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Logitech debuts new portable speaker systems

Logitech has introduced two new portable speakers systems—one specifically designed for use with the iPod and one for any MP3 player.

imageThe mm50 iPod speaker system uses Max-X high-excursion drivers, which include neodymium magnets and three inch pressure drivers, to provide “fully balanced audio, maximum bass response and minimal distortion.” The mm50 features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 10 hours, and you can simultaneously recharge the iPod battery and speaker battery when powered by the included AC adapter. The system works with any iPod with a Dock Connector port and also comes with a travel case and a wireless remote control. The mm50 will ship in September for $149.99.

imageLogitech’s mm28 portable speaker system features an ultra-thin design and can be used with the iPod and any other device with a standard 3.5mm audio jack. Measuring less than 1.25-inches thin, the mm28 speakers use stereo NXT flat-panel technology that produces “rich tones and lush bass.” The speaker system can be powered by either the included AC adapter or by four AA batteries—it can last up to 45 hours on a single set of batteries. The mm28 will be available in September for $79.99.

Apple to offer refunds on taxed iPods in Canada

Apple will soon begin providing refunds to Canadian customers who bought iPods when levies were being imposed on digital music players in the country.

“Apple is pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada let stand a lower court ruling that blank media levies on iPods are invalid, and will shortly announce a claims process so consumers can request a refund for the levies they paid,” Apple said in a statement.

Late last month, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear any further arguments over the levy, ending a dispute over the so-called iPod tax, which has collected approximately $4 million in total.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) has collected a tax on MP3 players since December 2003 on behalf of musicians and record companies. The organization was forced to stop charging the levy in December 2004 by the Canadian Federal Court.

Apple continues to hold ‘substantial lead’ over competitors

Following meetings last week with digital music companies such as Apple and RealNetworks, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said he is “more convinced than ever that Apple has a substantial lead and advantage” over competitors.

In a research report obtained by iLounge, Wu said that the tightly integrated combination of the iPod, iTunes and iTunes Music Store shows no sign of giving up ground to competing companies and formats. “This is despite competitive efforts over the past 2-3 years and continued efforts to erode its dominance,” he said.

“Progress is being made by the Windows Media camp, but coordination and integration are proving difficult because of the many vendors involved including systems, semiconductor, software, content, and service providers, with their various agendas and diverse geographies,” Wu said.

Wu also said that Apple could introduce more than just new iPods at the Apple Expo this September. “We believe Apple could use the upcoming keynote by Steve Jobs at the Apple Expo 2005 event in Paris to make a significant announcement beyond just new iPods,” Wu said. “We believe this could be new markets including music subscriptions and video and the ever-elusive Motorola iTunes cell phone.”

Green Day ‘American Idiot’ iPod case available

imageGreen Day’s official online store is now offering an iPod case emblazoned with the graphics from its latest album, American Idiot, which has spawned such hits as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Holiday (Faded Ending).” The screen-printed leather case features a flip-top, PDA-style front cover and belt loop. It works with fourth-generation iPods and has an opening for the headphone jack and Dock Connector port. The Green Day American Idiot case is priced at $35.

Party-Pod Pro 5.0 released

Party-Pod Pro 5.0 is the latest version of the software that “gives your iPod a database of partygoer necessities.

Macally debuts Icesuit for iPod shuffle

imageMacally has announced the availability its Icesuit for the iPod shuffle. The $19.99 silicone sleeve “protects your iPod shuffle against everyday hazards and scratches” and is available in three different colors—green, pink and clear. The Icesuit provides access to all controls and comes with an elastic adjustable armband.

Mix: DOOM, Space podcast, New Zealand, iDuck

The iPod Linux group has ported a “mostly playable” version of DOOM to the iPod.

NASA’s official website reports: “One day before landing, STS-114 Mission Specialist Steve Robinson transmitted the first podcast from space.”

Apple is one step closer to launching an iTunes Music Store in New Zealand after acquiring the domain name from an individual.

The iDuck is a very iPod-like rubber duck that even comes in Apple look-alike packaging. [via Gizmodo]

Japan iTMS sells 1 million songs in four days

Apple today announced that more than one million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the Japanese iTunes Music Store since it launched four days ago.

“iTunes has become Japan’s number one online music store in just four days,

Forums: Bigger iPod mini?, iPod Lullaby, Bedtime Tunes, Podjacking

This week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: the possibility of a 8 or even 10GB iPod mini is raised. Would you be tempted by the smaller form factor of the iPod mini to avoid a full-sized iPod?

