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Welcome to our iPad Holiday Gift Guide! There’s currently a lot of excitement around the world of iPad, and rightfully so.
On the software side, Apple injected new life into prior models by adding side-by-side apps and picture-in-picture video with iOS 9. In hardware, the smaller 7.9″ iPad mini family got major speed and notable display quality improvements with the iPad mini 4, while brand new 9.7″ iPad Air 2’s are being sold at prices lower than minis, and a completely new class of iPad debuted in the just-launched 12.9″ iPad Pro.
There are essential accessories in all price ranges for every iPad regardless of which size you’re addressing, and we’ve tested a lot of products over the years. Read on and please share our iPad Holiday Gift Guide so you and your loved ones can buy the best iPad accessories for the holidays.
Cases, Covers, & Stands
iPad Pro owners with Apple Pencil will appreciate Urban Armor Gear’s Composite Case ($80), which stands iPad Pro up at multiple angles, offers military-grade drop protection, and features an Apple Pencil holder. ZeroChroma’s Folio Slide Case ($35-$60) for iPad Air and Air 2 is a staff favorite thanks to its light shock-protective TPU body, removable slide lid cover, and rotating kickstand for landscape and portrait modes. A smaller version for iPad mini ($49.50) is also available. Also a staff favorite, the well-designed Just Mobile Encore stand ($50) will hold your iPad mini, Air, or Pro caseless or cased in landscape or portrait and comes in silver or gold.
The iPad Pro also received a new cover plus keyboard from Apple, the hard-to-find Smart Keyboard ($169). It uses iPad Pro’s new Smart Connector for power and connectivity, so there’s no charging or Bluetooth pairing to fiddle with, but the premium price may be a turn-off to iPad users looking for more substantial protection or more functional keys. Logitech’s Create for iPad Pro ($150, reviewed here) offers front and back protection, backlit keys with more functions, and uses the same Smart Connector, but won’t appeal to iPad users not wanting to closely replicate the feel of a laptop computer.
Hardware Keyboards and Styluses
Speakers, Headphones, and Gaming Controllers
iPad screens make great portable home theaters and adding better sound can greatly enhance the experience. iPad Pro makes the most progress on improving iPad sound quality with four separate speakers, but even the new tablet benefits from connecting a dedicated speaker.
Adapters, Apple TVs, and Batteries
Storage and Printers
A New iPad
The iPad itself is the most important piece of the whole puzzle, and Apple’s tablet lineup has really expanded over the last few years. Apple currently sells 5 models in total including two 7.9″ minis, two 9.7″ Airs, and the new 12.9″ Pro (from $799) which has the fastest hardware inside. The medium-sized iPad Air 2 (from $499) and small-sized iPad mini 4 (from $399) feature very similar internals and support all of iOS 9’s multitasking features, while the older iPad Air (from $399) and iPad mini 3 (from $269) are somewhat slower and can’t keep two apps running persistently side-by-side.
Finished shopping for the iPad user in your life and need ideas for iPhone and Mac fans? Then be sure to catch up on and share our 9to5Mac iPhone and Mac Holiday Gift Guides, plus check out our HomeKit, photography, premium audio guides and stay tuned for even more!
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We’re in the thick of the holiday season and that means lots and lots of gift buying for our family and friends. I’ve been using a number of apps on my iPhone and iPad to smooth out this year’s gift buying experience. Check out my app recommendations below…Apple Store
This first app seems obvious on the surface, but I can’t tell you the number of times that friends and family have asked me how to get a product in stock at an Apple Store without gambling on its availability and been saved by this app.
The Apple Store app allows you to easily see product availability for many items and have them reserved for you when you arrive at the store. It also breaks down when you need to order specific items in time for holiday shipping.
While the Apple Store app is primarily for iPhone users, Apple recently added an iPad-optimized version to its catalog, but the iPhone version currently offers more functionality. Apple is also giving away a free holiday playlist for US customers in its Apple Store app this week.
Apple recently made iPhoto (along with a number of other apps) free for new device owners, and with that change came a number of new features borrowed from the desktop software. iPhoto now allows you to order 8×8 inch or 10×10 inch hard cover photo books as well as a number of custom size photographs including auto-sized panorama prints. These gifts can be highly personalized and sentimental, and they’re surprising affordable for the quality Apple provides.
iPhoto for iOS is compatible with iPhone and iPad and offers a number of editing and sharing features as well. If you haven’t purchased a new iOS device recently, you will notice the app is still $4.99 in the App Store.
