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New Podcast: iLounge Week in Review 16

imageNow available is the sixteenth iLounge podcast, co-hosted by our Bob Levens and Jeremy Horwitz. This week’s podcast discusses the lawsuit over iPod nano scratching, brand new iPod 5G and nano cases and accessories, the impressive Vaja iVod Crystal, and of course our review of the new 5G iPods.

Past podcasts are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Direct download: MP3 Version
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Listen to Past Podcasts

iLounge launches Konfabulator widget

imageWe’re happy to announce that in addition to the iLounge Mac OS X Dashboard widget, we now offer a downloadable widget for users of the cross-platform Konfabulator software. Like the Dashboard widget, the free Konfabulator widget provides quick access to iLounge news stories, reviews, and FAQs. The widget also lets you easily search the site or our forums.

For those of you not familiar with Konfabultor, here’s a quick summary taken from the software’s website: “Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather.”

Download: iLounge Konfabulator widget for Mac
Download: iLounge Konfabulator widget for Windows

New RAM in 5G 60GB iPod doubles memory, improves performance

imageThanks to a report by an iLounge reader, additional details on internal differences between the 30GB and 60GB iPods have been discovered. As initially shown through a diagnostic test of the new iPod, the 60GB model actually contains twice as much SDRAM - 64 Megabytes rather than 32 Megabytes. SDRAM typically serves as a buffer for audio and video clips, and additional memory can reduce the number of times an iPod’s hard drive is accessed, thereby further improving battery life.

imageLike the 32MB component, the 64MB chip is a Samsung part, here labeled K4M51163PC. Previous teardowns of the new iPod have not revealed this difference in components, as they have focused on the less expensive 30GB iPod.

imageIn combination with the 60GB’s new hard drive, which is shown to be a Toshiba MK6008GAH, and the unit’s battery (additional pictures of which are shown at Read More below), the additional memory helps the larger iPod to provide nearly six hours of tested audio run time over the smaller one, over two more hours of photo slideshows, more than one hour of additional on-screen video and over two extra hours of on-TV video. As noted in our comprehensive review, this is the first time that component differences between full-sized iPods have been used to create battery performance distinctions between models.

Mix: iPorn, How-To videos, Apple margins, Yahoo! Music

CNET News.com reports: “Pinup site Suicide Girls said Thursday that it had launched a new, free feature: downloadable videos of interviews and photo shots with its models, all configured for the video-capable iPod. At least one unambiguously adult site, Povpod.com, has also released content for the device.”

Yahoo employee and blogger Russell Beattie says that the video-enabled fifth-generation iPod will create a new market for portable how-to videos.

Duncan Martell of Reuters has written an article that poses the question of whether rising iPod sales could hurt Apple’s margins. “Apple has a runaway hit with its market-leading iPod digital music player, but could the device’s success actually hurt the company’s profitability over the longer haul?”

Yahoo! Music Unlimited has raised the price of subscription music service from $4.99/6.99 annual/monthly to $9.99/11.99, reports Engadget.

Tunewear offers Prie shuffle case

imageTunewear has announced the Prie shuffle, a new leather lanyard case for the iPod shuffle. The case features a removalbe lanyard and USB cap and provides access to the control pad and slider switch. The Prie shuffle is currently shipping for $29.95.

“Prie shuffle cases provide excellent protection for your iPod shuffle against dirt and scratches, yet still allow complete access to the iPod shuffle’s controls pad, slider and earphone jack,” says Tunewear. “There is also a removable USB cap cover. Opening the USB cap cover will allow you to connect the USB connecter for charging and syncing with your computer.”

Apple sued over iPod nano scratches

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple over the iPod nano’s tendency to get scratched easily. The complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in San Jose on behalf of nano owner Jason Tomczak and others who have purchased the device.
 
The lawsuit alleges that nano screens “scratch excessively during normal usage, rendering the screen on the nanos unreadable, and violating state consumer protection statutes… and causing Plaintiff class members to incur loss of use and monetary damages.

Report: 30GB iPod costs Apple $151 to build

Market research firm iSuppli has taken apart the new video-enabled fifth-generation iPod and concluded that the 30GB device, which sells for $299, costs Apple $151 to manufacture—a profit margin of around 50%. “This is in line with what we have seen with other iPod products from Apple,” says iSuppli analyst Chris Crotty.

Like a similar report earlier this week, which estimated that the 30GB model cost $143.50 to build, the researcher documents the suppliers of components in the new iPod. iSuppli notes that Broadcom makes the video chip, while PortalPlayer and Wolfson Microelectronics produce the audio chips.

