Spending Apple Store Gift Cards

This Christmas was more hectic than most. Between the house fire at my fiancée’s parents’ and my busy work schedule, there wasn’t as much time for friends and family as there usually is. We did manage to get together a few times for food, games, and a bit of gift giving — I just wish we could have played a few more rounds of Puke (my new favorite card game).

My fiancée and I always enjoy exchanging presents with one another for the holidays, but we’re often able to figure out what each gift is before we even open it — our wishlists are fairly short. This year was no different. I bought her a Coach bag and a pair of Hunter rain boots, she bought me the Super Mario Maker Wii U bundle and Yoshi’s Woolly World.

She’s already moved all of her carry-along items to the new purse and absolutely loves it. And  I have spent several hours playing through 100 Mario Challenge and trying to beat a few of Dan Ryckert’s insanely difficult levels in Mario Maker. Seriously, this game is incredible. It’s no wonder Giant Bomb named it game of the year.

But there was a couple of other gifts I received this year that have me thinking. Two Apple Store gift cards, one from my future sister-in-law and another from my future mother-in-law, totaling $75. I currently plan on using it toward one of three options, but I’m having a bit of difficulty deciding which.

My first option is to use it toward the purchase of a new Apple TV. This would catch me up with the rest of the cool kids who’ve been using it for the past few months. It would allow me to transition my media server setup from iTunes to Plex — which seems to be what everyone else is using these days — and would let me experience the tvOS platform.

But the biggest downside to jumping on the Apple TV this early is that there just doesn’t seem to be a killer app for it. There’s plenty of entertainment apps and games, but nothing I feel like I need to have. I currently have a third-generation Apple TV in my living room and it works just fine. It already supports all of the streaming services I want and I can take or leave the gaming features.

I’ve already gone several years without my streaming box having the ability to play games and I’ve been able to get by just fine without it. And now that I have a Wii U, any desire to play games can be solved by switching my TV’s input to HDMI 2 and playing some Mario Maker. The new Apple TV is neat and I definitely want to purchase one at some point, but there just isn’t enough right now to justify purchasing one.

The second option is to expand my collection of Apple Watch bands. I wear a white sport band everyday and plan on purchasing a midnight blue leather loop in the next few months for more formal events (like my wedding), but I wouldn’t mind having a couple more sport bands in different colors.

Buying another sport band was my immediate thought when I was given the first Apple Store gift card, though it seems a little lackluster when compared to buying a new Apple TV. I’m sure I’ll purchase a few more watch bands at some point, but probably not from this set of gift cards.

The final option, and most sensible of the batch, is to purchase a new Time Capsule for my home network. The one I’m currently using is a first-generation model and was has recently added to Apple’s list of obsolete products. It still gets the job done and I’m not seeking faster speeds on my Wi-Fi network — the primary bottleneck is still my broadband connection. But I am worried about how much longer the backups I’m making to its hard drive will continue to be reliable. The drive’s about seven years old at this point and I don’t want to chance it much longer.

The nice thing is that Apple currently has refurbished Time Capsules with 2TB of storage for $179. That’s a pretty great deal when you take into account the cost of 2TB hard drives and nice routers these days. It was originally released in 2013, so it’s entirely possible that Apple is working on a updated version to be released sometime this year. And of course, it is refurbished, which means it could have a shorter lifespan than a brand new product. But nearly everything I’ve read about Apple’s refurbished store has been positive.

I’m clearly leaning towards using my Apple Store gift cards to purchase a refurbished Time Capsule. But there’s still the possibility that some clever developer could come up with the tvOS app or Apple could release new Watch bands that I just need to have. I don’t plan on pulling the trigger for another few weeks — there’s still plenty of time for me to be swayed in a different direction.