Amazon is becoming more and more of a staple in my holiday gift buying routine, and now with its iPhone and iPad apps designed with iOS 7 aesthetics, using the apps to manage wish lists and track orders is absolutely delightful.
Amazon allows you to create specific wish lists and even share them with friends and family to make holiday shipping that much easier. Amazon even has a ‘Santa’ app geared toward making shopping for kids even easier.
Delivery Status is probably my favorite app among this list. While Amazon can track your purchases fairly well and notify you after packages are delivered, Delivery Status offers much more granular updates along the way.
The app is particularly useful as it centralizes shipment tracking from UPS, FedEx, USPS, and more all in a single app. It syncs data between iPhone and iPad using iCloud, or you can use its native syncing solution and also sync with its OS X Dashboard widget.
For me, Delivery Status relieves a great deal of anxiety as shipments tend to get a little crazy over the holidays. It doesn’t hurt that the app is so well designed.
We recently reviewed Clear+, which brought the fun list app to the iPad for the first time, and I’ve really been enjoying it since then.
While it originally debuted on iPhone and later on the Mac, I’ve found the iPad version particularly useful for managing lists of gift ideas and gift I’m positive I need to buy. This is made easy on the iPad interface as it allows you to drag and drop items between lists.
As always, check out the fantastic work at our sister site 9to5Toys for great deals on all the best gifts for the holidays including gift cards, games and apps, hardware, and more.
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Every week iDownloadblog brings a roundup of awesome apps for you to check out and enjoy. We try to vary our picks, but a lot of these apps usually come from the App Store. If an interesting web or jailbreak app catches our eye, we’ll include that in our picks, too.
This week, we’ve got three App Store apps that all serve very different purposes. Here’s this week’s picks!Ustream for iPad
Ustream has finally updated its iPhone-only app to also support for the iPad. With Ustream on the iPad, you can watch and follow your favorite channels, as well as broadcast straight from the iPad itself! If you’re looking for a free, online streaming solution on the iPad, Ustream’s universal app may be just what you need.
The app also supports AirPlay and social network integration for sharing your activity. Ustream on the iPad is a nice experience, and we recommend downloading the app for the free in the App Store.Tumblita
If you use the blogging/social network site Tumblr, then you may be familiar with its official iPhone app. There’s a new Tumblr app for the iPhone and iPad on the block, and she’s called Tumblita.
While most will probably prefer Tumblr’s own app for the iPhone, Tumblita on the iPad is really nice app for Tumblr users. Previously, you’d have to check Tumblr’s web interface on the iPad to see your feed and post content, but Tumblita lets you do all that inside a full-featured iPad app. Some of Tumblita’s perks include support for multiple accounts, excellent customization for posting content from the iPad, support for services like Instapaper, and a streamlined viewing window for your Tumblr feed.
Tumblita has a lot of really cool features and an interesting look, but I have a feeling that some may not like the way you have to browse through content from other blogs. You’ll just have to download Tumblita yourself and be the judge. It’s available as a universal app for $2.99 in the App Store.Task Rabbit
Task Rabbit is definitely one of the more creative productivity apps we’ve encountered in the App Store. The idea of Task Rabbit is that other people do your chores for you. The app ties into a collaborative service that allows you to post a task you don’t really want to do (ex: go to the grocery), along with how much you’re willing to pay to get it done. Ideally, other users will then respond and complete that task for you.
We’re a little skeptical of Task Rabbit, but the idea sounds awesome. Instead of having to take out the trash yourself, why not have someone do it for you for $5? People looking for a job are called “Rabbits,” and task categories include Cleaning, Donations, Shopping, Food Delivery, Cleaning, Donations, Delivery and Something Else.
Be cautious if you decide to give this app a try. You never know what kind of “Rabbit” you could get to do your chores for you. Task Rabbit is available for free in the App Store.
That’s it for this week’s picks! Let us know what you think of these apps. Better yet, what cool apps have you downloaded recently?
Buying gadget gifts for fellow techies isn’t too difficult: You’ll likely know the things they’ve had their eye on. But there are some gadgets that non-techies will love, too.
The secret with making your choices is to discount the Gadget Factor we all love, and to think about things which will either enhance the pleasure friends and family get from their existing interests and passions, or which make their life easier.
