Soundfreaq has teamed up with notable husband-and-wife design team Robert and Cortney Novogratz for a special upcoming line of wireless Bluetooth speakers, which it’s calling The Novogratz Collection. The collection features six new designs for three existing speakers: The Sound Stack features the “Chiq Freaq” and “Flower Freaq” designs (both $450), the compact Sound Step features “Freaq of Nature” and “Freaq’n Fabulous” ($150), and the bedroom alarm clock Sound Rise gets “Freaq in the Bed” and “Novo Freaq” ($125) designs. All of the new speakers use interesting patterns and textures, replacing the one-color looks of Soundfreaq’s original designs.
All of the speakers will be available in time for the holiday season.
Expanding its earlier line of WeMo-branded home automation products, Belkin has announced WeMo Baby ($90), a product that turns any iOS device into a baby monitor. WeMo Baby uses 3G/4G or Wi-Fi to stream interference-free audio from a baby’s room to a mobile device without an additional receiver, via the free WeMo Baby app. The monitor works with multiple devices, enabling up to six people to listen simultaneously. As odd as this may sound, users can also upgrade to the Evoz premium service to receive advanced monitoring, cry notifications via text or email, cry history information, and analysis of baby’s crying and sleep patterns, for $10/month or $60/year. WeMo Baby will be available in early November.
Beats Electronics has announced two new products, the Pill speaker ($200), and Executive headphones ($300). Pill is a portable, wireless Bluetooth speaker with four speakers inside, as well as a microphone for speakerphone functionality, and a rechargeable battery that offers seven hours of continuous play. It comes in three colors — black, white, and red — and is designed as another peer-priced competitor to Jawbone’s Jambox.
Beats Executive over-ear headphones are made from aluminum alloy, stainless steel and leather. The silver, noise-canceling Executive headphones come with an iOS-compatible microphone cable and offer full phone functionality, relying on batteries to keep their active noise-canceling hardware running. They’re a significant aesthetic evolution from earlier Beats Studio and Pro headphones, and will be available this month along with Pill.
UK speaker company AQ Audio is making its US debut with the AQ SmartSpeaker ($179), a portable, wireless, AirPlay-compatible speaker. The AQ SmartSpeaker features one-touch AirPlay setup and—like other recent “PlayDirect” speakers—can also stream directly from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod by creating its own Wi-Fi network. As a standalone speaker, the AQ SmartSpeaker offers stereo sound from its two drivers. Additionally, two SmartSpeakers can be paired for left and right channel separation, and speakers can be placed around the house for multi-room audio.
More than 10 hours of AirPlay playback are possible with the integrated rechargeable battery. AQ SmartSpeaker is available now.
HardCandy Cases has announced its Nano Clip ($20) for the new seventh-generation iPod nano. The Nano Clip is a snap-on case with a clip on the back, filling the void for those who were used to the clip on the previous iPod nano—or the original iPod mini.
It comes in red, graphite, or white, and can be pre-ordered now for shipment in mid-November.
Grace Digital Audio’s ECOXGEAR label has introduced the ECOXBT ($130) Bluetooth speaker, compatible with iPads, iPhones, and Bluetooth-capable iPods. The ECOXBT is a portable, ruggedized, 100 percent waterproof speaker that floats, uniquely equipped with handles for easy in-pool use. Somewhat amazingly, it also includes a built-in waterproof mic so iPhone users can answer calls using its speakerphone function.
Weighing 1.5 lbs., the ECOXBT promises up to 10 hours of continuous battery life with a rechargeable lithium battery. The speaker comes in orange, red, and black. It is available now.
Customers have received notifications from Apple that the new iPod touch, iPod nano, and both Lightning to 30-pin Adapters — the direct plug adapter and the version with a 0.2m cable—are shipping, with some deliveries beginning today. Readers outside the United States are already beginning to find the new iPod touch and nano up in Apple’s retail stores today, confirming previous reports. Users interested in getting a leg up on the new iPod touch may want to peruse the official user’s guide, which has been posted on Apple’s website.
