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:
Although it appears to borrow heavily from other OEM-designed iPad cases we've seen over the years, Kujali's Classic for iPad mini (£30/~$50) is noteworthy for the company's charity aspect; we won't offer a full review, but want to mention the option. A "leather styled" folio -- it seems to be faux leather -- the case is lined with suede on the inside, and has an elastic handle on the interior of the front cover, along with two viewing angle ridges. The tablet is held in a two-piece shell on the right side. It first gets fitted into a thin rubber skin, which then goes into the hard plastic piece that's attached to the case. Button coverage is provided, as are flaps over the ports. For every case Kujali sells, it donates a mosquito net to charity, with the intention of protecting African children from malaria.
Compatible: iPad Air, iPad mini
Following a version for iPhone 5/5s, PureGear has released its PureTek Roll-On Screen Shield Kit for iPad Air and iPad mini ($20-$25). Available in antiglare and anti-fingerprint finishes for both sizes, the film is most notable for its included installation tray. Instead of having to try to line up a sheet of film, you simply insert the tablet into the plastic tray, pull the film over the screen, and used the included roller to work out the bubbles. It doesn't extend quite as far to the edges as most films do, but we found the process easy. A cleaning cloth is included.
Model: Double Spot
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, and Bluetooth-ready iPods
Inspired by the company's 2013 speaker Sound Spot, Soundfreaq's new Double Spot SFQ-09 ($120/$150) didn't initially make a lot of sense to us: it's larger and more expensive than the company's breakthrough Sound Kick, but has only one obvious advantage -- it puts out louder rather than better-quality sound. In the $120 base model, you lose the $100 Sound Kick's integrated battery, as well as the ability to easily carry the system around anywhere; only the $150 version (or the $120 model with a subsequently-added $39 battery) can be used without the included wall adapter. Soundfreaq's explanation: Double Spot is designed primarily to be an affordable, stylish stereo home speaker rather than a portable model, and most users will want to put it in one place and leave it there. It will also be offered in a wide variety of exterior designs, including the wood and colorful variations Soundfreaq is doing with Spot but not Sound Kick. Bluetooth 4 is included for wireless streaming, and a rear USB port offers up to 1-Amp recharging for iPhones and iPods.
Winner of our 2014 Overall Best of Show Award at CES, ZeroChroma's new Folio Slide for iPad mini ($70) bridges the gap between folio-style and playthrough iPad cases that has existed since Apple released the first tablet in 2010. It arrives with a front lid that slides into a groove on the left side, capable of automatically locking and unlocking the mini's screen as it closes and opens, but if you don't want to use the lid, you just pull it off. Folio Slide then becomes a substantially protective playthrough case with full screen, button, and port access. The killer feature is ZeroChroma's new Flux Stand, which replaces the awesome prior stand with a similarly rotatable and angle-adjustable alternative, enabling you to prop up the iPad mini on any choice of angles and orientations. Planned for February availability, Folio Slide will also come in an iPad Air version that we're also looking forward to testing.
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