- September 7, 2012
- iPad Accessories
USBFever.com has introduced the SecurityLocker case ($93) for the third-generation iPad. Helping to justify the abnormally high price for a plastic frame, the clear, shock-resistant polycarbonate hard case is bundled with a wire security lock and keys. Four silicone feet on the back of the case prevent sliding, and protective film covers the screen. A shoulder strap and folding stand are also included.
Originally announced in January for a release in April, iRig Stomp ($60) has just been shipped as a guitar and bass stompbox interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—with a more affordable price.
Roughly the size of a standard compact pedal and compatible with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube apps, the device fits in with an existing pedalboard, allowing users to connect instruments or amplifiers using standard 1/4-inch guitar cables. A headphone port is also included.
Responding to earlier reports that Apple hasn’t offered developers parts or specs for next-generation Dock Connector accessories, additional sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple will be the exclusive initial vendor of a new Dock Connector Adapter, to be sold individually and/or in three-packs. According to sources, the Dock Connector Adapters will sell for approximately $10 each or three for $29, with Apple-branded new USB cables selling for $19 each. For reference, Apple’s MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter sells for $9.99, while international pricing for Apple’s earlier iPhone Micro USB Adapter is €9 ($11) or £8 ($13).
While leaks of the new connector have been numerous, Apple has remained mum on what developers are calling the “9-pin Connector,” even though sources claim that Apple has in recent months stopped approving third-party proposals for connector-equipped accessories. Some developers fear that Apple will corner the market for both the adapters and cables, much as it did with MagSafe connectors for MacBook laptops, using licensing agreements and threats of lawsuits to prevent less expensive third-party solutions from coming to market. One source notes that Apple will reap a windfall by limiting competition in this manner, generating revenues of $100 million for every 10 million Dock Connector Adapters it sells for $10. According to the source, Apple estimates that it will sell the first 10 million Adapters by the end of 2012. It remains unclear whether Apple will allow third-party developers to release competing alternatives before then, or afterwards.
- September 5, 2012
- iPad Accessories
Established British audio accessory developer Focusrite has debuted iTrack Solo ($200), a dual-input audio interface for recording and mixing directly to an iPad. Similar to the company’s Scarlett 2i2 for computer use, iTrack Solo features a professional-grade microphone preamp with low distortion and noise, plus phantom power, promising “pristine quality” for guitar and microphone recording. GarageBand and other apps are compatible with the unit, which offers up to 24-bit, 96kHz sampling for two channels. iPad-specific and USB power cables are included, along with input and output ports for a mic, guitars, and playback devices.
An aluminum unibody case houses the unit, which can connect directly to a loudspeaker, as well as a Mac or PC when you’re not using the iPad. The iTrack Solo will be released in October, with street pricing at a lower price of $160.
Following the success of Monster’s Beats by Dre series of headphones and similar musician-inspired alternatives, Krusell has announced the release of Motörheadphöne, a series of headphones inspired by metal band Motörhead. The series includes five products: the over-ear 40mm driver-based Motörizer ($130) with three-button remote, and remote-less Iron Fist ($120) headphones, the on-ear 30mm Bomber ($100) headphones with remote, plus mic-equipped Overkill ($60) and mic-less Trigger ($50) earphones. Motörizer, Iron Fist, and Bomber all use branded leather sides, while Overkill and Trigger have metallic circular edges.
Krusell also announced three simple, iPhone-sized cases, the hard shell Metropolis ($35), a sealed pouch called Capricorn ($40), and open-topped sleeve Burner ($35). Each uses black leather with Motörhead logo and text branding in either white or red. All of the cases and headphones are expected to be released this fall.
JBL and Harman Kardon have announced seven new speakers for the iPod, iPhone and iPad, ranging from updates of classic models to brand new designs. JBL’s Flip ($100) is a Bluetooth-compatible portable speaker that can be used horizontally or vertically, including a built-in microphone for Bluetooth calls. Built for placement near a television, the Cinema SB 200 ($300) is a Bluetooth-equipped, 120-watt soundbar with two woofers, two tweeters, an amplifier and a built-in subwoofer, designed be compatible with JBL-designed apps.
Also introduced were the latest version of Harman Kardon’s SoundSticks, the Bluetooth-streaming SoundSticks Wireless ($230); two other portable speakers, the Bluetooth-enabled JBL Micro Wireless ($60) and the hockey puck-sized, non-Bluetooth Micro II ($40); and two other Cinema Soundbars, the non-Bluetooth SB 100 ($200) and the SB 400 ($550), the latter of which is a Bluetooth-enabled soundbar designed for HDTVs 46 inches and larger, packed with a separate 200-watt wireless subwoofer. All products are set for a fall release.
After nine years of steady third-party accessory growth for its devices, Apple faces a potentially serious ecosystem disruption this year, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge. With only two weeks remaining before the expected debut of the next-generation iPhone, Apple has not offered third-party developers the components or engineering details necessary to build docking accessories for the new device—the first iOS product expected to ship without Apple’s now-ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector, which will soon be replaced across all future Apple pocket and tablet devices. Noting the time required to manufacture and ship new products, the sources suggest that new iPhone-specific electronic add-ons will likely miss the upcoming holiday season, apart from whatever accessories are released by Apple itself.
