Macworld Expo 2006 Report (Updated x2)
Updated! iLounge editors have been checking out all of the new iPod accessories on the floor at Macworld Expo San Francisco today, and have combined our efforts into a single browsable report. Here’s what we’ve seen. Our Best of Show Awards are also available now.
A1QP: The metal case maker showed off its newest iPod nano case, a version of iKeychain minus the keychain part, and plus a hole to access the nano’s Dock Connector port. It also showed off its new clear plastic inserts for iPod nano cases, which come with its cases and add the screen and control protection previously lacking in iKeychain.
Allsop: The case maker showed off its CES lineup of iPod nano and 5G cases, as well as new iPod stickers called Slick Skins with colorful patterns (7-10 Euros pricing).
Altec Lansing: Altec was showing the same new lineup of products unveiled at last week’s CES show, namely the iM11 ($100), iM9 ($200), and iM3c ($180). The company clarified that the iM3 “c” designation reflects the redesigned dock for the inMotion system, which now accommodates current model iPods and nanos.
Apple: Already covered in our news story, Apple’s iPod Radio Remote was on the show floor, but reliable testing of its radio reception within the convention hall was not possible. It looks just like the central portion of the iPod shuffle, but with a brushed metal shirt clip, and upon connection to the iPod calls up a new Radio menu option with FM tuning capability. It’s very easy to use, and attractively presented on the iPod’s screen.
Looking outside of Apple’s booth, we also saw something new for retailers and exhibitors: physically perfect iPod 5G and nano models made with all of Apple’s authentic iPod components, minus the internal circuitry and plus an artificial on-screen display. The faux iPods are marked “For Display Only” on the back.
ATO: Advanced Technology Office/ATO again showed off its iSee video player/recorder for non-5G iPods, covered in our earlier CES coverage.
Belkin: iLounge has had an opportunity to test Belkin’s new TuneTalk Stereo, the first working microphone recording device for the fifth-generation iPod. TuneTalk Stereo comes in two different colors - white and black - each with two metal-grilled microphones built into the accessory’s front surface. There’s a one-push record and stop button on its left side, and two ports on its bottom: a mini USB pass-through for power, and a line-input port. A gain control switch (not working on the prototype) inbetween them toggles between high and low gain, and a LED light changes from yellowish green to red to indicate recording status.
We tried two recordings on the device: “high” and “low” quality. High quality was 16-bit stereo, 44.1KHz, with a bitrate of 1411kb/sec (10.3MB/minute), while low quality was 16-bit monaural, 22.05KHz, 352kb/sec (2.6MB/minute), both in uncompressed .WAV format. Audio samples from the device were nearly indistinguishable from each other, at least from what we could hear on the show floor through Shure E2cs.
TuneTalk Stereo is not scheduled to ship until April. You can see how a 5G iPod equipped with firmware 1.0 works with the new accessory.
On day two of the show, Belkin showed off its new Bluetooth Headphones for iPod, which presently use the established Bluetooth 1.2 standard and a transmitter electronically compatible with discontinued (3G/4G/mini) iPods. The company plans an updated Dock Connector version with full support for newer iPods, plus Bluetooth 2.0 support, for release after the newer Bluetooth chipsets become widely available.
Better Energy Systems: The makers of Solio showed off a black version of the Solio solar charger, as well as a prototype pink version, and Tread cases for both iPods and laptops. Now Tread cases for the nano include earbud slots on their fronts or backs, and a cord winding space on their sides. Pricing is TBD, but likely under $30. The Tread cases for laptops are custom made and available for $99 from the company’s web site, waterproof with zipper-closed sides.
Bluelounge: The company was showing a new cord organizer called the Cableyoyo Pop ($10). The tiny plastic accessory, which is about the width of an iPod nano, features a strong suction cup to attach to a device, belt clip, two adhesive strips and 10 various Pop Art stickers.
BTI: Battery Technology Incorporated brought working final versions of most of the accessories previously previewed on iLounge, including:
TuneStir 2, the FM radio remote control.
A stand for the iPod Battery ii, which enables extended stand-up playback of video on 5G iPods.
uLink, the adaptor that lets you use old top-mounting accessories on an iPod nano’s Dock Connector. A version called vLink for the fifth-generation iPod is coming soon.
FM Transmitter for iPod nano, a sled-style FM transmitter design with tuning buttons and a screen on its rear.
Chums: Chums had several iPod and iPod nano cases on hand, including cases made from leather, fabric and woven material.
Contour Design: The case maker now has versions of its Showcase and Sports case (now fleXshell) for the iPod video, as well as 30GB and 60GB versions of iSee. fleXshell is a cloudy soft plastic holder; Showcase the company’s most deluxe rubber-edged clear case.
Crumpler: The Australian company was showing its existing line of nylon iPod cases.
Cyber Acoustics/iRhythms: The speaker vendor introduced several sets of dockable iPod speakers at affordable price points.
DLO: The case and electronics company showed HomeDock Deluxe ($150), a premium-priced version of its earlier iPod AV dock HomeDock, now with on-screen menus (for music, photo, and video selection) and a 20-button remote control. HomeDock Deluxe is still one of the largest iPod docks we’ve seen, with a space at the top to hold both your iPod and the remote, but its coloration has been improved from the prior version.
