Belkin’s new Lightning adapter lets you charge iPhone 7 and listen w/ headphones at the same time

How do you charge iPhone 7 and listen to music at the same time? If you’re using Lightning headphones, like the new EarPods that Apple bundles in the box with iPhone 7, Belkin’s new Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar adapter is currently the only option. The company sent one over this week for us to test…

With iPhone 7, Apple is transitioning users to Lightning and wireless headphones options. If you haven’t made the switch to wireless, or you’re perhaps holding out for Apple’s new truly wireless AirPods coming out later this month, you’ll either have to use the Lightning EarPods that come with iPhone 7 (or third-party Lightning headphones), or use your old 3.5mm headphones with the included Lightning adapter. 

If that is the case, Belkin’s new adapter will split your iPhone’s Lightning port into two, allowing you to continue listening with your Lightning headphones while charging your iPhone simultaneously. 

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The adapter will look very similar to anyone that has owned Apple’s various Mini DisplayPort/HDMI/VGA and USB-C adapters, with a short 2.5-inch cable connecting the Lightning connector to the two Lightning inputs on the other end. It’s also of similar quality, with a fairly sturdy but stiff cable that, like lots of cables, might get damaged over time and repeated bending. 

The Lightning inputs, either when connecting Apple’s Lightning EarPods or its Lightning to 3.5mm adapter for use with old headphones, hold the Lightning connector snuggly without risk of it inadvertently becoming disconnected. And the physical media controls for volume and controlling calls on your Lightning headphones continue to work. 

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In my tests, the Belkin adapter didn’t noticeably change the audio quality of Apple’s Lightning EarPods versus going directly into the iPhone. There was the odd occasion when going from one Lightning port on the adapter to the other caused audio to stop working until I unplugged and reconnected the headphones a second time, but that shouldn’t be something you run into in real world much. 

You can alternatively use the adapter with a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, like the one that Apple includes in the box with iPhone 7 (pictured above). That will allow you to charge your iPhone 7 using one of the Lightning inputs, and use your old 3.5mm headphones with the other adapter into the other input. Like in our first test, using the secondary adapter with a pair of Apple’s 3.5mm EarPods doesn’t seem to noticeably change audio quality much compared to going direct into the iPhone 7 with the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter by itself.

The company says the adapter will also work if you’re plugging it into the Lightning port on Apple’s iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case.

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What it doesn’t do?

Split audio. You can’t use both of the Lightning inputs for audio at the same time. If you plug two sets of Lightning headphones in, or 3.5mm headphones using a secondary adapter, audio will only play out of one side. But you can use either side for charging or listening. It would have been nice if this product could have doubled as an audio splitter for Lightning headphones, as that’s something that’s not currently available like it is for our old 3.5mm headphones

Should you buy it?

Currently the only alternative to this product is a charging dock with audio out. Apple’s new Lightning dock, for example, will let you charge your iPhone  7 and give you 3.5mm headphone jack for audio out, but that doesn’t help much if you want to use the Lightning headphones, like those that come with your iPhone 7, while also charging your device. There isn’t yet an adapter that lets you go from Lightning back to 3.5mm, something lots of MacBook and dock users have noticed after being unable to use their new Lightning EarPods with those devices. 

You can buy the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar adapter now for $39.

U.S. Apple Stores offer machine-applied protectors for iPhone

Belkin-ScreenCare-applicator

Apple Stores in the U.S. are now offering machine-applied screen protectors for iPhone. The service, which uses a Belkin protectors and the ScreenCare+ applicator tool, starts at $18 and is available for iPhone 6 and up.

Apple Stores in Japan first began using Belkin’s tool to apply screen protectors last week, and now the service is available in the U.S.

Thanks to the ScreenCare+ applicator, you get a flawless finish that’s free from air bumps and dust particles. The standard protector applied is made using “InvisiGlass,” which is a flexible glass technology that absorbs impact and scratches without breaking.

There’s also an anti-glare option made out of scratch-resistant PET material that “enhances visibility by reducing glare from bright sunlight and artificial lighting,” according to Belkin’s ScreenCare+ webpage.

Here’s a video that showcases the ScreenCare+ tool, and how it works.

Belkin claims its protectors are so clear and so precise that you’ll hardly notice they are there. To get yours, simply pop into your local Apple Store.

Belkin Charge Dock Offers Simultaneous Charging for iPhone and Apple Watch

Belkin on Tuesday announced the Belkin Charge Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone. Belkin worked closely with Apple to develop the $129.99 dock. It offers an integrated magnetic charger for the Watch, as well as a Lighting connector for an iPhone.

Belkin Charge Dock Offers Simultaneous Charging for iPhone and Apple Watch

Features include:

  • Integrated magnetic charger for Apple Watch
  • Adjustable Lightning connector adjusts to fit the iPhone with a variety of cases
  • Elevates Apple Watch safely above surface
  • Minimalist, sleek appearance with premium finishes
  • Displays devices at ideal viewing angles
  • Solid metal arm with chrome finish
  • Solid metal base with silver finish
  • 1.5 m/4.9 ft. cable

The Belkin Charge Dock includes an adjustable dial on the back of the dock, to raise and lower the Lightning connector to fit the iPhone with almost any case.

