iLoveHandles launches ‘Trunk’, a flexible Lightning cable that holds your iPhone vertically

iLoveHandles, a company that makes unique iOS device accessories (Facet and Pinhead come to mind), today announced availability of its latest one of a kind offering for iPhone.

TRUNK-coffeeDubbed the “Trunk,” the company has created a short, flexible Lightning cable that is strong enough to hold up an iPhone vertically when charging in the wall or elsewhere. We’ve seen similar dock solutions before that are married with wall adapters, but Trunk makes it easy to prop up your iPhone no matter where you are.

iLoveHandles, which is currently selling the cable for $19.95 through its website, shows in the images above a couple of the situations Trunk might come in handy. This is definitely a product we can see using in the car while using a maps app to navigate, and we hope to bring a full hands-on review of Trunk soon. Read more

Logitech announces wired iPad keyboard for the classroom in Lightning and 30-pin variants

Logitech-Wired-Keyboard-for-iPad

We know that Bluetooth keyboards are usually the go to solution for a bringing a traditional typing experience on the iPad. We’ve reviewed plenty from Logitech in the past that we highly recommend, but today the company launched what it says is a better solution for iPad keyboards in the classroom. Logitech says having to connect multiple iPads to Bluetooth keyboards in classrooms is a big hassle for teachers, and to combat that it is introducing a plug-and-play, wired keyboard in both Lightning and 30-pin variants:

“Schools are increasingly purchasing iPads for use in the classroom,” said Mike Culver, vice president and general manager of mobility at Logitech. “While tablets are enabling new ways of teaching and testing, there’s a challenge when a teacher needs to simultaneously pair multiple iPads with multiple wireless Bluetooth keyboards. We developed the Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad to specifically solve this problem, so students can now simply plug it in and start typing.”

The full-sized keyboard has the usual iOS hotkeys, a durable, spill resistant exterior, and the low profile keys you might be used to from other Logitech keyboards.  Read more

Apple *could* upgrade the little computer in the Lightning HDMI adapter to do better 1080p

Digital-A-V-connector-Lighting-take-apartWe reported over the weekend that there was some confusion over exactly how Apple’s new Lightning digital AV adapter works and why it lacks the ability to carry a native 1080p signal. One theory is that Apple was using an AirPlay wireless streaming protocol, but we’ve since learned that is not the case. According to a post  that purports to be from an anonymous Apple engineer explaining how the cables function, Apple does not use Airplay protocol. It instead uses the same H.264 encoding technology as AirPlay to encode the output into the ARM SoC. From there, the data is decoded and sent over HDMI:

It’s vastly the same thing with the HDMI adapter. Lightning doesn’t have anything to do with HDMI at all. Again, it’s just a high speed serial interface. Airplay uses a bunch of hardware h264 encoding technology that we’ve already got access to, so what happens here is that we use the same hardware to encode an output stream on the fly and fire it down the Lightning cable straight into the ARM SoC the guys at Panic discovered. Airplay itself (the network protocol) is NOT involved in this process. The encoded data is transferred as packetized data across the Lightning bus, where it is decoded by the ARM SoC and pushed out over HDMI.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Apple could improve the quality with future software updates since the firmware is stored in RAM as opposed to ROM. The poster noted that Apple deemed the quality “suitably acceptable” but *will* make improvements with future iOS updates: Read more

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

Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater 01

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

Holiday Shopping Guide: Mods, cases, cables, & docks available now for your iPhone 5

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 7.24.19 PM

We have already brought you roundups of the best Lightning products and iPad mini accessories we could find, but there are still a lot of iPhone 5 specific accessories, mods, and attachements that didn’t make our past gift guides. We didn’t want to include any products that you wouldn’t be able to get your hands on before Christmas, so we’re only including products promising to ship in December. Below you’ll find our roundup of the best mods, cases, cables & docks available now and specifically designed for the iPhone 5: Read more

Philips releases four beautiful new Lightning speaker docks

Philips today announced four new Lightning-based speaker docks for Apple’s latest iPhone 5, iPad Mini, new iPods, and fourth-generation iPads. We had a chance to look at and listen to these at a special briefing yesterday, and we can confirm they sound every bit as good as they look:

  • Philips Lifestyle Music System (DCM2067) – an elegant and slim design that looks good in any modern interior. As well as charging and playing music from Lightning enabled devices through its retractable Lightning dock; the system also includes a CD player and FM radio. Even with its slender footprint, the system delivers 20W RMS power to provide a great sound performance.
  • Philips Portable Docking Speaker (DS7580) – slim and compact enough to fit in your bag, it features Philips’ wOOx technology that provides a rich and deep bass. Precise tuning between the speaker drivers ensures a smooth transition between low- to mid- and high-frequencies. With a built-in battery that lasts for approximately eight hours you can enjoy your music anywhere.
  • Philips Bedroom Docking Speaker (DS1155) – has a 360-degree design, providing rich omnidirectional sound to fill your bedroom. The clock display of the docking speaker automatically synchronizes with the clock of your Apple device, and the speaker also includes a USB port at the back of the speaker allowing users to easily charge a second mobile device.

It also looks like they slipped another upcoming Lightning dock into their Flickr account, but that one might be for our EU readers only for now.

The press release follows: Read more

Holiday Shopping Guide: The best docks, stands, cases, & cables for your iPad mini

With iPad mini introducing a brand new set of dimensions for case manufacturers, most have not been as quick as with previous iPad launches to get products on the market. In the first couple of weeks of the product’s launch, only a handful of well-known accessory makers were taking orders, and we unfortunately saw many cheap 7-inch Android cases repurposed and sold as iPad mini compatible.

