12 great gift ideas for any Apple fan for under $100

Time may not be your biggest challenge even as holiday shopping draws to a close. Apple gadget-lovers can be hard to shop for, since they tend to satisfy their own needs when it comes to accessories. Still, there’s something for everyone among the following twelve suggestions.

Jabra’s new wireless headset handles work and play

Jabra has a new wireless headset for folks who work and play near a mobile phone. The $99 Jabra Sport resists dust and rain during exercise, includes an FM radio and controls for music navigation and volume, plus it doubles as a standard headset for calls.

Turtle Beach PX5 Review: Your Home Theater Mac’s New Best Friend

All Macs released in recent years support true surround sound via optical out, but you need a home theater system to take advantage. Luckily, the Turtle Beach PX5 gaming headset provides an alternative that’s quieter, better for small spaces, and probably cheaper for Mac HTPC setups.

Secrets of the Camera Connection Kit

While it may be intended as a tool for adding photos to your iPad, the Camera Connection Kit can do more than Apple (s aapl) tells you about. I’ve tested what capabilities the kit has, and what secrets are hiding under the white casing.

iPhone Headphone Freedom Coming Thanks to Third-Party Apple Remote

iluv_remote

My Apple (s aapl) in-ear headset is fine. Despite complaints that there’s too much cable noise, and that they don’t seal well, I’ve had little trouble personally (or I’m just good at overlooking flaws in Apple hardware). Still, I have some nice noise-canceling Sony DJ cups just sitting unused in my closet, and I’m actually far more partial to an around-the-ear than an in-ear design. But I need the in-line remote.

It’s a problem whose solution is obvious: build a third-party remote/adapter that will allow regular headphones to work with the iPhone, including all the fun new remote features available on the 3GS and the 2G touch. Unfortunately, I am not a third-party hardware peripheral manufacturer. iLuv, however, is, and luckily they had the same bright idea. Read More about iPhone Headphone Freedom Coming Thanks to Third-Party Apple Remote

Apple Bluetooth Headset Discontinued: What’s Next?

picture-27It probably wasn’t Apple’s (s aapl) best-selling or best-loved product of all time, but it was tiny and cute. And you could see the rather sub-par battery life dwindling away to nothing via a perfectly integrated indicator in the iPhone’s status bar. But I never had one, opting instead to use my Sony Playstation BT device.
I’m talking, of course, about Apple’s Bluetooth headset, which has been discontinued and as such is unavailable for purchase from the Apple Store online.
Apple might just be leaving the market to those who specialize in the field, which is becoming quite crowded, but they might have something else up their sleeve as well, considering the auspicious timing of the item’s removal from the catalog. iPhone 3.0 has only just been announced, and counts among its new features support for A2DP Stereo Bluetooth connectivity. Could Apple be working on a headset that makes use of this new protocol to deliver not only wireless talk, but wireless stereo headphone functionality as well? Read More about Apple Bluetooth Headset Discontinued: What’s Next?

Apple Premium In-Ear Headphones Soon to Be in Your Ears

It seems like only yesterday that articles were popping up around the web talking about the unavailability of Apple’s new Premium In-Ear Headphones with Mic and Remote due to the product being redesigned. Wait, it was only yesterday. Well, that was then, and this is now, and the headphones are now available at the Apple Store website, albeit with a shipping time of 7-10 days.

Originally announced at the “Let’s Rock” iPod even in September, and slated for an October ship date, the in-ear headphones are priced at $79. They’re meant to compete with high-end, audiophile-targeted devices from industry leaders like Bose and Shure, but according to some sources, they weren’t achieving that lofty standard, which lead to the extended delay.
Read More about Apple Premium In-Ear Headphones Soon to Be in Your Ears

Logitech Premium Notebook Headset Review

I received the Logitech Premium Notebook headset at a very good time; I was doing some podcasting at the moment and my setup was a bit complicated. Also, I had several Skype chats on a pretty regular basis. This gave me a great opportunity to put the headset through some extensive testing in a short period of time. I found it’s an excellent headset with only a few minor flaws.

First Impressions

The first thing that really impressed me about the headset was that I didn’t have to do a thing to get it to work with my Mac. Plug the USB cable in and boom, it’s a sound output option. No drivers, no nothing. I highly recommend using this simple menubar tool called SoundSource by Rogue Amoeba. It enables super-simple switching of audio inputs and outputs on your Mac.

Sound Quality

The second thing that impressed me in my experience is that this headset has excellent sound quality. It’s far better than the iPhone earbuds I was using at the time, and if you don’t mind the extra gear attached, it’s a nice pair of headphones to have around. I found myself on a number of occassions just keeping the headset on, listening to music, after my Skype chat was finished.

On the other side of this sound quality coin is the quality of the mic. You will not be disappointed. It’s fantastic. It minimises room noise while still getting a nice rich result. I wouldn’t recommend recording your next chamber music concert with it, but for voice work it performs well beyond the price range of this headset.

