iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor

iLounge CES 2006 Coverage Index:
 » Part I – Diamonds and Coal: Commentary and Expectations
 » Part II – Early Announcements from Alpine, Belkin, Shure, and more!
 » Part III – From the Show Floor
 » Part IV – Follow the iPod & Showstoppers
 » Part V – Show Floor Report Day 2
 » Part VI – Hitch, and the Rest of the Show

Below you’ll find a summary of iPod accessories iLounge checked out on day 1 of CES. Stay tuned for further coverage.

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 2

Altec Lansing: The speaker and headphone company debuted three previously unannounced iPod speaker systems, the sub-$100 iM11 with two drivers and an iPod dock, the water- and shock-resistant black iM9 ($200), and the iM3c blk, a black version of the previously released iM3 that sells for the same $180 price. No new iPod-specific headphones were on display.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 4

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 5

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 6

Belkin: The company showed working prototypes of its TuneBase FMs for iPod and nano (noted in the prior report), as well as glass display-encased TuneCommand and TuneCommand AV, TuneFM for iPod and nano. TuneFM for iPod uses an extended but sturdy Dock Connector, ensuring compatibility with open-bottomed cases.

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 7

TuneCommand AV uses Apple’s Universal Docks and a 120-foot RF remote control, and will include AV cables for its $80 price.

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 8

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 9

Belkin also showed a new version of its car Auto Kit with a more compatible iPod connector, and a black version of TuneDok for iPod nano. The Auto Kit was connected to an iPod and a car video screen with the company’s new AV Cable, demonstrating the potential integration of the company’s existing components with new iPods and display technologies.

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 10

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 11

The company will also re-release its iPod TunePower rechargeable battery pack – likely at a lower price – with cradles to fit the 5G iPod, providing added video playback time. A new collection of cases was mentioned, but not shown, and one or two additional accessories – one of major potential interest to iLounge readers – are likely to be shown at Macworld next week.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 13

iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 14

CTA: New iPod accessory vendor CTA showed off Sound Scale, a dockable iPod speaker solution with two separate speakers, as well as a collection of other speaker systems that appear to have been retrofitted with iPod docks.

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The company also showed off i-Cruise, a bottom-mounting FM transmitter with an LCD display.

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Edifier: The speaker maker was showing some new iPod dockable speaker systems, in addition to numerous non-iPod systems.

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eMagin: The first wearable display maker we visited was eMagin, which showed off its “not to exceed $599” wearable iPod display eyeBud. This system consists of a white and black-bodied monocular (one-eyed) video display with an 800×600 output resolution, capable of being positioned forward or backward in a diopter-like fashion to properly focus with your eye.

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The company described the eyeBud on display as a working, early prototype that will likely change cosmetically and otherwise before its summer release. Currently, it uses a headband to hold tight on your head, and includes detachable “iPod-quality” wired earbuds that can be connected to its temple pieces. Otherwise, you can connect your own earbuds.

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At the moment, eyeBud’s second biggest issue is a separate battery and video output pack, which the company sees as something you’d wear on a belt with your iPod in a separate case. The pack is large, but the company is talking about engineering it down to a smaller size before release. Its other issue – a more major one – is the single display.

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Positioned over one eye, you have a detachable plastic plate you can use to cover your other eye, and can detach the plate to walk and view at the same time. While the resolution is crisp, and the device presently upsamples iPod video output to match the resolution, the color saturation and noise levels aren’t yet where they need to be, and the company is actively working to improve them.

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Icuiti: The second wearable display maker we visited unveiled iWear/eyeWear ($299), a pair (yes, a pair) of 320×240 displays in a black colored enclosure. iWear connects directly to the bottom of an iPod using a standard Dock Connector cable, and does not require any additional battery pack. Because there are two displays inside of the enclosure, both eyes can watch the same images – or 3-D movies that have been encoded with 480-pixel MPEG4. The 3-D imagery is believable and, for the price, impressive.

