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Issue #76: The Switch to iPad gift guide (2021 edition)

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Have you picked out your Christmas, or whatever it is you celebrate, yet? I’ve mostly done so, surprising myself. If you’re in a bind, here are some gift ideas for the iPad lover.

And no, this list won’t contain iPads, Apple Pencils, Magic Keyboards, or any other official accessory. I think that’s been done.

For the home office: Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse

The pandemic certainly has shown the benefits of a decent home office, desk, and everything. That means that you can rig your iPad with a monitor, a stand-alone keyboard, and your pointing device of choice. If you’re a fan of the traditional mouse, or just want some extra accuracy when working, then the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse is a great choice. It can pair with three different Bluetooth devices, it’s small and yet feels good in your hand, even if you’ve got big ones like me. It’s by far my favorite mouse for design work, and I pair it with several devices. That’s not to say that it’s not without its issues because you can’t really do all those nice iPad gestures on it, but I find I miss them less and less. Battery life is outstanding, too, but should you run out you charge it over USB-C. This makes it a great mouse to throw in your bag when you actually get to leave your home office. Fingers crossed, eh?

🐁 The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 comes in three colors (black, gray, and pink) and costs about $80.

For the everywhere desk: HoverBar Duo stand

Not all of us have the luxury of dedicated desks with monitors or wall-mounted iPads. Occasionally your kitchen table becomes the desk, and then it’s good to be able to get the iPad into a decent height, sparing your neck and back. That’s where the HoverBar Duo comes in, a somewhat bulky but very sturdy stand that I’ll do a proper review of down the line. I wouldn’t want to bring this one to the coffee shop, but being able to adjust your iPad — landscape or portrait — into the right height requires a heavy stand. You can even snap it to the side of your desk if you don’t want the actual stand part, making it an iPad arm instead. The HoverBar Duo does the job, and when you’re done working for the day, you can just fold it together and put it in a drawer.

🖥 The HoverBar Duo will set you back $80, but it’ll keep a firm grip of your iPad.

For the gamer: Xbox controller

Most iPad games will work just fine without any accessories, but some are just better with a controller. The best option out there is the Xbox controller, but other alternatives exist, and, depending on the games you play, you might want to look at what 8bitdo is offering. Anyway, the Xbox controller has a distinct advantage to the competition, and that is if you intend to stream games to your iPad. I wrote about this in issue 32, where I even showed off Cyberpunk 2077 streaming to my iPad Pro. PC (and Xbox games, obviously) are optimized for the Xbox controller, so that’s why it’s the better choice. There’s an Elite version, which you should probably stay clear of since it’s had several issues, but if you happen to get a good one, then it truly is a better experience. The price tag is ridiculous, though, so save your money, is my suggestion.

If you’re getting an Xbox controller, do consider the Xbox Design Lab, where you can customize your controller. That’ll give it a bit more style than the default black.

🎮 The Xbox controller is $70. If you want to go Elite, then you’ll be paying around $200. Easy choice, right?

For everyone: An app or subscription that interests them

It’s easy to get caught up with accessories, just buying more things to extend a device that is already pretty much all it needs to be, after the bare essentials are added at least. So, why not gift an app or subscription that caters to the lucky one’s interest? There are plenty of options on the App Store, from apps that teach you languages (like Duolingo), or helps you learn an instrument (like Yousician), to huge resources like Udemy. You’ll just have to find out what the person in question likes, and possibly already has, just as you would when picking up a regular present.

Or there’s always gift cards. Maybe it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

You’d think that this would be the last Switch to iPad of the year, but it isn’t. Look for another issue next Wednesday, and the weekly recap on Sunday, as usual.

Happy shopping!

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