Comfort and Ease of Use

I found this headset to be a little awkward to get on your head and adjust. The way the earpieces slide in and out can be a little tricky to get positioned well. Once you get it how you like it it’s no big deal. However, if you’re like me, and you need to move it around from office to home, or for traveling, you’ll find yourself fiddling with it a bit more than you’d expect. Thankfully the headset comes in a nice hard-plastic case making travel a bit easier.

All in all…

I’m pretty impressed. I expected this to be a handy tool for the work I needed to do at the time, and in the end I found myself really raving to my friends and colleagues about how handy and cool this little headset is. You can pick up the Logitech Premium Notebook Headset for nearly 50% off on Amazon.com.

Apple Tech Support Trials Begets Better iPhone Headset + License Woes

It’s been quite a while since my last post due in large part to my dead MacBook Pro. Perhaps, unstable would have been a better choice of words as my trusty 15″ developed a very nasty power issue where it would just randomly power off without warning. The instability made it impossible to do any serious work and the ensuing extended service call forced me to rely mostly on my iPhone for keeping up with the happenings of the internets. Our household has other systems but they were all taken up by end-of-school-year projects or dedicated for other uses…or were Windows-based. While Safari made the Windows work slightly bearable, I found living in an all-Windows world (for personal use) to be a less-than-stellar experience (and, I’m a very experienced 3.1 through Vista user & developer).

It took three visits to the local Apple Store – over the course of 8 days – to finally get my machine back. Two logic board swaps and keyboard + top cover replacement later and my MBPro feels like new again. I definitely want to give kudos to the team at the Alderwood Mall Apple Store for doing everything in their power to get me back up and running. While a loaner Air would have been nice, the techs did a good job giving me updates and making things happen as quickly as Apple processes would allow. If you haven’t had to deal with Apple support, they really do an excellent job between online scheduling, in-store attempts at problem resolution and speedy return of items in repair. Even though this fix took a while, they definitely showed they cared at every step of the way.

Service Generates Sales

During the course of those three visits I had a great deal of time to hang at the Apple Store waiting to be processed by a Genius (scheduled times can be off a bit as they do make every effort to fix problems right there). Staring at the walls of Apple-compatible products, it was difficult to resist the urge to buy…everything. I did manage to successfully leave twice without a single purchase, but one item caught my eye: the Monster® iSoniTalk™ Microphone Headphone Adapter for iPhone

From one of my earlier posts, you should know that I’m ever on the lookout for the best accessory for the job when it comes to my Mac’s, iPhone or iPod. While the Shure adapter reviewed in that post has done a great job, it is far from an optimal product. The headphone cable is extended way too much and the weight of the cable + mic is a bit much for the clip to support well.

While I generally find Monster products to be overpriced and not always better than their “normal” counterparts, the iSoniTalk has some definite merits (and a few detractions). First, you can find it online for close to $10.00 USD, which is significantly cheaper than the Shure counterpart. Second, because of the combination jack & extension you do not have to deal with a ton of extra cable to manage. Third, there are built-in clips along the adapter cable which make it very easy to manage the cable from your existing headphone sets.

Lastly, the mic + clip + button combo control attaches securely and works very well (not nearly as sensitive as the Shure, which for me is a good thing). I probably should mention that sound quality for music and calls is not impacted in any negative way by the adapter.

There are a few “gotchas”, however. The same jack + extension dongle combination can be a bit unwieldy, especially if you use any type of case with your iPhone. It just doesn’t hold in as well given the overall size of the unit. The actual cable itself could use a couple of inches as it comes up short to most headphones I own. One extra clip near the mic would also be nice in the event you just want to use it without talking.

I’d have to definitely recommend it over the Shure on price and convenience, but I’ve only had it a few days and would really like to hear from TAB readers on your experiences with the product.

Hardware-tied License Woes

While Apple managed to get some additional hard-earned cash out of me from my free repair (1-year warranty FTW!), my support saga continued with the annoyance of hardware-based software licenses. At least two products on my system – iTunes and launch2net tie themselves to data that is specific to the logic board of the system they are installed on. I had to burn an iTunes activation (no time to deal with Apple online support just now) and e-mail the customer service folks at nova media to deactivate my old launch2net code from their database. This should serve as a notice to consumers to ensure you deactivate your hardware-specific licenses prior to service (if possible) and a plea to developers to find an alternate mechanism to secure software purchases. nova media may have lost a future upgrade sale since Leopard works fine with my 3G modem without their software and I do not need the hassle of waiting 3 days for tech support to reset a license. I understand Apple’s constraints, but they should make it easier to manage authorizations online rather than the “reset all” feature once per year.

If you have had similar experiences with license woes post-repair or want to provide data on software that you use which ties itself to hardware, definitely drop a note in the comments.