By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
In addition to cases and FM transmitters, accessories manufacturers rolled out a variety of other products for use with iPods and iPhones.
Geared toward teenagers, Belkin's RockStar allows users to share and mix music with their friends. The RockStar is a hub that connects a combination of MP3 players and headphones. Users can attach their headphones and hear another user's playlist, or they can add another iPod to mix songs and listen together. Five ports are included on the device, with one hard-wired connection for the user's MP3 player. A cable is included that can attach another MP3 player. Mixing and fade-ins are controlled by the standard controls of each MP3 player, said Belkin.
It's scheduled to be available in March for a $19.99 suggested retail.
Etymotic Research, a manufacturer of high-fidelity noise-isolating in-ear earphones, announced the HF2 headset for iPhone users. The HF2 is designed to combine the accurate sound quality of the company's ER-4P earphones with a microphone and end/send switch.
The HF2 also works with the iPhone for both speech and music, for music with all iPod models, and with other music players and mobile phones that accept a 3.5mm-4-contact phone and stereo plug.
"The HF2 headset lets users talk and listen — to conversations as well as music — with greater accuracy, detail and noise isolation than previously possible with any iPhone headset," said Mead Killion, Etymotic Research president, in a release. "Earphone fidelity and noise isolation dramatically improve intelligibility while listening and speaking, especially in noisy locations. The cable to the microphone is shorter than usual, which places the microphone naturally closer to the mouth, making it truly hands free in many cases."
The headset is designed to mute and pause music for an incoming call, and then pick up again when the call ends. The end/send button also advances the music track and performs a variety of functions supported by the iPhone and other mobile devices.
It is currently available for a $179 suggested retail.
GrandMax showed TWICE at CES its Shrooms miniature speakers, designed for use with iPods and other MP3 players. The Shrooms are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, and a user can twist open and close the speaker to increase and decrease the bass. The pair can be attached by an integrated magnet, or the Shrooms can be used separately. They will retail for $19.95 for a mono speaker and $39.95/pair.
The Shrooms are scheduled to be available early in the second quarter in assorted colors, said Justin Gorner, international channel sales manager.
A variety of chargers were rolled out from Griffin Technology this month. The PowerJolt SE is billed as a "super-affordable charger" ($19.99) that can be used with all dockable iPod models to charge through a car's 12-volt power outlet or cigarette lighter. The one-piece construction comes with a non-detachable dock connector cord and a three-color charge status light. It will be available in March.
The PowerBlock Dual Universal charger features two USB charging ports so users can charge two MP3 players at the same time from any AC outlet. Its flat non-polarized prongs are engineered for use with most international plug adapters, and it has a built-in LED that shows when the PowerBlock is ready to charge. It has a $24.99 suggested retail and will be available late next month.
The PowerJolt Universal ($14.99, available in March) enables users to plug their MP3 player's USB cable into the PowerJolt and charge from almost any vehicle cigarette lighter or 12-volt accessory socket. Features include a charge-status LED and replaceable auto fuse to protect the user's circuitry.
Finally, the PowerDuo Universal combines the company's PowerBlock Dual AC adapter and PowerJolt 12V charger, to provide power for any device that is recharged through a USB port. It has a $34.99 suggested retail and will be available in March.
Homer Technology spoke with TWICE at CES about its most recent introductions: two miniature speakers designed for use with iPods and other MP3 players. The Pepperpot HSP 5100 is designed for the kitchen and other rooms where style is important, said the company. Powered by four AAA batteries, the 6-inch high speaker features a playback time of eight hours. It comes in two colors — orange and lavender — for $19.99/pair.
The Flask HSP 5200 mini speakers are also designed with style in mind, but unlike the Pepperpot, the Flask speakers are wireless. Measuring 6.9 inches high, the Bluetooth Flask speakers also have an eight-hour playback time on four AAA batteries. It will be available for $49.99 in silver and green. Both the Pepperpots and the Flask are scheduled for March availability.
Iogear announced at CES that it has expanded its GearJuice lineup with the addition of the Slim charger. Measuring slightly larger than 3 inches, the Slim charger can be used with MP3 players, cellphones and Bluetooth headsets that are powered by a USB connection. It can reportedly power a cellphone twice before requiring a refresh from an external energy source.
The Slim charger will be available in the first quarter of this year for a $29.95 suggested retail.
Myvu introduced a new generation of Myvu personal media viewers with its Myvu Shades and Myvu Crystal. Both are designed to turn portable media players into hands-free, private cinemas that are worn like functional sunglasses.
In partnership with Inno Design, Myvu worked with Young Kim, who designed Myvu Shades.
Myvu Shades features a glance-down design that's meant to enable viewers to maintain true situational awareness. Myvu Crystal features an increased resolution from Quarter VGA to VGA quality, and it reportedly has a 35 percent increase in the field of view over existing Myvu models, "providing true DVD quality," said the company.
Each model includes a rechargeable battery with up to 10 hours of viewing time for Shades and up to four hours of viewing time for Crystal, as well as ear buds from Ultimate Ears. Both can work with iPods and other MP3 players, portable DVD players, various game consoles and select cellphones.
The Shades will retail for $199 are scheduled to be available by the end of this month. The Crystal will ship in the spring for a $299 suggested retail.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.