Beats Electronics has announced two new products, the Pill speaker ($200), and Executive headphones ($300). Pill is a portable, wireless Bluetooth speaker with four speakers inside, as well as a microphone for speakerphone functionality, and a rechargeable battery that offers seven hours of continuous play. It comes in three colors — black, white, and red — and is designed as another peer-priced competitor to Jawbone’s Jambox.
Beats Executive over-ear headphones are made from aluminum alloy, stainless steel and leather. The silver, noise-canceling Executive headphones come with an iOS-compatible microphone cable and offer full phone functionality, relying on batteries to keep their active noise-canceling hardware running. They’re a significant aesthetic evolution from earlier Beats Studio and Pro headphones, and will be available this month along with Pill.
UK speaker company AQ Audio is making its US debut with the AQ SmartSpeaker ($179), a portable, wireless, AirPlay-compatible speaker. The AQ SmartSpeaker features one-touch AirPlay setup and—like other recent “PlayDirect” speakers—can also stream directly from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod by creating its own Wi-Fi network. As a standalone speaker, the AQ SmartSpeaker offers stereo sound from its two drivers. Additionally, two SmartSpeakers can be paired for left and right channel separation, and speakers can be placed around the house for multi-room audio.
More than 10 hours of AirPlay playback are possible with the integrated rechargeable battery. AQ SmartSpeaker is available now.
Grace Digital Audio’s ECOXGEAR label has introduced the ECOXBT ($130) Bluetooth speaker, compatible with iPads, iPhones, and Bluetooth-capable iPods. The ECOXBT is a portable, ruggedized, 100 percent waterproof speaker that floats, uniquely equipped with handles for easy in-pool use. Somewhat amazingly, it also includes a built-in waterproof mic so iPhone users can answer calls using its speakerphone function.
Weighing 1.5 lbs., the ECOXBT promises up to 10 hours of continuous battery life with a rechargeable lithium battery. The speaker comes in orange, red, and black. It is available now.
British audio company RHA is making its first foray into the American market with its budget-priced MA450i and SA950i headphones. Sold in black or white, the noise-isolating in-ear MA450i earphones ($50) are equipped with 10mm drivers and an in-line remote, made from aluminum, and packaged with seven sets of ear tips. They’ll be available here in mid-October.
By comparison, the larger on-ear SA950 headphones ($60) feature 40mm titanium-coated drivers and an in-line remote. Made primarily from glossy black plastic with metal accents, they will be available here at the end of October.
Swedish headphone company NOCS has released its NS600 Crush earphones ($150). The NS600 Crush features two drivers per earphone, creating a tweeter-woofer setup with full-range sound. Noise-isolating silicone sleeves fit on the earphones’ aluminum housings, which are combined with a tangle-free Kevlar cable.
A remote and mic, carrying case, extra sleeves, and airplane adapter are included with the earphones. Notably, the NS600 Crush appears to be an update of the NS600, which was slated for significant retooling after it debuted nearly two years ago. The NS600 Crush earphones are available now.
To aid customers whose new iPhones and iPods won’t work with its numerous Dock Connector-based speaker systems, Geneva Lab is introducing the Wireless Dock Adapter, a Bluetooth receiver that allows audio to be transmitted wirelessly from an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to a Geneva Sound System. Update: Although the Wireless Dock Adapter was originally announced as a Dock Connector accessory, Geneva now says that it will be offering an aux-in-based Bluetooth receiver instead.
Geneva is offering the Wireless Dock Adapter for free to customers who purchased a Geneva Model S, M, L or XL Sound System after Sept. 14. Customers must register their warranty at GenevaLab.com, including proof of purchase. Existing customers can also purchase the adapter for the discounted price of $40.
Duo Games and Gameloft have announced the new Duo Gamer Controller ($80), a Bluetooth-enabled wireless game controller for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Equipped with dual analog controls, six buttons and a d-pad, the controller is apparently the first Apple-certified wireless joypad, however, it only works with select Gameloft titles.
A holding stand for iOS devices is also included within the package. Duo Gamer is available for purchase now.
Yantouch has debuted its Black Diamond 3 wireless speaker — a significant change from its former iterations as an iPhone dock and passive lamp. The redesigned BD3 is a now an iOS-compatible Bluetooth speaker, though it retains and enhances its color-changing lamp functionality, now featuring 16 million colors.
Two speaker drivers power the device, which can be controlled via remote. USB or wall power can be used for both the color-shifting light and speakers. No price or release date has been announced yet. For additional pictures and details, check out our First Look here.
