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.
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.
Compatible: iPhone 5c
Here's a quick look at two very affordable iPhone 5c cases from Amzer: Pudding TPU Case ($8, aka TPU) and SlimGrip Hybrid Case ($4, aka Hybrid). The former is a take on thermoplastic cases, similar in some ways to Incipio's NGP. Instead of a fully matte finish though, it's glossy on the sides and matte on the back. Eight colors are available, each of which skips button protection, something that's generally present on TPU cases. The openings along the bottom edges of our review units were slightly off-center. SlimGrip Hybrid Case is very much like Reveal from Griffin, or any number of similar cases. It fuses together an opaque soft border and a clear plastic back, exposing most of the rear shell of the iPhone. This one does include button protection.
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