Apple’s addition of three-button remote controls to recent iPod and iPhone headphones has led some vendors to compromise the life of their cables, according to a prominent third-party developer. Discussing extensive new testing and manufacturing procedures that his company has developed to prevent cable damage, V-Moda CEO Val Kolton told iLounge that three-button Apple remote cables now carry six thin separate copper strands inside, compared to three thicker wires in remote-less headphone cables. Though Kolton says that Apple’s cables have been tested to ensure comparable resilience to pre-remote models, few third-party headphones are as durable as their prior, audio-only models.
“Open up the cable,” Kolton says, and “there are either 3 inner cables for audio only, 4/6 for microphone and 6 for remote control models wound up inside the outer cable shell. It only takes one of these inner cables to break in order for the headphone to break.” According to Kolton, stress tests indicate that most of the current three-button remote offerings break after 10,000 bends. “Our test standards and results for bending the cable, and bending the plug where the cable meets are now between 3x-15x many of our top competitors latest models.” Kolton claims that V-Moda’s latest three-button remote cabling survives over 60,000 bends in bare bend testing, or hundreds of thousands of repetitions during cable and plug bend tests, which represent the most common point of cable breakage.
Notably, some companies consider 10,000 bends to be an acceptable level of cable durability, and as such test their three-button remote cabling to this standard. “[We] have a stringent testing process to ensure that our earphones are built to last,” says Doug Broadhurst, Marketing Administrator with Scosche. “Each cable is tested with a 300 gram weight bent to a 120 degrees 2 times per second and must past 10,000 bends before we approve the products.” Chris Lyons of Shure said that the company “know[s] that cables are often subjected to more severe wear and tear than other parts of a product, so we devote considerable time to making sure that they’ll withstand heavy use. Cables that have integral control functions meet the same quality standards as standard cables, even with the additional conductors required.” Additionally, a representative with Monster said the company has “done all standard durability and quality tests with this cable and have ensured it performs at the same level as one without ControlTalk [Monster’s three-button solution].” Neither Shure nor Monster specified the number of bends their cables were designed to withstand, and notably, Klipsch—maker of a $350 pair of headphones with a 3-button remote, as well as less expensive models—did not respond to a request for comment on the durability of its cables. Klipsch has since responded; its comments are included below.
Crediting certain competitors, Kolton said that V-Moda, Apple, and “several” other third-party manufacturers including Shure are the only companies he knows to be doing strenuous three-button cabling stress testing beyond that of standard audio cables. Still, he says, additional engineering work was needed to make the cables durable. “In order to prevent one of these cables from breaking, we have had to assemble our own custom cable development team,” Kolton explains. “We have developed a Kevlar core cable that the other cables twist around that allows pressure from pulls and bends to pull on the strong… Kevlar instead of a critical functional cable. We’ve increased the diameter of our cables to the maximum that would not weigh down the headphone.”
Update: Don Inmon, Director of Product Development, Personal Audio with Klipsch has responded to iLounge, saying, “Potential reliability concerns are always factored into the development of our products. The 3-button controlled headsets are no exception. They have gone through a unique manufacturing process and 5-point pull test, ensuring superior reliability for normal and athletic levels of use.”
Incase has introduced its new Courier Collection iPhone Pouch for the iPhone 3G, IPhone 3GS, and iPod touch. Made from custom weather resistant 1680D nylon, the Pouch also offers interior topo print lining, integrated cord management, a top-opening flap with Velcro closure, and a Velcro attachment strap that allows it to be worn on a belt, backpack, or bag. Incase’s new Courier Collection iPhone Pouch is available in black or gray/orange, and sells for $30.
Matias has introduced its new USB 2.0 Keyboard + Smartphone Stand. The white, full-size keyboard features a USB 2.0 port on the top of the keyboard, two standard USB ports on the back, printed Mac symbols on the keys, and a numeric keypad. In addition, it has a smartphone stand built into the face of the keyboard above the arrow keys, allowing users to keep their iPhone or other device in view at all times, and featuring a non-slip silicone pad to keep the device in place. Matias’ new USB 2.0 Keyboard + Smartphone Stand is available now for Mac, coming soon for Windows, and sells for $50.