CableJive has announced the DockBoss+ ($30), an adapter that connects Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable to existing 30-pin docking stations. Although the solution’s a somewhat complicated workaround with plenty of extra wiring, the iPhone 5, new iPod touch and new iPod nano all become compatible with older existing accessories when using the DockBoss+.
DockBoss+ promises to let you charge and listen to audio at the same time from a Lightning-enabled device; an extra audio-out port is also included for analog audio systems. It’s available now.
Libratone has announced Zipp ($399), a portable speaker that can use AirPlay with or without an existing Wi-Fi network. The Zipp can connect directly to AirPlay devices using PlayDirect technology, establishing its own wireless connection when necessary. It also sports a cylindrical design, so it can be placed in the center of a room without facing away from listeners.
The Zipp gets up to eight hours of playback time when used in a wired mode, and up to four hours when accessed in wireless mode. It comes in eight different interchangeable colors, and is due for an October release.
Evouni has announced a new line of cases for the iPhone 5. One standout design is the Leather Arc Cover, which is made from Italian calfskin leather and comes in three colors: claret, black, and blue. It folds into a viewing stand when needed, and uses a magnetic closure to cover the phone’s screen.
Separately, there’s the Leather Arc Wallet case, which is similar to the Arc Cover, adding an inner pocket for cards and cash. No pricing information or release dates have yet been announced.
IK Multimedia has released the iRig PRE ($40), a universal XLR microphone interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can plug any microphone with an XLR connector into the device. The iRig PRE comes with an adjustable gain control, 48-volt phantom power, and an audio output jack.
Two free apps for the iRig PRE are available for download: iRig Recorder, for voice and field recording/editing, and VocaLive, a multi-effects processing/recording app. Power is supplied by a 9V battery, which offers 30 hours of battery life when used with dynamic microphones, and 10 hours with phantom-powered condenser studio microphones. The iRig PRE is available now.
Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new dedicated AirPlay speakers, the A7 and A5. The A7 ($800) comes equipped with a six-inch dedicated bass driver alongside two sets of 1” tweeters and 3” mid-range drivers, while the A5 ($500) is a smaller version of the same all-in-one design, using twin 1” tweeters and 4” full-range drivers. Both new wireless speakers feature a design similar to the company’s MM-1 speakers, though more elongated, and without separated satellites.
As with all AirPlay speakers, a Wi-Fi network and either an iOS device or a computer running iTunes are the only things needed to use the speakers. Both models will be available in October.
Leading camera filter maker Schneider-Kreuznach of Germany has announced the B+W Smart-Pro Filter, a circular polarizing filter made for iPhones, other smartphones, cameras or tablets with a maximum lens diameter of 8mm. The polarizing filter is held in place by a self-adhesive magnetic ring, and can reduce reflections on non-metallic surfaces, improving the clarity of water and glass, as well as enhancing the saturation of blue skies and other colors. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.
Scosche has announced Rhythm ($100), a new pulse monitor and app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Rhythm’s neoprene arm strap fits over the forearm, allowing a user to manage, track, and analyze workouts. Two alternating LEDs with a photo sensor measure pulse, while a built-in accelerometer helps to provide estimates of calories burned, speed, pace, route, and distance. Wireless remote control over iOS music playback is also included on the armband, which boasts up to six hours of continuous battery life.
Interestingly, data from Rhythm’s personalized workouts can be stored in the cloud at Scosche’s Rhythm Dashboard website. The Rhythm monitor and app are available now.
Officially announced and briefly discussed at this week’s iPhone 5-focused event in San Francisco, Apple’s next-generation Lightning Connector has quickly become a flashpoint of confusion for iPhone and iPod users. Revealed piecemeal in several leaks ahead of the event, the Lightning Connector replaces Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Connector, a ubiquitous rectangular port found on every iPhone, every iPad, and every iPod released since 2003, except the iPod shuffle. The first device to feature the new port will be the iPhone 5, with the iPod nano and iPod touch following soon thereafter; iPads will reportedly begin to make the transition this year. To enable some prior accessories to work with the new devices, Apple is now selling three types of Lightning Adapters, two for old 30-Pin Dock Connector accessories and one required in Europe for Micro-USB chargers. Through a spokesperson, Apple has also announced plans to release at least two more Lightning Adapters for HDMI and VGA output.