The also features a cast metal arm with chrome finish that securely holds the Apple Watch at what Belkin says is a perfect angle for visibility and easy access, while the weighted metal base adds stability when the devices are docked.

For more information, or to purchase the Belkin Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone, visit the Belkin website.

Belkin and Google debut USB-C cables, including low-priced Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI and micro-USB adapters.

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Coinciding with today’s announcement of the dual USB-C port-equipped Chromebook Pixel 2 laptop, Google and Belkin today announced separate collections of new USB-C cables and adapters. These new options go well beyond Apple’s upcoming USB-C accessory lineup for the 12″ MacBook, while also including some familiar options at lower-than-Apple prices. They’re amongst the first USB-C accessories to be announced by major manufacturers, as inexpensive USB-C cables from smaller companies are beginning to make their way onto Amazon for pre-order…

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On the data and power side, Google’s USB-C lineup notably includes a $13 USB Type-C to USB Adapter, capable of converting a full-sized USB plug into a USB-C plug, as well as a $13 USB Type-C to USB Cable, which could connect a computer with USB-C to a full-sized USB port on typical USB batteries, wall chargers, and hubs. A $60 Universal Type-C Charger (60W) features a 12-foot USB-C cable attached to a boxy wall adapter, promising to serve as “one universal charger for your next-generation [USB-C] devices.” It’s highly likely that the first two accessories will work with the 12″ MacBook, and quite possible that the Charger will, as well.

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Google also introduced a $40 USB Type-C to HDMI Adapter, which turns a USB-C port into an HDMI-out port for half the price of Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, and a $40 USB Type-C to DisplayPort Cable, which goes directly from a USB-C port to a DisplayPort monitor. The HDMI Adapter supports up to 4K/30Hz output, while the DisplayPort Cable supports 4k/60Hz output. It’s unclear whether video accessories such as these will work with the 12″ MacBook, but if Apple supports “the USB Type-C alternate mode specifications for video,” they should work. All of the Google cables are shipping within 1-2 days.

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Belkin announced a collection of nine USB-C cables ranging from $20 to $30 in price, most notably including a USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter ($TBD), and new cables that convert USB-C to larger USB formats including Micro-USB ($20)USB 3.1 Micro-B ($30)USB 2.0 Mini-B ($20), and USB 2.0 USB-B ($20). Belkin will also offer a USB-C to standard USB Adapter ($30), a USB-C to standard USB 2.0 Cable ($20), and a USB-C to USB-C Cable ($30). All of Belkin’s cables will ship this summer.

Best Cases and Covers of the Week.

We continue new series. Best cases and Covers of the week for iPad. Is a series that works to bring you best and coolest cases for iPad and  give you only the Best deal.

You can add a flourish of personal style to Apple’s minimalist design, choose functional elements to enhance your daily use, and make sure it’s safe when you sling it in your bag; all it takes is the right case. Here are some of our favorites and best deal from  past week.

1. Speck iGuy for iPad Air ($40)

Speck iGuy Case

Fun, different, and great for the kids – the iGuy case is made of squishy foam and it has wee arms and legs. It’s lightweight, and the flexible foam makes it really comfortable to hold. It gives your iPad Air a little personality and works as the ideal stand for cartoon viewing. We’d understand if you didn’t want to let your kids anywhere near your new iPad, but if you do then the iGuy is a great way to protect it.

2. Cygnett Paradox Texture Case ($40)

Cygnett Paradox Texture Case

We’re not sure what the paradox is, but this textured case has a nice, grippable finish that’s supposed to resemble granite. The cover can be folded to act as a secure stand, offering a choice of angles. There’s a magnetic closure to stop it from swinging open. The case fully covers your iPad Air, so it should protect against scratches and any minor knocks, but it’s not particularly rugged. You can get it in blue or charcoal, but if you opt for a smooth rubber finish you’ll find another four colors to choose from.

3. Proporta iPad Air Cover ($50)

Proporta Leather Style Case

This is a smart, faux-leather case that’s durable and business-like. You can use it as a stand, it supports the sleep/wake function, and it comes in red or black. You don’t need to remove your iPad Air in order to use it. It’s pretty tough and you can definitely expect it to last, in fact there’s a lifetime warranty.

That’s it for our iPad Air cases roundup, but check back as we’ll update this list with new entries. If you want to recommend a good case or cover please hit the comments before you leave.

Best Cases and Covers of the Week.

We continue new series. Best cases and Covers of the week for iPad. Is a series that works to bring you best and coolest cases for iPad and  give you only the Best deal.

You can add a flourish of personal style to Apple’s minimalist design, choose functional elements to enhance your daily use, and make sure it’s safe when you sling it in your bag; all it takes is the right case. Here are some of our favorites and best deal from  past week.

1. Grovemade Walnut Case ($129)

Grovemade Walnut Case

A beautiful combination of walnut and maple wood really makes this case stand out. The clever design features a rolling cover which can fold back to create the angle you want, and a tough interior that can stand up to knocks and bumps. There’s a soft lining to prevent scratches and your iPad Air is held in place by magnets which also work with the automatic sleep/wake function. Lovingly hand-crafted in Portland, Oregon, using natural materials throughout, this is a case you can feel good about buying.