Elgato: The video-to-computer conversion and library management company released EyeTV 2 ($50), a simpler and more powerful version of its popular Mac television recording tool. EyeTV 2 includes a TV Guide-like program listing from which you can choose standard or high-definition TV shows to record for on-computer viewing, and an Export to iPod feature which makes iPod conversion simple for users.
Etymotic Research: Etymotic was showing its previously released ER-4 and ER-6 series headphones, but nothing newer than its black ER-6i Isolators. We’ve been told to expect new products later in the year.
Gizmac: Gizmac was demonstrating their new “Titan” machined aluminum cases for iPod nano and fifth generation iPods. The case slides together and secures with a screw on the case’s top side. Each Titan offers four carrying options (lanyard, carabiner, armband, and belt clip), comes in 10 colors, and includes a screen protector and Click Wheel film.
Griffin Technology: iLounge Accessory Maker of the Year Griffin Technology was present to showcase its current product lineup.
Prominently displayed at the booth was Griffin’s iTrip Nano (iLounge Rating: A):
Also displayed was the new SmartShare, a headphone splitter with independent volume controls:
Among things we’ve seen before are Griffin’s iClear cases, the Home Connect Kit, and the TuneCenter (previously TuneView)video dock, which debuted at CES:
We also again saw TuneFlex, a bendable car mount and charger, with a 30-pin Dock Connector pass-through port:
Gyms Pac: A new company featuring stylish laptop and iPod cases, Gyms Pac showed off a line of iPod sleeves created by designer Darrell Gibbs. There are 9 sleeves in total with styles ranging from a hand-drawn bird to a flower pattern.
Harman Kardon/JBL: Already covered extensively in our earlier news story, JBL’s On Time is a combination of high-end stereo speaker system with Universal iPod Dock, AM/FM radio, and blue-backlit face clock. The unit’s integration of all of these components is extraordinarily beautiful.
iFace: The case maker continued to show its iPod nano cases with changeable face plates, previously reviewed on iLounge.
iKlear: The cleaner and polish company is now reselling iCleaner, one of several iPod-specific polishing solutions we’ve tested.
Ignitek: Ignitek was showing its line of iPod speaker systems, including the recently announced iCheer 212 system ($90) for the iPod nano. The 4-driver system features a dock connector cradle, a mini USB connector, and comes with a a carrying bag.
iPort/Sonance: In addition to its previously covered iPort FS (free-standing) docks, iPort showed MacControl Connector, “which links the components in your entertainment center with your Wi-Fi network.” This connector has four ports, each of which “stores all of the settings for your [TV, DVD player, and receiver] components,” lighting or HVAC controls, iPod or AirPort Express. Multiple connectors can be daisy chained together, as well. All of these components can be controlled from your Mac. Alternatively, there’s a MacControl Remote, which has a 2.5” LCD, “the now familiar scroll wheel,” and four buttons to allow you to control your Mac, iTunes library, and other components at the same time.
iSkin: iSkin showed their iSkin eVo3 for iPod 5G (iLounge Rating: A-), iSkin Duo for Nano (iLounge Rating: A), and a new leather case for Sony’s PSP. The company also showed its BluMac Cerulean speaker system, which was first shown in iLounge’s Spring/Summer Buyers’ Guide last year.
New to the iSkin booth was this iPod nano armband, which uses an iSkin Duo case’s inner skin as its base, attaching a reflective, adjustable silver and gray band to a plastic front nano shield. A metal nano shield will also be included as an option.
Koyono: The makers of BlackCoat T shirts with iPod pockets are pushing forward with wearable electronic accessories, previewing the BlackCoat Work ($180/approx. March), a modern sportcoat with iPod controls integrated next to a zippered pocket.
LifePod: The iPod case maker unveiled a series of Beat Generation bags (“Groove Master,” “Rock Steady,” “Chill Out,” and “Podblaster”) with integrated stereo speakers, using retro fashion patterns similar to those of its cases. Some of the bags include radio tuners as well, and all hold the iPod inside. One - Chill Out - also serves as a cooler for beverages in addition to holding your iPod and the integrated speakers. New nano cases - including some built into purses and wallets - were also on display. The wallets include chains for security purposes.
Kensington: Kensington displayed several accessories already discussed on iLounge, such as:
But the company also showed Pico ($60), an extremely thin and short FM transmitter for the iPod nano with on-screen tuning and two preset stations.
Kesari: The case-maker showed its iPod nano and 5G leather cases, previously reviewed on iLounge.
Keyspan: The computer remote control company showed a new iPod AV Dock ($49) and optional Remote control ($29), which differed from Apple’s offerings in a couple of ways. First, the dock and remote system uses RF rather than Infrared technology, and can therefore work through walls. Second, the remote boasts 16 different function buttons, including many of the playlist and album-switching buttons found on TEN Technology’s naviPro EX series.