Despite Apple’s connector and adapter announcements, significant uncertainty remains regarding prior accessory compatibility, and the availability of Lightning Adapters. Conflicting reports this week suggested that the “all-digital” Lightning Connector might not be able to support analog audio or video output; however, Apple has confirmed that its Lightning to 30-Pin Adapters will be capable of passing iPhone 5 audio to prior Dock Connector-based docks, speakers, and cables, but will not support video out from the iPhone 5 to older video accessories, or “iPod out” mode transmission of data and album art, used in some car and home video dock accessories. It remains unclear whether the iPhone 5 will display jarring error messages when used with Apple’s Lightning Adapters, or just gracefully pass through what it can share. The first third-party accessories built with Lightning Connectors are not expected to hit stores until late this year or early next year, according to an iLounge source.
Adapter availability has also become a point of concern. The iPhone 5 will be delivered to users starting next week, however, Lightning Adapters will apparently not be available until some time in October, so the first round of customers will not be able to test their prior accessories with the iPhone 5 until well after the phone arrives. Apart from one brief and apparently erroneous hint during the iPhone 5 ordering process, Apple has not suggested that the iPhone 5 or new iPhones will include Lightning Adapters. According to a dialogue box spotted by TheNextWeb during iPhone 5 pre-ordering this morning, Apple’s web site told some European customers that the iPhone 5 “includes a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter,” and offered the purchase of “this additional adapter to have a second adapter for your home or office.” Some time afterwards, Apple changed the language to omit references to the “included” and “additional” adapters, with sales representatives describing the text as “an error.”
Apple has posted full videos of Wednesday’s media event, as well as separate videos focusing on the iPhone 5, and EarPods. The iPhone 5 video is nearly seven minutes long and shows a brief demonstration of its LTE network in action, in addition to detailing new features of the phone. The EarPods video concentrates mainly on the design and development of the earphones, which will be packed in with some iPods and the iPhone 5, as well as sold separately.
Confirming previous leaks, Apple today officially unveiled the names of its new earphones and miniature Dock Connector replacements. EarPods is the name chosen by Apple for its earphones, which will be bundled with the seventh-generation iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod touch starting in October, as well as sold separately. Like earlier Apple earphones, the EarPods will include a three-button remote control and microphone unit; new to the design are waveguides to channel the speakers’ output into users’ ears. They’ll sell for $29.
Apple also announced the Lightning moniker for its new Dock Connector, which will appear on the bottoms of new iPods, iPhones, and iPads going forward. A $19 Lightning to USB Cable will be included with each compatible device, while two Lightning to 30-pin Adapters will be sold. The first is a hard plastic adapter, sold for $29, while the second is 0.2m long and sells for $39, starting in October.
For European users, a Lightning to Micro USB Adapter is now showing up in Apple’s online store with a lead time of three days. Selling for £15—about $24—it allows Apple to comply with EU regulations.
Of brief note: Apple has also renamed the prior USB Power Adapter to 5W USB Power Adapter, further differentiating it from the Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapter, and listing it as compatible with all recent iPods and all iPhones, including today’s newly-introduced models. Notably, however, the 5W USB Power Adapter does not include Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable or any cable, and now sells for $19 on its own.
Brookstone has announced the Rover 2.0 App-Controlled Spy Tank ($150), the second version of its Rover tank, a toy designed to be compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The night vision-equipped tank is 25 percent faster than the previous model, which we reviewed and liked last year. Rover 2.0 can stream and record live video and stills, as well as uploading them directly to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using the free app.
Built with Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, Rover 2.0’s wireless range is up to 200 feet unobstructed, and 100 feet around walls and into other rooms. The angle of the tank’s camera and its headlights can now be controlled remotely, and it can both transmit and receive audio, playing through a built-in speaker. It uses 6 AA batteries, included with the purchase. Rover 2.0 is now available for pre-order, and will be released in October.
Brother has debuted the MFC-J4510DW ($199), a new and interesting color all-in-one printer compatible with AirPrint. Featuring a new, fashion-forward industrial design that takes cues from Apple’s devices and accessories, the compact inkjet features 802.11b/g/n wireless and Ethernet options, as well as a free app that can be used for managing printing. It features a touchscreen display and can print documents as large as 11” by 17”, with output at a brisk pace of up to 35 pages per minute. Automatic two-sided printing is also available for documents up to 8.5” by 11”; new engineering of the printing engine enables improved yields from ink cartridges and a more compact footprint—roughly the size of 11” by 17” paper—that’s less than 1/3 the size of competing devices.
The MFC-J4510DW will be available in October, and additional models in the Brother Business Smart series will be announced later this year.