2. iPad Air Smart Case ($80)  $62.99 FREE Shipping

Apple iPad Air Smart Case

Apple’s own range of cases match its usual minimalist design aesthetic, though they do offer a splash of pastel color in blue, red, yellow, brown, beige, or black. The case is aniline-dyed leather with a soft microfiber lining. It is svelte and fitted perfectly. Bend it back and you can choose from two landscape stand positions for watching movies or for working on the keyboard. It also supports the automatic sleep/wake function.

3. Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio ($150)  $85.00 FREE Shipping

Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio

Want to convert your iPad into a Microsoft Surface? No, of course you don’t, but this keyboard cover could definitely be handy. It’s a folio style case that opens to reveal a super slim Bluetooth keyboard to help speed up your typing. The fabric also offers some protection and the exterior will repel liquids to make your iPad splash-proof. It uses magnets to hold your tablet in place in a choice of two positions for comfortable typing. It comes in four bold colors with silly names, our favorite is Mystic Blue.

4. Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case ($130)   $82.26 FREE Shipping

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case

Here’s another keyboard case for typists, this time from Belkin. It’s a lightweight aluminum design and it’s fairly slim, although the well-spaced keys do have a bit of depth for a good responsive feel. The wonder of magnets holds your iPad Air in a choice of three positions, and it turns itself off automatically to preserve power. No frivolous colors for Belkin, this case comes in a serious choice of black or white.

5. Griffin Survivor for iPad Air ($80)   $54.99 FREE Shipping.

Griffin Survivor CaseIf you intend on taking your iPad Air into combat, mountain climbing, or possibly street racing then you absolutely, positively, have got to get some solid protection and it does not come much more solid than this. The Survivor meets military standards for protection from extreme conditions and that includes temperature fluctuations, mud, dust, sand, rain, shocks, and vibrations (good or bad). On the downside it means encasing your elegant tablet in a big chunky block of polycarbonate and silicone.

Best Cases and Covers of the Week.

We continue new series. Best cases and Covers of the week for iPad. Is a series that works to bring you best and coolest cases for iPad and  give you only the Best deal.

You can add a flourish of personal style to Apple’s minimalist design, choose functional elements to enhance your daily use, and make sure it’s safe when you sling it in your bag; all it takes is the right case. Here are some of our favorites and best deal from  past week.

1. iBackFlip TabKeeper 360 for iPad ($55)

iBackFlip TabKeeper 360

You can use the TabKeeper 360 as a messenger bag, a backpack, or even a briefcase. It’s really lightweight and offers additional storage for accessories or documents alongside your iPad. The material is durable nylon, and can handle scuffs and bad weather. The zippers are also waterproof. Inside there’s a kind of elastic harness that prevents your iPad from being jostled around inside the bag. Best of all, you can open it up and use your iPad with the strap secured, so there’s no risk of dropping it.

2. Pelican ProGear Vault Series for iPad Air ($100)  $92.99 FREE Shipping.

Pelican ProGear Vault Series

Here’s a really heavy-duty protection system that’s actually designed to seal your iPad Air in securely and protect it from the elements. Once your iPad is locked in place inside you’ll enjoy military-grade protection from drops and bumps, a seal to prevent dust or dirt getting in, and basic water resistance covering brief immersion. It’s a folio style design, so you can open it and use it as a stand. If you work outdoors then this might suit you. It’s definitely an operation to fit and remove, so you won’t want to have to take it off in a hurry.

3. Macally Clear Case with Reversible Cover for iPad Air ($20)

Macally Clear Case with Reversible Cover

Expensive cases for your expensive iPad Air are not in short supply, but you can snag some protection without breaking the bank. This reasonably priced case from Macally comprises a clear plastic shell that covers the back of your iPad, and a reversible cover that can be folded to create different stand positions. It has microfiber on the inside to protect the screen. The plastic shell has cut-outs for all your ports and buttons. The coolest feature is the fact that the shell directs the audio from the speakers to the front.

4. Urban Armor Gear Scout Case ($50)  $34.19 FREE Shipping

Urban Armor Gear Scout Case

Space marines bound for LV-426 like to stick their iPads in cases like this one from UAG. It’s designed to safeguard your iPad Air from drops and shock with a soft core, and the hard outer shell is coated in a super-grippy water resistant material. The cut-outs are precise, build quality is high, but it inevitably adds some bulk. It’s extremely light for the level of protection it affords. Flip it open and you have a stand that supports two landscape angles.

5. Moshi Concerti for iPad Air ($55)

Moshi Concerti Case

The understated Concerti case from Moshi combines a range of useful features to provide the complete package. The folio design is slim with a tough synthetic leather exterior, a soft and protective microfiber lining, and a silicone inner case. It folds into a variety of standing positions and you can swivel your iPad Air into portrait or landscape modes. Built-in magnets automatically wake the tablet when you open the case and there’s an elastic strap to keep it securely closed.