By Todd Bernhard on Wed, 01/13/2010
Some of the most interesting items at CES don't use electricity. We found several accessories that enhance the electronic lifestyle, while made entirely out of non-technical materials.
Love it or hate it, the TV Hat (www.AsSeenOnTVHat.com) made the 5-hour flight home from CES bearable... even enjoyable. This baseball cap with an elongated "duck" bill has a clear "pocket" for an iPhone, iPod touch, or similar-sized video player. A serious built-in magnifier can be adjusted back and forth to give the screen the appearance of being 50% larger. Flaps block external light so you can have a relatively effective virtual home theatre that travels with you! Just make sure you're not driving! My traveling companion had to answer the questions from confused flight attendants and fellow passengers, while I enjoyed Star Wars: The Clone Wars and several other movies!
You use your own headset or earbuds. I used my ZAGGphones (www.ZAGG.com) which did a good job of blocking out the outside world. The TV Hat gave me a first class experience, for the low price of $19.95, and I will definitely be packing it in my carry-on bag for the 7-hour trip to MacWorld!
When I wanted to be more social, I removed the TV Hat and used the Thiphone (www.Thiphone.com). As you might imagine, the Thiphone is a thigh-mounted "belt" with a suction cup so you can attach your iPhone, iPod touch, or similar device. With a naked iPhone or a solid plastic case, it should be fine. Because the Thiphone uses a suction cup, you can rotate the device in landscape mode for videos or vertical for games.
The makers of the Thiphone also have a belt holster called the Flex Clip (www.Flex-Clip.com). This is a unique combination of rugged plastic, elastic nylon, and foam padding (the result of about 200 prototypes) and it is now my preferred holster for when my iPhone is not in a case. I've gone through many belt clips but they are either junky, unreliable, or require a special case. The Flex Clip works with a naked iPhone (or an iPhone in a slim case) and hangs on for dear life. With no mechanical parts (the heavy duty elastic handles the swivel and release functions), there's nothing to break from repeated use. And you can easily tilt the phone to see who is calling (unless of course, you have my app, AutoRingtone Caller ID Talking Ringtones!).
MobiValet (www.MobiValet.com) is another fashionable accessory that facilitates travel and does so in style. This sturdy but elegant protective holder is designed to mount (using sturdy Velcro) in your vehicle, on the console for example, and stay put. Your iPhone or other smartphone is cradled safely but with enough of an opening to plug in your car charger. You can leave the phone in place and use your Bluetooth to answer the phone. Instead of tossing your phone in a cup holder, you have a dedicated place to keep the phone, so you can easily find it without taking your eyes off the road. Available in many colors and styles, including leather, faux alligator, pebble leather, and nylon, there is bound to be one to match your car's interior and/or your wallet or purse!