News | iLounge

2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

iHealth debuts new Scale, Blood Pressure monitors

iHealth Labs has announced three new iOS-compatible devices — a new scale and two new blood pressure monitors. The Wireless Body Analysis Scale ($110) is an updated version of the company’s iHealth Scale, which can now track weight, body fat, lean mass, muscle mass, bone mass, body water, visceral fat rating, and daily calorie intake, while automatically detecting which user is standing on the scale. Results are shown through the new, free iHealth MyVitals app or on the scale itself.

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iHealth’s Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor ($100) tests, tracks, and shares blood pressure information using a Bluetooth-connected upper-arm cuff. It’s an updated wireless version of the company’s previous blood pressure monitor. The Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor ($80) is similar, but fits around the wrist instead of the upper arm. Both devices also use the IHealth MyVitals app.

Griffin, Ballistic unveil iPad mini cases

Griffin and Ballistic both announced lines of iPad mini cases, with Griffin releasing six cases for the device: The rugged Survivor ($60) comes with a clip-on stand, while IntelliCase ($35-40) offers a flexible front cover, and CinemaSeat ($40) includes an adjustable strap to fit around a car seat headrest. Three folio-style cases — Folio ($40-45), Slim Folio ($40), and Passport ($35) — round out the group.

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Ballistic introduced two cases for the iPad mini. Tough Jacket ($60) offers three layers of protection and a kickstand. It comes in black, black/hot pink, and black/white color combinations. Smooth ($40) comes in black, charcoal, hot pink, and purple and features interchangeable corners.

Belkin debuts Lightning accessories; car charger & dock

Belkin announced the first official third-party Lightning accessories to hit the market, the Car Charger ($30) and Charge + Sync Dock ($30). The Car Charger is a 10W charger that fits any car power outlet, while the Charge + Sync Dock uses a Lightning cable to charge a docked iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, or seventh-generation iPod nano. An extra auxiliary port is also included on the Charge + Sync Dock for audio purposes.

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Both products are currently available for pre-order and ship Nov. 15.

JBL debuts J Series Headphones, aWake speaker

JBL announced a new line of headphones — the J Series — and a new bedside speaker, the OnBeat aWake. Eight new headphones are featured in the J Series, and all “i” editions in the J Series include a three-button remote and microphone. The on-ear J55 ($80) and J55i ($100) feature 1 5/8” drivers, leather ear cushions, and a locking mechanism for the detachable cable. Both come in black, white, or orange and white. Over-ear headphones, the J88 ($130) and J88i ($150), feature 2” drivers and come in the same colors as the on-ear headphones. Four in-ear headphones — the J22 ($40), J22i ($60), J33 ($60), and J331 ($80) — ship with three sizes of silicone sleeves, and the J33 and J33i include Comply foam tips, in addition to featuring nickel-plated drivers and a strain-relief grip to reduce cable wear. All in-ear headphones come in black and white.

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JBL’s OnBeat aWake ($139) is a tabletop wireless Bluetooth speaker that includes a dock for Dock Connector devices. The aWake was designed to fit a pre-Lightning iPad in its dock, in addition to other iOS devices. Two full-range drivers are included in the speaker, which up to eight users can connect to at once using Bluetooth. Its alarm function can use music from an iTunes library, and an auxiliary input allows other devices to use the aWake as a speaker. JBL’s free downloadable app, AmpUp, features customized music settings for waking or falling asleep, on-screen calendar access, AccuWeather weather reports, more than 20 wallpaper styles with clock settings, analog or digital clock styles, and a nighttime mode.

Apple Lightning to Micro USB Adapter now available in North America

Apple has released its Lightning to Micro USB Adapter (seen in our First Look here) in North America. Priced at $19, the adapter was originally available only in Europe due to a European Union directive requiring Micro USB compatibility for smartphone charging. The new Adapter allows users to connect a Lightning connector-equipped iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to a computer or power source using a standard Micro USB connection, however it is worth noting that the adapter sells for the same price as Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable, making it a practical option only for those with a specific need to use a Micro USB connection.

