2009 CES + Macworld Expo Sneak Peeks
With CES over and Macworld Expo now underway, iLounge’s editors have been checking in with the major vendors of iPod, iPhone, and iTunes accessories and software to see what’s new and exciting for 2009. Here are some of the biggest new introductions we’ve seen—more are being added all the time.
Boston Acoustics has announced its new Horizon iDS3 Flagship iPod Speaker System. The iDS3 features 100 Watts of total system power, an integrated iPod dock, a wireless six-inch woofer that connects to the main unit via a 2.4GHz signal, two 1/2” tweeters, two three-inch mid-range drivers, DSP processing and EQ, and the ability to charge all dock-connecting iPods. Available in high gloss white or black with matching grilles, the Boston Acoustics iDS3 Flagship iPod Speaker System will sell for $500 and is expected to ship later this year.
Contour Design has introduced its new Bolt Armband for the fourth-generation iPod nano. Made from a flexible, breathable lycra and spandex fabric, the Bolt features a sweat-resistant back, a reflective design, an anti-static screen guard, an adjustable strap, velcro closure, and compatibility with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. It will sell for $30. In addition, the company is set to release its reCharge combination home and car charger. First shown at Macworld Expo in early 2008, it offers two USB charging ports, a blue LED power indicator, an included carrying case, and more. It will sell for $50.
Elgato has announced its new 2009 EyeTV Hybrid USB TV Tuner Stick for North America and version 3.1 of its EyeTV software. The 2009 model of the EyeTV Hybrid improves upon the previous model with a new enclosure, built-in FM radio tuner, and better reception. It also includes EyeTV 3.1, the latest version of the TV watching and recording software. Version 3.1 offers the TV Guide electronic programming guide for North American users, new Smart Series Guides for recording all episodes of favorite shows, the ability to search the guide by genre, and advanced Parental Controls. The new 2009 EyeTV Hybrid USB TV Tuner Stick is available immediately and priced at $150; the EyeTV 3.1 upgrade will be a free download for all EyeTV 3 users later this month.
Fastmac has announced its first ever iPod case, the nV for the fourth-generation iPod nano, and the U-Jam Portable Speakers and Carrying Case. The nV is made from clear hard plastic less than 1mm thick, and features an extruded aluminum clip that serves as a money/belt clip, lanyard holder, and video stand. Offering integrated screen protection, it will include a protective strip for the Click Wheel and center button, as well as a matching lanyard. The U-Jam is a large fabric carrying case for the iPod, iPhone, or other portable devices, offering a zippered closure, built-in flat panel speaker and room for extra cords or cables. It connects to the device via a 3.5mm plug, and runs for up to 15 hours on two AA batteries. Both the nV and the U-Jam will sell for $20.
Gear4 has introduced its HP-400 iPod Speaker System. This desktop-sized system features an integrated, front-mounted iPod dock, a top-mounted, slot-loading CD player, AM/FM radio with 10 station presets, an alarm clock, LCD screen, touch controls, an auxiliary input for other audio sources, and a remote control. Priced at $199, the Gear4 HP-400 will be available in April.
Griffin Technology has introduced a number of new products for the iPod and iPhone. The SmartTalk Bluetooth is a sound isolating hands-free headset that features a dual microphone design and MyVoice acoustics from StepLaps to help eliminate background noise. According to the company, it offers 30 dB to 50 dB of signal-to-noise improvement, and also features an in-ear fit for sound isolation and improved audio clarity, and instant pairing capability. It will sell for $100. The Navigate is an in-line controller for the iPod and iPhone that connects via the Dock Connector. It offers a built-in LCD screen that mirrors info from the device, a FM radio, play, stop, pause, forward/backward, and scan controls, an integrated clip, and 3.5mm headphone jack. It will sell for $60.
Offering a USB port and rechargeable battery, the PowerBlock Reserve is the latest model of what the company claims is “the world’s best-selling AC charger/adapter for USB-rechargeable devices.” It features integrated, fold-away prongs, and a removable, rechargeable battery pack that is held via magnet when not in use, and connects via the Dock Connector to charge iPods or iPhones, offering up to two hours of additional talk time on the iPhone. It will sell for $40. SmartShare USB is a small port expander for USB devices, offering Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connections, and a slim USB connector which allows users to connect two devices to a single USB port. It will sell for $20.
TuneBuds Fit are a new pair of earphones featuring an in-ear design and anatomically correct curved aluminum housings. They feature matched, tuned 10mm drivers, a sound isolating design with three included sets of differently-sized ear cushions, heavy-duty nylon/PVC cabling, and a slider for adjusting the individual earphone leads. They will sell for $50. The TuneFlex AUX with SmartClick is an in-car charging and mounting solution for iPod and iPhone. Featuring a flexible steel neck, wireless remote control with magnetic steering wheel mount, a lighted ring on the charging stem to indicate charging status, and adapters for a variety of recent iPod and iPhone models, the TuneFlex AUX also includes 3.5mm stereo mini cable, which connects the auxiliary out port with a vehicle’s aux-in jack. It is priced at $80.
