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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
Known for its bargain-priced cables, Monoprice has started to offer Apple-certified Lightning wall chargers for $13 a piece—substantially below the prices of versions from other vendors. The charger features a “captured” or non-detachable Lightning cable and a generic design, promising 1-Amp charging speeds. This is sufficient for iPhones and iPods, but below the peak recharging capabilities of iPads.
Monoprice is also offering a similar deal in $12 Lightning car chargers. Like the Lightning wall charger, the car charger offers only 1-Amp power, appropriate for full-speed iPhone and iPod charging. The car chargers are available now, while the wall chargers are listed as “coming soon.”
Mophie has announced Juice Pack Air ($100), a new battery case for iPhone 5. Juice Pack Air comes with modestly more battery capacity than Mophie’s recently-released Helium, packing a 1700 mAh battery compared to Helium’s 1500 mAh. It purports to double the iPhone 5’s battery power, though testing results of its predecessor and competing models suggest that this is highly optimistic.
An included micro-USB cable can charge both the iPhone 5 and Juice Pack Air together. Juice Pack Air comes in black — ready to ship in 7-10 days — or red and white, both of which ship on March 22.
Incase has announced its series of SYSTM cases, all of which use the lightweight impact protection material Poron XRD previously featured in G-Form cases. Vise ($50) is billed as the toughest SYSTM case, and features an internal shock-absorbing rubber cover with Poron XRD edges and corners, encapsulated by a two-piece outer hardshell. It snaps into place with a slide-lock and features a detachable rotating belt clip.
Chisel ($35) is a flexible case with a Poron XRD-lined interior and external hardshell. Hammer ($30) is a streamlined, rubber case with Poron XRD protective corners. All Incase SYSTM cases are available now.
iSkin has announced its Revo 360 ($40) and Fuze 360 ($50) cases for the iPhone 5. Both cases notably include iSkin’s new ProTouch Titan screen film, which was unveiled at CES this year, promising to increase the screen’s impact resistance enough to withstand a strike by a hammer. Revo 360 is a form-fitting silicone case with a removable belt clip/media stand, promising shock absorption as well as antimicrobial protection from odor and stain-causing bacteria.
Fuze 360 features a soft inner layer and impact-resistant hard shell for extra protection; metallic accents mix with an anti-slip rubber-coated finish. Both cases are available at iSkin’s website and at retailers “in the coming weeks.”
Apple has quietly released a 0.5m version of its Lightning to USB Cable ($19). Although half the size of the “standard” cables it has been selling, it retains the same price; its release suggests that Apple may shift to packing shorter Lightning cables in with future products.
Apple also tweaked its In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic — the remote now is a bit more rounded, matching the redesigned remote on EarPods. The rest of the design and the $79 price haven’t changed. [via MacRumors]
Urbanears has introduced Slussen ($15), a stylish-looking portable DJ adapter with a free companion app. Slussen plugs into an iOS device, using two 3.5mm jacks to connect headphones and a sound system. Upon launching the app, users can hear one song through headphones while another is playing through the speaker. The app allows music to be controlled in a number of ways, by adjusting BPM, syncing tracks, and EQ effects; a scratch function, crossfaders, and equalizer are also included.
Slussen comes ready for keychain attachment. Available now, it comes in four colors — grape, pumpkin, petrol, and tomato — with the tomato version priced at $20.
Powerskin has introduced Pop’n ($80), an external 2000 mAh battery charger that affixes to the back of an iPhone 5, using a dangling Lightning plug for connectivity. Pop’n can adhere to iPhones and some existing iPhone cases by using small, flexible suction cups; the size of the Lightning connector will determine whether it works with a given case.
As one of the first Apple-approved external battery chargers for iPhone 5, Pop’n uses an LED light strip to indicate how much battery charge remains in the case. It extends power by up to 70 percent, and is available now in black and white, with red and pink versions to come.
Belkin has announced a multi-year licensing partnership with toymaker LEGO to create accessories for mobile devices, initially focusing on iOS devices including the iPhone and iPod touch. While images were not yet available at press time, Belkin plans to start with the release of smartphone cases with LEGO bricks for a “buildable” case experience, starting this spring. The cases will be “based on iconic LEGO toys,” Belkin said.
Swedish audio company NOCS has begun shipping its new AirPlay speakers, the NS2 Air Monitors ($450). First announced last year at a slightly lower price of $400, the Air Monitors are a pair of bookshelf speakers that incorporate AirPlay technology to allow users to stream audio from a computer or iOS device. While the speakers were supposed to be available early in 2012, they actually became available in limited quantities only in mid-December, with additional stock appearing online more recently.
NOCS advertises the NS2 Air Monitors in six colors—black, white, orange, grey, red, and yellow—however only the first three colors are available at this time, with more stock said to be coming in all colors later this month. The speakers are relatively small and coated in soft touch rubber.