A patent application from Apple reveals the company has been exploring hybrid wireless headphones that could detach from a cable if needed. Convenience during physical activity is noted as the reason for Apple’s investigation of this headphone design, which would allow a user to use corded headphones, magnetically detaching the top half of the cables for wireless listening while using the bottom half of the cord to transmit audio to the detached headphones.
While most iPods now have integrated Bluetooth transmitters, a feature that would minimize the need for special headphones, the Mar. 29, 2011 patent filing uses images of the sixth-generation iPod nano, and hints at a 3.5mm headphone port-based recharging solution for the headphones akin to the iPod shuffle. [via AppleInsider]
British audio company RHA is making its first foray into the American market with its budget-priced MA450i and SA950i headphones. Sold in black or white, the noise-isolating in-ear MA450i earphones ($50) are equipped with 10mm drivers and an in-line remote, made from aluminum, and packaged with seven sets of ear tips. They’ll be available here in mid-October.
By comparison, the larger on-ear SA950 headphones ($60) feature 40mm titanium-coated drivers and an in-line remote. Made primarily from glossy black plastic with metal accents, they will be available here at the end of October.
Following up on prior reports that Apple had not made Lightning connectors available to developers, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple has made significant changes to its Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies, tightening control over the manufacturing of Lightning accessories. According to the sources, only Apple-approved manufacturing facilities will be allowed to produce Lightning connector accessories, even including third-party accessories. Moreover, Apple hasn’t approved any factories yet, which the sources say will limit the number of Lightning accessories available in the near future.
One source notes that Apple is planning an MFi “seminar,” where it will discuss changes to the program and the rules for Lightning accessory development going forward. The seminar will be held in November in China, notes the source, after the point at which third-party Lightning accessories could be manufactured in time for holiday sale. Sources have further noted that the Lightning connector has proved difficult to copy, reducing the near-term likelihood of unauthorized third-party connector cables.
Notably, Amazon orders for a third-party “iTronz” Lightning Adapter offered in September have now been canceled, with the vendor citing a “very critical functional issue.” An e-mail from Amazon made reference to authentication chips found in the Lightning connector, initially citing a 20-25 day shipment delay. The vendor subsequently ceased sales altogether.
Updated Oct. 17: The seminar is scheduled for Nov. 7-8, according to a TechCrunch report. The report also notes Apple will strictly regulate sales of Lightning connectors for MFi partners, and that Apple will control the supply of Lightning pins — it will only supply partners with the pins when their products meet Apple’s specifications and standards.
Swedish headphone company NOCS has released its NS600 Crush earphones ($150). The NS600 Crush features two drivers per earphone, creating a tweeter-woofer setup with full-range sound. Noise-isolating silicone sleeves fit on the earphones’ aluminum housings, which are combined with a tangle-free Kevlar cable.
A remote and mic, carrying case, extra sleeves, and airplane adapter are included with the earphones. Notably, the NS600 Crush appears to be an update of the NS600, which was slated for significant retooling after it debuted nearly two years ago. The NS600 Crush earphones are available now.
To aid customers whose new iPhones and iPods won’t work with its numerous Dock Connector-based speaker systems, Geneva Lab is introducing the Wireless Dock Adapter, a Bluetooth receiver that allows audio to be transmitted wirelessly from an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to a Geneva Sound System. Update: Although the Wireless Dock Adapter was originally announced as a Dock Connector accessory, Geneva now says that it will be offering an aux-in-based Bluetooth receiver instead.
Geneva is offering the Wireless Dock Adapter for free to customers who purchased a Geneva Model S, M, L or XL Sound System after Sept. 14. Customers must register their warranty at GenevaLab.com, including proof of purchase. Existing customers can also purchase the adapter for the discounted price of $40.
