Incipio Technologies today announced the acquisition of Braven, a Utah-based company responsible for a collection of solidly-built wireless Bluetooth speakers. While Incipio previously focused mostly on protective accessories, it has been angling to get into the speaker business for some time, and expects the acquisition of Braven to “create a more diverse product offering.” Braven will remain based in Provo, Utah and the Braven brand will be maintained as a separate product line as part of the Incipio family.
Orbotix has announced Sphero 2.0 ($130), the new edition of its iOS-compatible robotic gaming ball. Sphero 2.0 boasts a new motion engine that’s twice as fast as the original Sphero, and updated multicolor LEDs make Sphero 2.0 three times brighter than its predecessor.
Sphero 2.0 also features brand new accessories — it comes with two ramps, and Nubby covers for harsher environments are sold separately. More than 25 apps now support Sphero. Sphero 2.0 will be released on Aug. 30.
Sony is reportedly readying the launch of two iPhone-compatible lens camera attachments, as allegedly leaked images show. One of two rumored cameras would have a short zoom Carl Zeiss lens and 20.2 MP sensor, while the other would have an long zoom lens and 18 MP sensor. Each accessory will apparently have a Wi-Fi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot, and could be controlled through an iOS device.
The lenses can be “magnetically attached” to a smartphone, according to the report. Pricing is unknown at this point, though similar Sony cameras carry prices of about $750 and $400, respectively. September 4 has been noted as a possibility for the release date. [via SonyAlphaRumors]
British audio company RHA has announced two premium in-ear headphones, the MA750i ($130) and MA600i ($90). The MA750i in-ear headphones come with stainless steel housings and handmade dynamic drivers. A reinforced cable and remote and mic are also included on the headphones, which come with a carrying case and a selection of ear tips.
The less expensive MA600i is constructed from aluminum. It also offers a remote and mic and carrying case with a set of ear tips. Both new RHA in-ear headphones are set for release on Aug 28.
Twelve South has released HiRise for iPhone ($35), an adjustable stand for iPhone 5 and iPad mini that works exclusively with Apple’s Lightning cable. The metal pedestal elevates an iPhone 5 or iPad mini without blocking the speakers, mic, or headphone port. An Apple Lightning cable is not included with the stand.
Twelve South notes the HiRise stand is compatible with “most every case on the market.” The user can position a self-supplied Lightning connector with one of three included adjustable clips, and the rear support on the stand can move back and forth to adjust for different-sized cases. HiRise for iPhone 5 is available now.
Philips will soon be extending its Hue wireless lightbulb family with the addition of LightStrips ($90) and Bloom ($80), according to a report. LightStrips are flexible two-meter LED strips that can be placed in a wide variety of places, including around frames or fixtures. Bloom is a portable lamp with a 120-Lumen LED bulb that can be used to highlight parts of a room.
Philips has incorporated the ZigBee LightLink wireless standard into the Hue line of products, which allows users to customize the lights’ intensity, color, and more. LightStrips and Bloom will be on sale in “the coming weeks,” according to the report. [via The Verge]
SMS Audio has released its new Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones ($280). The 50 Cent-branded headphones feature active noise cancellation, 40 mm drivers and leather memory foam ear cushions. With the rechargeable lithium ion battery, listeners can get up to 70 hours of music playback.
The foldable headphones come with a removable cable with microphone, micro-USB cable, airplane adaptor, and carrying case. Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones come in silver or black and are available now.
Google has ended its promotion offering three free months of Netflix with purchase of its new Chromecast dongle for HDTVs, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,” Google said in a statement. Users who purchased the iOS-compatible Chromecast before the promotion expired on Thursday will still be able to use their redemption code for three free months of Netflix. The deal applied to both new and existing Netflix subscribers and was a selling point for the dongle — the promotion’s estimated $24 value essentially enabled current Netflix users to purchase the Chromecast for a net cost of about $11.
Miniot has released its wooden Cover for iPad mini ($77 and up). The Dutch manufacturer is offering the case in five different types of wood: walnut, cherry, mahogany, wedge, and louro faia. Like the earlier full-sized iPad version, Miniot’s wood Cover magnetically attaches to the iPad mini’s body. It also rolls up into a stand to offer different viewing angles.
