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Mix: Marco Polo Kids, iFace, Nano knockoff, Panic

Marco Polo Kids is a new series of video guides to European cities for kids. The guides, available for download to video-enabled iPods, feature tours of cities such as Vienna, Paris, Florence, Rome, Siena, Lucca, and Pisa.

The iFace interchangeable iPod cases have been dropped to $20 from $24. The matching Five Elements series has been lowered to $10 from $13, and the Hot Wave series is now $15 from $20. The company said previous purchases will get a refund. In addition, iLoungers can get 10% off by using the “iloungeiscool” code at checkout.

The first iPod nano knockoff has been spotted on eBay. Nearly identical in design and size, the “i-Bob” offers video playback and 1GB of storage.

Panic Software has announced that those who purchase its Unison application before December 30th will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 4GB iPod nano with the Panic logo engraved on the back.

iSkin eVo3 for 5G iPod now available

imageiSkin today announced the availability of the iSkin eVo3, the latest version of the company’s popular silicone iPod case. Designed specifically for the new fifth-generation (video) iPod, the eVo3 “protects the iPod with video and enhances the aesthetic beauty of the device while maintaining complete functionality and control access,” according to the company. The $35 case features a new scratch resistant face and screen protector, a removable rotary belt clip (RevoClip 2), heat release pores, and a micro-textured body that provides an anti-slip gripping surface. The eVo3 comes in six colors—green, blue, red, frosted clear, black, and pink.

Creative debuts iPod lookalike; Will ‘aggressively pursue’ patent

imageCreative Technology today introduced a 30GB digital media device that bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s new video iPod. The Zen Vision:M, which features a 2.5-inch color screen and video playback support, appears to lift several styling and interface details from the new video iPod. The $330 device also features support for music subscription services, an FM radio and a built-in mic for recording. The Zen Vision:M will be available in black, white, blue, green or pink this month.

Sim Wong Hoo, the outspoken CEO of Creative, took a swipe at the iPod in the company’s press release for the device. “When people see the Zen Vision:M, they tell us it’s incredibly cool,” he said. “We designed the Zen Vision:M with its mesmerizing 262,144 color screen to display four times the color of the 30GB iPod that plays video, and to provide twice the battery life for video playback. Plus, we offer people the freedom to choose their video in a variety of different formats, and to get subscription music or download tracks from a number of different sites to their player.”

While Creative appears to be taking cues from the iPod design, it seems Apple will be the one soon facing a legal threat. At the launch of the new device, the Creative CEO told the BBC that he plans to “pursue aggressively” a US patent it owns relating to music navigation on digital players. “We will pursue all manufacturers that use the same navigation system,” he said. “This is something we will pursue aggressively. Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.”

iWorkout 3.0 for iPod released

iWorkout 3.0 is the latest version of the exercise companion for iPods. The $17 product includes 42 different workout routines made by an ACE Certified Personal Trainer that can be viewed on an iPod. iWorkout allows you to access the text and spoken routines from the Notes feature on your iPod. Owners of color screen iPods can also view associated illustrations. New features include improved narration of workout routines, an automated installer for Mac OS X Tiger users, and larger illustrations for video capable iPods.

Apple requests iPod Camera Connector compatibility updates

Apple Computer is interested in updating the list of cameras that are compatible with the Apple iPod Camera Connector to reflect as many compatible models as possible. Developers and vendors of cameras can self-certify their cameras by downloading the PDF document iPod Camera Connector Compatibility, and follow the instructions to have products added to Apple’s list of compatible cameras.

NBC airs iTunes promo during prime time

imageFollowing yesterday’s addition of several NBC shows to the iTunes Music Store, the network wasted no time in promoting the downloads on air. Last night’s episode of “The Office,” which prominently featured a fifth-generation (video) iPod as part of the show’s plot, briefly featured an animated overlay ad that read: “Your favorite episodes of The Office now available on iTunes.” The promo also clearly showed an Apple logo (see iLounge’s screen grab).

