge.
2. iPod classic – This is the best fix for serious music junkies. The iPod classic is 160GB of anodized aluminum and polished stainless steel, with a 2.5-inch screen and up to 36 hours of battery life on a full charge. $249 buys the ability to take your entire media library with you wherever you go – up to 40,000 songs, 200 hours of video, 25,000 photos, or any combination of the above. It also supports Genius mixes and multiple playlists.
3. iPod Touch – This is the best gift to give to someone who wants a pocket-sized iDevice, but doesn’t really want to make the financial commitment to an iPhone. Also made of anodized aluminum, iPod touch comes in 5 vivid colors that are bonded right to the metal, and in a choice of 32GB ($299) or 64GB ($399). Both models also boast a 4-inch Retina display and 5-megapixel iSight camera. Facebook and Twitter have been integrated into iOS 6, and Siri comes to iPod touch for the first time with this model.
4. iPad mini – This is Apple’s newest iOS device. It’s pencil-thin, weighs just over half a pound, and handles all of your apps and media with the greatest of ease. Want to surf the web? Safari has you covered. Rather read a comic book? There’s an app for that. Think you’ll play a game instead? The App Store is your playground. The 7.9-inch screen is big and bright enough to show you everything you’re looking for, but small enough to fit into a purse, backpack or messenger bag.
5. MacBook Pro (15-inch, non-retina) – Call me just a little bit old-fashioned, but I’m not quite ready to let go of optical drives – or the ability upgrade your own RAM. The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers users the best Mac OS X experience, along with the ability to be portable at a moment’s notice. Firewire 800, Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports mean that your notebook should talk to just about anything you can introduce it to. It also reads SD cards up to 64GB. Max it out at 8GB of RAM and a 1TB internal hard drive, and you’ll have everything you need to be productive for a good while – at least until Apple releases its next sexy beast of a notebook!
6. AppleCare Protection Plan – The very best one-size-fits-all accessory for any piece of Apple gear is the AppleCare Protection Plan. When purchased at the same time as your new hardware, it provides 3 years of global hardware and software support (2 years for iOS devices), both in person at the Genius Bar as well as over the phone with trained technical professionals. What that means is direct access to Apple experts for questions on a wide range of Mac topics, including using OS X, iLife, and connecting to printers and AirPort networks. Prices for the protection plan range from $29 to $349, depending on the particular piece of hardware you’re covering.
7. iTunes Gift Cards – Of everything on my list, this is the biggest no-brainer of the lot. It’s the best all-around stocking stuffer for anyone who has just about any kind of Apple hardware, and your lucky recipient is sure to love what they eventually purchase with it. Best of all, it never expires or goes out of style. What’s also lovely about these little guys is that you can buy them practically anywhere (which these days can even mean your local gas station) and they work for anything in any of Apple’s app stores.
8. Apple EarPods w/Remote and Mic – It used to be that if you wanted to get decent earbuds for your iDevice, you either had to cough up $79 for Apple’s in-ear headphones, or try to navigate the zillions of different 3rd-party options available at every electronics store and mega-mart from here to Timbuktu. Now, with the release of iPhone 5 and the new iPod touch, Apple has stepped up its headphone game while dropping the price at the same time. EarPods are less than half the price of the alternative to the original ubiquitous white earphones, but still have better customer ratings at Apple’s online store.
9. iFlash Dual USB (3 Amp) car charger (USB-to-microUSB cables included) – This is the first 3rd-party hardware to be included on our list. It’s not something that you’re going to need right on Christmas morning, the hot second you unwrap your new shinies from Apple, but it’s something you’re going to want to order from Amazon pretty quickly. $11 buys an amazing amount of peace of mind for families with multiple mobile devices and want to travel without worrying about batteries dying. This unobtrusive little dual-USB car charger will top up both tablets and phones, and comes with 2 USB-to-microUSB cables.
10. iCade – For those who remember a time when video games were fed with quarters and played in public, we offer this nifty trip in the WayBack Machine. iCade started its life as a ThinkGeek April Fools’ gag, but there was such an overwhelming demand that the retailer actually partnered with a manufacturer to make it a reality. Pick up the free Atari’s Greatest Hits app from the App Store to get Missile Command for free; the rest of the retro games in the bundle can be had via in-app purchase for $9.99. Then all that’s left is to slip on your Vans, crank some Journey on the radio and get your old-school game on!