Rumors of a smaller Dock Connector replacement have circulated for years, and the new component has recently been spotted in leaked cables, next-generation iPhones, and even parts apparently intended for other iOS devices. References to the new connector have also been found in beta versions of iOS 6. Despite these disclosures, however, Apple has not made the connectors available for developers to test or purchase, or discussed its new authentication chips, both of which might stop existing accessories from working, or limit their functionality with new Apple devices.
While the broadly available Micro-USB standard was suggested as a possible replacement for the 30-pin Dock Connector, sources suggest that Apple’s switch to a proprietary new connector will enable it to control the entire supply of available parts, as well as developers, since third-party versions of the new connector will likely be either unavailable or unreliable for months. One source expects that Apple will introduce a more stringent version of its Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (“MFi”) licensing program alongside the new connector, complete with more elaborate testing requirements and perhaps higher fees. It remains possible, however, that Apple may merely attempt to dominate the 2012 holiday market by selling its own accessories—perhaps including adapters for older accessories—then supply new connectors and chips to developers in 2013.
Apple’s MFi program was grudgingly accepted by most developers years ago as a necessary cost of doing business with the Cupertino company, adding additional costs to iPod accessories once Apple began to sell electronic components and require per-unit licensing fees, collectively described by some as an “iPod tax.” The subsequent “Works With iPhone” program generated industry-wide grumbles based on new Apple approval and testing procedures, which were blamed for delaying the release of early iPhone electronic accessories for roughly a year, as well as restricting the variety of accessories that could be developed without Apple’s consent. Apple has since been criticized for problems with its AirPlay licensing program, which offers developers a wireless, dock-less alternative for streaming music to Wi-Fi-equipped accessories. AirPlay add-ons have been plagued by audio drop-outs and other issues, leading to complaints and mass returns by disappointed consumers, the costs of which have largely been absorbed by developers.
Withings has introduced the Wireless Scale WS-30, its latest iOS-compatible health product, as a sequel to its 2010 Connected Scale. Now equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the new scale offers secure access to weight and BMI data through the company’s free Withings Health Companion app, which features goal setting, coaching, and weight graphs.
Individual users are recognized by the scale, which can keep track of eight different profiles, and the accessory can be set up using Bluetooth and an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The scale will be available in late September in Europe for approximately $190, a higher price than its predecessor; no North American release date or pricing has yet been announced.
- August 31, 2012
- iPad Accessories
Zagg has announced Zaggkeys Pro ($100) and Pro Plus ($120), two new ultra-thin Bluetooth keyboards for iPad. Like Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, both keyboards use an iPad Smart Cover-style magnetic closure to close upon and protect the iPad’s screen when not in use.
Very little information on the keyboards has been released by Zagg, beyond the fact that each has dedicated function keys to operate specific iPad features, and the Pro Plus keyboard comes with optional keyboard backlighting. Both products use Bluetooth wireless to connect to the iPad, and include rechargeable batteries. They’re set for a late September release.
IK Multimedia has announced iRig KEYS ($100), a portable universal MIDI controller keyboard for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Weighing slightly less than 1 1/2 pounds, and measuring roughly 20 inches long, the controller features 37 velocity-sensitive mini keys, plus five soft-touch buttons and one volume/data knob that can be customized for different purposes. It’s also both Core MIDI and USB compliant, arriving complete with a Dock Connector cable for iOS device attachment. iRig KEYS can be powered by Apple’s devices for brief periods of time, or longer via the USB port, and two free apps are included. It will be available this fall.
- August 30, 2012
- iPad Accessories
LaunchPort has announced its new AP.3 magnetic sleeve ($150) for the new iPad and iPad 2. Available in black or white, AP.3 fits on the iPad, enabling it to magnetically mount to a base station or wall station for inductive charging.
While mounted, the sleeve can be rotated 360 degrees. Launchport is selling the previously-released WallStation and BaseStation mounts separately for $200 each. The new AP.3 ships at the end of September.
Speck has been granted a patent for the company’s groundbreaking CandyShell case, which was originally released in 2009, and followed up with numerous sequels since then. The patent is for a device case with a flexible inner layer, hard exterior layer, and adjoining side surfaces, joined together to form a one-piece housing. This design was at one point considered impossible to manufacture, but has since been widely copied by other case makers, who may be forced to start making modifications in light of Speck’s patent.
JayBird has announced the Freedom Sprint ($129), a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earbuds. Also known as JF4, Freedom Sprint is 40 percent smaller than Jaybird’s prior-generation JF3 Freedom earbuds, reviewed here, and offer a slightly diminished 4.5 hours of playtime for wireless music and calls, sport-ready ear grips, and micro-USB charging. Unlike competitors, JayBird also offers a lifetime warranty against sweat, as well as a free three-month premium membership to MapMyFitness. Freedom Sprint is available now.
