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:
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.
During testing of i4+, we’ve noted a number of oddities that appear to be attributable to IDAPT’s use of unlicensed Lightning connectors. First, it’s important to note that there are differences between the Lightning tips that come with the set or are sold separately. The former is labeled “iPhone/Lightning,” and has a slightly raised plug that allows for greater but not complete case compatibility. The other, available for $19, simply says “Lightning,” and isn’t raised, so it won’t work with cases. Occasionally, plugging in an iOS 7 device will prompt warning text to appear, but not every time; it’ll still charge regardless. There were unexplained differences between the charging rates we saw with connected Lightning devices, as well. For the time being, we’re not going to issue a full review. If IDAPT updates its system with consistent Lightning adapters, we’ll revisit it at that point.
Model: CableDrop Mini
Compatible: Apple Cables
A sequel to larger cable clips launched several years ago, Bluelounge has released CableDrop Mini ($10). Coming in packs of nine, in white or black plastic, these clips are designed to hold small cords, such as Lightning cables, in place. Each is 0.8" in diameter, and has adhesive on the back for mounting.
Company: Heckler Design
Compatible: iPad mini
Likely more useful for business than individuals, Heckler Design's HighSign for iPad mini ($59) is still a neat accessory. It's designed to be mounted on a wall, with the tablet semi-permanently housed inside. The iPad rests inside a backplate, with a metal frame screwing on over the top, but leaving access to the Home button and front-facing camera. Those screws are tamper resistant, and come with a special assembly key. To mount it, you must screw a square installation plate into the wall.
Compatible: All iPhones, iPods
Offering the same kind of functionality as iFixit's Thirsty Bag, the EVAP Wet Electronics Rescue Pouch ($20) from Kensington is made to help dry out your iPhone or iPod if it ends up getting wet. In the event that you do drop your device in a pool or lake, the idea is that you can put it into the bag, which contains a drying agent the company says is 700% more effective at removing moisture than rice. A humidity indicator will show you, after six to 24 hours, when it's ready to be removed. Of course, there are no guarantees that the bag will keep your phone from being fried, but it has a better chance at restoring a waterlogged device to normal than nothing at all.
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