Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter contains previously undiscovered video processing hardware, according to developer Panic, which performed a teardown of the accessory after noting video quality issues. In testing output from an application, Panic found that the video resolution was below 1080p, and noted that compression artifacts were showing up on screen. The company discovered an ARM processor inside the adapter, and suggested that Lightning iOS devices are using a protocol similar to AirPlay to encode video before sending it to the accessory for decoding. While the presence of the processor hints at the reason the Digital AV Adapter arrived at a surprisingly high $49 price, the video degradation was a disappointment, particularly considering the prior Dock Connector version’s output capabilities.
Notably, a comment posted by an anonymous Apple employee on Panic’s blog confirmed the findings above, and attempted to explain them. “We didn’t do this to screw the customer,” the commenter said. “We did this to specifically shift the complexity of the ‘adapter’ bit into the adapter itself, leaving the host hardware free of any concerns in regards to what was hanging off the other end of the Lightning cable.” The commenter also noted that the video quality limitations may only be temporary. “Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable… updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can’t say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.” [via Panic Blog]
Griffin has announced its MouthStick Stylus ($30), a stylus affixed to a mouthpiece that allows people with fine motor impairments to use digital devices. The MouthStick Stylus was designed in collaboration with physicians and people with physical disabilities. It works with touch screens, laptop keyboards, and Apple’s Magic Trackpad.
The mouthpiece holding the rubber-tipped aluminum stylus is made from food-grade stainless steel and comes with three sets of BPA- and latex-free silicone rubber mouthpiece sleeves. A gooseneck shaft allows the stylus to be used at any angle. Griffin’s MouthStick Stylus will be released in the second quarter of this year.
Brother has announced its new HL-3000 series of digital color printers, including the AirPrint-compatible HL-3140CW ($250) and HL-3170CDW ($280). Thanks to the AirPrint functionality, users will be able to print wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch without installing a printer driver. The HL-3140CW offers color and black printing up to 19 ppm, up to 600x2400 dpi resolution, and support of wireless 802.11 b/g/n and USB 2.0 interfaces, while the HL-3170CDW offers all the features of the 3140CW, as well as faster printing up to 23 ppm, dual-sided printing, an additional Ethernet interface, and other features. Both printers will be available in March.
New photos of a case for the fifth-generation iPad show a smaller, narrower overall footprint than past generations of the full-sized iPad, corroborating our early reports on the upcoming device. While case makers sometimes make guesses on the design of a new device, it’s notable that this case matches leaked housing photos from an earlier part leak.
The fifth-generation iPad case is quite clearly smaller than a fourth-generation iPad case, as seen in the comparison photos, matching our report that the next iPad will have a form factor closer to the iPad mini. Additional case comparisons are included below. [via 9to5Mac]
Known for its bargain-priced cables, Monoprice has started to offer Apple-certified Lightning wall chargers for $13 a piece—substantially below the prices of versions from other vendors. The charger features a “captured” or non-detachable Lightning cable and a generic design, promising 1-Amp charging speeds. This is sufficient for iPhones and iPods, but below the peak recharging capabilities of iPads.
Monoprice is also offering a similar deal in $12 Lightning car chargers. Like the Lightning wall charger, the car charger offers only 1-Amp power, appropriate for full-speed iPhone and iPod charging. The car chargers are available now, while the wall chargers are listed as “coming soon.”
Apple has quietly released a 0.5m version of its Lightning to USB Cable ($19). Although half the size of the “standard” cables it has been selling, it retains the same price; its release suggests that Apple may shift to packing shorter Lightning cables in with future products.
Apple also tweaked its In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic — the remote now is a bit more rounded, matching the redesigned remote on EarPods. The rest of the design and the $79 price haven’t changed. [via MacRumors]
Urbanears has introduced Slussen ($15), a stylish-looking portable DJ adapter with a free companion app. Slussen plugs into an iOS device, using two 3.5mm jacks to connect headphones and a sound system. Upon launching the app, users can hear one song through headphones while another is playing through the speaker. The app allows music to be controlled in a number of ways, by adjusting BPM, syncing tracks, and EQ effects; a scratch function, crossfaders, and equalizer are also included.
Slussen comes ready for keychain attachment. Available now, it comes in four colors — grape, pumpkin, petrol, and tomato — with the tomato version priced at $20.
