iPad Air Keyboard Smackdown: Latest cases from Logitech, Belkin, and ZAGG

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With its wide-range of applications, touchscreen capabilities, portability, and fast processing, the iPad Air has been regarded by many users as a tablet capable of content creation. Coming from a dedicated laptop, however, the Multi-Touch keyboard is a weakness. Not because it is incapable, but because it is sometimes slower to type with, less accurate, and less comfortable.

This is why several iPad accessory makers have created solutions: keyboard attachments in the form of cases. For the past few weeks, I have been testing the latest keyboard case offerings for the iPad Air from Logitech, Belkin, and ZAGG. Below, I have put together a review and comparison of the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case, Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case, and the ZAGG Folio Keyboard:

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iPhone app turns your iPhone 5c (and case) into ‘Connect Four’ board

Ever since the iPhone 5c launched along with a specially-designed case, people have compared the case’s design to a the game Connect Four. Now a new app has arrived on the App Store that takes that observation and turns it into a real game. The app is called Flipcase, and the idea is pretty simple: you put your iPhone 5c case on backwards, so that the holes on the back are on top of the screen, and then take turns tapping the columns to try to connect four colored dots.

The app’s description says it’s compatible with other iPhone models, including the iPhone 5 and 5s, though it’s designed specifically with the 5c in mind. Flipcase is available for free on the App Store.

… And another cool use for the 5c case:

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Samsung fails to obtain Presidential veto from Obama for Apple/ITC import ban case

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With a U.S. import ban previously issued by the ITC set to lock out certain Samsung devices at midnight last night, Bloomberg reports that the company has failed to obtain a veto from President Barack Obama:

The Korean company had argued that the ban should be overturned on public policy grounds, especially since a similar order it won against Apple was vetoed by the administration in August. Samsung can now seek a delay in the ban from a U.S. appeals court that will consider the entire case on legal grounds.

“After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow” the import ban to proceed, Obama’s designee, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, said in a statement today.

In August, the US International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Apple and issued a sales ban on certain infringing Samsung devices in a long-running case that stemmed from a countersuit originally filed by Apple back in 2011. The news came shortly after the Obama administration’s decision to veto an ITC import ban on certain iPhone and iPad models that Samsung won in a separate case. Like Apple, Samsung was going to attempt to get a veto on the decision by the US President, the only person with the power to overturn ITC import bans.  Read more

Review and Giveaway: PureGear’s Retro Game Cases for iPhone 5/5s

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After 6 generations of iPhones, it’s rare to see unique cases anymore. With 100s of options available, if you’ve seen one, you’ve mostly likely seen them all. That’s why I was surprised to come across the PureGear Retro Game Cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s, an incredibly uniquely designed way to protect your phone. How does it work? Read on for the full review.

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The world’s thinnest touch surface from CSR could make iPad keyboard cases paper-thin by next year (Video)

Companies like Logitech, Zagg and others have been making their iPad keyboard cases thinner and thinner with each generation, but a year from now we might be seeing accessory makers take advantage of a new technology from CSR– The world’s thinnest wireless touch surface that could make your iPad keyboard case paper-thin. The company develops a number of silicon, software, and wireless solutions for OEMs in the consumer electronics space, and tonight it showed off its new printable, flexible 0.5 mm thick touch surface for the first time during ShowStoppers, the official media showcase for the IFA consumer electronics show taking place here in Berlin.

CSR partnered with Atmel and Conductive Inkjet Technology (CIT) to develop the ultra-thin wireless touch surface. The device uses Atmel’s touch silicon to sense multiple contact points on a surface, and can offer a full touch surface or power optimised key detection. The flexible membrane is enabled by CIT printed conductors. CIT’s reel-to-reel printing process enables copper and other conductors to be applied to the surface of the ultra-thin and flexible membrane, and can be printed to fit a range of tablet shapes and sizes.

Not only is it the thinnest touch surface ever made, it’s also wireless thanks to built-in Bluetooth 4.0, which CSR tells us helped the prototype achieve “market leading battery life” in the thin form factor. It also has touch latency of about 12mS, which means no noticeable lag while typing, but also possibilities for gaming and other applications. It’s not just for iPad keyboards, however. Tablet keyboard cases might be the ideal form factor– and CSR agrees– but it can also create table-sized touch surfaces and even customizable layouts that can be easily and inexpensively added to the keyboard.  The tech is capable of picking up handwriting and stylus input as well, so typing and keyboards are certainly not the only implementation that we could see in the near future.

While it’s still a prototype, the company tells us its in discussions with many OEMs that are interested in the technology and that we could see consumer products implementing the paper thin touch surfaces as early as the holiday season next year. Head past the break for our first look at the prototype from tonight’s ShowStoppers show at IFA in Berlin. Read more

Logitech announces Ultrathin, water-repellant Keyboard Folio & Protective Case for iPad mini

Logitech, the company behind some our favorite cases and keyboards for iPad, today announced the newest member of its iPad keyboard case family with the addition of the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for the iPad mini priced at $89. It is currently available for pre-order with an expected release later this month in the US, Europe, and some locations in Asia.

