The week-long Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is all wrapped up. A boatload of iPhone and iPad accessories were unveiled including tons of new cases, docks, speakers, car and home charging systems that could make for an incredible fantasy shopping spree. But, a few products really made my mouth water. Each lends physical authenticity to already-incredible digital iPad and iPhone apps and features. Here’s a look at the seven I am most excited about getting my hands on.
ION Audio – iCade Game Controllers
Ion Audio showed off a wealth of awesome products, largely audio-related. But their infamous iCade, an 8-point joystick and 8-button arcade cabinet for iPad, has several cool new iterations for big and small screen iOS gamers. Expected to ship in Q2 the iCade Core offers the iPad retro arcade-style controls without the cabinet. It’s less eye catching, but allows for gaming in both portrait and landscape orientation. They also have two iPhone and iPod touch controllers. The iCade Jr is a mini replica of the original iCade with a tiny joystick, cabinet and four buttons. The iCade Mobile, like the Core, works in both orientations and gives gamers a contemporary D-pad and button alternative much like a PSP controller,.
ION Audio – Guitar Apprentice
The Guitar Apprentice, a guitar body with cut-out iPad dock acting as strings has me smitten. Aimed at experienced players looking for a new way to digitally thrash, but also at new or would-be players looking for some fun, the frets light up to guide correct finger placement. This pseudo-axe integrates with apps like GarageBand and Ion will release their own Guitar Apprentice app soon. The price is set at $99 and it’s scheduled to hit the market very soon.
Sure, the iPhone 4S improved the iPhone’s native camera tremendously, but is still a far cry from simulating what a DSLR camera sporting interchangeable lenses can shoot. Olloclip offers a three-lens iPhone add-on that’s easy to attach, assemble and keep in one place. There are wide-angle and fish-eye lenses and a macro that’s not quite a zoom lens, but adds a 10x multiplier. It’s for sale on their website now, priced at $69.99 and is available in solid black or black with red accents.
IK Multimedia – iRig Mic Cast
Best known for professional grade mobile mics and mixers, as the Amplitude apps, IK is launching a $40 microphone called the iRig Mic Cast for non-musicians. It’s small, plugs into the headphone jack, and is intended for podcasts, conducting interviews and dictation, but anyone who wants clear voice memos should check this one out.
iHome – iDM5 Executive Workstation
Not everyone is ready to replace computers for tablets, especially in the age of MacBooks Airs and UltraBooks, but if you use your iPad for or at work, iHome just made things easier. With a tactile keyboard, Bluetooth speakers, charging ports and a proper mic this product makes the experience more computer-like without sacrificing the touchscreen, gestures and other iPad perks. It's great for meetings, for those who travel for work, not to mention absent-minded and live-event bloggers.
Griffin – StudioConnect
Griffin showed off a new dock for iPad, but one that does a lot more than recharge for would-be musicians. Integrated with GarageBand the product allows real instruments, along with mics, mixers and other physical music-making tools to interact with Apple’s digital studio. Griffin plans to put StudioConnect for sale on their website in February at $149.99 and a lower-cost MIDI-only product, MIDIConnect will be available in April at $79.99.
Adonit – Jot Touch
I didn’t plan to include a stylus on this list, but the pressure-sensitive Jot Touch, for use with iOS devices, caught my inner-artist’s eye. Slated for a March appearance with a price tag that should be just under the $100 mark, it uses a mix of hardware and software to give users 200 levels of life-like pressure effects that are reported to be uncannily subtle and as close to holding a pen, pencil or charcoal stick as it gets. The Jot Touch uses Bluetooth to help the plastic, springy nib receive the pressure input, and a small USB dongle for charging. If Adonit integrates with the best iPad painting apps like procreate and Inspire Pro (as promised), this will be a must-have for iPad artists, calligraphers and perhaps even old school writers and copious virtual note-takers.