“In this case, the Broadcom chip is just for video and the PortalPlayer chip is just for audio,” Crotty says. “Right now, Apple is keeping the functions separate. Over time, you’ll see more chips that do everything. But now it’s probably more cost effective for Apple to do it with separate chips.”

Griffin intros iTrip for iPod nano

imageGriffin Technology today announced a new iTrip FM transmitter for Apple’s iPod nano. The latest iTrip uses the nano’s LCD display for on-screen tuning, and features a new “sled” design that wraps around the bottom and back of the nano, and securely connects via the iPod’s dock and headphone connectors. The nano slides into the device and stays attached using “patented micro grip technology.”

“Griffin’s SmartDisplay technology seamlessly integrates all functions and features with the iPod nano,” explains the company. “iTrip information is displayed on the best screen in the industry: the gorgeous iPod nano screen. This innovative approach to displaying station and set up information is a first and only available with Griffin products. One touch navigation puts all iTrip functions at your fingertip. This also makes iTrip for iPod nano the easiest-to-operate FM transmitter, ever.”

The new iTrip also features SmartSound volume control, selectable mono or stereo modes, stores the last 3 used station presets and supports US, International and Japanese tuning modes. The iTrip for iPod nano’s introductory price is $49.99 and is expected to ship in November.

Mix: ROKR units, USA Today review, Microsoft music deals

In its third-quarter earnings report, Motorola said that more than 250,000 iTunes-enabled ROKR mobile phones have shipped to wireless carriers since it debuted.

USA Today’s Edward C. Baig reviews the new 5G iPod: “Even if you never watch a second of video, the latest devices make terrific iPods,” Baig says. “In that respect, the world’s foremost portable music players have gotten only better. Seeing is believing.”

Reuters reports: “Microsoft, already under government scrutiny over its behavior toward competitors, told manufacturers of iPod-like portable audio devices that they were not allowed to distribute rivals’ music player software, but then pulled back after one company protested.”

Apple releases iTunes 6.0.1 update

Just a week after its introduction, Apple has released the first software update to iTunes 6. The new version, iTunes 6.0.1, includes “several stability improvements over iTunes 6,” according the brief release notes accompanying the update. “After purchasing music from the iTunes Music Store with iTunes 6 or later, you will also need to upgrade your other computers that purchase music from the iTunes Music Store to iTunes 6.0.1.” No further details were provided.

Tunewear debuts water resistant iPod shuffle case

imageTunewear has announced the Waterwear shuffle, a new water resistant case for the iPod shuffle. Made of clear hard plastic, the case is designed to protect your shuffle from temporary submersion into water or other liquids and protects it from dirt and sand. The Waterwear shuffle features a play-through silicone wheel, lanyard, and a headphone isolator plug. The company also said the case can withstand the weight of an adult stepping on it or being thrown against the wall. The Waterwear shuffle will be available next month for $24.95.

Australian iTunes Music Store coming next week?

Following several delays, Apple appears to be ready to launch its iTunes Music Store in Australia. The company has announced that it will hold a special media event next Tuesday in the country with two senior Apple executives. An Apple spokesperson told ZDNet Australia that Eddie Cue, vice president of iTunes, and Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPod product marketing, would be talking to the press at 9:00 am, but provided no further details. The Australian store is expected to provide nearly one million songs at between AU$0.99 and AU$1.69 per song.

DLO HomeDock now shipping

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced that its DLO HomeDock home entertainment center for iPods is now shipping. The iPod docking center enables users play their music through their home stereo, display photos and videos on their televisions, charge their iPod and sync it to their computer. The HomeDock features RCA connectors, Composite Video, S-Video, USB 2.0 and comes with a 14-function remote control. It costs $99.99 and works with all dockable iPods, including fourth and fifth generation iPods, iPod nanos, and iPod minis.

Lap Locker intros PodLock iPod locking case

imageLap Locker has announced its PodLock iPod locking case. The case is designed to fit all full-size iPods except the 30GB 3rd generation model, original 20GB iPod photo, and the 40-60GB iPod photo. The system consists of a tapered aluminum frame to contain the iPod and a Master Lock carabiner-style combination lock. The lock allows the case to be secured to belts, backpacks, purses, and, using a clamp-lock device, the case can be locked to a table or desk. The PodLock allows access to all the iPod’s controls and ports. The PodLock is available now and sells for $39.99.

