The 2016 holiday season doesn't have to be vexing when you're seeking the right gift for an Apple technology professional, user, or enthusiast. Here are a half-dozen gifts, across a wide budget range, that are sure to please.
SEE: The best books to give Apple fans in 2016 (TechRepublic)
iTunes gift card
If there's an Apple user in your life, they can put an iTunes gift card to work. Best of all? With an iTunes gift card, there's no guesswork required. You don't need to worry about color, size, style, or specifications—just choose an amount from $10 to $200 and go. Recipients can use iTunes gift cards to pay for applications, music, movies, TV shows, rentals, subscriptions, and more. You don't even need to leave home to purchase one—Apple iTunes gift cards can be ordered online and delivered by email.
Tablet and laptop cases
Don't underestimate the value of protective tablet and laptop sleeves and messenger bags. While many wonderful higher-end options are available from Timbuk2 and Chrome Industries, Case Logic offers attractively priced alternatives that are stylish and sturdy. And while they're likely to be overlooked when assembling a wish list, they make excellent gifts.
Case Logic's Huxton sleeve is available for 11.6" ($24.99), 13.3" ($29.99), and 15.6" ($29.99) laptops. The sleeves can also accommodate tablets. Two colors are available: midnight navy and black. I used the 13.3" sleeve this fall and found its small external zipper pocket perfect for storing a MacBook Air's power cord. Unlike traditional sleeves I've purchased that hold only the computer, the Huxton is much more convenient due to its ability to also carry the charger. Plus, the case protects against common bumps and provides a shield against the elements when walking in the rain. That's a helpful combination.
If your gift recipient typically must carry items in addition to their laptop or tablet, check out Case Logic's $59.99 Bryker Messenger Bag. Officially the black bag ports up to a 15" MacBook Pro or regular laptops with a 14" display, as well as a 10.1" tablet. A high school student in my family tested the bag throughout the fall and found the bag up to the daily challenge of porting a MacBook Pro, a charger, a few books, notepads, and similar items. An integrated pen and pencil holder and various compartments and stitched pockets help organize items, while a padded shoulder strap eases the burden of carrying the load.
Proving great gifts can come in small packages, the $149 Apple TV boasts 32 GB of storage and a handy remote control, enabling recipients to view iTunes movies and TV shows, browse iCloud photos, and more. Apple TVs marry photos, videos, music, movies, and other elements purchased or captured using other Apple technologies, including iPhones and iPads. The only other items required to use the Apple TV are an internet connection and an HDMI-compatible TV.
Numerous third-party applications can be downloaded to the device to enable watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other vendors' programs, although individual subscriptions are often required to access such premium content. An optional $49.95 wireless game controller converts the TV accessory to a gaming console, for which a variety of games can be purchased and downloaded, too, using iTunes.
Just don't forget a standard HDMI cable, because no HDMI cable is included with the Apple TV. Fortunately, 6' HDMI cables are available for less than $10.
SEE: Photos: 2016 holiday gift guide for techies (TechRepublic)
Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones
If the Apple enthusiast on your shopping list travels often, commutes by bus or train, works in a noisy office, or enjoys music or audiobooks, Bose's QuietComfort 35 Wireless headphones are a generous gift. The $349.95 headphones enable cutting the cord and using Bluetooth technology to mate the high-quality noise-cancelling headphones with an Apple iPhone and other compatible Bluetooth devices.
The model, which ships with a carrying case, an airline adapter, and a USB charging cable, is available in silver or black. A standard audio cable is also included for connecting the headphones using a traditional audio jack.
SEE: 2016 holiday buyer's guide (CNET)
If money's no object, a new Apple MacBook Pro is an elegant gift for even the most demanding Apple professional. You must make several decisions, however.
First, color. Apple's introduced a new Space Gray model many users will prefer, versus the traditional silver chassis.
Next, you must determine whether your gift recipient needs the 13" or 15" model, the proper processor and RAM combination, and the right-size hard disk.
One item not to miss: the Touch Bar. Although a 13" space gray model ($1,499) is available, you must upgrade to at least the 13" model ($1,799) to receive the Touch Bar, which is arguably one of the most intriguing features in the new MacBook Pro lineup. Gifting a new MacBook Pro, while an extravagant present for most people, could wind up being disappointing if the Touch Bar is omitted, so be sure to give it consideration, along with the AppleCare warranty, which extends support and hardware warranty coverage two additional years.
- Photos: The trendiest smartwatches and fitness bands for 2016 holiday season (TechRepublic)
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.