iLounge has learned that the costs involved with adding AirPlay functionality and Thunderbolt support to devices may be limiting the adoption of the Apple co-developed standards. Regarding AirPlay, sources have noted that the cost of adding AirPlay music streaming support to a set of speakers results in a retail price bump of around $100, making it unlikely that the standard will be widely adopted in lower-priced audio systems for the foreseeable future. Our sources have described the AirPlay technologies as considerably more expensive to incorporate than Apple’s standard docking Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad Dock Connectors, and noted that Apple is very heavily pushing developers to adopt the wireless technologies despite the costs involved.
We similarly have learned that the price of the components required to add a Thunderbolt port to an external hard drive is roughly equal to the cost of a low-end hard drive itself, a high cost that one developer has suggested will limit Thunderbolt’s near-term use to products aimed at the professional market. This high cost structure also makes it unlikely that Apple will integrate Thunderbolt ports in its iOS devices in the immediate future—a feature that many people have guessed would be available for iPads—and would partially explain Apple’s drive to push for Wi-Fi-based synchronization in iOS 5.
Despite these facts, a number of companies are actively readying AirPlay- or Thunderbolt-ready products for introduction in the coming months, and we’ve seen at least one speaker system—Philips’ Fidelio AD7000W—that was priced as low as $230, setting a new price floor for AirPlay audio systems. It remains to be seen when or if costs will come down further to promote more widespread adoption of the accessories.
Philips has debuted a number of new AirPlay-enabled speaker systems at CE Week 2011. Based on the company’s previously-revealed Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800W system—which will launch in the U.S. this month for $799—the Fidelio SoundSphere DS6800W system features a handcrafted enclosure made from real wood, a silver and black color scheme, “floating” speakers, an auxiliary input for connection of other audio sources, and built-in Wi-Fi for AirPlay music streaming support. It wil be available this holiday season and will sell for $500.
The Fidelio DS8800W is a desktop-style, one-piece system offering 2x15W RMS total output power, neodymium drivers, bass pipes for enhanced bass reproduction, an included remote control, and built-in Wi-Fi for AirPlay music streaming support. It will sell for $400 and is expected to ship this July. The circular Fidelio DS3881W features 16W RMS of total output, a 360-degree surround sound effect, a compact design, a rechargeable battery, an auxiliary input, and built-in Wi-Fi for AirPlay music streaming support. It will be available this holiday season for $329. Finally, the Fidelio AD7000W is a compact, desktop-style system featuring an aluminum and fabric finish, 10W RMS of total output, auxiliary and USB inputs, the latter of which can charge and play a connected iPod, iPhone, or iPad, and built-in Wi-Fi for AirPlay music streaming support. It will also be available this holiday season, and will sell for $229.
AViiQ has announced that its Smart Case for iPad 2 is now available. The Smart Case mixes a hard plastic shell with a solid anodized aluminum plate for added rigidity, and features open access to all ports, controls, cameras, and the speaker, and a design that allows it to work with Apple’s iPad Smart Covers. AViiQ’s Smart Case for iPad 2 comes in black, silver, blue, green, orange, pink, or red, and sells for $50; for more information, see our full review.
Incase has announced its upcoming line of headphones, which it is calling Incase Audio. The new lineup, which is all black with lime green accents, consists of four models: the Sonic Over Ear, Reflex On Ear, Pivot On Ear, and Capsule In Ear. According to the company, each model features custom-tuned drivers, designs made to match the natural shape of the ear and head, and an integrated microphone and remote for use with Apple devices. Incase’s new line of Incase Audio headphones will be available this Fall; pricing has yet to be announced.
G-Technology, well-known for its storage solutions, has introduced its new G-Connect wireless storage solution for the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and other mobile devices. Sporting a 500GB hard drive, the G-Connect creates an 802.11n wireless network, allowing it to share content with up to five devices simultaneously, and, when connected to the Internet via the built-in Ethernet port, can also serve as a Wi-Fi access point. Other features include a USB 2.0 port for fast transfer of media from a computer, automatic discovery and organization of files into photos, videos, music, and documents categories, app-based access from iOS devices, password protection, a personal “private” folder, and AirPlay support. G-Technology’s G-Connect wireless storage solution for iOS will be available in July and will sell for $200.
iSkin is now shipping its Vu and solo Smart cases for the iPad 2. The Vu, which debuted in our iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide, is a hybrid case made from TPU and polycarbonate, featuring embedded Microban antibacterial protection, an integrated multi-position stand, protection for the home and volume buttons, integrated covers for the dock connector and headphone ports, open access to both cameras, and a two-tone design with a clear rear center area. It is available in one of three color combinations and sells for $60.
