My best accessory picks for 2010 protect and enhance the functionality of your iOS device while mostly staying under $100 in price! Each of the three accessory categories includes a summary of the top two picks and list a couple of "honorable mentions."
Depending on your needs, you might want to carefully consider a good power-up gadget or dock. If you only need something around the house, a good sturdy charging base is the way to go. If you're on-the-go for long periods of the day, you might consider a portable external battery unit.
Juice Pack Reserve
Need to keep your iPhone or iPod touch battery topped up during the day? Give the Mophie Juice Pack Reserve a try. Charge the small 1,000 mAh external battery via your Mac/PC's USB port and take it with you wherever you go. It sports a retractable Apple connector that plugs directly into your iPhone or any iPod. (iPad solutions are coming soon from Mophie.)
IDAPT i4 (universal charging adapter)
$59.99 , idaptweb.com
This is the most flexible powerhouse of an adapter base I have ever used. The award winning, IDAPT i4 universal desktop charger keeps your iPhone, iPod touch, and a variety of other mobile gadgets powered up—and it looks stylish doing it.
Scosche flipSYNC (IPUSBM)
($19.95, scosche.com) is a small keychain-sized sync cable that will let you charge your iPhone or iPod by connecting to an available USB port.
(iPhone 3G, 3GS version: $79.95, iPod touch version: $69.95; novothink.com) is an attractive case-charger combo that uses solar cells to charge its 1,320 mAh battery, which in turn powers the iPhone or iPod touch. This is an eco-friendly charging solution that is a must.
These cases not only look cool, they do an excellent job of protecting your iPhone or iPod touch at an affordable price.
I do contract work in Iraq and Afghanistan and have used Pelican cases to protect my laptop and other mobile devices. The i1015 protects an iPhone or iPod touch from moisture, dust, and drops. If you need an attractive and rugged case, check it out.
iSkin Touch Duo
This is the brand I use to protect my own iPod touch. The Touch Duo wraps around the back and outer edges of the device, and it includes a screen protector and a detachable, clear plastic faceplate. A fold-out flap protects the sync port from dust and moisture. iSkin has a great assortment of cases available for all of Apple's mobile devices.
($13-$60, trexta.com) offers a wide variety of good looking cases and covers. (My son really likes them.) These affordable cases are of good quality, using leather and wood in some of their designs. As of late August you could find Textra cases in stock on Amazon.com.
Ballistic HC for iPhone 4
($50, goballisticcase.com) is the Terminator of anti-shock cases, featuring 4 protective layers to guard your new iPhone from damage. It comes with a rotating belt clip.
If you appreciate the audio capabilities of your iPhone, you probably need a good pair of headphones, earbuds, or maybe a fancy audio dock. Here are a couple of products that jumped out at me.
Ankit Naughty Naughty earphones
Novelty earbuds like these usually don't sound that great, but these do. They have noise isolating and G-bass technology built-in. My daughter likes her earphones fashionable and loud—she loves these buds!
Winner of a Best of Show award at CES, iCrystal is not only the coolest looking speaker-dock around (which also charges), it's a mood enhancer that bathes your docked iPhone in a cool splash of blue color. Designed to dock with the iPhone and any iPod, it also has a 3.5mm input jack that lets you connect and play other devices through it.
($120, shure.com) was one of the pricier earphones on display at CES. It can be used for phone calls and listening to music. It includes a control dongle with a built-in Mic, volume, music/video playback, and answer buttons.
($129.99, i-luv.com) is a dual-dock sound system that charges your iPhone and iPod at the same time, plays your tunes, and includes an AM/FM radio and a digital clock to wake you up on time.