Macally debuts iPad mini, iPod touch cases

Macally has introduced a new line of cases for the iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch. For the iPad mini, the company announced four relatively plain-named cases: the Leather Case & Stand, Slim Folio Stand Case, Reversible Cover and Hardshell Case with Stand, and Rotating Folio Case with Stand. All of these iPad mini cases have lids, and sell for $50.

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Two new cases have also been introduced for the fifth-generation iPod touch: the Flexible Protective Case ($10), a very inexpensive TPU plastic case that comes in white or black, and the Protective Flexible Case with Stand ($25), a more complex mix of hard and soft plastics that comes in green/lime and blue/yellow color combos, adding a flip-out stand to the back.

Exogear debuts Exoshift sleeve for iPad mini

Exogear has announced the Exoshift convertible sleeve ($40) for the iPad mini. The faux leather sleeve — which holds an iPad mini and folds into a stand, offering multiple viewing angles — appears to be a smaller, rebranded version of Taylor Technologies’ Smart Stand Sleeve.

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The Exoshift comes in black, red, or brown, and is currently available to pre-order. It ships Nov. 27.

JBL debuts SoundFly Air speaker

JBL introduced the SoundFly Air ($199), a plug-in speaker that streams music via Apple AirPlay using any iOS device and a Wi-Fi connection. The compact 20 watt speaker is white with a black grille, and it plugs directly into any AC wall outlet. It uses a free downloadable app to connect to your music library, browse cover art, adjust volume and tone, and customize the speaker’s digital signal processing.

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Up to four SoundFly Air speakers can be synced together to listen to iTunes anywhere in your home. The SoundFly Air is currently available for pre-order.

Targus buys Sena Cases

Accessory maker Targus is acquiring Sena Cases, a long-time iPod, iPhone, and iPad case maker best known for high-end leather products. Sena will continue to operate under its own brand, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Targus; both are based in Southern California. Sena’s new leather iPad mini cases were noted in a recent iPad mini case roundup. [via OCBJ]

Philips Hue Wi-Fi lightbulbs in Apple stores Oct. 30

Philips announced that Hue, its web-enabled LED smart lighting system, will be exclusively available in Apple Stores Tuesday, Oct. 30. Hue allows a new generation of color-shifting, Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs to be controlled wirelessly using an app. An expensive $199 starter pack includes three 50W bulbs that fit in existing light fixtures, plus a bridge for a Wi-Fi router. Each additional individual bulb sells for a staggering $59. Users can set timers, change shades and colors, and save settings so certain “light scenes” can be recalled at any time; the app also enables users to sample colors from their favorite images, and watch as the bulbs match those colors. The bulbs can switch between various white tones and colors — Hue’s website claims the bulbs can “recreate any color in the spectrum.”

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Philips claims Hue is “upgradeable and future-proof” and more features could be available for download in the future. These features could come from other developers; Philips has created an open source platform for the system, available on the Hue website.

iPad mini, iPad (4th-Gen) sales begin; Nov. 2, mid-Nov. shipping

Apple has officially started pre-orders for the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad announced earlier this week, with prices starting at $329 and $499, respectively. Wi-Fi-only versions of both devices will be available starting on November 2, and cellular versions will begin to ship in “mid November,” according to the Apple Store.

It’s noteworthy that the Apple Store web site is offering the company’s older 5W USB Power Adapter as an optional additional $19 accessory for the iPad mini, rather than the newly-introduced 12W USB Power Adapter, which sells for the same price and apparently offers faster-speed recharging for some iPads. Apple’s web site notes only that the iPad mini includes a “USB Power Adapter,” but doesn’t specify which version comes in the box; an earlier report suggested that both new iPads would include the more powerful 12W Adapter. Charging times for the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad have oddly been left ambiguous by the company, which generally has offered estimates of time required for refueling—a practice that quietly changed when the third-generation iPad’s recharging time became considerably slower.