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When connected, it plays back iPod videos clearly and vividly through its dual screens, draining the iPod’s battery at virtually the same rate – says the company – of the iPod’s own screen. For that reason, you get the same run time from an iWear-connected iPod as you would from an iPod with its screen in use for display – 2.5 hours for the 30GB iPod, 3.5 for the 60GB.

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Each pair of iWear glasses comes with two sets of stems – one large, and one short – for different head sizes. Earbuds are included, but are detachable if you prefer not to use them. The company also sells higher-resolution versions of the glasses (the red ones shown above) with a breakout box that can be used with non-iPod devices; these provide VGA or better resolution for $549. In our view, iWear is the winning wearable display technology for the iPod at CES.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 25

Kensington: Kensington showed off its Entertainment Dock 500 for iPod ($100), a smaller competitor to DLO’s HomeDock, now including an RF remote control, an Apple Universal Dock, and video cabling for its price. Dock 500 looks like the company’s earlier Stereo Dock (iLounge rating: A-), but the chrome remote holder has been replaced with a brushed metal bar. Interestingly, the included remote has Select, Up and Down buttons, allowing you to navigate the iPod’s menus without touching its controls. We think this feature will soon become more useful than it presently appears to be.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 27

Kensington also showed its Micro FM Transmitter ($50) and combination FM Transmitter and Radio ($80), both of which connect to Dock Connector iPods and use LCDs for tuning. They use Aerielle’s radio technology for superior sound quality, but were not testable on the floor.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 29

Logitech: The wireless, speaker and headset accessory company has no new iPod accessories, but did show a sleek new Mac-ready wireless keyboard and laser mouse set ($100) with iTunes and iPhoto keys, as well as its first Bluetooth 2.0+EDR keyboard and mouse set for PC owners ($150).

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The latter keyboard has a highly impressive LCD display integrated into its top surface, letting you see and control music playback from Media Player without needing to call up a window on screen.

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Plantronics: Still in the process of completing its merger with Altec Lansing, the headset maker showed off Pulsar 590A, a Bluetooth wireless headset that simultaneously integrates with an iPod and a cell phone, letting you interrupt iPod music to take phone calls.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 33

Pacific Technology International: This new Made for iPod-certified accessory maker was showing off two pairs of iDream speakers with radical, retro-influenced designs.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 35

Qool: Several new speaker systems were on display under the Qool name, featuring iPod and other portable device docks integrated into their bottoms and sides.

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S.C. Chow & Associates: Actively looking for partners was this new company, which showed the Nichetech nPanel speaker system, which used an interesting plastic and metal enclosure to dock an iPod.

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Shure: The headphone maker’s E500 was available for hands-on testing, and from the brief period we could try it on the show floor, we were highly impressed. Like Ultimate Ears’ $900 UE-10 Pros, the $499 E500 includes triple drivers in each earpiece, using two of them as woofers to create enhanced, detailed bass reponse along with the detailed highs and mids we’ve come to expect from premium headphones. Better yet, E500 is smaller than we’d expected, and more comfortable than the E5cs.

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There’s also a Push-to-Hear breakout box, described in yesterday’s report, which works very well to let you hear outside sounds without removing your iPod. The prototype we tested didn’t include a working level adjuster, but the built-in microphone was very sensitive, working almost like a hearing aid to provide clear active sampling of the world around you.

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Targus: Case and accessory vendor Targus debuted a new corporate logo, as well as RemoteTunes TX for iPod nano ($80), Auto/Air Charger for iPod ($30), RemoteTunes for Dock Connector iPod ($60), and other electronic accessories that iLounge previously previewed from ABT.

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iPod @ CES 2006 Part III: From the show floor 41

We’ll have more from CES in the days to come, and may update this report further.

iLounge CES 2006 Coverage Index:
 » Part I – Diamonds and Coal: Commentary and Expectations
 » Part II – Early Announcements from Alpine, Belkin, Shure, and more!
 » Part III – From the Show Floor
 » Part IV – Follow the iPod & Showstoppers
 » Part V – Show Floor Report Day 2
 » Part VI – Hitch, and the Rest of the Show

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