Bravo shows, SNL sketches coming to iTunes

Apple has posted a promotional video showing off the NBC Universal content now on the iTunes Music Store. While the majority of the video is promoting shows currently available, it is revealed that users can soon expect to see “the best of Bravo” and “your favorite SNL sketches” on iTunes. No further details were provided. As reported earlier today, Jeff Zucker, president of the NBC Universal Television Group, said new shows will be added continuously. “You are going to see a series of announcements in the coming weeks,

XtremeMac intros TuffWrap Accent cases for iPod nano

imageXtremeMac today introduced the TuffWrap Accent, a new multi-color version of its silicone case for the iPod nano. The TuffWrap Accent is available in six color combinations—black/red, black/yellow, blue/white, white/blue, gray/orange and green/orange. The $20 case features ribbed sides, a “scuff- and slip-resistant” finish, access to all controls and ports, and screen and click wheel protectors.

“Unlike other cases that use uncontrolled color mixing or multiple layers to achieve a multi-color look, TuffWrap Accent is manufactured with two colors in distinct, contoured areas of the case,” says XtremeMac. “With this unique design, TuffWrap Accent offers both the style and protection that iPod nano owners look for.”

New iSkin Duo colors for iPod nano announced

imageiSkin today announced that it has added four new iSkin Duo color combinations—Purple Haze (clear on purple), Acid Groove (green on green), Phantom Rave (black on red) and Polar Blast (white on blue).

Designed for the iPod nano, the iSkin Duo features a dual layer shock-resistant silicone skin that “guards against bumps, scratches, dirt, and other unwanted elements, ensuring your tunes keep playing no matter where you go.” The case features a clear screen protector, a wheel protector, removable rotary belt clip, and anti-slip grip surface with side “goose bumps.” The iSkin Duo sells for $30.

Apple’s Jobs: Video sales exceeding expectations, 5G iPods selling well

As reported yesterday, Apple has sold more than 3 million videos since they were added to the iTunes Music Store in October. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that figure “far exceeds our initial expectations.” Jobs also said that the new fifth-generation (video) iPod is selling well. While he wouldn’t detail sales of the latest iPod, Jobs did tell USA Today that “it’s no secret that we’re shipping a lot.” In addition, the Apple boss also commented on the proliferation of sites offering free video downloads in iPod format. “We think it’s terrific,” Jobs said of the new sites. “As long as it’s legal.”

PodShop offers new version of iDrops

imagePodShop is now offering a new version of its iDrops, the all-in-one cleaning, polishing, and scratch removing solution designed for use on the plastic surfaces of Apple’s iPod and select Macs. The new iDrops feature improvements throughout the entire product, including updated iDrops solution, bottle, dropper, and label. The iDrops sell for $15. PodShop also announced today that they will be offering free worldwide shipping through December 21st.

NBC exec: Expect more shows on iTunes soon

Yesterday’s addition of 11 TV shows from NBC Universal to the iTunes Music Store was only the beginning, according to Jeff Zucker, president of the NBC Universal Television Group. “You are going to see a series of announcements in the coming weeks,” he told Variety.

Zucker said that pressure from illegal downloading caused urgency for NBC to make their content available in digital form. NBC estimates that there are 430,000 illegal downloads of “Battlestar Galactica” each week. “It proves there is tremendous interest in it and good people have developed bad habits by illegally downloading it. Now they will have to develop good habits,” Zucker said.

Zucker also said that recent initiatives from EchoStar and TiVo are operating without the consent of the broadcast networks, and that consumers should look to iTunes and other officially supported paths. “This is clearly not the proper way to behave,” Zucker said. “We have worked in concert with Apple to benefit the consumer; where others are not working with content providers is clearly not in the best interest of the consumer.”

Case-ari intros leather cases for 5G iPod, nano

imageCase-ari recently introduced a line of form-fitting leather cases for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The cases, which resemble Vaja’s iVod, offer a Nappa leather exterior, impact resistant plastic shell, felt lining, and a screen protector and removable belt clip. The cases also provide access to all controls and ports. The 5G and nano cases come in a dozen different colors—red, black, yellow, orange, light blue, tan, pink, brown, blue, grey, purple, and white. The 5G Case-ari leather case sells for $30, while the nano version is priced at $25. They can be purchased here.

Editor’s Note 1-30-2006: Kesari/Case-Ari has rebranded their company and products, and is now known as Case-Mate.