I’ve already covered a couple of areas that will work for many: music and photography.Music
Check out my audio gift guide for recommended headphones and speakers for the music lovers in your life.Photography & videography
Similarly, you don’t need to be a gadget fan to appreciate camera accessories. If someone loves taking photos, check out my photography and videography gift guide.Robot vacuum cleaners
There was a time when giving someone a vacuum cleaner as a gift would not have been appreciated! But these days, a robot vacuum cleaner is a great way to give someone the greatest gift of all: time. If a gadget can take care of the hoovering and mopping, that’s more time someone has to spend doing the things they enjoy.
Robot vacuum cleaners are available at all price levels, but when you’re buying a gift, it’s probably wise to avoid the $100-ish ones. Most tend to start at around $250. Some options worth considering here are:
The latest version of one of the most popular models, suitable for both hard floors and carpets, and particularly good for pet hair.
Stepping up a level, you can get models that combine vacuuming and mopping. Some of these are better than others, but the 360 S7 Pro works well.
Top of the robo-cleaner food chain these days are self-emptying models. Rather than have to empty an onboard bin every two to three days, the dock does that for you, so you only have to empty that bin about once a month. I recently tested, and was impressed by, the Neabot Q11.Coffee warmers
If you have a tea or coffee lover in your life, then a way to keep their drink warm for longer can go down well. You can get both heated coasters and heated mugs – the former are the inexpensive option, while the latter are the best performing.
This heated coaster comes with a matching ceramic mug for a particularly neat appearance, though it can be used with any mug.
Ember makes a range of well-regarded heated mugs, with this stainless steel one the starting point. Other models, like copper, get more expensive.
The ultimate version is a heated travel mug. Again, Ember is the best name for these, with the 12 ounce cup keeping coffee electrically heated at the desired temperature for up to three hours.Smart pet food dispensers
If you have a dog owner or cat staff to buy for, a smart pet food dispenser is a useful gift, while a treat dispenser is a fun one.
An easy way to ensure a cat or small dog is kept fed while away, this model is on a par with more basic ones, but enables the schedule to be set in an app, making it easier to program.
The top-rated treat dispenser on Amazon, this one combines 1080p camera and two-way audio, so someone can talk to their pet while at work or away, as well as see their reactions.Smart sous vide
A sous vide is a really great way to easily get perfectly cooked food every time, and an app-controlled sous vide makes life even easier. Just select the food in the app and it then sends cooking instructions (temperature and time) to the sous vide device.
The Anova Nano is popular, highly rated, and an affordable price. Note that the recipient will need a large cooking pot, too – either a large saucepan or pressure cooker pot.
The Pro offers exactly the same capabilities, but boosts the heating element from 750W to 1200W for faster cooking. Again, a large cooking pot is needed.Smart photo frames
Digital photo frames are a popular choice for grandparents, and although they may be happy with a basic one, they’ll quickly fall in love with a smart model for one simple reason: Other family members can upload photos to it remotely. This means they get a constantly updated stream of family photos.
I reviewed this model last year, and it remains a good option. You’ll want to do the setup for a non-techy, but once you have they don’t need to do a thing – new photos will be displayed automatically as family members upload them. You don’t need to be a techie to send photos to it either – this can be done via an app, a website, or even by email.
Photo: Hert Niks/Unsplash
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Ready to buy a desktop PC? After determining the type of system you want, and consulting our guide to desktop PC specs, you probably have a clear idea of the configuration that’s right for you.
If you want to upgrade the system’s memory, pay close attention to the type of RAM that came with your machine. Though RAM is relatively simple to install, motherboards generally only support one type, such as DDR2 or DDR3. If you’re looking at dual- or triple-channel memory, and you’re sure that your motherboard supports it, be aware that you’ll have to buy your RAM in pairs or triplets, respectively.
When you’re customizing your machine, always be on the lookout for deals–especially now that we’re in the thick of the Holiday season. PC makers generally offer competitive prices on their components, but you may be able to find a better price by shopping around. If you’re comfortable upgrading your PC yourself, a site like Newegg and Amazon is a great place to start. And for help in hunting for bargains, check chúng tôi where we’ll be running features on the PC deals we find.
Consider an extended warranty and tech support: A two- or three-year warranty can add between $100 to $200 to the cost of your PC, with services and coverage varying by retailer. Before paying for such coverage, read the fine print. An extended warranty can be a lifesaver if your PC malfunctions–but you may never need it during the period it covers. When we conducted a survey investigating customer satisfaction with extended warranties, 71 percent of respondents said that they were glad they had bought one. If you aren’t especially computer-savvy, or if you worry that your desktop may fall victim to a curious pet or messy toddler, you might want to pay extra to protect the investment–but only if the extra amount is within reason.
Make sure that your PC meets your connectivity needs: You’ll probably use all sorts of electronics with your PC. External hard drives, cameras, and portable media players are among the devices that can occupy precious USB ports on your machine, so be sure you’re satisfied with what your machine offers. Compact PCs have fewer ports than full-size tower desktops do, but even the most minuscule should offer at least six USB 2.0 ports, scattered around the case. Watch for different interfaces, too: Many external hard drives benefit from e-SATA ports, and still other devices may require FireWire.
If your PC lacks the right interface–for example, because your HDTV has HDMI-only ports, and your graphics card has only a DVI port–you can buy adapters or cables that merge two different formats.
Don’t get caught on the upgrade treadmill: If you’re a savvy consumer, you know that today’s top-of-the-line PC will be tomorrow’s budget box–and that you’ll be able to get the latest dream machine on the cheap, if you wait just a little bit longer.
Prices will inevitably drop, and upper-end performance will continue to improve. But if you persist in waiting for a mythical sweet spot to appear, you may end up stuck on hold indefinitely. Though you should certainly keep potential sales and price cuts in mind, your best bet is to decide exactly what you need, pick your acceptable price range, and go for it.
However, getting a pair of headphones that come with decent active noise cancellation (ANC) is not that easy. Jump into any store, and you will be bombarded with options. And the most important part is that not all of them will be able to cancel out the noise effectively.
To make things easier for you, we have come up with this ultimate list of the best noise calling headphones. Not only will you find headphones that excel in ANC performance, but also the ones that are best in every price range. So, let’s jump right into it!
Sony WH-1000XM4 – Best Overall Noise Cancelling Headphones
The Sony WH-1000XM4 offers excellent noise cancellation and surprisingly great sound. And the best part about the headphone is that it is light in weight and features a comfortable design.
Yes, the pair of headphones might not look that different from its predecessor. But it surely does bring meaningful upgrades. For example, you have multipoint pairing, conversational awareness, DSEE Extreme upscaling, and an auto play/pause sensor.
Up to 30 Hours
SBC, AAC, and LDAC
Sony WH-1000XM5 – Best Premium Noise Cancelling Headphones
One of the key upgrades is in the battery life. You can get up to 30 hours of run time with the ANC turned. And with it off, the battery life jumps to 40 hours. That means you will not have to plug it in at the end of the day.
The other things about the headphone are great too. It comes with Bluetooth 5.2 for a speedy and stable wireless connection. Also, the overall build quality is pretty mind-blowing. You will not find any comfort issues with it. And let’s not forget to mention that it has Hi-Res audio support over LDAC and Sony 360 Reality Audio!
Up to 40 Hours
SBC, AAC, and LDAC
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Best ANC Headphones for Long Battery Life
Do you not want to go through the hassle of charging the headphone at the end of the day? Want something that will last for days with one charge? The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless should be your go-to pick!Gizchina News of the week
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So, what’s so great about it? It can offer up to 60 hours of runtime with a single charge. And that too with ANC! Yes, you read that right, 60 hours! That is like not having to charge the headphones for three days.
However, the battery life is not the only thing that is great about this pair of headphones. It also provides excellent sound quality. The drivers offer natural, detailed, and crisp overall sound. And the ANC performance will not disappoint you either.
Up to 60 Hours
SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 – Best ANC Headphones for Calls
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 may be a little expensive. But it can offer everything that you would want from a good pair of headphones. It has an excellent build, provides balanced sound quality, a comfortable design, and fantastic Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) performance.
Another great thing about the headphones is that it bundles with an app. Through that, you can fine-tune the ANC mode and set it according to your needs. Most importantly, it does a great job of canceling out the environmental noise from calls.
The battery life, on the other hand, is not that impressive. You get 20 hours of run time with a single charge. It is enough to get you through the day, but expect to charge it right at the end of the day.
SBC and AAC
Apple AirPods Max – Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for iPhone
The Apple AirPods Max does a lot of things right. It offers superb audio quality, has a great design, and integrates cutting-edge Active Noise Cancellation tech. In fact, the Apple AirPods Max has one of the class-leading ANC techs in the market.
However, you might be a little bit disappointed with its lack of audiophile features. For example, there is no support for Hi-Res Audio codecs, and you do not have the option to plug a 3.5mm audio jack directly into the headphone.
Still, if you are already in the Apple ecosystem, you really can not go wrong with the Apple AirPods Max. But if you do care about Hi-Res audio and other audiophile-grade features, consider the headphones above.
SBC and AAC
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