The company also began to sell Lightning to USB Camera Adapters and Lightning to SD Card Camera Readers, which were not previously available for sale following their announcement. It is currently offering iPad mini Smart Covers in a variety of colors, and continuing to sell Lightning to Digital AV and Lightning to VGA Adapters, which became available to order immediately after the announcement.

iPad mini case roundup: Belkin, WaterField, Sena

Companies have continued to roll out cases for the iPad mini, and today brings a new collection of cases from Belkin, Waterfield and Sena. Belkin introduced five new cases: the Chambray Tab Cover with Stand ($30), Quilted Cover with Stand ($40), Striped Cover with Stand ($40), Dot Cover with Stand ($40), and Classic Tab Cover with Stand ($30). As their names suggest, all five cases feature a front cover and stand, remaining closed with a magnetic tab closure.

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WaterField Designs is featuring iPad mini versions of nearly all of its iPad cases, including the Travel Express ($59-$69), Slip Case ($27), Ultimate SleeveCase ($59-$65), EXO SleeveCase ($53-$59), Smart Case ($57), Wallet ($69), Outback Sleeve ($39), and Suede Jacket ($15-$36). Also, Sena announced four leather cases for the mini, including the Envy ($107), Jornal ($80), Florence ($70), and Folio ($70). See roundups from Tuesday and Wednesday for more iPad mini cases.

Jawbone to re-release UP at higher $130 price

iLounge has learned that Jawbone is on the cusp of re-releasing its UP bracelet, which was released last year only to be withdrawn from the market following user complaints. Originally sold for $100, UP debuted as a wearable, battery-powered motion sensor with an iOS app for tracking “activity, sleep and meals 24/7.” Acknowledging that “some people have experienced issues” with UP bands, Jawbone notably offered a full refund to customers who weren’t satisfied with the product. The new model will cost $130, and will come in black, blue, mint green, and red, each in small, medium, and large sizes. It’s unclear what improvements have been made to the new model, however, Bluetooth support was a glaring omission from the original band, which used a 3.5mm headphone plug to share data with iOS devices. We’ve reached out to Jawbone for more information and will update this article when we receive it.

Updated Nov. 13: Jawbone officially announced the re-release of UP ($130) today. UP will come in onyx, mint green, light grey, blue, navy blue, red, orange, and hunter green in small, medium, and large sizes. The re-release includes a new Power Nap feature, mood tracking, and delivers “highly personalized insights.” Notably, the device still syncs through the headphone jack, rather than Bluetooth.

Apple confirms new 12W adapter charges quicker

All but lost in the shuffle of major new Apple product releases this week was the new 12W USB Power Adapter, which as noted in our earlier story is designed to work with iPads and a number of other recent iPod and iPhone models. The 12W Adapter is an updated version of the 10W USB Power Adapter shipped with all previous iPads, and will be bundled with the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini, as well as purchased separately for $19. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has confirmed that the adapter will charge previous iPads faster than the older 10W adapter, stating that “[w]e don’t have an exact percentage of how much faster it would charge but you should see an increase in speed.”

Calculations run by iLounge suggest that the 12W Adapter could shave off up to two hours of charging time for the third-generation iPad, which notably took 7 or more hours to refuel. It’s unclear how much of an improvement will be seen by older iPads, as well as the iPad mini, which has roughly one-third the battery capacity of current full-sized models.

iPad mini case roundup: Incipio, Cygnett, Proporta, iFrogz

In the wake of Apple’s unveiling yesterday of the iPad mini, more companies are announcing cases for the 7.9” tablet, including Incipio, Cygnett, iFrogz, and Booq. Incipio has introduced four cases: the hard shell Lexington ($40), the thin snap-on Feather ($35), the NGP ($35), and the hard shell LGND ($35). All cases are either available for pre-order or listed as coming soon. Cygnett introduced five cases: the flexible folding Enigma ($40), the extra-protective Armour ($40), and the soft-feel FlexiGel ($20) are all said to be in stock now, with the shock-absorbing Workmate ($40) and impact-resistant Vector ($20) planned for availability on Oct. 31.

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Proporta has introduced iPad mini five cases: the Swivel 360 ($34) with its rotating stand, the Leather Style Folio ($34), the Leather Style with Aluminum Lining ($40), and the Back Shell ($27), all shipping Nov. 5, along with the now-available Quiksilver Neoprene Blue Checks ($20). iFrogz has also announced two cases, the textured Breeze ($30) and the folding Merge ($50). For more iPad mini cases, see Tuesday’s case roundup.

