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: Griffin Technology
Model: Kazoo MyPhones
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, iPods
Designed specifically for young listeners, Griffin's Kazoo MyPhones ($20) come in two molded plastic designs: frog and penguin. Both are bright, colorful options with padded ear cups and adjustable hand bands. Around the headphone plug, you'll find the appropriate food for the respective animal, either a fly or a fish. Internally, the handphones are limited to 85 decibels, which is a safe level for children.
Compatible: iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
Taking on the field of of highly protective iPad case options, Kensington has introduced its BlackBelt 3rd Degree Rugged Case ($80). Made for full-sized iPads, the case isn't the prettiest around. It starts with a plastic shell at its base, which is then surrounded by a thick rubber layer; a sheet of screen film is included as well. Button and camera protection is built into the case. A locking anchor allows you to conenct to the company's line of security devices. Optional accessories include a $30 kit with a hand strap and shoulder strap.
Compatible: iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
Kensington has released two distinct products under the same family name: SafeGrip Rugged Case & Stand for iPad mini ($50) and SafeGrip Security Case & Lock for iPad ($90). The latter model supports second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPads. Although it's not identical, the iPad mini holder reminds us of i-Blason's ArmorBox Kido Series. The foam case has a hinged-handle that can also act as a stand. This one includes a stylus, which can fit into a groove on the back, as well as screen film and an applicator. It only comes in green. SafeGrip Security Case & Lock has a similar outer piece, but the iPad first fits inside a hard plastic case with a locking mechanism. Included with the pack is a ClickSafe lock. This one comes in bright orange, and looks pretty monstrous -- gigantic, and without a particularly good match between the inner and outer layers. The last photo below shows how awkwardly the parts come together.
Compatible: All iPhones, iPods
The i4+ Universal Charging Station ($80) is IDAPT's latest multi-device charging base. The black plastic unit has three charging stations on top, and includes five interchangeable tips: one Lightning, one Dock Connector, two micro-USB, and one mini-USB. You simply plug in the ones you need, connect your accessories, and let them charge. Additional tips can be purchased separately. There's also a USB port on the side, which allows you to charge a fourth device, with your own cable. A wall adapter is included. Updated October 17, 2013: We've opted not to fully review i4+ for the time being, for reasons detailed below.
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