Mix: Madonna, TV ads, school podcasting, iMic

Two pre-order versions of the upcoming Madonna album Confessions On a Dance Floor are now available at the iTunes Music Store: a single-track continuous dance mix, and a traditional album divided into twelve tracks. A radio edit of the album’s first single, “Hung Up,” is immediately available for download with a pre-order—a first for the iTMS.

Television advertisers are being forced to think of new means of delivery following Apple’s announcement of commercially available advertisement-free television downloads.

Students at Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, VA are making their own podcasts and using iPods as learning tools. The podcasts are to be used as supplemental learning tools in the future.

Griffin has announced a new version of its USB audio adapter iMic. The device sells for $39.99 and includes LP recording software.

iPod 5G (video) teardown online (updated)

Investment bank Jeffries & Company has posted an investment summary that includes details about the chips used inside the new iPods, as well as a few pictures. The chips include the PP5021 decoder and CPU “system on a chip” from PortalPlayer, a BCM2722 video decoder/processor from Broadcom, a K4S56163PF 256Mbit SDRAM module from Samsung, a WM8758 audio codec chip from Wolfson Microelectronics, a SST39WF800A 8Mbit Parallel Flash chip from Silicon Storage Technology, and a CY8C21 PSoC Mixed Signal Controller for the click wheel from Cypress. The report indicates that the estimated total cost of components for the new 30GB iPod is $143.50. [via TUAW]

Notably, the hard drive shown and glossed over in the Jeffries & Company report is a Toshiba 30GB MK3008GAL, a super-slim 1.8” hard disk that to date has only been produced in 20GB, 30GB, 40GB and 60GB (MK6008GAH) capacities. Consequently, Apple would need to use the thicker, less power-efficient MK8007GAH drive for an 80GB version of the 5G iPod, or wait for a thinner 80GB version matching the 60GB model to be produced.

Pacific Design announces iPod nano Flip Case

imagePacific Design has announced its iPod nano Flip Case. The iPod nano Flip Case features a flip-top design to help protect the nano’s screen and click wheel, a soft clip on the back for attaching to a belt or armband, and the case allows access the nano’s headphone jack, hold switch, and dock connector. The iPod nano Flip Case is available in Carbon Black, Precious Pink, Big Sky Blue, and Rally Red—pricing and release information have yet to be announced.

Mossberg: New iPod a ‘surprisingly decent video player’

In his column for the Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg has taken a look at the new iPod 5G (video), including a close look at the device’s video functionality.

“Our verdict is that this new iPod is an excellent music player. It has all of the strengths that have made prior iPods monster hits, and a few subtle refinements. Plus, it’s a surprisingly decent video player, with crisp, smooth vivid playback of TV shows, music videos, short films, video podcasts and home videos… We wouldn’t want to watch a full-length movie on this iPod—the screen is just too small. But, for short things like music videos, video podcasts or even hourlong TV shows shortened by stripping out the commercials, as Apple is doing, the new iPod provides a pretty good experience.”

Tunewear debuts Prie Ambassador, Icewear for 5G iPods

Tunewear has announced its Prie Ambassador 5G and Icewear 5G cases for 5G iPods. The cases are available for both the 30GB and 60GB models, and both include Tunefilm 5G, a thin protective sheet for the iPod 5G. The Prie Ambassador 5G and the Icewear 5G will be available next month.

imagePrie Ambassador 5G
The Prie Ambassador 5G is made from nappa leather, and features three ways to carry the case—using the removable hook to attach it to a belt loop or strap, using the removable clip to secure your iPod to a pocket or belt, or simply removing all clips and hooks and slipping it into a pocket or bag. The case also features vinyl covers for the screen and click wheel, and access to the hold switch, headphone jack, and dock connector. The Prie Ambassador comes in 3 colors: black leather with red stitching, black leather with white stitching, and white leather with white stitching. It sells for $49.95.

imageIcewear 5G
The Icewear 5G is a transparent silicone case for the iPod 5G. The case’s design allows access to all ports including the headphone jack, dock connector, hold switch and click wheel. Ribs are featured on the sides to increase grip and help protect the iPod inside in the event of a fall. The Icewear 5G is available in transparent silicone for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod models and sells for $24.95.

iPod Updater 2005-10-12 released

Apple has posted iPod Updater 2005-10-12 for download on its website. The update includes iPod Software 1.0 for Apple’s new video-enabled fifth-generation iPod, but does not bring any new features to current iPods. According to the brief release notes, iPod Updater 2005-10-12 “contains the same software versions as iPod Updater 2005-09-23 for all other iPod models.”

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