Thunderbolt’s future looks even more precarious as 10Gbps Superspeed USB announced

Photo: notebookcheck.com

Photo: notebookcheck.com

Our concern that widespread adoption of USB 3 might leave Thunderbolt out in the cold now looks even more likely as the USB 3.1 – aka Superspeed USB – specification has been announced. This allows USB transfers of up to 10Gbps, the same speed as the original Thunderbolt standard.

Thunderbolt is technically superior to USB 3 – combining PCIe, DisplayPort and power signals into a single cable – and the recently announced Thunderbolt 2 version (which will debut in the new Mac Pro) doubles throughput to a blistering 20Gbps. And Thunderbolt can deliver that bandwidth to more than one device at a time. But technical superiority alone is no guarantee of success, as the history of Betamax or Firewire demonstrates …  Read more

Kanex adds 3 USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet to your MacBook with pocket-sized DualRole

We have played with and enjoyed a few products from Kanex in the past, and today the company showed off its latest USB 3.0 charging solution at Macworld with the DualRole. The product is a super lightweight and very portable bus-powered USB3 hub that packs three extra USB 3 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet adapter. That means you’ll be able to add a Gigabit Ethernet adapter to your Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and have an extra three USB ports on hand.

9to5Mac went hands-on with the DualRole today during Macworld, and we definitely want one for ourselves. Anyone who travels knows how nice it is to connect via Ethernet when hotel Wi-Fi gets sketchy, and it’s certainly nice to be able to carry around an additional three USB 3.0 ports in your pocket at the same time. DualRole also provided an optional 5V power adapter to offer a little extra power to the USB ports, and the built-in cable tucks away nicely when not in use. DualRole is selling for $69 through the Kanex website, but it should also land next to the company’s lineup of other solid products on Amazon shortly.

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Eton shows off new lineup of ‘Rukus’ solar powered Bluetooth speakers, 5000 mAh solar battery pack

Eton-Solar-CES-2013

Eton, a company known for its hand-cranked, turbine-powered radios and audio accessories, today announced a few interesting new solar powered products for iOS devices. The new lineup includes the Rugged Rukus, and the Rukus XL (pictured above), two new solar-powered Bluetooth speakers, both of which include the ability to charge devices through a built-in USB port and more. For those familiar with Eton’s already available Rukus Solar speaker, the new models are essentially its bigger and smaller siblings, but definitely left us impressed at the CES Unveiled event… Read more

Review: NYNE’s NB-250 rubberized Bluetooth speaker, ultimate portability meets superior sound quality

NYNE-NB-250-02

California-based audio accessory maker NYNE is getting ready to show off its latest line of bluetooth speakers, docks, and home audio products at CES next week, but for the past month I’ve already had the chance to play with one of its latest creations- the NB-250 water-resistant Bluetooth speaker.

There is a ton of competition among Bluetooth speaker manufacturers, but a couple have been able to make their way to the top of the majority of recommendation lists, including our own. NYNE’s main competition in my eyes is Logitech and Jawbone, two well-known accessory makers with high-quality, sub $150 bluetooth speaker products on the market. After having hands on time with both the $140 Jambox from Jawbone and the $99 UE Boombox from Logitech, NYNE’s NB-250 does have a few things going for it. First is design…
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Quick Review and Gift Guide: Synology DiskStation, AOC 27″ IPS Monitor, DLP portable projectors

As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, we thought we would throw together some of the more interesting review items we received over the past months.

27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor


First up is the $299 27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor (I2757FH) that has a vague Mac aesthetic with a silver stand and ultra-thin bezel around the edges. This one comes with two HDMI ports, a VGA port, AUX audio ports, and some small speakers. The 27-inch IPS LED display is very nice, but it is obviously not as crisp as a Thunderbolt Display of the same size. And, after some adjustments to the default washed-out look, I was very happy with the color representation. Front capacitive controls are easy to deal with, and overall build quality is very nice, especially for AOC, but the downsides include: the lack of a USB hub, it is not easily wall-mountable, and the super small and poor tiny 4W speakers. You are definitely going to want to have separate speakers.