The solo Smart is a clear, high-gloss soft cover for the iPad 2 designed to work in concert with Apple’s iPad Smart Cover. Features include integrated covers for the headphone and dock connector ports, push-through protection for the volume and sleep/wake buttons, open access to the speaker and rear camera, embedded Microban antibacterial technology, and a feature called CoverLock that features integrated brackets meant to make the connection between the iPad 2 and the Smart Cover more secure. The solo Smart is available now and is priced at $50.
Marshall has updated its Major Over-Ear Headphones with a new in-line remote and microphone module. The single-button, Apple-friendly remote can be used to play, pause, and skip tracks, and can also be used to answer and end phone calls. Other features include 40mm dynamic drivers, soft ear cushions, an included 6.3mm adapter for use with amplifiers and larger stereos, a collapsible design, and styling reminiscent of the company’s on-stage amplifiers and audio gear. Marshall’s Major Over-Ear Headphones are available now and sell for $119.
Audio-Technica has announced that it will show its new line of Solid Bass Headphones at CE Week 2011. The new line will include the ATH-CKS50BK In-Ear Headphones, featuring 12.5mm direct diaphragm drivers, an elastomer sheath cable, two sound chambers for improved bass response, and an included carrying pouch and ear tips. They will sell for $70. The ATH-CKS70 In-Ear Headphones also offer 12.5mm direct diaphragm drivers and dual sound chambers, but also feature a two-position post for better fit and sound isolation, titanium construction, an included carry pouch and ear tips, and an L-type plug. They will sell for $120.
The lineup will also include two pairs of Over-Ear Headphones. The ATH-WS50BK will feature 40mm drivers, an adjustable headband, acoustically-sealed oval ear pads for reduced sound leakage, double air chambers for improved bass, and a foldable design, and will sell for $100. The ATH-WS70 Over-Ear Headphones will also feature dual chambers, an adjustable headband, foldable design, and 40mm drivers, but add a machined aluminum housing for increased rigidity and vibration reduction, as well as soft insulating ear pads. They will sell for $150; release dates for the new lineup have yet to be announced.
iHome, Philips, and RCA have all debuted new iPad-ready docking speaker systems. Shown by the company at the 2011 CES, the iHome iD85 is a dual-alarm clock radio for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, featuring a top-mounted dock, one-button sync of the iD85’s clock to the device’s an AM/FM radio, EQ controls, Reson8 sound technology, an auxiliary input, and support for the company’s iHome+Sleep and iHome+Radio apps. It is available now and sells for $140.
Philips’ Rise and Shine DC291/37 is an aluminum clock radio for iPad, iPhone, and iPod, featuring a top-mounted dock, automatic clock synchronization, 10W RMS of total power, a digital FM tuner, a front-facing LCD display, a 3.5mm input, weekday/weekend alarm settings, and neodymium drivers. It sells for $120; a dual-dock version, the DC390/37, has yet to be released.
Finally, RCA has introduced its Ri173 Sound System for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, featuring a slim design, a top-mounted dock, a digital FM tuner, stereo speakers, digital volume control, and an included remote control. It is available now and sells for $100.
Withings has announced that it is now shipping its Blood Pressure Monitor for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch in the U.S. Shown during the 2011 CES in Las Vegas, the Blood Pressure Monitor is a compact blood pressure cuff with integrated motor and battery pack that connects to an iOS device via a 30-pin cable and works with the company’s free app to display results and track them over time with graphs that can be shared via email with a physician. Withings’ Blood Pressure Monitor for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available now and sells for $130.
Nedrelow has unveiled its new Tote bag for the iPad. Handmade from thick 3mm German-made wool, the Tote bag features built-in shoulder strap/handles, a built-in sleeve made to fit the iPad, iPad 2, or iPad 2 with Smart Cover, and a spacious main compartment. Nedrelow’ Tote bag for the iPad is available now and sells for $89; it is also available in a version for the 11.6” MacBook Air.
Griffin Technology has announced its new DJ Cable, with works with the djay app from Algoriddim to enable new functionality in the iOS app. Unlike standard splitter cables, the DJ Cable is specifically wired for djay’s Split Output mode, which sends the master speaker output to the left channel and the cue output to the right channel, letting the user cue songs through their headphones independently of the live mix that is sent to the speakers. The cable offers a male end for connection to the headphone port of an iOS device, as well as two female ports for connection to headphones and a set of speakers or amp. Griffin’s new DJ Cable is available now and sells for $20.
Griffin Technology has announced that it is now shipping its Beacon Universal Remote Control System for iOS devices. Winner of an iLounge Best of Show 2011 Finalist award, the Beacon connects to iOS devices over Bluetooth, allowing for remote control—via Dijit’s free Universal Remote app—of TVs, cable boxes, and other home entertainment components. Other features include a low-profile design, a constantly updated device code library with learning functionality, a built-in program guide, and battery life of up to eight weeks under heavy usage from four AA batteries. Griffin’s Beacon Universal Remote Control System is available now and sells for $80.
Cocoon Innovations has rolled out its new GRID-IT Wrap case for iPad. The GRID-IT is a sleeve-style case featuring a dedicated pocket for the iPad or iPad 2, the GRID-IT organization system for holding items such as chargers, an iPhone, pens, pencils, and other accessories, and a neoprene cover that folds closed to cover the iPad pocket and any items held in place by the organization system. Cocoon’s new GRID-IT Wrap case for iPad is available now in black, grey, or red, and sells for $30.
Joby has released updated versions of its GorillaMobile Yogi and GorillaMobile Ori accessories for the iPad 2. Originally debuted at the 2010 International CES iLounge Pavilion for the first-generation iPad, the GorillaMobile Ori is a protective case with a unique folding design that allows it to double as a versatile stand. It features four main viewing modes—for both vertical and horizontal use—as well as aluminum/polypropylene construction, open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, and now has a magnet in the screen cover to activate the automatic lock/unlock feature of the iPad 2. It sells for $70. Also shown at CES in original iPad form was the GorillaMobile Yogi, a flexible mount + case featuring oversized ball and socket legs that allow it to wrap around a variety of surfaces, serve as a basic stand, and offer a variety of viewing angles in both vertical and horizontal orientation. The legs attach to a detachable polycarbonate case with a rubber bumper and open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. The GorillaMobile Yogi for iPad 2 sells for $40; both the Ori and Yogi are available now.
Jaybird is now shipping its JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Buds. Originally shown at the 2010 International CES iLounge Pavilion, the Freedom Bluetooth Buds are small, in-ear headphones with a small control box attached to each. Each bud is sealed against sweat and moisture, and the left ear bud features controls for volume, play, pause, next and back track, and phone calls, as well as an integrated microphone. Other features include Bluetooth 2.1+EDR technology, an integrated rechargeable battery good up to six hours of talk or music playback, three sizes of specially-designed ear cushions to help the earbuds stay in place during movement, three sizes of ear tips, and an included carrying case. Jaybird’s JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Buds are available now and sell for $100.
Quirky has rolled out its new Stance case + stand for the iPad 2. Made to fit in a variety of cup holders, the Stance’s base offers room to store a power cable and headphones inside, and attaches to a telescoping arm, which moves and locks in to a wide range of angles, including portrait and landscape display positions. The arm in turn connects to a removable, snap-style iPad 2 case, which offers open access to all ports, controls, and cameras, as well as compatibility with Apple’s iPad Smart Cover. Quirky’s Stance case + stand for the iPad 2 is currently in the pre-order commitment stage and can be pre-ordered for $28; once production begins it will be priced at $30.
Gear4 has announced that it has signed a deal with Angry Birds creator Rovio to produce a new line of speakers based on characters from the game. The speakers will feature three distinct characters—the Black Bird, Red Bird, and Helmet Pig, and will include a docking station for iPod, iPhone, or iPad, a 3.5mm audio cable input, and crate stand. Gear4’s new line of Angry Birds speakers will range in price from £49 to £69 (roughly $80-$113) and will be available in September.
Seidio has introduced its new Active case for the iPad 2. The Active is a dual-layer case with a shock absorbing lightweight polymer layer on the inside and a hard exterior “skeleton” on the outside. It includes a multipurpose cover that protects the screen and serves as a stand, and also offers open access to all ports, controls, and cameras. Seidio’s Active case for the iPad 2 is available now and sells for $70.
Alongside upcoming products from the likes of iLuv, iSkin, Just Mobile, and ProClip, all-new products from iBackflip Studios, United SGP, Vantage Point, and XtremeMac made their debut in our iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide. They include the iBackFlip, a sling-style pack for the iPad that can be turned around and flipped open to form a portable desk, United SGP’s Leinwand Case, which melds Smart Cover functionality with a premium, full-body leather case for the iPad 2, Vantage Point’s Alloy steel and aluminum mounting systems for iPads, and XtremeMac’s InCharge Sync, an affordable new case-friendly iPad dock that’s an alternative to Apple’s iPad and iPad 2 Docks. Download our free iPad 2 Buyers’ Guide for more info on these and other iPad accessories.