CE Week 2013 is quickly approaching, and iLounge is proud to bring the excitement of the Apple accessory industry to New York City. iLounge NYC offers media and trade professionals an opportunity to see the summer lineups of new Apple-related products from a number of top-tier companies.
Today, we’re inviting members of the media to a special VIP lunch on the first day of the CE Week Line Shows and Exhibits, June 26, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. Registered attendees will be provided with a special lunch menu, a wine and beer bar and desserts, with an opportunity to see new Apple accessories within the iLounge NYC area.
Qualified media who haven’t already registered for CE Week 2013 can do so by visiting CE Week’s registration site, which will include access to the special lunch. The iLounge NYC exhibition will run June 26-27 at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street.
OtterBox announced today that it has acquired fellow case maker LifeProof, one of its main competitors in the protective case market. “This is a big strategic move for us,” OtterBox CEO Brian Thomas said. He said the LifeProof name will remain part of the brand. Thomas cited the move as a way for OtterBox to get further into the waterproof case market — the company decided to integrate rather than compete with LifeProof. Interestingly, LifeProof just announced a new protective case — Frē for iPad mini.
Moshi has released its USB Cable with Lightning Connector ($20). While it’s not terribly different in price or size from Apple’s official Lightning to USB Cable, this one-meter Lightning cable uses fancy aluminum plug jackets rather than the plastic ones favored by Apple.
Moshi’s USB Cable with Lightning Connector comes in black or white. Teased by the company at CES earlier this year, it is available now.
Swedish headphone maker Jays has announced its new a-Jays Five ($100) earphones. The in-ear earphones feature a custom driver and flat, tangle-free cables. A redesigned three-button remote is thinner than previous Jays remotes, and the microphone with built-in echo cancellation won’t degrade over time, according to the company.
Offered in black or white, a-Jays Five will come with five different sizes of silicone tips, a cable clip, and a carrying case. No current release date is listed, but the earphones are “coming soon,” according to Jays’ website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Twelve South has announced an updated version of its BookArc for iPad, which now touts compatibility with the iPad mini ($30). An arc-shaped, steel stand first released three years ago, BookArc for iPad now also comes with silicone inserts to hold an iPad mini, as well as prior-generation iPads.
For those who already own a BookArc for iPad and only want the rubber inserts to hold the iPad mini, Twelve South announced plans to offer the inserts separately “within the next few weeks.” BookArc for iPad — with the mini rubber inserts included — is available now.
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.
The Dual Auto Charger features a coiled Lightning cable with a pass-through USB port. Incipio lists the charger as “coming soon.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”