Griffin’s Harris Tweed cases for your new iPhone

harristweed-iphone

The Harris Tweed Case and Wallet are made from hand-spun tweed materials.

With Apple’s newest handsets now out in the wild, we’re beginning to see cases launched to fit them, ready to keep your shiny toy safe from scuffs and damage. These new tweed cases from Griffin add a touch of class and a feel of the Scottish Highlands to your handset.

There are two options to pick from. The Harris Tweed Wallet is the more comprehensive and expensive choice: it opens like a notebook and includes both tweed outer layers and a soft leather interior that can hold your cash and your cards as well as your iPhone. The Tweed Wallet will set you back £39.99 when it hits shelves in November.

harristweed-black

Both the Case and the Wallet are available in brown (above) or black (shown here).

The cheaper option is the Harris Tweed Case, a more conventional outer shell for your iPhone that provides plenty of protection without noticeably adding to the bulk or design of the handset. If you want to pick up the Tweed Case, it’s available now for £29.99.

Both Wallet and Case feature authentic Harris Tweed, the famous luxury woolen fabric worn by royals and celebrity alike. Spun only from wool from the Outer Hebrides and available in either black or brown herringbone, it offers a more distinguished alternative to the colourful plastic options found elsewhere (including Apple’s own official cases). If you’re going grouse shooting or sailing across a loch any time in the near future, then it’s the ideal choice.

“We’re excited about teaming up with Harris Tweed for this special collection,” Griffin Product Line Manager Keavy Murphree said as the cases were announced. “Harris Tweed remains truly of its time, rising above fad and fashion to give those who seek a luxury case longevity, value, style and timelessness. It’s been exciting to watch a traditional material applied to high tech products with beautiful results.”

Both the Harris Tweed Wallet and the Harris Tweed Case are compatible with the older iPhone 5 and the brand-new iPhone 5s. You can pick up both products from Griffin’s official store: the Case is on sale now and the Wallet will be available this month.

Griffin MouthStick Stylus: Touchscreen Technology For All

MouthStickStylus

The near ubiquity of touchscreen technology is amazing but consider the plight of people who have motor impairments or other disabilities that restrict the use of their hands. Well the folks at Griffin know the importance of keeping technology accessible to as many people as possible and have introduced the Griffin MouthStick Stylus.

It’s designed to allow anyone to use touchscreen monitors, tablets, trackpads and even old-fashioned keyboards. Developed with input from medical professionals, the MouthStick comprises a stainless-steel mouthpiece with removable cushioned sleeves, a rubber-covered 12-inch shaft (I won’t tell you again, stop it!) that can be bent to any angle and a conductive rubber tip. The conductive tip allows it to work with the capacitive touchscreens used in most mobile phones and tablets. It’s a well-balanced design allowing it to be held comfortably in the mouth without strain.

This isn’t a new idea of course, similar devices to allow people with limited mobility to use computers have existed for a while. Mostly though they’re in the form of a simple, rigid pointer. What makes the MouthStick different is the flexible aluminium shaft which can be adjusted to allow the operation of a variety of devices whilst maintaining a comfortable distance to read the screen. Combine this with the conductive tip and it can be used on anything from a standard keyboard to the latest smartphone. Replacement tips and mouthpiece sleeves are available from the Griffin website.

Touchscreen devices have become an essential part of our lives and this clever gadget is designed to make them accessible to everyone regardless of disability. Though I can’t help thinking it might have a wider audience of people who find that two hands just aren’t sufficient for all their multi-tasking needs.

The MouthStick Stylus will be available in April from Griffin priced at £19.99.

