A look at some new accessories

December 15, 2014

Accessory companies live or die according to the products Apple introduces. So with the recent introduction of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Air 2 tablet, lots of innovative accessories have been hitting store shelves. Here are some of my favorites.

Logitech Any Angle iPad Case: iPad cases typically open up and position the iPad at a few different angles: more upright for watching videos, a lower angle for typing. Logitech’s newly designed case positions the iPad at virtually any angle over a 50-degree range. Available for all iPads, including mini versions. www.logitech.com, $60.

The HiRise Delux from Twelve South. Courtesy photo

HiRise Deluxe: If you worship your smartphone as much as some, you can actually put it on a pedestal. The HiRise Deluxe from Twelve South is an attractive aluminum stand you can use for charging and positioning your phone on your desk or night table. It works great for Face Time and making hands-free calls. The vertical position of the connector and the back wall of the stand can be adjusted, so it will work for most models of smartphones as long as the charging port is near the middle on the bottom of the phone, without or with most any size case. Comes in silver or gold to match iPhones. www.twelvesouth.com, $60.

Microsoft Office: Combine an iPad with a keyboard and what else do you need? Microsoft's Office suite with Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Formerly available only by paid subscription, Microsoft’s new management intends to play a strong role in all mobile platforms, and this is their opening move. In addition, Microsoft has partnered with Dropbox to let you store your documents on their servers. Office is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Microsoft phones and tablets. Free, but only for consumers, not businesses.

inCase Icon MacBook Sleeve: I carry a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina and recently discovered this cleverly designed product that offers the advantage of a thin sleeve with the protection of a larger, more rugged case. It looks like a simple neoprene sleeve, but has an integral shock-absorbing frame that surrounds the notebook to protect it from drops. A thin flap at one end lifts opens with a magnetic catch and the notebook slides in, falling precisely into place within the frame. Versions are also available for iPads. www.goincase.com, $60-$70.

Lifeproof cases for iPhone: This San Diego company has invented the first waterproof, dustproof and drop proof cases for the iPhone. The company’s mission has been “To change the way you live, work and play with your mobile electronics.”

The idea has resonated well with those who love their phones and use them under extreme conditions: in water, snow, high and low temperatures, and dirty environments. They’ve sold millions, and by some analysts’ estimates, has 20 percent of the iPhone case market. Lifeproof is just now rolling out cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, and their growth should take another leap. The new line comes in two styles: Fre and Nud. The Fre covers the display with a clear cover, while the Nud leaves the display exposed, forming a waterproof seal around its perimeter.

The new models are thinner and more stylish. If you want a case to protect your phone like no other and one doesn’t look like an industrial enclosure such as many others, you can’t beat these. www.lifeproof.com, $80-$100.

Keys to Go: This new product from Logitech is a stand-alone keyboard for portable use that looks almost like a thin slab. It’s nearly a full size keyboard and just ¼ inch thick. With its Bluetooth connectivity it will work with any iOS device including iPads, iPhones and Apple TV. The mechanical keys sit behind a rubberized fabric, allowing the keyboard to be easily wiped clean and is sufficiently rugged so that it can be tossed into a purse, backpack or briefcase. www.logitech.com, $70.

BookBook Travel Journal: This product from Twelve South looks like an old leather-bound book, but it’s actually a large zippered case that holds an iPad and accessories and lets you carry everything in one convenient package. It has a variety of pockets, Velcro straps and expandable bands to let you organize all sizes and shapes of headphones, chargers and cables. It’s perfect for those just traveling with an iPad. Fits all sizes with and without a cover. MacBook users will find the case useful for carrying a mouse, power adapters, hard drives and batteries. www.twelvesouth.com, $100.

Other cases: Locally based STM offers the Harbour Case offers good protection at an attractive price. While somewhat plain looking with its black matte finish, the case provides basic protection. Its composite molded case is made up a hard outer shell and softer inner material that completely surrounds and protects the iPhone’s perimeter, unlike even Apple’s own cases. It has a hinged bottom that props up the phone vertically. www.stmbags.com, $25.

A long-time favorite case I used on the iPhone 5 that offers a good balance between protection and bulk is the Tech21 Impact Mesh case. It has a built-in compound that absorbs harsh drops. The company also offers a version for the Samsung Galaxy S5. www.tech21.com, about $35.

Related: How Chinese manufacturing has created jobs in San Diego

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