Etymotic announces black 6i earphones

imageEtymotic Research today announced that its 6i Isolator earphones (iLounge rating: A) are now available in black to match the black iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod. The original white versions of the $150 in-ear earphones recently received the award for Best Headphones of 2005 by iLounge.

“The mildly enhanced bass and greater output of these earphones retains the high frequency response accuracy that Etymotic is known for,” said Mead Killion, Ph.D., founder and president of Etymotic. “The 25-band accuracy score of these earphones still exceeds 80%, which is higher than any earphones not made by Etymotic.”

iTunes hits 100 million downloads in Europe

Apple has announced that it has now sold 100 million songs in Europe. The company said that a Belgium iTunes user was the winner of its 100 million downloads contest. “Congratulations to Ken Reist from Steenokkerzeel, Belgium, the 100 Millionth Song Grand Prize Winner. Ken purchased the 100 millionth download in Europe—the album Die Zauberflöte by Mozart—at 6.22 pm on December 6th, 2005.” Reist will receive a 17-inch iMac G5, a 30GB iPod, a 10,000-song gift card for the iTunes Music Store, and two tickets to see Robbie Williams in concert.

Digital Sound Bag sports built-in speakers

imageRedEnvelope is now offering the Digital Sound Bag, a new messenger-style bag that includes two built-in speakers and a spot for your iPod. Available in blue, orange or white, the $70 bag features a clear acetate window lets you see the iPod’s display and access controls. It has a velcro closure on the bag’s front flap and requires three AAA batteries. “Taking a personal music player to the next level is in the bag,” says the online store. “All they have to do is slip it into the bag’s interior pocket, plug into the built-in speakers, and hit play. The reward? Instant amplification and tunes wherever they go.”

Mix: Christmas Carol, Bar codes, London restaurants, Classrooms

Storynory has released the first podcast of “A Christmas Carol.” The dramatization will be podcast in three-parts—re-creating the way Dickens published most of his books as serials.

Jonathan Baldino, a freshman electrical-engineering student at the University of Colorado, was recently caught using homemade bar codes to purchase an iPod for $4.99.

Restaurant Spy has released a London Restaurant Guide that can be transferred and viewed on an iPod. The guide includes 300+ restaurant reviews organized by Location, Cuisine, Price, and Rating. 

In an article entitled “iPod popularity stirs tech debate in the classroom,” The Indianapolis Star looks at how personal electronics are affecting students.

Vaja unveils iVod Crystal case for iPod nano

imageVaja has introduced its latest luxury case for the iPod nano—the iVod nano Crystal. The Swarovski crystal-encrusted case comes in seven different combinations and features a leather strap with silver appliques, padded interior, screen protector, and access to all controls and ports. Vaja’s iVod nano Crystal is made from the same high quality Argentine leather as the regular iVod case and can be personalized and upgraded. Prices starts at $240. Be sure to enter our Vaja Slogan Contest for a chance to win one of 45 $100 Vaja gift cards or the grand prize of one $500 gift card.

iAttire offers holiday iPod costumes

imageiAttire today announced the release of its holiday iPod costumes, including a Santa Claus outfit ($20) and a red-nosed reindeer outfit ($15). The hand-made costumes are available for the iPod, iPod mini, and iPod shuffle. “Designed to be replicas of people costumes, these costumes fit and wear just like those you might select for yourself,” says the company. The hand-made Santa costume has a furry hat, a big white beard that attaches with elastic, and a green velvet bag that is filled with gifts for all. The Red-Nosed Reindeer is a hand-made antler headband, red nose on an elastic band, and a candy cane to snack on later!”

Pressure Drop debuts DecoDock Ice, offers holiday sale

imagePressure Drop today announced DecoDock Ice, a special winter edition of its DecoDock iPod shuffle dock. “With a white base and glacier blue LEDs, DecoDock Ice provides users with a simple, cool, and stylish way to connect an iPod shuffle to their computer,” says the company. “Let your iPod shuffle ‘chill out’ in the DecoDock Ice while it recharges and syncs in Art-Techo style.” The DecoDock Ice is priced at $29 and is now shipping in limited quantities. Pressure Drop also announced today special holiday pricing on the classic DecoDock. It’s now on sale for $20, down from the normal price of $29.

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