Pimp My Mac: Sound and Pictures

Anthony Caruana
25 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.

 

ViewSonic VX2460h-LED

$326

www.viewsonic.com.au

If you need a second screen, but Apple’s Cinema Display is outside your budget, there are several alternatives available. The ViewSonic VX2460h is a 24in model that won’t look out of place next to your Mac. It supports VGA and HDMI connections and a maximum display resolution of 1920 x 1080.

The VX2460h is just 6.6mm at its thinnest point and has touch-sensitive controls for adjusting settings and switching between inputs. The LED screen is glossy, which is fine if you’re used to that, but we know some of you still prefer a matte finish.

At about a third of the cost of an Apple Cinema Display, the ViewSonic VX2460h will do the job nicely for many Mac users.

 

Blue Microphones Yeti

$220

www.bluemic.com

Blue Microphones really came to the fore when the podcasting revolution began a few years ago. Mac users looking for decent USB microphones jumped to Blue on account of its excellent sound quality and elegant looks. The Yeti looks like the sort of thing you’d see in an old radio studio.

The mic connects to your Mac via USB and can record directly into your preferred software, such as GarageBand or Audacity. It has three recording modes – cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional – potentially replacing multiple microphones in your kit. There are no drivers to install – it’s just plug and play.

The Yeti – funny name but awesome performance.

 

HyperMaxx

$995

www.miniprojector.com.au

Small projectors have been all the rage for a while now, but the problem with the smallest models is that they lack the required brightness to be used in any environment other than a dark room. The HyperMaxx isn’t as small as the pico-projectors that have been around, but it is far more versatile.

The HyperMaxx can connect to just about any device you can come up with via HDMI, VGA and component inputs – impressive in a package that’s the size of a paperback. It has a standard tripod mount on the base so that it can be easily set up. We connected it to an iPad and MacBook Air and also played back video from a USB stick plugged into the HyperMaxx’s USB port.

The HyperMaxx is a great option for those who do presentations in small rooms and need a decent projector that easily fits in their computer bag.

 

Vestax Spin

$399

www.vestaxspin.com

There was a time when a DJ would show up to a party with a few old milk crates filled with vinyl, turntables and a bunch of amps and other high tech gear. Today, all of that can be replaced by a Mac and Spin – an all-in-one bundle of digital DJ hardware and software.

Spin offers total control to mix, scratch and play music. The djay software integrates with your iTunes library and transforms your Mac into something like a full-blown DJ system. The hardware has touch- sensitive wheels that mimic old-school hardware mixing and scratching and the software can automatically detect beats and rhythm to make mixing easy.

Spin is a great tool for partying with your iTunes library.

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