Pimp My Mac: Ins and outs

Anthony Caruana
28 December, 2012
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Your Mac can do so much. It entertains, educates, works and plays. It looks awesome and is easy to use. But it’s not everything. There are some things that it can’t do.

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.

 

Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch

$235

www.wacom.asia/au

The Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch input tablet adds a whole new way of interacting to your Mac. While Apple’s Magic Mouse and Trackpad are great for a lot of things, they’re not ideal for drawing or painting on the screen. The Bamboo Fun delivers a large digital canvas that uses a pen or your fingers.

The Bamboo Fun ships with a bunch of software including Corel Painter Essentials, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Bamboo Scribe and Evernote. It connects to your Mac via USB and the pen is battery-free. The active area that responds to the pen of touch input is 217mm x 137mm and can respond to inputs at 1024 different pen pressure levels.

Wacom’s Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch tablet is a fun new way to work with your Mac.

 

Mobee The Magic Numpad

$39.95 + shipping

www.picastore.com.au

One of the problems with Apple’s Wireless Keyboard is that it lacks a numeric keypad and the block of six navigation keys that includes Page Up and Down.

Mobee Technology fixes this problem with the Magic Numpad – a set of transparent overlays for Apple’s Magic Trackpad that use touch gestures to give your Mac a raft of new functions.

The Magic Numpad requires a free software download from the Mobee site that tells your Mac what to use the configurable buttons for. The software can be disabled with the touch of one button, so you can revert to your original trackpad use even with the Magic Numpad film attached.

The three films make the Magic Numpad into a numeric keyboard with a space for Trackpad gestures, a full numeric keyboard or a numeric keyboard with configurable buttons. It’ss a great way to deliver extra functionality without cluttering up your desk.

 

Kensington Orbit Scroll Ring Trackball

$50

www.kensington.com

It’s a tough ask to get Mac users to abandon the trackpads that have become part of the normal desktop and notebook computing experience. But the Kensington Orbit Scroll Ring Trackball could sway some users as it delivers an experience between that of a mouse and trackpad.

The Orbit works as soon as it’s plugged into a USB port and can be configured using the standard mouse setup in System Preferences. It is reasonably comfortable to use, although the need to move off the ball (when moving the pointer) to operate the Scroll Ring (in order to move up and down a page) is annoying.

The trackball does allow for very precise pointer movement – more precise than we could manage with a mouse or trackpad.

The Kensington Orbit Trackball with Scroll Ring is a great alternative if you don’t like trackpads or mice.

 

D-Link DIR-505 Mobile Companion

$100

www.dlink.com.au

Despite its small size, the D-Link DIR-505 packs a massive feature set. It looks a bit like the old Apple Airport Express, but adds plenty of extra functionality.

Firstly, the DIR-505 is a Wi-Fi network device. It can act as a signal repeater for extending a wireless network, a Wi-Fi hotspot that adds wireless coverage to an existing network or a wireless router. There’s a 10/100 Ethernet connector that lets you share a wired connection over Wi-Fi.

Perhaps the neatest feature is the ability to connect USB storage devices to the DIR- 505 and access them from iOS and Android devices. This is handy if you have a bunch of files that won’t fit on your mobile device, but you need to access or share them.

There’s plenty to like about the DIR-505 – enough to make us want one for our travel kit.

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