CES 2015: iHome debuts HomeKit SmartPlugs, SoundFlask speakers, wearables, Kineta pop-out battery speakers, more

iHome HomeKit SmartPlug

Every year, top-ranked Apple speaker maker iHome comes to CES with an impressive array of new products — including something to show off Apple’s latest technology — and it isn’t disappointing at the 2015 CES. In an advance briefing before the show officially opened, iHome revealed its first Apple HomeKit product, SmartPlug ($40), as well as some daring new speaker and headphone designs…

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…like the first speaker we’ve seen hidden inside a beautiful drinking flask. It’s called SoundFlask, and comes in coat pocket- ($50) and home bar-sized ($100) versions. Even the smaller version sounds really good given its size, and the flask cap twists to adjust the volume. All that’s missing is the ability to actually hold fluids. Read on for more.

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9to5 Guide: Hello, new iPhone / iPod owner! Here are the best accessories to buy right away

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There are few things better than finding a new iPhone or iPod under your tree on Christmas Day. If you received an iPod, you’ll find enough in Apple’s box to start enjoying music, videos, and/or apps right away. iPhone users get all of those great features plus cellular telephone and Internet access. But these devices suffer from the same weaknesses: they’re fragile — the reason roughly 80% of iPhone owners use cases — and they depend upon external accessories for quite a few things. If you want to make the most of your Apple device, you’ll want to accessorize (and app-cessorize) it right away.

Our best iPhone accessory recommendations are similar across all current models. But they vary considerably from small to medium to big iPods. Read on for all of our top picks!

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Bose products reportedly set to return to Apple Store shelves as early as next week

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Earier this year Bose and Apple had a bit of a falling out when the former decided to block NFL players from wearing Beats headphones while on camera, then fined players who violated the rule. Beats Electronics co-founder Jimmy Iovine said at the time that the ban actually served Beats by providing a bit of free publicity.

Apple apparently didn’t agree, and retaliated by pulling all Bose products from its store shelves in October. Around that time the two companies were also duking it out in a patent lawsuit, though they eventually decided to settle.

But Bose products are reportedly headed back to Apple Store shelves…

Ben’s holiday gift guide: a mix of the fun and the functional

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Choosing holiday gifts for the techies in your life isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a series of gift guides to give you plenty of ideas. These include category guides, like making musicsmart home and in-car, as well as across personal recommendations from the rest of the 9to5Mac team – with more to follow.

For my personal guide, I’ve opted for a mix of the fun and the functional – ranging from action cams and drones to backup drives. Mix-and-match to the personalities of your lucky gift recipients as appropriate …  Read more

Apple reportedly removing Bose products from retail stores as NFL bans & Bose sues Beats

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Bose headphones and audio products could soon get the boot from Apple retail stores, according to a report from MacRumors citing “a reliable source.”

While Apple’s acquisition of Beats would seem like the obvious reason behind replacing the many Bose headphones and speakers currently used with iOS and Mac demo units, the report also claims that Apple will be removing Bose products from store shelves in addition to the demo units. 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