Following up on the original AR.Drone quadricopter and its modestly-tweaked sequel, Parrot has announced Bebop Drone ($TBD), a smaller and more expensive model planned to ship in the fourth quarter of 2014. Like the prior versions, Bebop Drone is significantly limited in flight time—approximately 12 minutes—but makes improvements to the stability and camera hardware to appeal to videographers.
Most notably, Bebop Drone replaces the prior AR.Drone front-facing camera with a 180-degree fisheye lens and 14-Megapixel image-stabilized sensor, using a software solution to grab only a 1080p portion of the ultra-wide lens’s data. While this camera solution reduces the need to rotate Bebop Drone itself for panning shots, fisheye lenses are known for significant distortion, so it’s unclear whether the image quality will be great or mediocre. Parrot claims that the 0.88-pound unit benefits from new inertia measurement hardware and camera shake compensation software, “to guarantee optimal stability of the quadricopter” during flight. Videos recorded using the Drone are saved by the copter itself, and can be transferred off after each flight is complete.
Bebop Drone can be controlled over Wi-Fi using a new FreeFlight 3.0 app for iOS, with four antennas supporting up to 802.11ac with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and MIMO options. An optional Skycontroller accessory adds two physical joysticks, plus Wi-Fi-boosted 802.11a/b/g/n for a two-kilometer range. Parrot also promises support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, enabling users to view nearly-realtime footage from the camera while Bebop Drone is in flight. Prices have not been announced for the new products, but are expected to be significantly higher than the AR.Drones’ $300 entry cost.
Nest Labs CEO Tony Fadell has issued a public letter informing customers that Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector’s (iLounge Rating: B-) alarm may be delayed in the case of a fire under the right circumstances. This issue is related to Nest Wave, a feature that allows the alarm to be turned off with a wave of the hand, and has been discovered in laboratory testing only; no issues have been reported from customers.
Nest is offering an over-the-air update that disables Nest Wave, while leaving the smoke and carbon monoxide capabilities in place. For those that don’t have access to Wi-Fi for the update, full refunds are being offered. Until the issue has been resolved, Nest will not be selling Nest Protect.
Philips has announced new additions to its Hue lightbulb line — Hue Lux and Hue Tap. Lux is a white-only Hue bulb. The Hue app can control the brightness and set schedules for the Lux bulb, which comes in a starter kit with two bulbs and a Hue bridge for $100. Hue Lux will be released “after summer 2014.”
Hue Tap is a light switch for Hue which requires no batteries or wires; the switch works using kinetic energy from finger taps. The switch lets users control bulbs and activate lighting scenes. Tap will be available “after summer” in North America and Europe for $60.
Twelve South has introduced SurfacePad for iPad mini ($70), a leather case. The thin case uses adhesive to affix itself to the back of the iPad mini. SurfacePad for iPad mini also includes a multi-angle viewing stand.
SurfacePad for iPad mini comes in red, white, and black, and is available now. Twelve South noted that SurfacePad for iPad Air will be available in late spring 2014.
GN ReSound has launched ReSound Linx, an MFi hearing aid. First announced last October, the hearing aid connects directly to an iOS device.
The ReSound Smart app will let users adjust volume, treble, bass, and geo-tag locations for preferred settings. A price was not released for the ReSound Linx, but a past report claimed the hearing aid would likely cost more than $3,000.
Mad Catz has introduced its C.T.R.L.i ($80) iOS controller. The Bluetooth-enabled controller comes with a removable clip with a mount that can hold current iPhones, and can also adjust for larger devices.
The controller will reportedly come in black, white, blue, red, and orange. C.T.R.L.i is set to launch in April. [via Engadget]
Fitbit has issued a voluntary recall of its Fitbit Force Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband. The company has also pulled the fitness tracker from the market — Fitbit’s Force webpage notes the product is “currently not available for purchase.” Fitbit is citing skin irritation as the reason for the Force’s recall and removal from the market.
A letter from Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park claims “only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation.” Park points out that Force contains commonly used materials, but “some users may be reacting to the nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel used in the device. Other users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the materials used in the strap or the adhesives used to assemble the product.” FitBit is offering a refund of the device’s full retail price, and the company has set up a page dedicated to the recall. [via TechCrunch]
Twelve South has introduced its new stand, Compass 2 for iPad ($40), the sequel to 2011’s Compass Mobile Stand. Compass 2 is a metal stand with new dimensions for holding iPad Air and iPad mini, in addition to past iPads. The stand is made to work in either portrait or landscape mode.
Compass 2 includes a rear locking leg and secondary leg that folds down for a comfortable typing angle. It is available now in black, red, or silver.
Bose has released SoundLink Bluetooth speaker III ($300), the newest edition in its mobile Bluetooth speaker line. Featuring a new design, the SoundLink III boasts up to 14 hours of battery life with its rechargeable lithium-ion battery. SoundLink III has four drivers, two passive bass radiators, and Bose claims digital signal processing improvements allow users to listen to music at louder levels than SoundLink II — reviewed here.
Bose is offering gray, blue, green, orange, and pink covers for the device as separate $35 purchases. SoundLink Bluetooth speaker III is available now.
Scosche has announced the release of its MagicMount system for iPhone, iPod, and iPad. First introduced at CES 2014, the system includes four separate mounts — MagicMount ($20) is for desks and tabletops, MagicMount Window ($25) is a windshield or dash mount, and MagicMount Surface ($15) is for wall mounting. MagicMount Power ($30), a mount with a built-in USB charging port, will be released at a later date.