The Charge Converter is a small Dock Connector accessory that lets users charge newer iPods and iPhones with legacy Firewire charging accessories. It will sell for $30. The Noise-reducing Auxiliary Audio Cable is a six-foot 3.5mm stereo mini jack cable featuring an in-line dual-element noise filter that eliminates electrical interference that occurs when charging an iPod in a car whose electrical system is not grounded. It will sell for $20. TuneJuice for iPod and iPhone is a portable battery-powered charger. Operating on four AAA batteries, it offers up to 5 more hours of music, 6 hours of video, 1.5 hours of talk time, or 2 hours of web access. It will sell for $30.
The iTrip for iPod nano 4G is a small FM transmitter designed to fit the fourth-generation iPod nano, but works with other models as well. It connects to and draws power from the Dock Connector, and features a silver body, a screen for picking the station, and a dedicated SmartScan button which will automatically find the best available frequency. It will sell for $50. Also priced at $50 is the iTrip Auto Universal Plus, which like the company’s iTrip Universal connects via a 3.5mm plug for compatibility with nearly any mobile device, such as the iPod or iPhone, including the iPod shuffle. It draws power from a vehicle’s cigarette lighter/power port, and offers a lighted display for selecting FM frequencies, SmartScan for automatically finding the best frequency, and an integrated USB port for charging devices, along with a 3-color charging indicator on the stem.
Finally, the Elan Form Chrome for iPhone 3G is a revised version of Griffin’s earlier Elan Form Hard-Shell Leather Case. The Chrome features a two-piece, shatter-proof polycarbonate inner shell with a removable bottom for easier docking, a top-grain black leather outer, and openings for access to all ports and controls. The case also features chrome details, including the area around the device’s face, and comes with a static peel screen protector and cleaning cloth. It will sell for $35.
iHome has announced its new iP1 Speaker System for the iPod and iPhone. The unique system uses a BonGiovi Digital Power Station processing and a 100 Watt amplified for clean sound, and features an integrated Dock, two four-inch woofers and two one-inch tweeters suspended in a smoked acrylic frame, an aux-in jack, A/V output, and a remote control iPod and iPhone menu navigation. Pricing and release information has yet to be announced.
Intellitouch has introduced its new Eos Converge line of wireless audio products. The Wireless USB Transmitter will allow users to transmit audio from any computer connected via USB, can accept audio from other sources via an auxiliary input, and can transmit to up to four receivers. It will sell for $99. The Wireless iPod Transmitter is a dock for iPod and iPhone featuring an auxiliary input and the ability to transmit to up to four receivers. It will sell for $129. The Wireless Receiver is designed to receive audio from any Converge transmitter and connect to a main home audio system, theater system, or amplified speakers. In addition, it offers function buttons to allow remote control of playback and track functions on an iPod or iTunes, and sells for $89. Finally, the Amplified Wireless Receiver can receive audio from any Converge transmitter, and features a high-quality digital amplifier to power any traditional speakers, along with playback and track remote buttons, and a sub-output for connection to a powered subwoofer. It will sell for $149. Release dates for the new Eos Converge products have yet to be announced.
iVoice has introduced its Diamond-X Dual Mic Bluetooth Headset, described by the company as the world’s first Bluetooth headset to report the name of the caller from the user’s phonebook. In addition to the name reporting, it features automatic volume control depending on environmental conditions, up to 5.5 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time, dual microphones for noise cancellation, an in-ear design with three sizes of rubber ear gels, and an included mini-USB power adapter, car charger, and wall charger. It will be available later this month and is priced at $100.
Jaybird has announced its new Freedom Wireless Headphones, Tiger Eyes Earbuds, and Endorphin Earphones. The Freedom Wireless Headphones use Bluetooth technology to connect wirelessly, and feature a small cord that runs between the right and left earphones, an in-ear design for improved sound isolation, direct USB charging, APT-X audio processing, and a unique body designed to stay in place during activities such as sports. They will be available in April and sell for $130. The Tiger Eyes Earbuds are compact in-ear headphones featuring tuned neodymium drivers, pitch reduction technology to produce warmer tones and eliminate fatigue during long listening sessions, and a black and silver body. Finally, the Endorphin Earphones feature an in-ear design, neodymium drivers, an unique acoustical sound chamber, and a cord-securing slider. Both the Tiger Eyes and Endorphin Earphones will be available in February for $100.