Belkin has released the FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case for iPad Mini ($80). Billed as the thinnest keyboard case currently available for the iPad mini, the keyboard features spaced TruType keys with tactile feedback as well as dedicated function keys for copy and paste, volume, and music control.
The case also includes a built-in stand that works in both portrait and landscape orientation, magnets for auto wake/sleep support of the iPad mini, and promises battery life of up to three months on standby or 155 hours of active use. The case will be available for pre-order via Belkin’s web site.
Swedish audio company NOCS has begun shipping its new AirPlay speakers, the NS2 Air Monitors ($450). First announced last year at a slightly lower price of $400, the Air Monitors are a pair of bookshelf speakers that incorporate AirPlay technology to allow users to stream audio from a computer or iOS device. While the speakers were supposed to be available early in 2012, they actually became available in limited quantities only in mid-December, with additional stock appearing online more recently.
NOCS advertises the NS2 Air Monitors in six colors—black, white, orange, grey, red, and yellow—however only the first three colors are available at this time, with more stock said to be coming in all colors later this month. The speakers are relatively small and coated in soft touch rubber.
Logitech has announced its Ultrathin Keyboard Cover mini ($80) for iPad mini. Based on the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover mini features a Bluetooth wireless keyboard with an integrated stand and screen cover. Magnets secure the keyboard to the iPad mini. Battery life for Ultrathin Keyboard Cover mini is up to three months on a charge, based on an average use of two hours per day.
Logitech has also announced that the full-sized Ultrathin Keyboard Cover now comes in red, as well as prior black or white versions, with engraving as an option. It has been one of Logitech’s strongest selling products to date. By comparison, the new iPad mini keyboard cover comes in black or white and is available for preorder.
After over 80 years in the consumer electronics business, Philips announced Tuesday that it has sold the remainder of its consumer-focused electronics business to Japan’s Funai. Although Philips steadily reduced its involvement in consumer electronics, leaving its television and mobile phone divisions behind in recent years, the company suffered a fourth-quarter net loss of €358 Million (about $481 million).
Philips has had an interesting history with Apple. It originally sold products that challenged the iPod, including its GoGear series of media players. It then started to make iPod-friendly speaker systems, and later bought iPod/iPhone accessory maker DLO to become a major player in Apple accessories. The company developed quite a few distinctive speakers, eventually including some AirPlay models at widely varying price points, and continued to sell earphones and headphones. Funai will apparently continue to sell these products under its own brand.
Philips will now turn most of its attention to medical equipment, as healthcare sales made up 40 percent of the group’s revenue in the fourth quarter. Consumer lifestyle products accounted for 26 percent of the company’s fourth quarter revenue. [via Wall Street Journal]
Having made its name over the years as a competitor to Apple for both iPods and iPads, Archos has announced that it is beginning to create Apple-compatible accessories, starting with its new Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad ($79). Archos claims that this is the thinnest iPad keyboard available, measuring only 5 mm thick, and attaching with magnets to the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPad. It includes automatic screen on/off functionality when used as a cover.
An adjustable kickstand allows the user to change viewing angles, and an aluminum casing matches the iPad. It will be available in March.
Griffin Technology has announced that it will sell a line of Papernomad-branded iPhone and iPad cases in North America. Papernomad is an Austrian company that makes compostable, organic, customizable, tear- and water-resistant sleeves; each sleeve is made from a composite of paper, viscose fiber, and biopolymer that can be ecologically disposed of at the end of its life. Cotton stitching, wool lining and a hemp pull tab are also used in the designs.
Papernomad sleeves are designed to be marked with pencils, pens and crayons. Their prices will range from $40 (Pars Sleeve for iPhone) to $50 (Zattere for iPad), and will be available soon.
Apogee has announced a redesigned version of One ($349), a USB audio interface and microphone that makes a direct digital connection to an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Mac. One offers three input options — a built-in omni-directional condenser mic, XLR input for microphones and 1/4” instrument input. Also, One can now record two inputs simultaneously — the instrument input and one of the mic inputs. A metal chassis now encases One, which uses Apogee’s Maestro software for iOS to control inputs, mic preamp, outputs, and low latency monitoring. It will be available in March, shipping with Dock Connector support and the need for a user-supplied Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter.