Apple’s new Lightning connector standard was of course another hurdle, and means there are not nearly as many available third-party docks, keyboards, adapters, etc., as iOS device owners have come to expect.

Below, we have put together a guide to the best of the best iPad mini accessories we could find that are currently available to order and shipping before the holidays:

Read more

Apple begins pre-orders for iPad mini: $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, $529 for 64GB, shipping Nov. 2

It’s been quite an exciting week for those glued to the latest out of Cupertino, and this morning it gets better. As promised, Apple made the iPad mini available on its website for pre-order. The .68-pound tablet that is “thinner than a pencil” offers users a 7.9-inch experience on top of Apple’s traditional iOS. Apple is offering the iPad mini at $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. Apple plans to ship the first batch to customers Nov. 2 and will make it available in-store at 8AM.

For those who want to get the iPad mini with 4G capabilities added on, they’ll have to do a bit of waiting. For the same storage capacity options as the Wi-Fi-only model, the Wi-Fi + 4G model will be priced at $459, $559, and $659. Apple revealed at its event this week that orders will ship in “mid-November” for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint variants.

The iPad mini has a 7.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, A5 dual-core processor, dimensions of “200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm,” a 5-megapixel-iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera, and a weight of 308g.

Additionally, as planned, Apple made the fourth-generation iPad available for customers to pre-order this evening. The fourth-generation iPad features an updated 1.3GHz A6X dual-core processer, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and 5-megapixel back-facing camera.

Apple makes available an iPad mini Smart Cover that comes in six colors, including: gray, silver, pink, green, blue, and (PRODUCT) RED. Apple also offers its slew of 10-inch iPad accessories, including a Smart Cover and Smart Case.

Several readers are reporting they had no issues pre-ordering either product, as the Apple Store looks to be running smoothly. Pre-orders are also available via the Apple Store app on iOS.

Read more

Apple confirms that 12W adapter will charge iPads quicker than older 10W adapters

The morning of Apple’s iPad mini event earlier this week, we told you there was a handful of new accessories coming including four new Lightning adapters and a 12W USB power adapter. We didn’t hear much about them during the event, but the new cables and adapters have hit Apple’s online store now, including a Lightning Digital AV adapter and Lightning to VGA adapter, with most shipping in “2-3 weeks”.

On the product page for the new 12W USB charger, Apple confirmed it would indeed ship with Retina iPads. With the new fourth-gen replacing the third-gen iPad—that would essentially cover just the iPad 4. It is, however, selling the adapter by itself for $19 online and listing compatibility with iPad 2, iPhone 4S, and iPod touch fifth-gen and up. Many readers have wondered whether the adapter would allow for faster charging with the iPad 3 and fourth-gen iPad. A big complaint among third-gen iPad users is that the device took up several more hours to charge than previous generations due to its larger battery. Also, on Apple’s discussion forums, some users asked if a software update would be required for the iPad 3 to draw additional power.

When we asked Apple about the 12W adapters, we were told the following:

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Apple holding MFi conference November 7 -9 to discuss Lightning guidelines, here’s the event’s program

Earlier this month, iLounge and Macotakara reported that Apple made several changes to its MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) policy that tightens control over manufacturers producing accessories. In its report, iLounge included word about a seminar in China where Apple plans discuss its policy change with manufacturers—talking specifically about Apple’s new Lightning technology. Today, thanks to a report by TechCrunch and a picture of the seminar’s program provided to us by a tipster (as seen above), we have learned more about the seminar. The conference will be held in Shenzhen, China from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 to talk about the new standards.

With the new standards, Apple will have a strict control over the supply of Lightning pins that help power the Lightning connectors that MFi partners could build. Apple will only supply the pins to partners that the company has vetted to make sure its standards are met. Previous teardowns have already shown that what Apple has with its Lightning cables is not ordinary dumb cable technology.

As you can see in the program, Apple has a lot on the docket for those who attend. It will give manufacturers an insight into Apple Retail, how to design Lightning accessories, and the changes within the MFi program. Apple’s engineers will also assist with Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. Once Apple has approved a company, it will sell them the Lightning pins in volume. According to TechCrunch, the pricing is “very fair when you consider the advance technology.”

Last year, at its MFi program that took place Dec. 7 to Dec. 9, Apple told developers to get busy building next-generation iOS accessories compatible with Airplay and support Bluetooth 4.0. As we now know, Apple has rolled out Bluetooth 4.0 to most of its devices and wants to make Airplay a standard for audio and video consumption.

Read more

Third-party Lightning connector products surface as manufacturers report cracking Apple’s authentication chip

A new iPhone 5 dock being sold through China-based iPhone5mod.com could be the first third-party product to ship with Apple’s new Lightning connector. Earlier reports indicated that accessory manufacturers would have trouble producing Lightning-compatible products due to a unique authentication chip Apple is using in the new standard. According to reports from M.I.C Gadget and MacRumors, which spoke with representatives of the company, the dock and cable from iPhone5mod are actually using chips obtained from Apple’s suppliers. They also provide all the same functionality. However, the company hinted cracked authentication chips are available and working:

We spoke with representatives of iPhone5mod, who informed us that they are currently using original Lightning controller chips from Apple’s supplier, ensuring proper functionality… iPhone5mod did, however, inform us that they have also obtained cracked chips that bypass Apple’s authentication functions and that the cracked chips are working just as well as the original chips

The company is currently selling the product in two pieces: the iPhone 5 dock and Lightning cable for $19,90 each, or you can buy both as a package for $39.90: Read more