Best iPhone 5 cases

The dust has settled from Apple’s unsurprising “surprise” iPhone 5 announcement and case makers have been scrambling to either update or innovate on old designs and get your iPhone’s covered. I like the iPhone 5 design and it feels like a shame to wrap it up at times – but I’m also aware that it’s a £700 piece of technology just sitting in my pocket waiting to be broken and it never hurts to be cautious. Plus case designs have become better and better, becoming an important way to differentiate your phone in a world where an awful lot of people have already joined the cult of Cupertino. Post iPhone 5 release my inbox was flooded with 3D models and artist mock-ups of iPhone 5 cases but I thought I’d take a look at some of the cases that had actual made it to market.

Smoothie

QDOS Smoothies Racing, is as you’d expect from the name, an extremely streamlined case which snugly protects your treasure. The case comes in purple, khaki and blue with transparent sides and cut out sections to access your volume/mute controls. The coloured backing is scratch proof and on a raise bevel edge, with the transparent edges somehow making the colour pop a little more. From £19.99 available from www.qdossound.com

Griffin are stalwarts at the Apple accessories market and can be relied upon to hit the ground running. They have released a number of cases to cover (sometimes puns happen, get over it) the iPhone 5 market.

The Mustachio is a smooth, impact-resistant polycarbonate shell case which cases in on the moustache craze that seems to be sweeping the nation (every other Internet profile I see seems to be a woman ironically pretending to have a moustache or a man who has ironically grown one). Simple, to the point and on trend. If you’re less cool there is the Moxy, another hard shell case but with time with an understated wild jungle pattern. This case isn’t as visually striking until you get up close but the pattern has amazing texture and feels great to rub. If you’d rather the iPhone design spoke for itself, there’s the Reveal, slim-fit case which has an ultra-thin see-through hard shell and a protect rubber, “flex” edging to protect from drops. If protection is your thing I urge to try other Massive Attack albums (I’ve dated myself with that joke, both in terms of time and also that only I would want to hang around with me), but also to look at the Protector, rubbery silicone skin case that absorbs jolts and bumps but also protects your iPhone from looking good. If even that’s not good enough then you need to get serious with the military-grade Survivor. The equivalent of driving your iPhone around in a tank, the Survivor protects against sand, dust, wind, rain and being dropped. It also comes with a heavy-duty belt clip. All these cases have an RRP of £19.99 with the exception of the Protector which is £14.99 and the Survivor which is £34.99. Visit Griffin.

Ultimate-Pack

If you want to go all out in a completely different way then there’s the surprisingly inexpensive iPhone 5 starter kit from mobilefun.co.uk. The £19.99 kit comprises 6 handy add-ons for the iPhone 5 – a desk stand, car holder, FlexiShield Skin wraparound case, mini portable desk stand, USB car charger and screen protector. MobileFun also has a range of affordable iPhone 5 cases.

Gift & Gadget Ideas for Father’s Day

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – dads are difficult to buy for. But if they love their gadgets, then help is at hand. Here are a few ideas that you still have time to order in time for Father’s Day on June 17 2012.

Fathers-Day

If he’s decided to join the rest of us in the 21st century and swapped his paperbacks for an ereader, give Dad back a taste of the past with a Run for Cover soft padded cover for his electronic device – he might not want the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland version, but Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wizard of Oz might float his boat. The cases only fit the Kindle Keyboard and the Kobo Keyboard models.
The covers costs £14.95 from www.red5.co.uk.

If your dad is more of a film fan than a bookworm, he’ll love these Mimobots – USB sticks that come in the shape of superheroes including Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Optimus Prime and Batman. So let the superheroes save the day’s work – the flash drives have a 4GB capacity, have DC comic content pre-installed such as wallpapers, desktop icons, and original trailers, and are compatible with both Windows and Mac.
They cost £24.95 each from www.red5.co.uk.

We’re not convinced this is A Good Thing, but the Beacon for iOS will turn Dad’s Apple or Android smartphone or tablet into a Universal Remote Control. The Beacon gives fingertip control to his whole entertainment system including TV, DVD, Sky Box and Hi-Fi System via its infra-red signals. We can’t be held responsible if he turns into TV dictator though.

