Welcome to our new, continuously-updated First Looks - a collection of previews showing brand new iPod, iPhone and iPad accessories that we’re currently in the process of testing. Here’s what’s hot right now:
Billed as "the world's first non-case protection solution for iPhone 6," SwitchEasy's new AirMask for iPhone 6 Plus ($30) is a set of two thin plastic stickers that attach to the front and back of the iPhone 6 Plus, providing 0.3mm-thick anti-scratch coverage without anti-drop protection at the same price as a regular case. The front piece has clear screen protection in the center of a faux metallic version of the iPhone's normally white or black glass bezel, with holes for the front speaker, sensors, and Touch ID button. By comparison, the back piece is all faux metallic plastic with a hole for the rear iSight camera, flash, and microphone. They fit together, leaving the side controls and bottom holes exposed, though not sticking quite as well to the iPhone's curvy edges as might be hoped -- adhesive inside holds the front and back surfaces firmly to the iPhone, but the edges may be a little loose near port and control holes. Wet and dry wipes are included to clean off your iPhone before installation. A version for the smaller iPhone 6 will apparently be sold for $25, and three colors are planned.
iStabilizer's tabArm ($100) is an articulating arm mount system that can hold any iPad or iPad mini, including the newest iPad Air 2. The total tabArm package includes iStabilizer's tabMount, Clamp, a hot shoe adapter, and an 11" stainless steel articulating arm with a single point locking mechanism. Using the included clamp, the arm can be mounted on ledges or other fixtures. The tabMount expands enough to accommodate many iPad and iPad mini cases, as well. And though it's not specifically recommended, we found the mount can also hold an iPhone 6 Plus.
Incipio has brought its Performance Armband ($30) — last seen for iPhone 5 — to iPhone 6, with a reduced price. It's the first athletic accessory we've seen made specifically for either of Apple's new iPhones. Like the last version of the armband, Performance for iPhone 6 uses water-resistant materials and includes a small slot for holding a house key. An opening at the bottom of the iPhone compartment allows access to the phone's headphone port. The armband fits snugly around the iPhone 6, leaving no room for a case. While the touchscreen will work through the plastic window, Touch ID won't. Keep in mind that due to the increased size of the iPhone 6, some users may find the latest Performance Armband more awkward to wear; this will especially be true for smaller users.
Admired by headphone obsessives for its value-focused audio gear, HiFiMan has debuted RE300i ($50), a budget-priced earphone model targeted at iPod, iPhone, and iPad users. Featuring an integrated three-button remote control and mic unit, RE300i's glossy white all-plastic construction and sparing collection of pack-ins have a distinctly OEM-style first impression. But the inclusion of extra filters — the little parts between the earphones and your ear — and the oversized, not-particularly-case-compatible 3.5mm headphone plug make RE300i stand out as designed with extra durability. We don't really review $50 earphones any more, but we'll be adding some brief impressions of the RE300i along with the 1.5-year old RE-400 Waterline ($100), the well-regarded black and silver model also shown here. RE-400 lacks a remote but has a more compatible headphone plug, titanium-coated drivers, and metal housings. While RE-400 comes in a small box without a carrying case, it appears that HiFiMan is bundling the case — plus two sets of Comply eartips and a large collection of rubber tips - with orders.
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