First Looks: iTrip, iPod Armor & FlipStand

iLounger, “cudaboy_71” graciously volunteered his time while at Macworld SF to report on some of the new accessories for iPod. The following is his first hand report on recently announced products from Griffin Technology (iTrip), Matias (iPod Armor) and Speck Products (FlipStand).

iTrip

The first stop was at Griffin Technologys’ Macworld booth. Just by chance one of the Griffin reps was out showing off a prototype of the iTrip. The iTrip is not a completely unique product, except for its appearance and by which it attaches to iPod. It is a cylinder shaped device the width of the iPod and plugs into the FireWire and audio ports. With the initial sync to a piece of provided software, it will broadcast your tunes to any number of FM frequencies that you can tune your radio to. In his sales pitch was the fact that this device can be tuned to any FM frequency rather than the 2 or 3 choices you get with similar products. Also, he noted that this device dispenses with any cords that are found on the competition. As stated before, this is a near-final prototype being shown at Macworld. The Griffin rep also indicated that retail sales could probably start around mid-year, as tooling for the enclosure was just now happening.

As an interesting side note, I mentioned that at MWSF02 Griffin was showing off a prototype of an IR adapter for the iPod that would enable the iPod to be used as a remote for televisions. I asked him whatever became of it. He replied that the iTrip is the ending to that prototype. Market research had shown that the market didn’t really bear further development of that product, and that Apple itself wasnt too keen on the idea. The Griffin rep winked and said, “It’s a good idea to stay in good graces with Apple.” And, they really love the concept of the iTrip.

Conclusion: Well thought out idea. I was uable to see the prototype in action. Prototype is not sporting final enclosure. Final judgement withheld for now, but it looked like a winner.

Company Website: Griffin Technology

Price: $35

iPod Armor

The next stop was at Matias booth. They are displaying a prototype of their new; very capable and elegant, anodized aluminum iPod case. The indentation/embosses on the cover provide a visual cue to the orientation of your iPod, and if nothing else, add a nice aesthetic to an; otherwise, plain aluminum box. (see video and stills). The case also has a plastic insert with holes for access to all the ports fit nicely into a cutout in the aluminum. But, with all that aluminum casing to protect the Lucite and mirror finish of iPod, its FireWire audio ports remain seemingly exposed. I also find the case to be more than a little clumsy if you’re the DJ type (always having to fiddle with the wheel and buttons as I do).

I also wanted to see how easy insertion and removal of the ipod was. It turned out to be impossible, as this was a prototype case that had been permanently mounted inside. Aside from hearing that the foam inside the case on the final product would be a bit thinner (to ease insertion and removal) and that the hinge on the case would be a bit stiffer, this prototype was for all intents a final, shipping version of the product.

Conclusion: Attractive, well-constructed case. Great cosmetic protection, but lacks port protection, and a little clumsy to use while exercising.

Company Website: Matias Corporation

Price: $49.99

FlipStand

The last iPod new release I found is speck products FlipStand. The case is made of ABS plastic, but looks similar in color and feel to the polycarbonate of the ibook. I didn’t have my ibook out to compare, but should match nicely. The iPod fits snugly using the supplied foam insert to fit all iPod models.Once seated in the enclosure, a clear plastic lens protects the display of the iPod, a flip-top lid with only an audio port hole protects both FireWire and “Hold” switch, and a grey ABS plastic, hinged flap at the base of the enclosure covers the scroll wheel and function buttons. Also, when opened, the hinged lid can rotate all the way round the case transforming it into a desktop stand.

Conclusion: I would have preferred the grey lid to be the same color as the rest of the case. Otherwise, a solid contender. I didn’t have a spare pair of headphones to verify if 3rd party or right angle headphone jack would fit in the flip-tops hole acceptably. I also did not have a chance to verify whether having a FireWire cable connected to iPod, while in the stand configuration, would cause it to topple. Good questions to ask whether you call or have a chance to see one in person.

Company Website: Speck Products

Price: $34.95


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