After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device.
Additionally, iLounge has heard that Zune will most likely follow Apple’s recent decision - as seen in the upcoming Nike+iPod Sport Kit - to use some form of proprietary wireless communication technology, eschewing the open Bluetooth standard in favor of one developed at least in part by Microsoft. As previously reported, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit uses an Apple-developed version of 802.11, which may offer bandwidth and other benefits over the various flavors of Bluetooth, but could lock third-party developers out from creating compatible accessories. It is unclear whether Microsoft’s technology, which reportedly enables music “sharing” between multiple Zune users, will resemble Apple’s in all regards, but it will likely be available to third-party developers for accessorization. A recent competing music player, MusicGremlin’s Gremlin MG-1000, already uses the open 802.11b standard for its wireless functionality, a decision which enables the device to connect to existing Wi-Fi home and hotspot network locations. Future digital music players may support one or more 802.11 standards to guarantee both Wi-Fi network and proprietary accessory compatibility.
iPodPortugal.com, a Portuguese-language member of the iLounge Around the World network of web sites, and “the first and most complete Portuguese website related to the iPod culture,” announced that it would cease publication today due to alleged massive-scale theft of its content by a competing publication. According to Nuno Henriques of iPodPortugal, the decision to stop providing iPod news to the Portuguese community was made after a rip-off artist cloned his site’s original content, then refused to delete it. “It’s a shame we had to do this,” said Henriques, “but we had no choice… You can’t imagine how frustrating it is to keep a site up to date, wasting precious time of yours and then some jerk just copies everything.” iPodPortugal said that it will keep its Portuguese-language discussion forum open for the benefit of its community; iLounge extends its respect and support to iPodPortugal’s editors and readers.
During a keynote address yesterday at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata divulged further plans for Virtual Console, an online download service he described as “the video game version of Apple’s iTunes music store.” Like GameTap, a subscription-based game service launched last year by Time Warner, Virtual Console will serve as a legal online download service for classic video games. However, only Nintendo’s service will feature titles from its own past consoles, as well as games from past competing platforms such as Sega’s Genesis and NEC’s TurboGrafx-16. “Between them, [Sega’s and NEC’s] systems built a library of more than a thousand different games,” said Iwata. “Of course, not all of them will be available, but the best of them will.”
If you have photos and/or footage of you and your iPod in action, and want to get them on TV, here’s your chance. The first episode of a new Discovery Channel series (The Evolution of Portable Music Players) will be tracing the evolution of the iPod from phonographs to radios, boom boxes, Discmen, and modern digital music players. The producers of this show are looking for your high-resolution photos or video footage (beta, Quicktime, or mini dv) for possible inclusion in this episode.
If you have something handy, drop an email to [email protected] - who knows, maybe your favorite shot of you and your iPod will show up on cable TV worldwide.
In announcing its “Best of CES 2006” award winners, CNET has named Creative’s Zen Vision: M “Best in Show,” its top pick of all of the products shown at the annual consumer electronics convention. Citing the device’s “brighter screen, better battery life, and more features” than the iPod, CNET’s editors suggested that the device was an “iPod killer,” praising its support for multiple video formats and “winning design.”
In a video interview with CNN’s Renay San Miguel, CNET editor Brian Cooley was challenged on the choice of a device so similar to the fifth-generation iPod for an award based in part on innovation. Cooley defended the tech site’s choice of the “little more hefty” Vision: M, saying that “sometimes slimmer and more svelte is not always good for your hand,” and said that CNET’s editors preferred the Vision to the iPod on feel. CNET readers picked Pioneer’s Inno, a truly portable XM Satellite radio receiver and recorder, as the show’s best new product.
SkipJam has announced support for iPod docking directly into its SkipJam iMedia Center. Using FireWire or USB 2.0 users can plug their iPods into an iMedia Center or an iMedia enabled PC and access music, photos, and videos from throughout their home. The SkipJam iMedia support for the iPod also allows SkipJam users to record audio or video content directly onto the iPod, creating a plug’n'go recording solution. The SkipJam iMedia Center to iPod interface software is scheduled for release in January, and will be available to existing SkipJam iMedia Center users as an upgrade free of charge.
Nickels For Katrina is a new service that is selling blocks of pixels on its homepage to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Each pixel is $0.05, and each block of pixels you purchase is a link back to a site of your choosing. The goal of one million pixels sold would provide $50,000 for the relief efforts, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. We here at iLounge urge you to go and help support those in need.
Podtee is now offering a selection of iPod-inspired t-shirts, including two limited edition prints. Made of 100% cotton, each design is offered on men’s standard, ringer, and women’s styles of shirts. Designed for the upcoming holiday, the “Boo” and “Bats!” prints are being offered in limited edition runs. Pricing for podtees starts at $18.99.