JBL has introduced its Duet II and Duet III speakers. Designed for use with a computer, iPod dock, or other 3.5mm audio source, both the Duet II and Duet III feature a silver and black champagne glass-like vertical design, onboard digital amplifiers, and Computer Optimized Equalization which optimizes stereo imaging and system response off-axis. The Duet II system offers 6 Watts of power per satellite, Phoenix SE drivers, and is ten inches tall, while the Duet III offers 10 Watts of power per satellite, Warrior drivers, and is 12 inches tall. JBL’s Duet II and Duet III speaker systems will be available later this month for $100 and $150, respectively.
Scosche has announced its new HZ5 tuneSTREAM Bluetooth Headphones, along with new kickBACK cases for the iPod touch 2G, iPod nano 4G, and iPod classic. The tuneSTREAM headphones feature Bluetooth 2.0 with a 30ft range, the ability to answer phone calls, a rechargeable lithium ion battery providing up to 8 hours of playback time, and support for A2DP, AVRCP, and HFP profiles. They will sell for $100. The kickBACK cases are made from clear polycarbonate and feature integrated stands for video viewing, silicone traction cleats in various colors, and included screen protectors, polycarbonate removal keys, and cleaning cloths. The iPod classic and iPod touch 2G models will sell for $30, while the kickBACK for iPod nano 4G is priced at $25.
Shure has unveiled its SE115 Sound Isolating Earphones. Featuring a compact form factor, the SE115 uses second-generation Dynamic MicroSpeakers for warm, detailed sound with enhanced bass, and includes a fit kit with interchangeable earphone tip and cable options to ensure comfort and maximum sound isolation. Available in blue, pink, black, and red, the Shure SE115 Sound Isolating Earphones will be available this spring and will sell for $100.
Speck Products has introduced its new Fitted and ToughSkin cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch, as well as its CandyShell cases for the iPhone 3G. The Fitted cases are two-piece, snap-together hard shell cases featuring a fabric outer and cutouts for full access to all ports and controls. Initially available in black herringbone with pinstripes, the Fitted cases will sell for $30 each. The ToughSkin rubberized cases feature an all-new treaded texture for added grip, and slightly thicker corners for added protection from bumps and drops. The iPod nano version includes a clear hard shell front for screen protection and a detachable swivel belt clip, while the iPod touch model includes a detachable combination holster and rotating belt-clip. ToughSkin for iPod nano will sell for $30, while the iPod touch version will sell for $35. Finally, the CandyShell for iPhone 3G combines a soft rubberized interior with a shiny hard outer shell, and offers access to all ports and controls, including soft-touch rubberized power and volume button covers. In addition, the CandyShell includes a cleaning cloth and removable screen protector film. Available in black/yellow, dark grey/lime, white/red, and light grey/pink, the CandyShell sells for $35.
Ultimate Ears has introduced its new MetroFi 170 and MetroFi 220 Earphones. Both new earphones feature a single-driver, in-ear design, with the 220 featuring a titanium-coated speaker for more detail in the higher frequencies compared to the 170. In addition, both earphones feature a red-colored right earphone to help distinguish between left and right buds, and include three sizes of silicone ear cushions, as well as a carrying case. For iPhone and Fall 2008 iPod users, both the 170 and 220 will be available in vi models featuring an integrated microphone for calls and remote button for call management and basic playback control. Ultimate Ears’ MetroFi 170 and MetroFi 220 Earphones will be available in February for $50 and $80, respectively; the vi models will sell for $10 more.
Vestalife has introduced two new speaker systems for the iPod and iPhone, as well as a portable monitor and speaker system. Like the company’s previous Ladybug speakers, both the Jewelbox and Firefly systems feature compact, rounded designs with fold-open speaker wings. The Jewelbox’s speakers open to reveal a flat surface and integrated Dock, and the system features a digital amplifier, full function remote control, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, automatic shut-off, an auxiliary input, touch-sensitive LED volume indicators, an A/V output jack, and an USB port for syncing. The Firefly features a design similar to that of the Ladybug, with two front speakers that fold down to reveal an integrated dock in front of the rear shell, which houses a built-in subwoofer. Other features mirror those of the Jewelbox, including the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and touch-sensitive controls.
Finally, the company has introduced the Butterfly Monitor portable video monitor and speakers. Offering a design extremely similar to that of the company’s Butterfly speaker system, the Monitor features the ability to view movies and photos via a built-in SD/MMC card reader, a seven-inch, 16:9 color LCD screen, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a full function remote control, auxiliary input, touch-sensitive LED controls, and a USB port. All three new systems are expected to be released at the end of the second quarter; pricing has yet to be announced.
XtremeMac has announced its new Micromemo microphone accessory for the fourth-generation iPod nano. This digital audio recorder saves .wav files onto the nano, where they appear in iTunes the next time the device is connected, and is designed to complement the body of the nano, with a protective back that encases the device. Other features include a flexible, detachable microphone, illuminated recording status indicator, a built-in speaker, and a 3.5mm input for use with other microphones. It will sell for $50 and is expected to ship in March.
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