Fortunately, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tools out there for getting the most out of your Mac. No matter what you do there’s a way to get even more out of it. Also, you can declutter and make your workspace an area of tranquillity and productivity rather than chaos and disorganisation. Finding the right accessories, however, isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack – it’s like finding the right needle in a pile of needles. There are so many accessories to choose from that the problem is one of choice.
We decided to avoid the usual suspects in accessory round-ups and look for the gear that isn’t just run of the mill. The focus has been on products that have caught our eye and not been simply another in a long list of similar products.
Henge Docks MacBook Docks
From US$55 + shipping
Many PC users point to the convenience of docking stations as a benefit of using a PC over a Mac. After all, the ability to easily connect and disconnect to an external screen and other wired peripherals can be convenient. Henge makes docks for a variety of different Macs ranging from the tiny 11in MacBook Air through to the behemoth 17in MacBook Pro.
Rather than relying on a special port, the Henge Docks use pass-through ports. When you dock your Mac, connectors inside the dock link to the ports on the side of your Mac. In turn, there are connectors on the outside of the dock that you can hook your screen or USB devices to.
If you’re looking for an easy way to connect to your peripherals as you move to and from your desk, Henge Docks will fit the bill.
AltiGen iFusion SmartStation
$249.95 + shipping
When Steve Jobs first showed the world the iPhone, he talked about how it was a widescreen iPod, a mobile phone and an internet communicator. The iFusion SmartStation makes your iPhone into a desktop phone.
The iFusion SmartStation has a dock port for charging the iPhone. Communication between the iPhone and iFusion SmartStation is via Bluetooth. While connected, the iFusion SmartStation also acts as a speaker dock for your iPhone. But it’s also a handsfree phone and can connect to your computer for data syncing over USB.
If your iPhone is your main phone, the iFusion SmartStation makes it office- and mobile-friendly.
Henge Docks Clique
US$24.95 + shipping
The Clique is a very elegant desktop solution that takes your Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad and binds them together into a unit. Why bother? Because not every Mac user sits at a desk to use their computer.
Many of us use our Macs as part of a home media centre. Others are a little more laid back in the office and like to sit back with our feet on the desk and type away in a more relaxed posture. The Clique is a moulded tray that the two devices click into so that they appear to be part of a single integrated device. You can easily separate everything when needed – a must when batteries need a switch.
Although we wouldn’t use the Clique often, we can see its appeal.
Belkin Universal Media Reader
Although many Macs now come with an integrated SD card reader, there are lots of other flash card formats out there. Belkin’s Universal Media Reader can handle 56 different card formats – we didn’t even know that there were so many options.
The Universal Media Reader connects to your Mac via USB and is small enough to tuck into your travel bag easily. It supports Micro SD, all the different versions of Memory Stick and some of the lesser-used formats like MicroDrive, SmartMedia and xD.
The Belkin Universal Media Reader is an accessory that you might not use every day but is very handy to have around.
$19.95 + shipping
Securing loose cables is a great way to tidy your workspace. The Bluelounge Cable Drop is a small, circular disk that sticks to whatever surface you want. The top is moulded, so you simply press the cable into a groove and it stays there.
As well as keeping cables in place, you can use a Cable Drop to provide a convenient spot to hang your headphones or other wired gear that you need close to hand but off the desk. They come in a pack of six and there are lots of different colour palettes so you can go for muted or bright fluoro clips.
The CableDrop is a funky way of decluttering and brightening up your workspace.
Sonnet xMac mini Server
Although Apple talks up the suitability of the Mac mini as a small office server, the problem is that, if the rest of your office is using rack-mounted gear, the Mac mini ends up becoming a hive of messiness.
The Sonnet xMac mini Server is a 1U – that’s nerd talk for skinny – rack-mount enclosure so you can neatly store the Mac mini in a standard server rack.
The xMac mini Server provides a secure space for holding the Mac mini and uses its Thunderbolt port to deliver expansion using PCIe cards. In other words, it transforms the Mac mini into the core of a more flexible office server.
If you’re looking for a way to fit a Mac mini into a corporate environment and expand its potential, the Sonnet xMac mini Server is worth a look.