A few readers are using iPods to fall asleep. While going to sleep while wearing earphones should be avoided, what other ways do you use the iPod to help you drift off?

In a related topic, there’s a discussion on Music To Sleep To. Have you compiled a definitive playlist to ‘rock’ you to sleep?

The subject of “Jack Sharing” (or Podjacking) was mentioned recently in a popular U.K. Mac magazine, a topic originally raised by a Lounger in the forums nearly 2½ years ago. Have you had any experience of a stranger asking to plug into your iPod? Or do you think it’s just an urban myth?

iSkin reveals ‘Vibe’ iPod case line

imageiSkin has provided iLounge with an exclusive preview of its upcoming line of iSkin Vibe iPod protectors. The company said it has partnered with the talented designers from Toki Doki to create the colorful sleeves, which feature Toki Doki’s unique anime-style characters in a variety of designs.

Similar to Griffin’s Chameleon cases, the iSkin Vibes are made from a special material similar to PU. Vibes will be released for the iPod mini and iPod shuffle in September. Pricing is expected to be $19.99 for the mini (belt clip and lanyard included) and $14.99 for the shuffle.

Click the link below to view large photos of several of the new cases.

Mix: Sony, iTunes pricing, Podcast pros, Spoilers, Real

The Japan Times reports that Japanese music on Sony labels is not available on the new Japanese iTunes Music Store. “We are in talks with Apple, but we have not reached an agreement at this time,” a Sony spokeswoman said.

Digital Music News reports on iTunes song pricing: “Labels have been pushing Apple to increase its current fixed a-la-carte pricing structure in the US, Canada and Europe. And a two-tiered pricing model in Japan will add fuel to that effort, with Apple unexpectedly breaking its uniform pricing approach.”

In an article entitled “Podcast: David vs. Goliath,” BusinessWeek’s Heather Green looks at how media giants are beating out indie/amateur podcasters in the iTunes directory.

The Spoilers Podcast is a new podcast for movie fans that offers alternate commentary tracks for DVDs—you push play on the podcast and play on the DVD at the same time to hear the podcaster’s comments and trivia.

Real Networks unsuccessfully disputes Apple’s claim to be the first digital music store to offer the Rolling Stones’ complete back catalog.

New Podcast: The iLounge Week in Review 4

imageIt’s here - the fourth iLounge Week in Review podcast. As explained in the new edition’s introduction - yes, we know - iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz has yet again filled in for the panel, offering commentary on the top news headlines and iLounge features of the week.

This week’s topics: The launch of iTunes Music Store Japan, the addition of three new auto makers to the Apple partnership for iPod-to-auto integration, continued analyst speculation over next-generation iPods, HP’s decision to end sales of the iPod, and new iPod accessories released or reviewed this week.

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PodGear intros HouseParty speaker system for iPod

imageUK iPod accessory maker PodGear has announced the HouseParty, a portable speaker system for the entire iPod range—iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle. The HouseParty comes with separate adaptor cradles so that any iPod with a bottom port can be connected to the system.

“The PodGear HouseParty turns your iPod into a mini stereo system, pumping out 2x6W of crisp stereo sound,” says PodGear. “Beautifully designed and compact, HouseParty is equally at home in the living room, kitchen, bedroom or by your computer. HouseParty offers a total solution for any recent iPod. As well as great sound, it will charge your iPod™, iPod mini or iPod Shuffle, and even enables synchronization with your computer over USB.”

The PodGear HouseParty sells for £49.99 and will be available next month.

Incase pays homage to Japanese legend

imageIncase has designed a limited edition iPod case for the grand opening of Tokyo’s second Apple Store, which opens its doors on Saturday in the city’s Shibuya district.

“The case is a tribute to the well-known bronze statue in Tokyo that honors the dog Hachiko, who was the faithful pet of Dr. Eisaburo Ueno (a professor at Tokyo University),” explains the company. “After years of commuting to the university from the railroad station where Hachiko would wait for him, Dr. Ueno died from a stroke while at work in May 1925. For the next 9 years, the dog would loyally return to the station and wait for the return of his owner.”

Incase said a select number of people will receive one of the Shibuya cases for free case on Saturday and then it will be sold for $39.99 at the Shibuya Apple Store location only.