Logitech appears to be making the case itself a little larger than the iPad mini in order to achieve a more comfortable keyboard size, but its solution for holding the iPad mini in snug seems to be a little more elegant than some of the other solutions we’ve seen. The company tells us the case utilizes a “SecureLock system” to hold the iPad in securely, and it’s using new materials that are “ultra-thin and ultra-light” in addition to being water-repellant.

It’s also making a version without a keyboard called the Logitech Folio Protective Case for iPad mini at $49 (pictured below). Logitech will be making the cases available in a selection of colors including grey, purple, and pink, but didn’t offer any specific details on availability. We’ll have a review as soon as they become available. Read more

Belkin launches 2000 mAh ‘Grip Power Battery Case’ for iPhone 5

While it certainly has some competition in this arena, major Apple accessory maker Belkin today announced a new ‘Grip Power Battery Case’ for iPhone 5. Similar to popular offerings from some of Belkin’s competitors including Mophie and Otterbox, the case builds in a 2000 mAh battery that claims to double the battery life of the device.

Belkin says the Grip Power case includes a shock-resistant bumper with secure-hold TPU grip, an anti-glare camera ring, and four color combinations including Civic Blue/Stone and Purple Lightning/Fountain Blue, Blacktop/Gravel and Whiteout/Blacktop.

Belkin is selling the case for $99, slightly less than Mophie and Otterbox, through its website and BestBuy.com. Full list of features below: Read more

Review: Belkin Thunderstorm iPad case brings home theater quality sound to the iPad

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With its Retina display, unmatched ecosystem of HD video content, and AirPlay streaming capabilities, the iPad is undeniably one of the best experiences for watching video on a mobile device. The one glaring omission from Apple’s recipe for the perfect mobile video experience, however, is the absence of quality, front-facing speakers. The result is a sound experience that doesn’t quite live up to HD content on the iPad’s best in class Retina display. With several newer devices (see: Galaxy Tab 2, HTC One) adding front-facing, stereo speakers, audio performance is clearly one area Apple is falling behind, and its competitors have certainly taken note.

At CES we first got a look at Belkin’s solution to the problem: A $199 iPad case with integrated front-facing ported speakers that aims to offer a home theatre-like experience right in your hands. Belkin is about to release a new Lightning version of the ‘Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater’, so we thought the time was right to give you the full run down on how the product performs… Read more

Turn your iPad (*gasp*) into a waterproof Microsoft Surface with new Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio

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Logitech makes some pretty amazing iPad keyboards and now they can pretty much say the cover the spectrum of what’s out there. Today the company announced new $149 Logitech FabricSkin Keyboards that look and act like the keyboard case that comes with the Microsoft Surface. Even better? These guys are waterproof so you can just wipe away the coffee that you just spit out.

“We’ve combined design cues from the world of high fashion with the unbeatable typing experience you expect from Logitech to bring a new level of self-expression to iPad protection,” said Mike Culver, vice president of brand development for tablet accessories at Logitech. “TheLogitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio and Logitech Folio give you more than just a protective case for your iPad, they add a distinctive accent to your iPad that reflects your personal style.”

Logitech worked with world-class designers to identify chic fabrics and a bold color palette and combined them with a clean design. As a result, both the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio and Logitech Folio are offered in a range of colors from Electric Blue and Sunflower Yellow to Mars Red Orange, and in an array of on-trend fabrics from matte leather to finely woven cotton.

“By developing color and material options that evoke our senses and speak to our individuality, Logitech has made owning an iPad unique again,” said Beatrice Santiccioli, world-renowned color expert and designer. “I brought my knowledge in color and design to Logitech to help inspire the selection of materials and develop a color palette that builds a strong emotional connection to people’s lifestyles.”

Don’t want the keyboard but still want the case? Have an iPad mini? The Logitech Folio is keyboardless, fits both iPads, and costs $70.

They are available for pre-order at Logitech and will start shipping next month.

Full-sized image gallery, another video and press release follows: Read more

Review: TwelveSouth’s BookBook case for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro

We’ve reviewed and enjoyed a number of TwelveSouth products over the years. We were intrigued by the hollowed out book idea with the company’s original BookBook case for the MacBook Air and since it has brought out similar hand distressed leather BookBook cases for other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad mini. While maybe not the ideal option for Apple’s anti-skeuomorphic cheerleaders, I found the stark contrast to Apple’s sometimes cold industrial design a nice juxtaposition.

I tend to not use any skins, covers or cases when using my MacBook on a day to day basis. I slide my MacBook into a laptop pouch built-into my backpack or use a standard laptop case when on the go, and rarely do I actually leave the MacBook in the case when in use. A case was necessary for protection when traveling, but for me the average soft or hard plastic laptop case never quite does the pricey, Jony Ive designed Apple hardware inside justice. BookBook is different… Read more