Each Miniot case is carved from a single piece of wood. Personal engraving and six lining colors are offered — the Cover’s price ranges from $79 to $103 based on options selected. Miniot’s Cover for iPad mini is available now, but the production time is currently listed as “approximately 5 weeks plus shipping.”
Google today launched notable new challengers to the Apple TV and iPad families, starting with Chromecast ($35), a plug-in dongle for accessing online videos and music on an HDTV. Chromecast is compatible with iOS devices — it uses the device as the remote, and to stream content to the TV. Users plug Chromecast into an HDTV, connect it to Wi-Fi, and the device controls streaming of content from the Internet, offering some of the functionality of an Apple TV at a much lower price point.
Power is supplied to the dongle via an included USB power adapter. Content for the dongle comes from services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play, as well as mirroring of one tab from Google’s Chrome browser. Customers who purchase Chromecast from Google Play, Best Buy or Amazon have an offer for three free months of Netflix — the offer extends to current Netflix subscribers, meaning that Netflix subscribers with the $8 a month streaming plan can get Chromecast for a net cost of about $11. Chromecast is available now.
Google also debuted its new Nexus 7 tablet as an improved rival to the iPad mini. The 7” tablet display comes in at 1920x1200, with a 323 ppi pixel density — almost twice that of the iPad mini. Nexus 7 also packs dual-stereo speakers, a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, and two cameras — 1.2MP for the front camera and 5MP for the back. It will ship with Android 4.3 and will hit the market July 30. A 16GB model with Wi-Fi is $230, or $99 less than the comparably specced iPad mini, and the 32 GB model is $270, undercutting the $429 mini. A 4G LTE 32GB model is $350, or $209 less than the comparable iPad mini LTE version.
Google also announced it will bring textbooks to Google Play Books, mirroring Apple’s addition of textbooks to the iPad in the iBookstore. All five major textbook publishing houses have signed on to the service, which lets users purchase textbooks or rent for six months. The new service will work on iOS devices, and it should arrive in early August. [via 9to5Google]
Beats Electronics has unveiled its redesigned Beats Studio headphones ($300). The new Studio headphones come with an enhanced 20-hour rechargeable battery, dual-mode adaptive noise canceling, and “reengineered sound.” An auto on/off switch helps conserve battery power, and a battery gauge lets users monitor power. The battery can be recharged via micro-USB cable.
The new Beats Studio headphones come with the company’s new DSP software, Beats Acoustic Engine. Beats also claims the new Studio headphones are lighter and stronger than the previous edition, with softer ear cups and a more comfortable headband. Coming in black, white, and red, Beats Studio headphones will be available in August.
Plantronics has launched its BackBeat Go 2 stereo earbuds ($80). The lightweight, wireless Bluetooth earbuds feature listening time up to 4.5 hours or talk time of up to 5 hours with the included microphone. Plantronics’ DeepSleep hibernation mode keeps the BackBeat Go 2 earbuds charged and ready for use for up to six months. The BackBeat Go 2 is also sweatproof for moisture protection.
The earbuds feature an iOS-ready battery status meter, and voice prompts that alert users about remaining charge and device pairings. Three eartip sizes are included. An alternate version sold for $100 includes a charging case, capable of adding an hour of listening time after only 20 minutes of charging, in addition to offering up to 14.5 hours of listening time when fully charged. BackBeat Go 2 is available now in black or white.
New Trent has released Airbender Mini ($40), a new protective keyboard case for iPad mini. Attractively priced relative to rivals, Airbender Mini features a rugged hardshell body and a Bluetooth 2.0 wireless keyboard. An adjustable arm lets users move the iPad mini into a horizontal or vertical viewing position.
A micro-USB cable is included for charging the keyboard. Airbender Mini comes in matte black and is available now.
Cypress Semiconductor has announced a new development kit that allows companies to quickly create audio accessories for iOS Lightning devices. The CY8CKIT-033A PSoC 3 MFi Digital Audio Development Kit for Lightning is being offered to developers for $199, and as the name suggests, it streamlines the process of designing a custom system-on-chip (SoC) solution to process “bit-perfect” USB digital audio data from Lightning devices.