The Beacon for iOS costs £44.99 and is available from Apple, Beacon for Android is available from HMV. Check out our brief look at it here.

If Dad loves his gadgets but is notoriously clumsy, give them the protection they deserve with Griffin’s Survivor range of cases for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The cases should protect the devices from clumsy dad, the kids and even the weather – they protect against sand, rain, shock and vibration.
The Survivor for iPad is £54.99 from Tesco, for iPhone 4 is £34.99 from Carphone Warehouse and the iPod touch is £29.99 from Amazon.co.uk

If Dad is also your taxi driver, treat him to the AirCurve Window Mount for cars without AUX-in stereos. The AirCurve works like an acoustic megaphone for iPhone 4/4S, and can amplify its built-in speakers by as much as 25 decibels. The mount sticks to glass or the dashboard and also allows users to hold conversations via handsfree speakerphone mode while driving, or hear GPS instructions over their stereo. And it’s wire and battery-free.
The AirCurve Window Mount, costs £24.99 and is available from Apple. Check out our review here.

If Dad needs a stylus for his device, but also needs to write on ‘real’ paper the dual-purpose Griffin Stylus + Pen is the perfect solution. The capacitive tip is ideal for busy dads who are constantly tapping at their touchscreen – to use it as a pen, just remove the cap for smooth ballpoint-on-paper action. The Stylus + Pen, costs £29.99 from Tesco.

Finally, if your Dad is more the outdoors type, perhaps he’d rather have a Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-tool (£49.95) or a Pocket Fishing Road (£19.95), which can be carried round in a pocket and extends to 104cm when needed. Both available from www.red5.co.uk.

Review: Griffin in-car smartphone mounts

We got our hands on two of Griffin’s recently released hands-free mobile car kits.

Air-Curve-Mount

Aircurve Window Mount, RRP £24.99: Designed for the iPhone 4 and 4S, the Aircurve has been designed to cradle your phone securely and increase its audio output by up to 25 decibels thanks to some clever acoustic design. This means you will no longer need to strain to hear telephone conversations, GPS instructions or music as you would if you were using a normal window or dashboard mount. The mount itself is sturdy and easy to fix onto a surface, and no cables or batteries are required to use. If you are looking for somewhere to hold your iPhone with optimal audio output, the Aircurve is worth a look. It is very basic mind you, so for the asking price you may be better off shopping around first.

Windowseat Mobile Car Kit, RRP £34.99: Priced in a slightly higher bracket than the Aircurve, the Windowseat car kit is compatible with any modern Smartphone. Along with holding your phone securely, the car kit also includes several plug in cables – an AUX and microphone (so you can plug in to your car stereo), a USB car charger and an iPhone dock connector. If you are looking for a highly flexible hands free kit this really does tick all the right boxes, the USB connectors are a godsend and the mount is easy to set up and use, holding your phone safe and securely. Again, I have a slight concern when it comes to the price of the car kit, but the quality and versatility – you can use it with just about any model of Smartphone – cannot be denied.

For further information on both products, visit www.griffintechnology.com.

Griffin Helo TC Assault: Android and iOS-powered helicopter dogfights

As a child of the 80s I have a love for helicopters that is almost entirely based on the TV show Airwolf, in which Stringfellow Hawke, a loner who lives in a cabin outside of LA, accompanied only by his Bluetick Coonhound, “Tet”, and his priceless collection of paintings, serenading eagles with his equally priceless Stradivarius cello, flies a top secret military helicopter. They don’t make TV shows like that anymore. Thank God.

However, Griffin have kept my ”Knight Rider in a Helicopter”-based dreams alive by extending their AppPowered Accessories range, to the HELO TC Assault – a missile-launching touch-controlled helicopter for iOS and Android devices.

Helo-TC

In the box is a helicopter and flight deck module that you slide your phone into (kudos to Griffin for making an accessory compatible with a large number of smartphones). The flight deck transmits infrared signals to the helicopter giving you total flying control – although it can take a little time to get used to the control mechanism.

