Windows users always pull out the old “there are no peripherals for Mac” chestnut whenever they’re backed into a corner by rabid Apple addicts. While it’s true there aren’t as many extras for Mac as there are for Windows, there are still plenty of peripherals to go around.
To prove our point, we rounded up a bunch of our favorites. There are of course tons more that can be added to the list, so please feel free to pony up your own top choices in the comments.
Input devices seemed a natural place to start our roundup and Matias makes a few of the best keyboards designed for use with Apple computers. While adding USB ports to a keyboard certainly doesn’t make this special, the USB 2.0 Keyboard adds a full-power pass through from your desktop or laptop to a port on the top of the keyboard.
Simply plug the $30 Matias into two available USB ports on your system and you’re ready to go. Like Apple’s own corded keyboard, there are two USB ports on the back of the Matias model as well. However, they can only be used for devices that require low or no power. The port on top, though, can be used for anything you would normally plug directly into your Apple: flash drives, media cards, Web cam, graphics tablet, etc.
Many Mac users might not be familiar with Razer. The company specializes in high-precision gaming mice, which explains the blue LEDs lighting up the non-slip side rails and scroll wheel on the $60 Pro|Click. But digital design pros need precise movement, too, so the Pro|Click incorporates many of the technologies found in Razer’s gaming products.
Along with Teflon feet for smooth movement, high-performance sensors and on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment, it features seven independently programmable buttons.
At $250, the Altec Lansing FX6021’s aren’t a bargain, but the sound you get out of them is well worth the price of admission.
The three-speaker setup (two satellites, one powered subwoofer) is finished in matte aluminum to match your Apple products. Each of the wall-mountable sats contains three pairs of 1-inch neodymium micro drivers with each pair powered by discrete amplifiers, so they never struggle to handle your music at high volumes. A 6.5-inch ported subwoofer supplies deep, satisfying bass.
Volume, treble and bass controls are always in reach with the included remote or the unit’s desktop control pod. It also has auxiliary and headphone jacks.
Windows people have several options when it comes to getting TV piped through their computers. Mac users basically have one: Elgato. Thankfully, their solutions are top notch, including the newly released EyeTV Hybrid.
The little USB dongle packs a TV tuner to handle display standard-definition and HDTV in 720p and 1080i on Macs with Core Duo processors. The bundled software features an electronic program guide letting you set up timed recordings and you can export those immediately to use on your iPod. There’s a port built into the side of the stick as well to let you run most game consoles through your Mac.
Ever since Apple discontinued the iSight towards the end of last year, it’s been slim pickings if you want a fully Mac OS X-compatible Web cam. One of the top choices is the iMage ($60), the first driverless Web cam for Mac.
It can capture 640×480-resolution video at 15 frames per second for use with major instant-messaging clients including iChat AV, Skype, AIM and Yahoo! IM. Its magnetic base can be used to attach to your monitor, it can clip to your laptop’s display, a threaded hole will let you mount it on a tripod or holes on the back let you screw it to a wall.
IOGear USB 2.0 Hub and Card Reader:
The Windows world has long had the option to get a multi-format media-card reader built into its desktops and laptops. Apple still hasn’t blemished its systems with so much as an integrated single-format Compact Flash or Secure Digital card reader, despite the propensity of its users to be digital photographers. Until the day it starts building them in, I recommend the IOGear USB 2.0 Hub and Card Reader.
Along with six high-speed USB 2.0 ports, the stylish, compact $50 unit gives you a 12-in-4 card reader/writer. It’s powered, too, so the USB ports can be used to run, charge and sync anything you plug into them just like connecting directly to your computer.
There are plenty of Mac-compatible external hard drives available, but the My Book is designed to fit in your Mac-centric universe. The drive has three interfaces—FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0—and runs silently because its completely fanless. And as its name implies, it looks like a book, letting it blend into your office environment.
For around $330 you get 500GB of storage space and as you fill it up, a brilliant blue ring of light circles the power button giving you a visual gauge of the remaining space. (A second ring acts as an activity light.)
Don’t like that option or want something more than just a external hard drive? Check out the Mirra M Series 500GB Personal Server that provides automatic backup, file synchronization and free Web services and file access.
If for some reason you’re not keen on buying Apple’s new Airport Extreme that supports the better range and faster throughput of the Draft-N wireless specs, head over to NETGEAR.
It’s RangeMax NEXT router has easy-to-setup security features, all the advanced MIMO (Multi-In, Multi-Out) technology you’d expect from a modern wireless router and it works with OS X.
However, and this is the big disappointment, the company’s PC card, USB and PCI card NEXT adapters to use with the router only carry out-of-the-box support for Windows. Boo. But, if you have a newer Intel-based notebook or desktop from Apple, you’ll be able to take advantage of the power of this sexy box.
For those of you that don’t have newer Draft-N wireless equipment (me included), check out the iQuicky ($225). Via a simple USB connection it boosts your wireless power from a stock 50 milliwatts to 500 milliwatts. This increases your range, letting you better connect to more distant wireless networks. In turn, this improves your network connection speeds.
Apple vs. The World is a collection of features by the CrunchGear team about the present and future of Apple Inc.