iLounge has chosen its Best of Show award winners for this year’s International CES. A total of 13 products made the cut this year — seven Best of Show winners, and six Best of Show finalists. The total count is a bit lower than most years, but we really stressed top-notch quality this time around. Many of the winning products were featured in our iProducts Marketplace at the show, but a few were also found in other areas of the show floor, and elsewhere during the week. Our 2015 winners include a number of accessories compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, some forward-thinking battery options, and a seriously sweet customizable speaker, among other products. Read on for the full list, and check our CES Special Edition site for all of our full show reports!
Braven’s BRV-Pro ($150) was clearly a standout product from the moment we first saw it, and after careful consideration, it’s a worthy winner of our Best Overall Product award. An extremely attractive, rugged Bluetooth speaker at a great price, Braven went above and beyond with BRV-Pro’s add-on accessories. Users will be able to add a number of swappable accessories to the top of the speaker, including a solar charging panel, light, mount, or a Qi charging panel. You can even stack multiple BRV-Pro units on top of each other for a stronger sound. We can’t wait to try out this impressive speaker when it launches next month.
We saw a few HomeKit-compatible smart plugs at CES this year, but iDevices’ Switch ($50) stood out due to a few special features: It’s got a multi-color LED, supports both Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi, and can even be used as a hub for future Bluetooth LE HomeKit accessories. It’s not as cheap as some of the other smart plugs we’ve seen, but it’s still reasonably priced for what you’re getting, and the companion app is pretty slick, too.
iHome’s Kineta series — the iKN105 ($100) Bluetooth clock radio and iKN150 ($150) portable Bluetooth speaker — offers a removable 2600 mAh battery pack within each respective speaker. So users aren’t just getting a smartly designed, competitively-priced speaker — you can charge up the cylindrical battery cell overnight in the speaker, take it on the go with you during the day, and bring it back home to dock for recharging at night. Simple, smart, and convenient.
iHome’s Noti-fi Bluetooth speaker series is a bold step forward in design for the company. The seven-speaker X1 Noti-fi ($200) and six-speaker X2 Noti-fi ($100) are sharp-looking speakers, but the “X” in the middle isn’t just for show — it also provides visual notifications from linked devices.
Incipio’s Direct Wireless Smart family — Smart Outlet ($25), Smart Light Bulb Adapter ($25), and Smart Power Strip ($60) — offers a number of new home automation solutions compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. A free iOS app can control all of the new accessories, which are some of the most aggressively-priced HomeKit products we’ve seen thus far. The Direct Wireless Smart family is an inexpensive way to delve into home automation.
Phonesuit’s Elite 6 Battery Case ($80-$110) for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were the most intriguing new iPhone battery cases we saw at CES this year. Not only are they attractive cases with nice touch controls on the back, but a free app allows users to set power management with ease. Through the app, a user can set the battery to recharge an iPhone when the phone’s own battery hits a certain specified level — 10 percent, 20 percent, whatever your heart desires.
We’ve long loved ZeroChroma’s Folio-Slide case for iPad, and now we’re impressed with the company’s Folio-Slide with Keyboard Lid ($100). The excellent Folio-Slide case will fit an iPad Air or iPad Air 2, and the new Keyboard Lid provides a sleek, thin Bluetooth keyboard which can slide into the open slot on the case and fold on top of the screen for carrying, while adding virtually no extra bulk. ZeroChroma’s done a great job at building up an ecosystem surrounding their Folio-Slide case, and Keyboard Lid is the most impressive Folio-Slide accessory yet.
The only Mac product to earn an award, Henge Docks’ Horizontal Docking Station for MacBooks ($400) is an elegantly designed solution for those who use a MacBook both as a workstation and on the go. It’s a seamless experience with the added bonus of an OS X app which provides intelligent multi-monitor window management. A 15” MacBook Pro version will arrive first, with a 13” version coming later down the road.
A lot of people misunderstood the ASAP Charger from iBattz. It doesn’t actually recharge your iPhone 6 in 15 minutes — instead, it takes 15 minutes to recharge the battery itself with enough capacity to fully charge an iPhone 6. It might not seem as impressive once you learn that fact, but keep in mind how often users happen to grab a dead battery pack just before heading out the door. With ASAP Charger, a quick 15-minute charge of the battery will be enough to get you through the day. A 5600 mAh ($60) and 11400 mAh ($100) version are on the way.
Invoxia’s Triby ($200) is a interesting item — a speakerphone/radio/digital tablet meant to become a family’s digital “home base.” Family members can leave digital notes on the Triby’s display, which is designed to be placed somewhere like a refrigerator with its magnetic back. Triby can also make phone calls and play music via Bluetooth, and even make HD Voice VoIP calls.
Leef’s iBridge ($60-$300) is our favorite Lightning-based storage solution we’ve seen so far. iBridge lets users expand storage content anywhere from 16GB to 256GB — you can transfer photos and videos off the device onto the well-designed drive. Another neat touch: the iBridge companion app can take photos and store them directly on the flash memory without filling up an iOS device’s Camera Roll.
We’ve seen plenty of waterproof cases, and even more battery cases, but Lifeproof’s Frē Power ($130) for iPhone 6 is both. Packing a 2600 mAh battery into a case that’s submersible up to 6.6 feet, Frē Power is the ultimate take-it-anywhere case for iPhone 6. For some users — especially those active, exploring types — it’ll likely be only the case they’ll need.
Secur’s Four-in-One Car Charger ($40) is a reasonably priced USB charger with some serious extra functionality. Four-in-One contains a 1400 mAh battery, swiveling LED flashlight, emergency light, and magnetic base within its rugged frame. It’s a great charger to have in your vehicle at all times.