Logitech UE has announced seven new products for the iPhone, iPad and iPod, including its first pair of universal fit quadruple-driver in-ear headphones. The Logitech UE 900 noise-isolating earphones ($400) come equipped with four armature speakers per ear, as well as two detachable cables — one with an Apple mic and three-button remote control — that can be swapped out for a standard cable. Logitech UE notes that the four drivers are used for accurate high-end, low-end, and midrange reproduction, with extra bass power. Five sets of silicone ear tips and three Comply foam tips are included with the new earphones, which will be available in September.
The company also unveiled three large headphones: the base model Logitech UE 4000 ($100) is the first ever on-ear Ultimate Ears model, while the larger Logitech UE 6000 ($200) is its first over-ear model; both are wired, with integrated Apple three-button remotes and microphones. A deluxe $400 model called Logitech UE 9000is similar in design to the 6000, but includes Bluetooth wireless support, on-ear controls, and a detachable cable. All three models use 40mm drivers, and are shipping now.
Three new Logitech UE speakers debuted as well, though two are somewhat familiar. Most unique is the Logitech UE Boombox ($250), a die-cast aluminum and stainless steel speaker with ruggedized rubber padding. Similar to the company’s award-winning Logitech Wireless Boombox, eight drivers are inside this model, including two 0.5” tweeters, two 3” woofers, and four 2 5/8” passive bass radiators. Bluetooth promises wireless broadcasting from up to 50 feet away. Up to eight Bluetooth-enabled devices can connect to the speaker, and three devices can connect at the same time. Logitech UE Boombox features a six- to ten-hour rechargeable battery, depending on volume.
Orbotix has announced the release of six new apps for the previously-reviewed Sphero, the motorized ball remote-controlled by an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Four of the apps are new games, including the shooter Exile, quick-reflex game ColorGrab, snake game Doodle Grub, and multiplayer collision title Tag. Updated apps include a redesigned version of the original Sphero app, incorporating multiple prior Sphero apps into one download, and an updated golf game, featuring new course creation and practice features. Four of the new apps are currently available for iOS, while Doodle Grub and Sphero v2 will be released on Sept. 14.
Kicker has announced its new Amphitheatre High-Performance Audio System for the iPhone and iPad. Featuring a square reflex subwoofer and DSP amp along with 5” mid-bass speakers and 3/4” silk-dome tweeters, the Amphitheatre allows users to dock an iPhone, iPod or iPad and control their music playback using an included ergonomic remote control. The Amphitheatre also includes a USB port for charging external devices along with an auxiliary input for connecting other media players. In addition, users can download a free KickStart iOS app from the App Store that provides an 8-band EQ, spatialization option, sound presets, integrated alarm and night mode, and social media integration for sharing music with Facebook friends. The Amphitheatre is expected to be available beginning in September in a Dock Connector version for $300, with a Bluetooth model following later this year.
Case-Mate has announced a new partnership with upscale Argentinian leather goods maker Vaja. According to the companies, the partnership will see the two collaborate on strategy and product design; Case-mate will market, distribute, and sell Vaja’s products, which will still be made by the latter company’s artisans. “The Vaja brand uniquely fulfills the desires of the rapidly growing premium segment of the market in which consumers are seeking mobile device cases made from the highest quality materials found only in handcrafted, personalized products,” said Shashi Reddy, Case-Mate’s founder and CEO. “Vaja’s team of artisans has created fine leather products desired by luxe-minded consumers for their amazing quality and appreciation for detail. The Vaja brand will make a wonderful addition to Case-Mate’s portfolio.” Vaja’s complete line of cases and other leather accessories remains available at vajacases.com.
JBL has unveiled its new Jembe Wireless speakers for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. Relatively compact in size, the Jembe Wireless are based on the company’s prior Jembe desktop speakers, and offer a built-in amplifier, Slipstream port technology for improved bass response, a 3.5mm input for connecting non-Bluetooth devices, and an exterior treatment based on JBL’s well-received Weave design. JBL’s new Jembe Wireless speakers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod are available now and sell for $99.
New Potato has debuted its new TuneLink Home music streamer and remote for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android devices. The TuneLink Home is a small, black accessory that connects to iOS devices via Bluetooth, and offers wireless audio streaming—with standard 3.5mm and optical digital outputs—as well as the ability to serve as a universal remote control thanks to a dedicated app. The company promises an pre-programmed database of over 80,000 pre-programmed remote control codes, and the TuneLink Home can also learn new codes, as well as accept macro commands from the app; a wide-angle infrared LED array is built in to the device, which also offers an IR extender port. New Potato’s TuneLink Home music streamer and remote for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is available now and sells for $100.
Bracketron has introduced its new Universal USB Travel Power Kit for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other USB-charging devices. The Kit includes low-profile USB car and wall chargers, both of which provide 2.1 Amp charging for fast charging of the iPad, as well as a 3’ Universal Charge/Sync Cable that features a standard USB connector on one end and both Apple 30-pin and Micro USB connectors on the other. Bracketron’s Universal USB Travel Power Kit for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod is available now and sells for $40; the Universal Charge/Sync Cable is available separately for $20.