Review: Griffin iTrip AUX is the 3-in-1 car audio, power, and remote control for Lightning devices

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Given the widespread adoption of Bluetooth wireless for in-car telephone calling and music streaming, it would be easy to write off Lightning connector-equipped car accessories as… decreasingly important. Any recent car with Bluetooth audio probably also has a USB port built in for Apple device charging and audio output, letting many people integrate iPhones, iPods, or iPads with cars using nothing more than a budget Lightning-to-USB cable.

But that’s not true for everyone. At CES in January, Griffin showed two new car accessories designed to help Apple users whose cars lack USB ports and Bluetooth. iTrip Bluetooth (aka iTrip Bluetooth Aux) hit stores a couple of months ago, turning any aux-only car stereo into a Bluetooth music receiver. This week, it was joined by iTrip AUX ($50, aka iTrip AUX with AutoPilot), which provides a one-connection charging, audio, and remote control solution for any Lightning-connector iPad, iPhone, or iPod. It has 2.4-Amp power output, capable of refueling any of these devices at peak speed, plus a line-out audio port, and an integrated three-button remote control. If Bluetooth sound quality isn’t good enough for you, or you value a single-connection charging and audio solution, this could be a viable car accessory…

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Review: Griffin’s WatchStand is a tall, cheap way to dual-dock your Apple Watch and iPhone

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I respect any accessory developer who attempts to solve a legitimate problem, and admire developers who find smart ways to solve multiple problems simultaneously. Unlike many competing Apple Watch stands, Griffin Technology’s new WatchStand ($30 via Amazon) thinks past the initial challenge of mounting your watch, and also includes a place for your iPhone to rest on your nightstand. As you’ll see in my guide to the best Apple Watch stands and docks, it’s hard to find a decent-looking combination Watch and iPhone stand at a lower price.

As that low price suggests, however, WatchStand makes compromises in both materials and functionality. Built primarily from plastic with a rubber core, it’s certain not to scratch a stainless steel or gold Apple Watch. But would you actually want to use it with one of Apple’s more expensive timepieces? That’s another question…

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Review: Griffin’s iTrip Bluetooth adds wireless iPhone music streaming to your car’s stereo

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Twelve years have passed since Griffin released its first iTrip, a breakthrough FM transmitter that enabled iPods to send music wirelessly to car and home stereos. The original model, a glossy white housing that sat atop early iPods like a tube of Chapstick, effectively defined iPod accessories for an entire generation of early adopters. And it was fun, too: using an radio antenna and brilliant software, iTrip could flood an empty FM radio channel with iPod music, acting like a pocket-sized pirate radio station.

Everything changed when the FCC cracked down on FM transmitters, forcing reductions in broadcasting power that made iTrips (and numerous competitors) sound staticky, reducing their appeal. Around the same time, Apple and car companies transitioned to better-sounding solutions — Bluetooth and aux-in audio ports, respectively — leaving FM transmitters with fewer customers. But Griffin is rejuvenating the iTrip family with iTrip Bluetooth, aka iTrip Aux Bluetooth, which provides a different type of dead-simple wireless solution for cars. Priced at $50 but available online for $38, it has one purpose: to receive Bluetooth audio sent by your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, conveying it through an included 3.5mm audio cable to your car’s aux-in port…

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Griffin debuts iTrip Aux Bluetooth, updated Twenty digitial audio amp, new wearable accessories, and more at CES

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Griffin unveiled a series of new accessories for mobile devices today during the Consumer Electronics Show. The first of these accessories is the iTrip Aux Bluetooth, which combines a standard 3.5mm audio cable with a Bluetooth reciever powered by the cigarette lighter in your car, allowing you to stream your music wirelessly to your car’s stereo, even if you don’t have a Bluetooth equipped car.

The iTrip Aux AutoPilot, a sister device, works using a Lightning cable to charge your iOS device while using the data connection to access your music library, which is then played through the same 3.5mm jack as the Bluetooth model.

Both accessories retail for $49.99 and are available from Griffin’s website starting today.

The company also announced…

Review: Griffin’s Reveal, STM’s Dux, Verus’s Damda Slide show value of slimmer iPhone 6 Plus cases

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The first time I picked up Spigen’s overly-bulky Tough Armor case for the iPhone 6 Plus, I knew there was going to be a major new consideration when reviewing iPhone 6 Plus cases: the quantity and shape of case materials added to the already large device’s back and sides. Apple’s designers succeeded in crafting a really big iPhone that somehow still felt thin, smooth and comfortable enough in large hands — when bare — but Tough Armor’s hard edges and chunky frame made the 6 Plus feel awkward in even a large adult male’s hands and pockets.