Following months of unexpected silence, Mophie has finally announced its first iPhone 5 battery case, Juice Pack Helium ($80). Initially available in two colors, the new Juice Pack Helium looks extremely similar to the company’s earlier versions for iPhones, emphasizing thinness over raw battery capacity. Still sporting a curved rear surface with button access holes and bottom pass-throughs for speakerphone functionality, the case offers iPhone body coverage everywhere else, apart from the fully open face. Mophie claims that it’s 13% thinner than any of its previous iPhone Juice Packs, while packing a 1500mAh battery pack that adds 80% additional power to the iPhone 5—notably less than most of the rival cases that were announced at CES last month. An included micro-USB cable promises to simultaneously charge the iPhone and Juice Pack Helium together.
A dark gunmetal metallic version promises to ship by February 14, with a silver version coming at the beginning of March.
Apple’s Siri Eyes Free feature will be coming to the 2013 Honda Accord, Acura RDX, and Acura ILX as a dealer-installed option. The feature, which allows drivers to complete a number of hands-free tasks by relying on Siri voice commands, works on iPhone 5 or 4S models running iOS 6. Honda was initially announced as a manufacturer that would use Siri Eyes Free. In late November, GM announced integration with Siri Eyes Free in its Spark and Sonic cars. [via Engadget]
Satechi has announced the Smart LED Desk Lamp ($100), a lamp with an iPod/iPhone-charging USB port on the back. Interestingly, the lamp has four different lighting modes with different color temperatures: Reading mode uses mid-range temperatures to reduce eye strain, study mode uses high-range temperatures, relaxation mode uses low-range temperatures, and bedtime mode uses low-range temperatures to produce a soft light. The Smart LED Desk Lamp has a lifespan of 40,000+ hours and consumes 1/8 the power of an incandescent lamp.
It features a timer function to turn off the lamp automatically after an hour of inactivity, and its three joints allow the LED panel and frame to adjust to multiple angles. While it’s a more expensive alternative to a typical wall charger, it helps to eliminate wall outlet and desk clutter, with the nice design and novel temperature adjustments as nice assets. Satechi’s Smart LED Desk Lamp comes in black and white, and is available now.
After over 80 years in the consumer electronics business, Philips announced Tuesday that it has sold the remainder of its consumer-focused electronics business to Japan’s Funai. Although Philips steadily reduced its involvement in consumer electronics, leaving its television and mobile phone divisions behind in recent years, the company suffered a fourth-quarter net loss of €358 Million (about $481 million).
Philips has had an interesting history with Apple. It originally sold products that challenged the iPod, including its GoGear series of media players. It then started to make iPod-friendly speaker systems, and later bought iPod/iPhone accessory maker DLO to become a major player in Apple accessories. The company developed quite a few distinctive speakers, eventually including some AirPlay models at widely varying price points, and continued to sell earphones and headphones. Funai will apparently continue to sell these products under its own brand.
Philips will now turn most of its attention to medical equipment, as healthcare sales made up 40 percent of the group’s revenue in the fourth quarter. Consumer lifestyle products accounted for 26 percent of the company’s fourth quarter revenue. [via Wall Street Journal]
Griffin Technology has announced that it will sell a line of Papernomad-branded iPhone and iPad cases in North America. Papernomad is an Austrian company that makes compostable, organic, customizable, tear- and water-resistant sleeves; each sleeve is made from a composite of paper, viscose fiber, and biopolymer that can be ecologically disposed of at the end of its life. Cotton stitching, wool lining and a hemp pull tab are also used in the designs.
Papernomad sleeves are designed to be marked with pencils, pens and crayons. Their prices will range from $40 (Pars Sleeve for iPhone) to $50 (Zattere for iPad), and will be available soon.
Apogee has announced a redesigned version of One ($349), a USB audio interface and microphone that makes a direct digital connection to an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Mac. One offers three input options — a built-in omni-directional condenser mic, XLR input for microphones and 1/4” instrument input. Also, One can now record two inputs simultaneously — the instrument input and one of the mic inputs. A metal chassis now encases One, which uses Apogee’s Maestro software for iOS to control inputs, mic preamp, outputs, and low latency monitoring. It will be available in March, shipping with Dock Connector support and the need for a user-supplied Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter.
Apogee also introduced the updated Duet ($595) for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac, a two-input, four-output USB audio interface for stereo music recording and mixing, another Dock Connector-based accessory that requires the Lightning adapter for new devices. Last but not least, the company also announced iPad compatibility for Quartet ($1295), a four-input, eight-output USB audio interface. Quartet will now ship with a Dock Connector cable, again with the need for a Lightning adapter. The updated versions of Duet and Quartet will be released in February.
Bem Wireless has announced Speaker Trio ($300), which bundles three wireless speakers with a Bluetooth audio and charging base. The three speakers share a wireless connection to the base and can stream the same music to multiple rooms. Each speaker has up to 120 feet of wireless range, while Bluetooth is used to let your iOS device stream music wirelessly at distances of up to 25 feet from the base.
The speakers are 6” x 6” each and offer about six hours of battery life — when not in use, they can be returned to the base for conductive wireless charging. Auxiliary in and out ports are also included. Speaker Trio is available now in black or white.