The mounts come with a Magic Plate which magnetically affixes the device to its mount; the Magic Plate can be applied directly to a device or rugged case, or between a device and its case or battery cover. Scosche’s MagicMount system was winner of an iLounge Best of Show Finalist award at CES. MagicMount, MagicMount Window, and MagicMount Surface are available now.
IK Multimedia has announced iRig Mic HD ($100), an updated digital version of 2011’s iRig Mic. Briefly seen at CES, the microphone is noteworthy for its use of a Lightning plug to connect directly to iOS devices—it also supports USB and Dock Connector—as well as its high-quality audio performance.
The accessory has a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter, a 44.1/96 kHz sampling rate, and a low noise/high definition pre-amp. Thanks to its traditional shape, iRig Mic HD is compatible with standard microphone stands. It will be available in “early Q2,” according to IK Multimedia.
Apogee Electronics has introduced the JAM 96k ($129) guitar interface and MiC 96k ($229) microphone. Both iOS-compatible products are new, upgraded versions of previous accessories — the Jam and MiC. As the names of the new products note, both accessories offer up to 96kHZ recording — an upgrade from their previous iterations.
Apogee’s JAM 96k guitar interface comes with a nickel-plated finish and includes a Lightning cable. MiC 96k, a studio quality microphone, includes a Lightning cable and a microphone stand adapter. Both accessories also come with an iOS Dock Connector cable and USB cable. JAM 96k and MiC 96k are available now.
Harman/Kardon recently announced its BDS 3D Blu-Ray systems, the BDS 580 ($1,099) and BDS 280 ($510). The iOS-compatible Wi-Fi Blu-Ray players have built-in AirPlay and Bluetooth functionality, enabling iPads, iPhones, and iPods to stream content directly to the receiver. Dolby Volume is included, which balances the volume between loud and quiet scenes without user involvement.
The BDS 580 is a 5.1-channel, 325-watt system, while the BDS 280 is a 2.1 channel, 130-watt system. Release dates are unknown at this point, as both Blu-Ray systems are only listed on Harman/Kardon’s European website.
iLounge has announced our 2014 International CES Best of Show Award winners and finalists. We’ve picked the absolute best products we’ve seen at CES — a very select list of Best of Show winners and Best of Show Finalist winners. ZeroChroma took home the Best Overall Product award for its Folio Slide for iPad mini with Flux-Stand. Incipio/Braven also netted four awards — two Best in Show awards and two Finalist awards. For all the award winners and the best products, click here.
NYNE has introduced Aqua ($130), a unique-looking, floating Bluetooth speaker. Aqua is IPX7-tested and waterproof, with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. It can be fully submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. The speaker has “close to 10 watts of power,” according to NYNE.
Aqua features a 2200mAh rechargeable battery and has a built-in waterproof microphone and auxiliary input. The speaker will come in gray or blue, and is planned for launch in the “early second quarter” of 2014.
Former Apple accessories head Jesse Dorogusker left the company and joined Square to design the new Square Reader, Wired reports. According to the report, Dorogusker previously led development on Apple’s Lightning connector, and spent eight years heading up the accessories division for Apple before leaving. Wired notes with Square’s new Reader, Dorogusker “had the chance to take a crack at a flagship product.”
Much of the article focuses on the technical details of developing the new Square Reader, which is 45 percent thinner than Square’s old credit card reader, and no longer requires an internal battery for power. The Reader also improves the tactile feel of card swiping despite its smaller size.
A just-published Apple patent has revealed plans for a “smart dock” that would allow users to interact with a docked iOS device through voice recognition. The dock would actively listen for audio cues in order to communicate with the docked device — the device’s voice recognition mode would then be activated.
Therefore, Siri could be used without physically interacting with the docked iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Some embodiments of the dock include a device with storage media, a GPS receiver, and/or environmental sensors. An in-car implementation would make a lot of sense, as well. [via Apple Insider]
Mophie has introduced the Powerstation XL ($130), a 12,000 mAh USB battery pack. The Powerstation XL can charge two iPads at the same time, as its dual USB ports each offer 2.1 amps of power. A micro USB port is also included, along with a cable to refuel the battery.
The Powerstation XL includes built-in short circuit protection and a LED battery status indicator. Mophie’s Powerstation XL is available now.
Kicker has introduced its Amphitheater K3 Speaker System with Bluetooth ($200) and Vapor Headphones ($220). The Amphitheater K3 uses aptX audio coding and delivers sound using 3-inch drivers, mid-bass woofers, a tuned-port enclosure, and a 2x10-watt amp. Devices can connect to the Amphitheater K3 using NFC or Bluetooth.
Kicker’s Vapor Headphones come equipped with a pair of 35mm dual-diaphragm transducers and sealing, leather ear pads. The headphones come with a detachable flat cable with three-button remote and microphone. Both products will be shown at CES in January, and released in the first quarter of 2014.
Acoustic Research has introduced a new line called “AR for Her.” The line will feature a Bluetooth speaker, made to look like a clutch handbag, that streams music from up to 30 feet away. A built-in microphone and rechargeable battery are also featured in the speaker.
The speaker will come in black, white, white with pink polka dots, and leopard print. Acoustic Research plans on updating the look each season while introducing more accessories. The speaker collection will be available in spring 2014.