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:
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.
Along with its Folio Slide for iPad mini, ZeroChroma introduced two new iPhone cases at the 2014 International CES. Vario-Edge ($40) is available in versions for the iPhone 5/5s and iPhone 5c, while Vortex ($40) only comes in a 5c edition. Both incorporate the company's new Flux Stand, which appears to be a big improvement over the already impressive option offered in previous ZeroChroma cases. This stand rotates 360°, and offers a wide range of angles, with no set steps. Vario-Edge is a rubber bumper that includes button protection, with the round plastic stand attached about a third of the way down the back of the iPhone. While highly similar, Vortex offers the added protection of a criss-crossing rubber pattern along the back. Each of the cases will be available in February.
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.
The most recent addition to Olloclip's lineup of add-on camera lenses for iOS devices is the 3-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 5c ($60). Offered in five different colors designed to match the hues of the plastic-bodied handset, it offers the same three lens options as the original iPhone 5/5s edition: wide-angle, fisheye, and 10x macro. The wide-angle twists off to reveal the macro lens. Also included in the kit are two lens covers and a drawstring carrying bag.
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