Apogee also introduced the updated Duet ($595) for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac, a two-input, four-output USB audio interface for stereo music recording and mixing, another Dock Connector-based accessory that requires the Lightning adapter for new devices. Last but not least, the company also announced iPad compatibility for Quartet ($1295), a four-input, eight-output USB audio interface. Quartet will now ship with a Dock Connector cable, again with the need for a Lightning adapter. The updated versions of Duet and Quartet will be released in February.
Bem Wireless has announced Speaker Trio ($300), which bundles three wireless speakers with a Bluetooth audio and charging base. The three speakers share a wireless connection to the base and can stream the same music to multiple rooms. Each speaker has up to 120 feet of wireless range, while Bluetooth is used to let your iOS device stream music wirelessly at distances of up to 25 feet from the base.
The speakers are 6” x 6” each and offer about six hours of battery life — when not in use, they can be returned to the base for conductive wireless charging. Auxiliary in and out ports are also included. Speaker Trio is available now in black or white.
Twelve South has announced PlugBug World ($45), an all-in-one international version of its PlugBug. PlugBug World piggybacks onto a MacBook power adapter, allowing simultaneous charging of a MacBook and iPad, iPhone, or iPod from the same outlet, adding a separate 2.1-Amp USB port. PlugBug World includes five international snap-on plugs for use in the UK, Europe, Australia, China, and North America.
PlugBug World also works as a standalone international wall charger, as well, promising to charge an iPad up to four times faster than a standard 0.5-Amp USB port, and an iPad mini twice as fast as its included charger; notably, one of the USB ports built into each modern Mac offers identical 2.1-Amp charging speeds, but older Macs and many PCs do not include higher-speed USB ports. The charger is available now.
Withings has announced the US release of its Smart Kid Scale ($180). A Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected device, the Smart Kid Scale is designed to track the weight and growth of newborns and toddlers. The scale can be used from infancy to eight years old. It features a large graphical screen and an interlocking baby basket to weigh infants — the basket can be removed to become a toddler scale.
By using the free Withings Baby Companion app in conjunction with the Smart Kid Scale, parents can easily access a history of weight and height readings. The app also logs height, feedings, and how a child’s data compares with children of the same gender and age. Withings’ Smart Kid Scale is available now.
iLounge has announced our 2013 International CES Best of Show Award winners and finalists. Twenty-four winners were selected from hundreds of developers and thousands of products, representing the best and most innovative products we’ve seen at CES. A total of 12 full Best of Show awards were given out, as Incipio took home four Best of Show awards — including Overall Best of Show — while IK Multimedia netted two Best of Show wins. Other Best of Show winners include Adonit, Griffin, LifeProof, myCharge, Soundfreaq, and Switcheasy.
In addition to our 12 full Best of Show awards, 12 total Best of Show Finalist awards were presented to developers. Click here for all the winners and details on the selected products.
You’ve already seen dozens of our pre-show reports from Las Vegas, but today’s the day when the 2013 International CES officially opens for business. Completely filling the Las Vegas Convention Center’s floor space, offices, and meeting rooms for the rest of this week—as well as the nearby LVH and just about every other hotel—CES is going to be packed from edge to edge with new product and service announcements—many of potential interest to iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac users.
iLounge’s team has been in town for days now, meeting with leading developers from around the world. We’ve shared “under construction” photos from the massive 120,000-foot iLounge Pavilion at CES on our Twitter account, and posted everything from First Looks at new products to company-by-company previews of what’s about to be shown. Join us today at CES.iLounge.com for plenty more live coverage of all things Apple from the show floor—we’re very excited by what we’ve seen so far, and can’t wait to share more with you.
With so many 2013 CES reports (visit our special CES site!) hitting iLounge yesterday, we wanted to make sure that the latest CES First Looks didn’t get lost in the crowd.
Speck’s CandyShell and CandyShell for iPad mini are excellent updates to its prior signature product, slimmer than expected for Apple’s tablet.
As a new entry into the Beats-alike market, the Audiovox 808 Studio Headphones are glossy plastic on-ears at a budget-ish price.
The new Native Union Switch is a stylish Bluetooth speakerphone with stereo music streaming and a very cool volume knob.
Based on earlier Cushi stickers, the id America Cushi Plus is equivalent to a full case thanks to added protective elements - and has some great designs, too.
One of the most value-packed super-protective cases around, the SwitchEasy FreeRunner for iPhone 5 is ready to challenge far more expensive rivals such as LifeProof and OtterBox cases.