updated 01:49 am EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds now available or coming to market soon
Continuing our look at some of the more interesting devices and services we ran across at Macworld in San Francisco last month, MacNN and Electronista staffers will periodically write about items and vendors that caught our eye at the show that we thought our readers would like to know about, particularly as they start accepting pre-orders. This week, we check out the Hidden Bluetooth portable speaker, and the new Prong PWR case for the iPhone 5 and 5s.
We were very impressed with the simple but ingenious idea behind the PocketPlug case -- a sturdy a protective iPhone case with integrated retractable power plugs that let users charge the phone by plugging it directly into any wall outlet. With the new PWR case, they've taken the PocketPlug and on-upped it: the new unit now includes an integrated battery and is easily detachable from the iPhone.
The PWR, currently only for the iPhone 5 and 5s, includes the integrated plugs so the iPhone (or the battery) can be charged directly, but now users can, as the video for the case points out, charge their phone while its still in their pocket. The backup battery can be removed for separate charging, leaving the iPhone with a "bumper" style case for light protection.
The full case features a 1,500mAh battery, comes in several colors and duo-colors, and can be pre-ordered for $65. When released this summer, it will be available on Amazon and at Best Buy stores as well as directly from Prong, but the price will be $80. For people who like the idea of the case with integrated charger but don't need the battery, the PocketPlug case is still available for $60.
Hidden battery-powered speaker offers Bluetooth LE smarts
Ever since Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was first brought to the screen, everyone has loved seeing hidden walls or cave entrances (and the modern equivalent, garage doors) rise open seemingly on command. In that spirit, Hidden Radio Design have conspired to create a portable Bluetooth speaker with many of the features buyers look for in the now-trendy Bluetooth portable speaker design -- with an added touch of "Open Sesame."
The Hidden Radio 2 looks like an innocuous but elegant can that happens to match the aluminum of a MacBook Pro or (in the black version) a new Mac Pro, but when it is tapped or when music is sent to it, the top rises automatically, revealing the speaker grille. Now, some would be sold right there, but wait there's more -- the "2" in the name comes from a re-think the developers had after doing a wildly successful Kickstarter for the first version. Customers loved the design and functionality, but not the sound; so the company redesigned it so that the sound quality matched the looks, now delivering up to 90 decibels of clear, clean sound with twice the bass of the original.
But beyond the "curtain rises" gimmick, the speaker offers exquisitely simple functionality: tap it to turn it on, pause or skip a track. A long press will engage Siri via the iPhone, and you intuitively twist the outer cover to adjust volume. The device features "multipoint" speaker linking; a built-in, noise-cancelling speakerphone, Bluetooth Low Energy technology, allowing 25+ hours of active playing on a single charge and ridiculously long standby time; NFC compatibility (and a 3.5mm audio plug for non-wireless use); dual neodymium drivers; an alarm function; USB charging, and stereo linking to a second unit if desired.
The units will be shipping in June, and come in black and graphite, both in anodized aluminium. The speaker sells for $199 at retail, but the pre-order price is $179, or buy two for $249.76.