STM, X-Doria, Hard Candy, iLuv debut iPad mini cases

Today’s official iPad mini unveiling was followed by the announcement of early iPad mini cases, as STM, X-Doria, Hard Candy, and iLuv have all announced accessories for the new tablet. STM has announced the sleek Skinny Mini ($35), the Grip Mini ($40) with kickstand, and the leather Marquee ($80). All three cases have a front cover, and the Skinny and Grip are equipped with hard shell backs.

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X-Doria has announced five cases for the iPad mini, including the puff-printed wraparound SmartStyle ($40), the patterned SmartJacket ($35), the SleeveStand ($30), the leather-like Dash Folio ($40), and the Engage ($20) back cover, which works in conjunction with Apple’s iPad mini Smart Cover. Hard Candy has introduced its ShockDrop Case ($50) for the mini, a rugged hard shell case that comes in black or red and ships Oct. 25. iLuv has also announced a number of accessories for the mini, including five cases: the customizable Pulse, the portfolio-style CEO Folio, the ultra-thin Epicarp, the Snoopy Folio, and the padded Belgique. Prices for the iLuv accessories will range from $20 to $80.

Apple introduces new iPad accessories, cables

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Alongside the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad, Apple today introduced a handful of new accessories and cables including a new polyurethane iPad mini Smart Cover, Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, Lightning to Digital AV Adapter, and Lightning to VGA Adapter.

For the iPad mini, a shrunken version of the iPad Smart Cover was announced. iPad mini Smart Cover functions in the same way as Apple’s previous magnetic lid but forgoes the metal spine. It comes in dark gray, light gray, pink, green, blue, and (PRODUCT) RED variations.

Its iPad Camera Connection Kit, formerly coming with two adapters inside, has been split into two separate adapters: the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter and Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. They work with both new iPad models. 

The HDMI port-equipped Apple Digital AV Adapter and Apple VGA Adapter have also been updated with support for Lightning connectors. They’ve been renamed as the Lightning to Digital AV Adapter and Lightning to VGA Adapter, respectively, and cost $49 each. This represents a price increase of $10 for the Digital AV model and $20 for the VGA cable.

To support the revised third-generation iPad’s increased charging requirements, Apple also released a 12W USB Power Adapter ($19). The adapter is packaged alone without a Lightning to USB Cable or any other cable, much like the company’s 5W USB Power Adapter. It allows the iPad to charge at a faster rate than the iPad 10W USB Power Adapter that’s been in use since the first-generation model of the tablet, and because it omits the additional cable, it sells for a lower price.

Soundfreaq to release Novogratz Collection speakers

Soundfreaq has teamed up with notable husband-and-wife design team Robert and Cortney Novogratz for a special upcoming line of wireless Bluetooth speakers, which it’s calling The Novogratz Collection. The collection features six new designs for three existing speakers: The Sound Stack features the “Chiq Freaq” and “Flower Freaq” designs (both $450), the compact Sound Step features “Freaq of Nature” and “Freaq’n Fabulous” ($150), and the bedroom alarm clock Sound Rise gets “Freaq in the Bed” and “Novo Freaq” ($125) designs. All of the new speakers use interesting patterns and textures, replacing the one-color looks of Soundfreaq’s original designs.

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All of the speakers will be available in time for the holiday season.

Belkin introduces WeMo Baby monitor for iOS

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Expanding its earlier line of WeMo-branded home automation products, Belkin has announced WeMo Baby ($90), a product that turns any iOS device into a baby monitor. WeMo Baby uses 3G/4G or Wi-Fi to stream interference-free audio from a baby’s room to a mobile device without an additional receiver, via the free WeMo Baby app. The monitor works with multiple devices, enabling up to six people to listen simultaneously. As odd as this may sound, users can also upgrade to the Evoz premium service to receive advanced monitoring, cry notifications via text or email, cry history information, and analysis of baby’s crying and sleep patterns, for $10/month or $60/year. WeMo Baby will be available in early November.

Beats debuts Pill speaker, Executive headphones

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.

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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.

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