Duo Games and Gameloft have announced the new Duo Gamer Controller ($80), a Bluetooth-enabled wireless game controller for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Equipped with dual analog controls, six buttons and a d-pad, the controller is apparently the first Apple-certified wireless joypad, however, it only works with select Gameloft titles.
A holding stand for iOS devices is also included within the package. Duo Gamer is available for purchase now.
Yantouch has debuted its Black Diamond 3 wireless speaker — a significant change from its former iterations as an iPhone dock and passive lamp. The redesigned BD3 is a now an iOS-compatible Bluetooth speaker, though it retains and enhances its color-changing lamp functionality, now featuring 16 million colors.
Two speaker drivers power the device, which can be controlled via remote. USB or wall power can be used for both the color-shifting light and speakers. No price or release date has been announced yet. For additional pictures and details, check out our First Look here.
CableJive has announced the DockBoss+ ($30), an adapter that connects Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable to existing 30-pin docking stations. Although the solution’s a somewhat complicated workaround with plenty of extra wiring, the iPhone 5, new iPod touch and new iPod nano all become compatible with older existing accessories when using the DockBoss+.
DockBoss+ promises to let you charge and listen to audio at the same time from a Lightning-enabled device; an extra audio-out port is also included for analog audio systems. It’s available now.
Libratone has announced Zipp ($399), a portable speaker that can use AirPlay with or without an existing Wi-Fi network. The Zipp can connect directly to AirPlay devices using PlayDirect technology, establishing its own wireless connection when necessary. It also sports a cylindrical design, so it can be placed in the center of a room without facing away from listeners.
The Zipp gets up to eight hours of playback time when used in a wired mode, and up to four hours when accessed in wireless mode. It comes in eight different interchangeable colors, and is due for an October release.
Some users of Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable have been reporting issues with the USB end of the cable getting stuck. A discussion thread on Apple’s support forum started a week ago, and has continued to grow with reports of issues in computer and car USB ports. Some users have found it extremely difficult to remove the USB end of the cable after plugging it in, and various unorthodox methods have been suggested to extract the cable. Notches in the metal USB jacket of the new cable are noticeably deeper than those on the old dock cable, leading users to suggest a variety of unwise ideas to fill in the holes. One forum poster wrote that AppleCare is “aware of the problem,” but there has been no official Apple comment as of yet.
IK Multimedia has released the iRig PRE ($40), a universal XLR microphone interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can plug any microphone with an XLR connector into the device. The iRig PRE comes with an adjustable gain control, 48-volt phantom power, and an audio output jack.
Two free apps for the iRig PRE are available for download: iRig Recorder, for voice and field recording/editing, and VocaLive, a multi-effects processing/recording app. Power is supplied by a 9V battery, which offers 30 hours of battery life when used with dynamic microphones, and 10 hours with phantom-powered condenser studio microphones. The iRig PRE is available now.
Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new dedicated AirPlay speakers, the A7 and A5. The A7 ($800) comes equipped with a six-inch dedicated bass driver alongside two sets of 1” tweeters and 3” mid-range drivers, while the A5 ($500) is a smaller version of the same all-in-one design, using twin 1” tweeters and 4” full-range drivers. Both new wireless speakers feature a design similar to the company’s MM-1 speakers, though more elongated, and without separated satellites.
As with all AirPlay speakers, a Wi-Fi network and either an iOS device or a computer running iTunes are the only things needed to use the speakers. Both models will be available in October.
Leading camera filter maker Schneider-Kreuznach of Germany has announced the B+W Smart-Pro Filter, a circular polarizing filter made for iPhones, other smartphones, cameras or tablets with a maximum lens diameter of 8mm. The polarizing filter is held in place by a self-adhesive magnetic ring, and can reduce reflections on non-metallic surfaces, improving the clarity of water and glass, as well as enhancing the saturation of blue skies and other colors. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.