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: Power Practical
Model: Practical Meter
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, iPods
While we won't be running a full review, we did want to feature Power Practical's Practical Meter ($25), a USB power meter that lets you know how much energy your device is drawing from a power source. The stubby plastic accessory is made to sit in-between a USB port and plug; you insert its plug into the appropriate USB port, and then your cable into the output. Five lights glow to indicate the power being drawn, with each representing 1 Watt. Five bars represents 5W, or full-speed charging for iPhones and iPods. If the first light is blinking, it indicates "high power mode," showing up to 10W being drawn, which makes it useful for iPads as well. A USB cable with Dock Connector, mini-USB, and micro-USB heads is included.
It's nothing too fancy, but Skech's ArmBand for iPhone 5/5c/5s ($30) seems to be a fine enough option for strapping an iPhone to your arm. Available in black, with pink or grey accents, the soft material extends out into a band, that wraps back in and through a plastic clip, before using Velcro to attach to itself. The phone fits in a pocket with a clear plastic sheet over the front, and there's a headphone port cutout. There's also a slot for a key.
Models: APEX360 Advanced Protection Case
Compatible: iPad mini
Belkin's APEX360 Advanced Protection Case for iPad mini ($70) is quite different from most folio-style cases on the market. The unusually thick rubber shell is made to stand six-foot drops, with air pockets inside adding to the durability. A detachable magnetic lid is included, and can come on and off easily. Because it rotates, the cover can be used as a stand in either landscape or portrait orientation. There's no opening for the second microphone on the iPad mini with Retina display, which may present audio issues, but the bottom speakers breathe through front-facing vents.
Compatible: All iPhones, iPods
Vorson calls its Bookmark "the world’s thinnest battery backup," and while we hear this kind of hyperbole on a daily basis, we're inclined to believe that even if this one isn't the very thinnest, it's darn close. The colorful plastic body tapers down from about a centimeter to only 4.7mm at the other end; it's just bit taller than an iPhone 5 or 5s, and a little bit wider. There's a 2500mAh cell inside, but the output is only 1A, so it's best suited for iPhones and iPods. The battery indicator lights next to the micro-USB and USB ports are touch activated, and a charging cable is included.
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