Power A has introduced its new Universal Remote Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Working in conjunction with the company’s free Power A Universal Remote app, the Universal Remote Case allows the iPhone 3G or 3GS to control nearly any infrared-controlled product. The case itself is a two-piece hard case offering open access to the headphone port, sleep/wake button, ring/silent switch, camera, screen, home button, and volume buttons, with the bottom piece connecting to the iPhone via dock connector to allow for app control of the built-in IR transmitter. The app lets users customize their own virtual button layouts, create macros that perform multiple tasks with a single button tap, and program the app to learn the codes of their existing remotes. Power A’s new Universal Remote Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is expected to be available from the Apple Store later today and will sell for $60.
Incase has launched new spring colors of its Metallic Monochrome Slider Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The two-piece hardshell cases feature a soft touch finish, metallic upper portions with matter slide-off bottom pieces for easy docking, interior rubber guards for shock protection, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera. In addition, the cases include a horizontal stand for video viewing. Incase’s new Metallic Monochrome Slider Metallic Monochrome Slider Cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now in blue, purple, and silver, and sell for $35.
In an unusual decision that will enable third-party companies to produce a communications accessory that it hasn’t itself released, Apple has given its approval to a reference iPhone and iPod touch accessory design that would allow these devices to connect to a DB9, RJ11, or other cable via the Dock Connector. Redpark Product Development‘s Serial Cable Reference Design for OEM use with the iPhone and iPod touch is designed to provide a connection between the iPhone or iPod touch and a number of different medical, scientific, retail, and industrial devices, with a specialized app handing the communication between app and the connected device. Physically, the design includes a 30-pin male Dock Connector on one end and a box with a female connector on the other side. Redpart additionally expects that the design will be suitable for use with the iPad, but has not yet done real-world testing. [via Engadget]
ZoomMediaPlus has announced its new zoomIt application-enabled accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch. Working in conjunction with the company’s free zoomIt app, the Works With iPhone- and Made For iPod-certified Dock-connecting accessory enables users to access a variety of content stored on any SD card mounted in the zoomIt’s SD card slot. Features include support for all iPhone OS 3.0 file types, including photos, videos, music, and documents, including PowerPoint, Excel, Word, PDF and others. The app lets users view, listen and share the files via e-mail, Facebook, and Flickr, and supports the transfer of files from the card to the iPhone or iPod touch for unconnected access. In addition, the app will enable users to save photos and videos from the card to their Camera Rolls, or move media from the Camera Roll onto the SD card. The company also plans future updates to support protected content types enabling the streaming of licensed music, videos, and other forms of protected content. The zoomIT SD Card accessory for iPhone and iPod touch is expected to ship in April for $59.95, and is available for pre-order now. ZoomMediaPlus is offering pre-order customers a $10 discount, and will bundle a free 4GB Kingston SD card with the first 250 orders.
Speck Products is now shipping its SeeThru Satin case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Winner of an iLounge Best of Show Award at the 2010 International CES, the SeeThru Satin is a translucent polycarbonate hard case featuring a soft-touch outer finish, raised rubberized front trim, and open access to all ports and controls. Speck’s SeeThru Satin case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now in a variety of colors and sells for $30.
Aliph has introduced its new Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset. Sporting a smaller and lighter design than prior Jawbone headsets, the Icon features NoiseAssassin 2.5 noise elimination technology, new signal processing for improved inbound audio clarity, a new volume management system that eliminates the need to adjust volume from one caller to the next, the ability to display a visual battery meter in the iPhone’s status bar, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR support, up to 4.5 hours of talk time, and support for the company’s new MyTalk software customization platform, which allows users to personalize the Icon’s speaking voice, customize an easy access button for direct access to services like directory assistance, and more. The Aliph Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset comes in six different styles and is available now for $100.
Tiffen, maker of photographic equipment and filters, has introduced its new Steadicam Smoothee for the iPhone 3GS. Based on the same technology found in professional Steadicam products, the Smoothee is a handheld iPhone mount with a patented design that stabilizes the iPhone when in users’ hands, enabling them to take more steady, professional-looking video. Features of the Smoothee include a fold-up hand grip, quick-release iPhone mount that can be removed and used with any standard tripod, and an included carrying strap and quick guide DVD. Pricing and release information has yet to be announced.