Thought Out announces FlexPed

imageThought Out has announced the FlexPed, a new flexible mounting device that lets you mount your iPod “virtually anywhere including cars, boats, and walls etc.”

The company said that the FlexPed uses the same PedHead mechanism that it uses on its Ped2 iPod stand. The adjustable device lets you mount your iPod with or without cases or skins.

Thought Out said FlexPed will be available in September for under $50.

Mix: Amazon, Podcasting woes, My shuffle, Human rights is apparently preparing an online music store, according to a job listing for a “content acquisition manager” for the company’s “forthcoming digital music service.”

USA Today’s Michelle Kessle has written a piece on podcasters running into music licensing problems over fears of piracy from record companies.

Chicago’s WKQX (Q101) has announced “My Shuffle” weekends—the radio station’s “answer to an all-request weekend in the iPod Age.” Listeners will be able to create playlists online from the Q101 music library and submit their selections.

A version of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights has been posted online for download in iPod note format.

iCandy offers ‘visual treats’ for iPods

Earth VideoWorks has announced the release of iCandy, a new product for color screen iPods that offers more than 40 slideshows with over 1200 unique pictures of sunsets, wildflowers, forests, beaches, contemporary art, and more. iCandy also comes with 500 kaleidoscope images.

“Earth VideoWorks has been publishing fine art and nature DVDs for over three years, and has an extensive digital photo library of over 25,000 images,” says the company. “These same images are now available in slideshows for iPod Photo owners!”

The iCandy package sells for $14.95 and works with both Macs and PCs.

Copy-protected CDs useless to iPod owners

Copy-protected albums from Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band and others continue to sell well despite complaints about their incompatibility with iPods.

“Aiming to curb piracy, labels like Sony BMG, which released both records, are rolling out copy-protected albums in the United States, which let users make three exact duplicates of a CD, and store files on a PC in Microsoft Corp.‘s Windows Media format,” reports Reuters. “But the copy-protection bars users from importing music onto iPods since Apple’s Fairplay software is incompatible with Windows.”

The news agency notes that about a third of the 252 customer reviews of the new Foo Fighter CD this week on Amazon complained about the protection. “This CD has a copy protection scheme that makes it totally useless to 30 million iPod owners,” wrote one reviewer. “How could a band be so stupid as to alienate such a huge percentage of their fans?”

Record executives are continuing talks with Apple to make the CDs compatible with iPods, and point out that they have released versions of the albums on Apple’s iTunes Music Store for iPod owners. “That appeased some iPod users, but others are still angry because they like to physically own a disc before importing it to iPods,” said Reuters.

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said that both Apple and the record companies would benefit if they reach an agreement on the copy protection. “Apple’s the leader in digital music. It doesn’t make sense to release too many copy-protected CDs if they’re incompatible with iPods. But Apple could also be at risk if these CDs keep selling well,” he said.

Speck intros SkinTight Armband for iPod Shuffle

imageSpeck Products has announced its new SkinTight Armband for the iPod Shuffle. The $24.95 armband features an adjustable velcro strap and a shatter-proof ABS plastic cradle that works with an included rubberized skin. It also has earphone cable clips to keep excess cord out of your way.

“The SkinTight Armband and included SkinTight Rubberized Skin provide you with the freedom to run, bike, walk, or work-out with your Shuffle iPod,” says Speck. “Slip your iPod into the SkinTight Skin and snap it into the armband for a secure, comfy and hands-free way to enjoy your iPod and favorite music.”

Mix: Tokyo event, Duke university, Yahoo audio, Napster

AV Watch has photos from Thursday’s Apple event in Tokyo, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the Japanese iTunes Music Store. [via DAPreview]

Tracy Futhey, CIO and VP for Information Technology at Duke University, discusses Duke’s iPod project: “Over the past year, the iPod project has made clear to many of our faculty and in many of our courses, the value of digital audio in a whole host of domains,” she said. “And those who have started to use the iPods have said, in a large number of cases, that this has been an important enough experiment that they absolutely need and want to continue it.”

Yahoo has launched a new search engine that lets users search through millions of songs offered by popular music services such as iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster.

Forbes reports: “Last quarter Napster lost $19.9 million—that is,the company lost nearly a dollar for every dollar it took in. Nor is Napster’s loss an aberration: From April 2003 through the end of March 2005, the company lost $97.8 million selling digital music.”

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