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Slimmer solutions were needed for the iPhone 6 Plus, and today, we’re looking at three of them: Griffin’s Reveal ($20, available here for $13), STM’s Dux ($30, available for $30), and Verus’s Damda Slide ($40, available here for $24). Reveal and Dux are highly similar to one another, differing mostly in texturing and corner protection, while Damda Slide is like Tough Armor, only more thoughtfully constructed and useful. It’s somewhat rare in that it offers “playthrough” or full-time access to the iPhone’s screen and side controls, while also including a wallet that can store three cards behind the iPhone. Most iPhone wallets require a large front flap that adds thickness and makes instant screen access inconvenient.

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Jeremy’s holiday gift guide: Mac, iPhone & iPad gear you can trust

Holiday Gift Guide 5My first post for 9to5Mac is on a topic near and dear to my heart: best-of-breed Apple products and accessories. Why should you trust me? I’ve been a professional product reviewer for 23 years and an Apple user for 28 years. Last week, I finished an 11-year stint running the editorial side of iLounge, the leading Apple product review site, where I tested literally thousands of Apple accessories from every major company on the planet. Readers have praised my reviews as accurate and insightful, and I always put my readers’ needs first when testing new products.

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Cyber Monday: The best iPhone, iPad, & Mac accessories on sale today

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A ton of great deals on accessories for iPhone, iPad and Macs have gone live today for Cyber Monday in addition to the many Black Friday deals still running from the weekend. Today is your last chance to get in on most of these discounts and in some cases might be your last chance to get your hands on these products before the holidays.

Head below for our roundup of the best deals available today on cases and accessories for your Apple device.  Read more

The best iPad Air 2 cases already available to buy online (Running list)

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Now that Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is officially up for preorder today through Apple’s online store, AT&T and others, you’re going to need a new case to accommodate the 18% thinner design. Not only will case makers have to make tweaks for the thinner design, removed side switch and other design tweaks, they will also have to make sure the home button is exposed for the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Below we’ve put together a list of cases that are already available to order and we’ll be updating as more cases get announced ahead of the new iPad Air 2 shipping to customers next week. Read more

iPhone 6/Plus case roundup: Best cases at the best price

With iPhone 6 and 6 Plus officially going on sale today through Apple retail and partners, a lot of you on the hunt for a new case. We’ve been keeping track of announcements from the notable case makers and below put together our updated list of the nicest cases we’ve seen yet.

As we always do, we’ve stuck to the case manufacturers we know and trust (like Apple, Griffin, Otterbox, Grovemade, & Cygnett) and also included a wide selection of different products from hard to soft, plastic to aluminum, and wallets to gun-style holster cases. We’ll add more to the list below as we find more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases.

Head below for the full list:

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The best iPhone 6 & 6 Plus cases already available to buy online

As we always do, we’ve compiled a list of the best iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases already available to order. With preorders for the device kicking off this Friday through most carriers and major retailers in launch countries, a number of great case makers have already started selling accessories. We’ve stuck to reputable case makers and cases that you can order today. A few might not ship until the end of the month or early next, but Apple isn’t expected to ship the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus until September 19th. We’ll add more to the list as we find them. Read more

CES 2014: Griffin unveils new iOS & Mac accessories- StudioConnect HD, PowerMate Bluetooth, & GuitarSidekick for iPhone

Ahead of the official International CES 2014 show taking place next week in Las Vegas, tonight Griffin, alongside a number of other companies, debuted new products at the official CES Unveiled press event. We told you earlier about the company’s new Square card reader case (the first of Square’s partners for a new program that will see similar products released in the future), but Griffin also had other Apple related products on show tonight including new audio accessories, a bluetooth controller for Mac, and more.

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Belkin debuts the Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater, an iPad case with integrated front-facing speakers

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Belkin-Home-Theatre-CaseWe just looked at the latest range of audio accessories from Griffin, and now well-known accessory maker Belkin is showing off a new audio product for CES 2013: The Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater. Available starting this month on the Apple Store, the otherwise traditional-looking iPad case packs in front-facing ported speakers, thanks to a little help from Audifi, and doubles as a stand with various angles.

The case works as a dock, meaning Belkin will release two models to accommodate for both 30-pin and Lightning connectors. Belkin is also making a free companion app available that will allow users to customize sound profiles for different types of media. The Thunderstorm app isn’t available yet in the App Store, but it should début alongside the 30-pin version of the Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater case sometime this month. A lightning-compatible version of the dock will become available in the spring. Both models will sell for $199.99 from Amazon, the Apple Store, and additional retailers.

We’ll bring you full hands-on from the CES show floor shortly.

Update: We had a chance to listen to the product on a loud crowd floor. While the sound was definitely a significant improvement over the built-in iPad capability, it was a little tinny/thin and didn’t add as much base as we would have liked.  We’ll have more when we get some hands-on time later.

Updated Gallery below: Read more