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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Geneva debuts Model S Wireless, phases out Model S

Geneva has announced its Model S Wireless ($300), an updated version of the company’s Model S speaker. The new Model S Wireless removes the 30-pin dock from the top of the speaker, replacing the Apple-specific connector with more broadly compatible Bluetooth streaming capability. It features two full-range 3” drivers, a digital FM radio and digital clock.

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Geneva’s Sound System Model S Wireless comes in white, black, or red, each including a metal table stand. It is available now, and the prior Model S has dropped in price, apparently on its way to discontinuation.

Shure debuts SE846 Quad Driver Earphones

After a long absence from the bleeding edge of the high-end earphone market, Shure has just debuted a four-driver canalphone model: the SE846 Quad Driver Earphones ($1000). Using 10 laser-cut, laser-welded stainless steel plates, Shure boasts that the SE846 earphones offer a true subwoofer experience through a revolutionary low-pass filter. The earphones feature two low-frequency drivers, one mid-frequency driver, and one high-frequency driver. Users will be able to choose between three sound signatures — warm, balanced, or bright — while listening.

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The SE846 Quad Driver Earphones feature removable cables and offer a transparent look. Shure claims the earphones will isolate up to 37 decibels of ambient noise. The earphones are available for pre-order at Earphone Solutions, and are estimated to ship in June.

Klipsch releases KMC 3 Bluetooth speaker

Having been less conspicuous in the Apple speaker market for the last few years, Klipsch has just released its KMC 3 Wireless Music System ($400), a new Bluetooth speaker. KMC 3 is a 2.1-channel wireless music system with a 5.25” subwoofer and two 2” full range drivers. A USB input is included for charging devices, and the speaker can run on 8 D batteries when unplugged.

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Klipsch’s KMC 3 Wireless Music System comes in black or white. According to Klipsch’s website, it is available now in black in “limited quantities,” with a “spring” release planned for the white version.

Scosche releases RH1060 Bluetooth headphones

Scosche has released its RH1060 Bluetooth stereo headphones ($200), which were featured in a First Look in January, though the original pricing was announced at a higher price of $250. One of our Best of Show finalists at CES 2013, the RH1060 headphones feature 40mm drivers and playback controls on the exterior of the right ear cup.

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Scosche’s RH1060 headphones use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to iOS devices, with a range of 33 feet. A rechargeable lithium ion battery allows for up to 8 hours of continuous playback, and a micro USB cable can fully recharge the headphones in less than three hours. The RH1060 headphones are available now.

Apple’s accessory grip slips due to Lightning, Bluetooth

Thanks in part to Apple’s switch to more expensive Lightning connectors, as well as the ascendance of Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Apple’s grip on accessory makers is starting to slip, according to a New York Times report. While many retail stores and hotel rooms previously featured Dock Connector accessories, the market has expanded and broadened, reducing Apple’s presence. A number of accessory makers expressed frustration with the Lightning connector transition, as companies were not notified of the change in advance, and fees for both licensing and manufacturing have gone up. Consequently, accessory makers opted to leave Apple docks out of their products; Logitech, Voxx, and Geneva Lab told the Times that they’ve dropped physical Apple connectors from most or all of their products.

For its part, Apple says it doesn’t mind accessories continuing in a more wireless direction. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said, “Apple provides users with the best wired and wireless connectivity options to work with the broadest range of accessories.” Still, sales of speakers with docks dropped 16% in 2012, while sales of wireless streaming speakers jumped 175%, according to an NPD Group report.

U.K. developer Gear4 bankrupt; re-emerges in Hong Kong

Gear4, the U.K.-based brand behind Apple accessories such as AlarmDock Halo 2 and Renew SleepClock, has gone bankrupt and cut most of its U.K. workforce, but has effectively been re-formed as a new entity in Hong Kong. Disruptive Hong Kong bought the rights of all designs, brands, and intellectual property from Disruptive Ltd — the company behind the Gear4 branding — and the company is relocating its headquarters. Disruptive founder and CEO Tom Dudderidge said the economic climate forced the company to review its operations, including “product development, business model and location.” According to the company, all U.K. customer warranties will be honored, and the company will retain a small number of sales and marketing workers in the U.K. [via The Channel]

Otterbox debuts Commuter Series 3D iPhone 5 case

Otterbox has added a new case to its Commuter line with its Commuter Series 3D Case ($45) for iPhone 5. The 3D case comes in three distinct raised patterns in green, teal, and pink.

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The cases feature an interior rubber layer and exterior hard shell. A self-adhesive screen protector and bubble squeegee are included. Otterbox’s Commuter Series 3D Case is available now.

Incase debuts Meta Slider, Shock Slider iPhone 5 cases

Incase has introduced Meta Slider ($35) and Shock Slider ($50) cases for iPhone 5. The Slider has long been a mainstay of Incase’s lineup — the most recent Slider case was released for iPhone 5 last year. Meta Slider and Shock Slider are notable for expanding the design of the Slider case.

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Meta Slider, available in white/gray or black/slate, is a two piece design with a microsuede cradle. It has a hardshell with a molded rubberized frame and a raised bezel. Shock Slider, which comes in black or white/magenta, features a rubberized inner cover with PORON XRD lining that can be used as a standalone case. It can be paired with a hardshell outer case. Both Meta Slider and Shock Slider are now available.

Incipio, LifeProof up ante with waterproof case warranties

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Stepping beyond the physical protection offered with traditional waterproof cases, both Incipio and LifeProof have recently announced peace-of-mind augmentations in the form of waterproof warranty coverage. Notably, the companies are taking different approaches to offering waterproof warranties. LifeProof has introduced an optional Total Water Protection Program that will cover any of its iPhone or iPad cases, offering one year of protection for a registration fee of $10 for iPhone, or $20 for iPad. If the device is damaged by water while in the case, LifeProof will repair or replace it for $50 if it’s an iPhone, $75 if it’s an iPad.

Incipio, however, is selling its new Atlas iPhone 5 case with an included one-year, nontransferable water damage warranty at no extra charge. In cases of accidental water damage to a device, Incipio will repair or replace the device. Users can optionally extend their warranty coverage to two years for an additional fee. Atlas is available for pre-order and is estimated to ship in three to four weeks. For now, both programs are only available in the United States.

Soundfreaq debuts Boom Freaq wireless speaker

Soundfreaq has announced Boom Freaq ($350), a special edition of its Sound Stack speaker. Boom Freaq is a Bluetooth wireless speaker that can dock either Dock Connector or Lightning devices — a 30-pin dock is built-in, and a Lightning adapter is now also included. Like other iterations of Sound Stack, the speaker features two full-range drivers and two active subwoofers. A USB port is included for universal charging.

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Boom Freaq’s look is inspired by classic boomboxes, and is the newest addition to the company’s Novogratz Collection. Boom Freaq is available now for pre-order and will ship in 4 to 5 weeks.

Bowers & Wilkins shows Z2, Lightning updated Zeppelin Air

Bowers & Wilkins has announced the Z2 ($400) Airplay Lightning speaker dock and an updated Lightning version of its Zeppelin Air ($600) AirPlay speaker dock. Z2 is a redesigned version of the company’s Zeppelin Mini, capable of docking an iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, or seventh-generation iPod nano within a newly recessed top hole. The speaker features two 3.5” full range drivers with 40 watts of total amplifier output, and comes in black or white.

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Zeppelin Air, an AirPlay dock reviewed by iLounge two years ago, has also been updated with a Lightning connector for the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, and seventh-generation iPod nano. Z2 will be available in April; the updated Zeppelin Air hits the market in May.

iLounge debuts iLounge NYC accessory event at CE Week 2013

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iLounge today announced the creation of iLounge NYC, a curated special event and exhibition area at CE Week 2013. Working with CE Week and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), iLounge will bring the Apple accessory world to Manhattan, beginning with a special event for trade and media members on June 25, and a curated exhibition space on June 26 and 27. iLounge NYC will be the back-to-school/holiday-focused version of the incredibly successful winter iLounge Pavilion at CES in Las Vegas, which now occupies over 120,000 square feet of floor space — the largest unified exhibition area at the show.

“Apple accessory makers know that the iLounge Pavilion is the best place to debut their winter and spring lineups,” said Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief. “We’re thrilled to curate a new iLounge NYC event to preview the year’s biggest back-to-school and holiday releases—at a great venue, within a city known for its love of Apple products.”

The full press release follows. Companies interested in additional details on iLounge NYC and the iLounge Pavilion should contact Jeremy Horwitz today.

Incipio offers 3.4-Amp Lightning Dual Auto Charger

Incipio has announced its Dual Auto Charger ($35), a 3.4-Amp charger for Lightning. The charger is capable of simultaneously recharging a Retina iPad at full speed, along with another device.

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The Dual Auto Charger features a coiled Lightning cable with a pass-through USB port. Incipio lists the charger as “coming soon.”

NUU intros MiniKey case for iPhone 5

NUU has announced its MiniKey ($59) case for iPhone 5. Like the iPhone 4 version of the case, the new MiniKey is a slide-out Bluetooth keyboard case, though it boasts a thinner and lighter frame, in addition to other improvements. The backlit keyboard has 42 keys and includes multiple keyboard shortcuts.

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MiniKey for iPhone 5 features a snap-in design and comes in black. It is available for pre-order now, and ships March 15.

iSkin debuts Slims iPhone 5 case

iSkin has announced its Slims case ($35), an ultra thin case for the iPhone 5. Unlike many thin cases, which are just rear shells, iSkin’s Slims is a full case with rear and front protection, plus a clear screen shield. Only 0.4mm in width, Slims is formed from BPA-free polycarbonate, and the case resists scratches, as well.

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Slims comes in camouflage, wood, and chevron designs. It is available now.

Gear4 debuts Lightning AlarmDock Halo 3, StreetParty 5, more

Gear4 has announced its new line of Lightning products, including an alarm dock, speaker, and assorted chargers. AlarmDock Halo 3 ($130) is a Lightning-compatible alarm clock dock for iPhone 5 and the fifth-generation iPod touch — it’s an updated version of the company’s AlarmDock Halo 2. The dock works in conjunction with a free app — an alarm set in the app automatically syncs to the Halo 3. Also, an in-app media player can use iTunes, Spotify, or other networked tracks as wake-up music.

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StreetParty 5 ($80) is a speaker dock for iPhone 5 and fifth-gen iPod touch that can be powered by AA batteries, based on the earlier StreetParty 4. Gear4 also introduced its Lightning Dock for iPhone 5 and fifth-gen iPod touch ($40), MicroCharger for Lightning ($35) and InCar Charger for Lightning ($30), all said to be currently available.

Dev opens Lightning Digital AV Adapter, finds CPU, issues

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 introduces MouthStick Stylus

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.

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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.

PowerSkin debuts iPhone 5 PowerSkin battery case

PowerSkin has announced its new battery case for the iPhone 5 — an accessory eponymously named PowerSkin ($80). A thin, one-piece silicone case, PowerSkin features a 1500 mAh battery, and claims to recharge the iPhone 5 up to 70 percent capacity. The case promises to deliver up to 6.5 hours of talk time, up to 8 hours of Wi-Fi, and up to 32 hours of audio playback.

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PowerSkin comes in black with an earphone extender for 3.5 mm headphones. It’s available now, with free express shipping through March 7 on PowerSkin’s website.

Brother debuts HL-3000 color printers with AirPrint

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.

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