Naturesleeve has introduced its new Slider Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Made from 70% recycled plastic, the Slider is a two-piece hard plastic case offering open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, a soft velvet interior lining, and a slide-off bottom section for easy docking. In addition, Naturesleeve has promised to plant a tree through the American Forests program for each purchase. The Naturesleeve Slider Case for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $22.
Proporta has debuted its new Patent Leather Union Jack Pouch for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. This full covering case features soft, protective inner lining, a slot for storing credit cards, a stitched Union Jack design on the front, patent leather construction, and more. The Proporta Patent Leather Union Jack Pouch for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $29.
Uncommon has launched a new online-based personalized case service that allows users to put any image they like on a Capsule Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The company uses a web-based interface to let users upload and place their photos onto the case, an then employs an exclusive 3D TATT printing process to transfer the ink deep into the case surface. Features of the case include shatterproof polycarbonate construction, a removable bottom for easy docking, a twin-shot dark bezel to highlight the device’s screen, easy-access button covers, and open access to all other ports, controls, and the camera. Uncommon’s iPhone 3G/3GS Customized Capsule Case sells for $40; an iPod touch model is expected to launch soon.
TJM Innovations has introduced its new Bandshell case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The Bandshell claims to improve the sound coming from the iPhone’s built-in speaker via a “sound door” that slides out from the rear of the case to enhance the speaker’s acoustics. Other features include a flat side that enables the iPhone to stand on its own, and open access to all ports and controls. The Bandshell for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now in 12 colors and sells for $20.
Social networking site Facebook has released version 3.1 of its official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The updated application offers optional Push Notifications for friend requests, wall posts, comments, and more, the ability to sync Facebook friends with your Address Book, and a choice of Live Feed within the main News Feed filter options. Facebook 3.1 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Parrot, primarily known for its wireless mobile accessories, has unveiled the Parrot AR.Drone, a quadricopter piloted via an iPhone or iPod touch. The AR.Drone’s companion application allows users to fly in a real-world environment, complete with objects and conditions to account for, while simultaneously playing a video game on the device’s screen. The app uses the accelerometer and command buttons for control, while the Wi-Fi-connected AR.Drone employs a wide angle camera and high speed camera, an accelerometer, a gyro, an ultrasound sensor, and an advanced computer to make piloting accessible to both savvy and inexperienced users alike. Parrot plans to make an open SDK available to developers soon, and plans to release the AR.Drone to consumers sometime later this year at a currently undetermined price. Continue reading to watch a demo video showing the device in action.
Toffee has debuted its new iPhone Wrap case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Handmade from full-grain nappa leather, the Wrap case offers a protective front flap with an elastic strap closure, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera when open. It will come in a variety of colors including black, tan, red, blue, and hot pink, and will be available in February for $50.
SwitchEasy has debuted its new Reptile case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Like many of the company’s prior cases, the Reptile employs both a soft ADSP inner shell and GE Lexan polycarbonate UltraFrame to offer protection for the iPhone, and also features a crocodile skin texture on the rear, open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, Included with the case are two screen guards with applicator card, a video stand, a microfiber cleaning cloth, two Universal dock adapters, one black, one white, two Dock Connector protectors, and two headphone jack connectors. SwitchEasy’s Reptile case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now in five colors and sells for $29; for more information, see our First Look article.
Helium Digital has introduced its new HDBT-990 Wristband Communicator. The 990 is a unique iPhone-compatible cell phone accessory, which uses Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR to let the user receive calls directly from the wristband. Features include audible caller ID, incoming call and out of range vibration alerts, up to four hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby time on a single charge, echo elimination and noise cancellation technologies, and support for A2DP, Headset, and Handsfree Bluetooth profiles. Helium Digital’s HDBT-990 Wristband Communicator will be available in February and is priced at $90 CAD, or roughly $87.
Newer Technology has introduced its new Window Mount for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The nine-inch long Window Mount features a suction cup-style mount, a flexible neck, and a rotating black plastic cradle that allows for full access to all of the iPhone’s ports and buttons. Newer Technology’s Window Mount for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $20.