Logic3: Logic3 showcased several portable speaker systems including two new model, the i-Station 8 and the smaller i-Station 3. The i-Station 8 featured a 2.1 speaker system (a subwoofer and 8 drivers), fold-down dock and infrared remote to control your iPod from across the room. The cost is expected to be $179 and comes in black or white.
The i-Station 3 featured a 2 speaker system, fold-down dock and comes in black or white. Logic3 also debuted an In Line LCD Wired Remote Control and iPod Universal Dock with Video, S-Video and Line-Out, both available in black or white.
Macally: Macally showed off its new IP-N111 puck-shaped speaker system for the iPod nano ($40), which can play off of three AA batteries for up to 10 hours, as well as the car cup-mounted FM transmitter and charging dock FMCup.
Cases such as IceSuit for iPod nano and 5G ($20) show some innovations, including colored accents, headphone storage on their back surfaces, and access to all controls and connectors. The company also showed a black version of its IceWave stackable speaker system, previously featured on iLounge.
Marware: Marware had its new 2006 iPod case lineup on display. We saw early prototype versions of the Sidewinder hard cases for both 5G and nano iPods, and genuinely liked the feel of each.
Also shown were Marware’s silicone “Backwinder” Sport Grip cases, new 5G TrailVue cases, and CEO Classic for nano and 5G:
Matias: Matias showed its new iPod Armor for Nano, in both silver and black colors:
A new version of the company’s classic full-sized iPod Armor was also being shown, with a top plastic piece cut to accommodate the ports on every full-sized iPod in existence.
Maxell: Maxell’s booth had a number of the company’s Made For iPod accessories on display, including remotes, battery back-ups, docks, FM transmitters and more.
Mophie: The maker of last year’s Song Sling for iPod shuffle has stepped up dramatically with its new series of Relo cases, which blur the line between cases and other accessories. Mophie now sells the Base Case ($20-25/nano-5G) in four packs of two different color sets (yellow/pink/frost/blue or green/black/gray/orange), then creates additional silicone-covered accessories that link into the base. Relo 2 ($25, including one base) relocates your iPod nano’s headphone port to its top, and provides a second headphone port as well. Both are coming out this week.
Relo Ratchet ($15) and Relo Run ($15) are a 360-degree belt clip and a 360-degree rotating armband clip, each including one Relo Base Case. Both are coming out in February.
Relo Radio ($40) combines a case and FM transmitter. while Relo Recharge ($40) adds a 30-hour battery pack for either nano or 5G, and Relo Remote ($40) adds an RF remote control with up to 50 feet range. The nano version also includes a headphone port relocator. Relo Ramp ($40) and Relo Rest ($90) are iPod stands with integrated cases. Ramp adds two spring-loaded arms to your case, while Relo Rest is a full stand with docking capabilities and “cables for all devices (S-Video/RCA/USB)”. A remote control is included, as well, and it’s capable of charging your iPod. All of these electronic accessories are coming in March.
Pacific Rim Marketing: The company was showing its entire line of iPod cases, including the recently introduced iDiddy Santa Fe, Commuter, Pod Jams and Dolphin products.
Pacific Rim Technologies: The iPod accessory maker was displaying a bevy of products, including a black version of its portable Cube speakers ($40) and the new 5G Studio Case ($25), which sports a leather exterior, screen and click wheel protectors, and a snap-button stand for watching videos.
The company also showed a new Dock Connector-based Remote Control ($20) for current iPods, and a new multi-iPod-compatible speaker system similar to XtremeMac’s MicroBlast.
Pelican: The company was showing off its i1030 case ($30) for full-size iPods. The rugged, waterproof case features a shocking absorbing rubber liner, polycarbonate shell, nylon strap, earbud pouch, and spots for a charger and cable.
Power Support USA: The Japanese case and stand maker unveiled a wide variety of new products, most notably an impressive metal iPod nano display dock with integrated audio and data cables (~$60). New leather cases from both Power Support and Miyavix were on display for the iPod nano, as was a new solid metal case.
There were also many updates of its past 4G and mini stands and cases for the 5G and nano, prominently including colorful, size-adjusted updates of its Miyavix series of Kimono cases for the 5G iPod and iPod nano.
Pro Clip: Pro Clip debuted its Padded iPod Holder with Cable Connector, a new car cradle that allows you to use cabled Dock Connector accessories. The mount sells for $30 and the vehicle-specific holder is priced at up to $50.
PumpPod: A series of three different workout programs ($59-69) is now available for the fifth-generation iPod, giving users the ability to have a personal physical trainer stored in an interactive iPod slideshow.
RadTech: RadTech is now reselling Bluetake’s iPhono mini, as well as Gel (silicone) cases.
Rain Design: Rain was showing off for the first time publicly its new iWoofer ($130) speaker system for iPods. The iWoofer features an iPod dock with charging and synchronization, a bottom-firing subwoofer, FM radio and more.
Scosche: The accessory company was displaying its line of iPod gear, including previously announced Bluetooth wireless products and a new iPod-ready backpack. The SoundKase SonicBoom features an iPod pocket, built-in speakers and connects via the headphone jack.
Shure: The star of the company’s booth was the E500 earphones, which debuted last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The E500s feature triple drivers and a “Push-to-Hear
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