A writer from Giant magazine wants to hear from iLoungers who purchased a first-generation iPod the day it was released (November 10, 2001).
“I would love to see a dated receipt to reproduce in the mag, also interested in original packaging, or even a shot of your well-loved original iPod if still in use,” he says. “But mainly I want to hear about why you bought it in the first place, what it’s meant to you, and, of course, what you’re listening to these days.”
Email Giant with contact info at [email protected]
As relief efforts begin in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, we urge you to please make a donation to the American Red Cross. By providing financial support, you’ll be helping the hundreds of thousands of victims of the tragic disaster. In addition to the Red Cross website, you can donate through Amazon.com and the iTunes Music Store. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.
Every three seconds, a child dies in Africa from starvation or disease: 30,000 die every day. The continued presence of AIDS and armed conflicts, combined with a tremendous debt burden and widespread illiteracy, have kept the people of the African continent from achieving their deserved equality on the world stage.
Twenty years have passed since the worldwide charitable music event known as Live Aid took place. Today, the world’s wealth is more concentrated than ever before, and those without resources still need help - this time, your signature, not your money.
This weekend, millions of people have gathered at music events around the world to convince world G8 leaders that the era of misery in Africa should end. Cancelling the debts of impoverished African nations - wiping the slate clean - will enable these countries to use their money to help their own people, rather than paying interest on debts they will never clear. Your signature on the petition below could help convince the G8 to erase African debts, and aid these countries on the road to self-dependence.
Philadelphia, Paris, Johannesburg, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow, London, Cornwall, and Barrie, Canada are all taking part in today’s events. Top artists including Coldplay, Razorlight, The Killers, The Dave Matthews Band and many, many more are participating to raise awareness for this effort.
Update: The song, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, which opened the Live 8 event in London performed by Sir Paul McCartney and accompanied by U2 is now available to download from the iTunes Music Store. Also available is the live rendition of the Beatles track “The Long and Winding Road” also performed by McCartney. Both tracks cost $.99 and all proceeds go to Live 8.
Contradicting dismissive statements towards the iPod recently made by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates in a separate interview, the company’s Xbox division corporate vice-president J. Allard told 1up.com that the company actually hopes to model its new game console Xbox 360 on Apple’s iPod success, and follows the thinking of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. As explained in the section of 1up’s story titled “Is the Xbox 360 Powerful Enough?”:
“Our initial thinking was there can only be one [Xbox 360 SKU], but you know, that just limits options,” says Allard. “I don’t wanna think that way. If Steve Jobs thought that way, iPod sales would have [plateaued] because there’s a finite market for people that want 20GB white things that play music at a price point that’s above $200. And that’s all he could do with iPod.” Elsewhere in the article, Allard explains that after “lots of color studies,” the company chose a white and metal design based partially on “consumer preference and value. They associate a lot of value with the lighter colors. Most people actually came back and said, ‘This reminds me of iPod.’”
The article further notes that Microsoft designed the Xbox 360 with a 20GB removable hard drive that will permit users to carry their game data (and ripped game soundtracks, amongst other things) wherever they go, with changes to the hard drive a distinct possibility. “Who knows?” the article quotes Allard as saying. “We talk to retailers, we start taking orders, Japan says, ‘What we really wanna do is have a 60-gig hard drive and a wired controller,’ something like that. The system’s so flexible that until we start stuffing them in boxes, nothing’s for sure.”
iLounge readers with blogs still have the opportunity to enter the iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2005 Bloggers’ Contest, with three great prizes. One grand prize winner will score a pair of Shure E5c earphones ($499 value), while two second place winners will get their own pairs of Etymotic ER-6i earphones ($149 value, each). Don’t miss your chance - check out the official rules from this link right now!
iLounger Ashley Burrows let us know that he recently finished his iPod inspired “iTable.” He said it was a project for his A-level Design Technology course and that it took months to complete. Burrows was kind enough to share the process of building it along with a handful of photos, including his initial illustrated design.
“Basically, I started with a square frame built out of pine (this made the sides) and then glued a piece of MDF on the top,” Burrows said. “This gave me a five-sided cube kinda thing. To curve the edges I used a hand plane (yeah, it did take about 30 hours to do the curves) and a shaped block covered in sandpaper.”
iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz will appear on popular Internet radio broadcast Your Mac Life on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 to take listener questions at 8:15PM Central Time, 6:15PM Pacific Time. A live stream of the broadcast will be available at this link, and listeners will be able to submit questions in the Your Mac Life chat rooms, which open at the beginning of the show.
Want to queue up for a question? Send it to [email protected] or join the YML chat. