There’s no denying that the MacBook Pro is a quality machine. It’s powerful, bundled with an efficient Core i7 processor, has remarkable battery life, and has surprisingly superb speakers for its size. The elegant, ultra-solid unibody construction and high-resolution display give users something to gawk at, and although it didn’t receive a refresh like the Haswell-powered Macbook Air, it remains a worthwhile investment and capable laptop if you’re able to shell out the cash. (Plus, if you act soon, you can get it for $200 less at Best Buy.) However, you could always use a few accessories to make the most of your portable workstation at home or on the go.
There’s a good deal of accessories to peer over, from external monitors and hard drives to power adapters and mice, as well as a few other odds and ends to consider in the running for your hard-earned cash. And unlike the death-sentence-inducing steering-wheel desk, they all have practical uses that won’t leave you scratching your head or laughing about how moronic one person can be. They don’t all come cheap, but quality often doesn’t.
Here are our picks for the best MacBook Pro accessories to keep your laptop up to speed with the latest and greatest tech. They’re convenient, versatile, and offer perfectly suitable solutions for those times when portability just won’t cut it.
Apple USB SuperDrive ($80)
We all know discs are dying. Call us old-fashioned, but we’ve always been a fan of the classic optical drive. Taking a cue from the MacBook Air, the latest line of MacBook Pros ditched the drive – along with the Ethernet port – in favor of a slimmer design, making it virtually impossible to use physical discs with the laptop. Luckily, Apple still offers an external drive for users who refuse to adopt digital-only media.
Slightly larger than a jewel case and dubbed the Apple USB SuperDrive, the sleek-and-slim device allows all users to carry out all of the standard functions we come to expect from an optical drive, from playing DVDs to burning the latest CDs at commendable data-transfer speeds. The aluminum-encased device also connects and powers via a built-in USB cable and allows the same kind of slot-loading disc playback and software installation that’s been around for decades. Except this time, it’s completely optional.
Cutesy name and ladybug-esque looks aside, the convenient Plug Bug is exclusively made to latch on to all MacBook power adapters, allowing you to charge your MacBook Pro alongside any iOS devices you may own (i.e. an iPad, iPhone, etc.). It works in a similar way to a small power strip, taking a two-prong outlet and converting it into an Apple-curated electronic hub, but it’s far less bulky and far more portable.
The 2.1-Amp USB wall charger piggybacks onto your already-owned power adapter, so there’s no need for extra cables or clutter. It dons a rose-red exterior that’s hard to miss while rummaging through your bag. The PlugBug isn’t the most complicated device in the world, but being able to charge two Apple devices simultaneously without using up one of your USB ports is incredibly handy.
With Wi-Fi becoming the new standard in Internet connectivity, it’s no surprise that Apple also axed the long-standing Ethernet port on the MacBook Pro in addition to the optical drive. It’s a bold move, and a necessary step in trimming excess fat off the laptop’s build, but it’s also one that renders the traditional method of connecting to the Web completely obsolete. That’s where Apple’s Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Port comes in.
The nifty little device plugs directly into your MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt port and allows you connect to a high-performance Gigabit Ethernet network in lieu of Wi-Fi. Although only necessary for the most recent MacBook Pro incarnation, the short adapter provides a RJ-45 port that supports 10/100/1000BASE-T networks. Note: you will need to update to the latest Thunderbolt software before using the device, but the adapter is highly valuable considering just how precious it becomes in those select moments when you need to revert to a wired connection.
Cooler Master L-Stand ($70)
The Cooler Master L-Stand is not a particularly fancy piece of tech (it’s just a simple metal frame), but it’s a surprisingly useful contraption if you’re one of those people prone to clutter or tight on desk space. The apparatus cradles MacBook Pros up to 17 inches, offering a secure and snug fit while maintaining access to all side ports should you decide to hook up your laptop to an external peripheral such as a desktop or display monitor.
The sandblasted aluminum finish compliments the MacBook Pro to a tee, giving the incredibly rigid stand an element of attractiveness, and the non-abrasive rubber interior assures your laptop remains scratch-free upon insertion. It’s durable, with a non-slip rubber base that works as intended, and it’s a practical way to reduce your laptop footprint if you need to free up a little extra space at your workstation.
Computer mouse inventor Douglas Engelbart may be gone, but his legacy will surely live on. The Logitech Marathon Mouse has gone through many incarnations and tweaks, refining the already-terrific scroll wheel and ergonomic design, but it’s always touted one of the smoothest glides and convenient sizes of anything we’ve seen. It can be a tad small depending on the size of your hand, but that only adds to its portability.
Supposedly the mouse can last up to three years on a single set of batteries, hence the title, and it’s equipped with three customizable thumb buttons in addition to the standard right-click, left-click, and scroll-wheel buttons. It’s a solid purchase at the price, especially given the Marathon’s hallmark free-spin wheel and sleek build, but we also suggest checking the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 ($30) if you want an even more affordable deal.
Check out our selection of the best computer mice if wires are more your thing, or if gaming mice are a must.