This AOC display would be best suited in an office/dorm room/bedroom doing double duty as a PC/Mac external display and perhaps display for an Apple TV/Cable box. Recommended at $299, or check out the USB Display link powered 22-inch display

Synology Diskstation NAS… 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

Review: HyperJuice 2 External MacBook and iPad Battery MBP2-100

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Talk about good timing. A few days before Sandy hit our town, Hyper sent me its new MacBook + iOS charging external battery device, the Hyperjuice MBP2-100.

Hyper has made external MacBook/Air/Pro batteries for years, and if you’ve ever been to an Apple (or any big technology) keynote event, many of the live bloggers have their rigs hooked up to them. HyperJuice’s latest line, dubbed the “MBP2 series”, expands on the capabilities of the big power batteries…

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Holiday Shopping Guide: Every single great Lightning accessory we could find

With Apple’s latest MFi summit taking place earlier this month to school accessory makers on adopting Apple’s new smaller Lightning connector standard, many accessories from reputable companies are quickly starting to roll out. Unfortunately, the delay in getting the new standard out to third-party accessory manufacturers means many well-known companies might not get a product on the market in time for the holidays. Some that have released products are unable to keep up with demand and ship before the Dec 25.

For those of you looking for a Lightning dock, car chargers, adapter, or any other accessory before the holidays, we put together a guide to all the Lightning accessories currently available to order.

Many of the products below are also discounted for Black Friday and through the weekend: Read more

Fender launches new $199 Squier USB Stratocaster for iOS devices exclusively at the Apple Store

While there are a quite a few USB guitar solutions on the market already, Fender is bringing a USB version of its popular Squire Stratocaster series exclusively to the Apple Store. Priced at $199.95 on Apple’s online store, the guitar features a traditional 1/4-inch output, Type Mini-B USB connector, and two included cables for connecting via USB or directly to iOS devices. Unfortunately, Fender is including a 30-pin cable for iOS devices, so users of newer iOS devices will have to grab a Lightning to 30-pin adapter.

The NEW Squier Strat Guitar with USB & iOS Connectivity gives you a huge range of tones and all the features you expect from Fender—plus the convenience of direct connection to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.

Also included is a 3.5mm headphone jack and “a high-quality headphone amp so that you can monitor the processed guitar signal right from the guitar itself.” It’s clear Fender is aiming this product directly at the GarageBand iOS users, but you’ll have no problem hooking up to your Mac or PC with an included USB cable or using it as a traditional guitar with the 1/4-inch output.

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Zorro Macsk Review: Instantly add touchscreen gestures to your iMac with infrared sensors (Video)

For a few years now PC manufacturers have been attempting to pack a touchscreen into their all-in-one iMac competitors. It’s a feature Steve Jobs made clear back in 2010 that Apple had spent significant time testing on Macs before determining touch was “ergonomically terrible”  on a vertical display. Steve noted “you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off.”  While that does not mean Apple will never do it (see iPad mini), for now Apple has made its bet on hand gestures staying horizontal on Macs– trackpads in its notebooks, and multi-touch gestures with Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad for desktops.

Third-party touchscreen solutions for Mac do exist: Troll Touch will install a resistive touch panel on your Mac for no less than $800 and up. However, with that price on top of the cost of the iMac itself… for obvious reasons it has not been an extremely popular solution. We’ve been playing with what appears to be the only affordable product on the market bringing touchscreen like gestures to iMac, the $199 Zorro Macsk from Shenzhen based TMDtouch.

Early reviews of the Zorro Macsk should perhaps be updated, as we’ve been playing with the product following an update at the end of October that the company said vastly improved performance and fixed many of the issues reviewers were experiencing.  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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