Cypress notes that Apple’s Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFi) connectivity specification has become very complex, now running more than 250 pages long with numerous changes and revisions. The CY8CKIT-033A incorporates the latest MFi specifications and is MFi-licensed, letting developers use a software solution to prototype hardware for Lightning audio accessories such as speakers and musical instruments. Over 100 components are found in the PSoC Creator software, which uses a drag and drop interface to lay out the processor’s feature; support for Lightning, older Dock Connectors, MIDI and USB interfaces are all included. Developers interested in the Kit will need to obtain an Apple MFi license before buying the kit directly from Apple’s MFi web site.
Griffin today announced the release of its PowerDock 5 ($100), a device charger that can hold up to five iOS devices at once. First seen at CES 2013, PowerDock 5 takes up about as much desk space as an iPad, featuring five USB charging ports and a clear backrest to prop up each iOS device. Each port features 10-watt, 2.1 amp charging—enough for full-speed recharging of non-Retina iPads, as well as all current iPhones and iPods.
Because of its design, PowerDock 5 allows devices to be charged while still in their cases. However, USB cables are not included. PowerDock 5 is available now.
CableJive has introduced dockBoss5 ($30), an adapter that converts a 30-pin Apple-compatible dock into a universal charging station, complete with audio output. The adapter uses a full-sized USB port, allowing for non-Dock Connector devices to charge or play audio.
CableJive’s dockBoss5 comes with a three-foot USB to micro-USB cable and a three-foot audio connection cable. Users can self-supply Lightning to USB cables for connection of recent-model iPods, iPhones, and iPads. It is available now.
Just Mobile has released the Gum++ ($90), a new stylish high-capacity backup battery for smartphones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices. The Gum++ incorporates a 6000mAh battery encased in a glossy, durable hard ABS shell, and provides enough capacity to recharge an iPhone up to 3 times or add additional charge to an iPad, including the ability to provide up to 2.5A of current for full-speed iPad charging.
The Gum++ is available in a range of colours and is bundled with a USB-to-micro-USB cable for recharging the battery from any USB power source.
Following an earlier public disclosure that it was looking to sell its Harmony remote control business, Logitech has announced that it will retain the well-known product line. In a release, Logitech said, “The company has determined that retaining ownership is in the best interest of its shareholders. The Harmony product line has gained momentum following the April introduction of the Hamony Ultimate product, which is available in major retail locations including select Apple stores in the U.S., and has exceeded the company’s expectations for customer connections.”
Logitech also announced that the Logitech Harmony Hub – a bundled component with Harmony Ultimate and Harmony Smart Control that turns iOS devices into universal remotes – will be available for purchase as a standalone $100 product this August. Harmony Hub is a universal remote control accessory for iOS devices, consisting of a wall-powered 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi receiver, Infrared blaster, and Bluetooth 3.0 chip. The glossy black accessory transforms Wi-Fi commands sent by an iOS device into Infrared or Bluetooth control signals for TVs, A/V components, and game consoles. It’s an upgraded version of the company’s prior Harmony Link, notably adding better software and Bluetooth support.
Following a quiet demonstration earlier this year at CES, Scosche officially announced its iOS-compatible smartRoll electronic gaming dice at E3. smartRoll is a pair of two Bluetooth Smart powered gaming dice with built-in accelerometers and motion sensors. Rolling the dice displays the results on an iOS device’s screen. LEDs flash when the dice are in motion. The dice are evenly balanced for random results.
smartRoll dice are made of rubber and plastic and use a shake-to-wake function to conserve battery life. Three games — Trivia, Craps, and Music Challenge — are included with smartRoll. The replaceable coin battery is said to last for a year. Note that no launch date or pricing for smartRoll has been announced as of yet; Scosche is still seeking developers for apps.
Bose has introduced its QuietComfort 20 series in-ear earphones ($300). The noise-canceling earphones include an in-line control module for noise-cancellation — the module can run for 16 hours before needing a charge via Micro-USB. QuietComfort 20 earphones also allow users to enter “aware mode” to let in sound from outside. A three-button remote comes on the iOS version of the earphones, which should be available this summer.
Bose also debuted the SoundLink Mini ($200), a much smaller Bluetooth speaker than the company’s SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II. Seemingly designed as a Jawbone Jambox alternative, the SoundLink Mini features two drivers and dual-opposing passive bass radiators. Playback controls are located on top of the speaker, which can play for seven hours per charge. The SoundLink Mini will be released June 11. [via Engadget]