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:
Company: Bowers & Wilkins
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones + Bluetooth-Capable iPods
Admired for its daring speakers and classy headphones, Bowers & Wilkins was an early supporter of Apple's shaky AirPlay wireless speaker standard, and thus is only now releasing its first Bluetooth speaker. Unlike rivals that merely dropped Bluetooth chips into earlier AirPlay products, however, B&W has come up with something entirely new in T7 ($350) — a portable Bluetooth audio system with a highly distinctive industrial design. Mixing gunmetal, black matte plastic and clear glossy plastic in ways that look better in pictures than photos, T7 uses a hexagonal "Micro Matrix" frame to support four audio drivers — twin two-inch glass fiber drivers, straddling two bass radiators stacked together in the center. The honeycomb is actually functional, designed to reduce distortion by firmly holding the speakers without adding weight to the chassis. Two amplifiers and a DSP are powered by an 18-hour rechargeable battery, controlled by five total buttons and indicated with side-mounted white lights. The footprint is roughly comparable to Jawbone's Big Jambox and Braven's 850 series, though not quite as large. We'll have a full review of T7 very soon.
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.
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