The helicopter can be charged from any USB power source and has a flying time of approximately 8 minutes, not a problem if you’re whizzing around the office, but a bit of an annoyance if you’re outside (although to be fair this is a problem with most RC devices). The actual helicopters are built on a light weight metal frame with a black polycarbonate body. The Helo TC can record and store up to 3 flight plans, and has 5 super-bright LEDs for night flying.

The Helo TC Assault features six live-fire missiles, launched and two flight modes – on screen controls or Tilt-to-Fly, which utilises your smartphone’s accelerometer. Neither mode was able to stop me from repeatedly crashing into my wall, so I’m guessing Pilotwings on the SNES deceived me about the extent of my flying skills. Fortunately the HELO TCs come with replaceable main and tail rotor systems.

Check out some footage of the helicopter zipping around here

Pricing and Availability
The HELO TC Assault, RRP £49.99, is available now from Vodaphone stores nationwide

Latest Gadgets: Best of the Gadget Show Live 2012

We took out annual pilgrimage up to the Birmingham NEC to visit the Gadget Show Live 2012. As usual there was a weird and wonderful range of gadgets on display, but various things stood out.

iRig-Mic-Cast

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast
Released on the first day of the Gadget Show Live, the IK Multimedia iRig Mic Cast is the latest step in IK Multimedia’s plan to plug almost everything into your iPhone. Small and lightweight, the Podcast Mic uses the 3.5 mm headphone jack (rather than the 30-pin connector) and features a monitoring output port and the ability to easily toggle between high and low levels when recording.
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irigmiccast/features/

Antares Autotune Guitar
When my father was teaching me to play guitar he had the annoying habit of always, always insisting I tune my guitar before playing (as well as the annoying habit of insisting his band had already covered practically every style of music already in the 70s). Anyway, I can set his mind to rest with the Antares Auto-tune guitar. The pretty amazing onboard DSP will automatically tune your guitar for you, keep it in tune and maintain perfect intonation. It uses some very smart technology so you can switch between tunings on the fly. For more info head to http://guitar.auto-tune.com/

Bamboo Stylus duo
Wacom launched a Bamboo Stylus duo for the iPad and Android tablets that combines one of the best capacitive pen tips I’ve used with a premium ball-point ink pen at the opposite end for use on old-fashioned paper.
http://www.wacom.eu/index2.asp?pid=9221&spid=2&lang=en

Helo-TC-Assault

Griffin Helo TC Assault
We also popped by Griffin for some old fashioned RC helicopter fun with the Helo TC Assault, a fantasic iPhone controlled helicopter, with built-in soft missiles that you can launch across the office or living room. Check out some footage here.

Griffin ‘Twenty’ Airport Express amp at CES 2012 Unveiled

The forthcoming Griffin ‘Twenty’ amp, showcased last night at the CES Unveiled in Las Vegas, will enable you to stream, via an AirPort Express, to your existing speakers by providing a variety of different outputs.

It features a 2.1 channel sound system with 20 watts output per channel and also supports a powered subwoofer with an automatic active crossover at 80 Hz. The ‘Twenty’ also sports a volume dial which will enable you to fine-tune the level of output, which is particularly useful for those with speakers who perhaps have steeply stepped (e.g., 1-6, etc.) volume controls.

The AirPort Express (which you still have to buy separately) simply docks on to the top of the unit for power and then connects via an optical out cable to the back of the amp. When we asked if it would be supplied with a remote (useful for turning it off if it’s hidden behind your speakers), the company said there were not plans to ship the current version with one. Hopefully they’ll reconsider for any future revision of the ‘Twenty’.

Unfortunately Griffin haven’t released details on pricing yet, but we’d image it would be competitively priced given that you can already buy speakers with built in amps and AirPlay compatibility relatively cheaply. We’ll update this article with pricing when it’s made available.

Additional pictures follow: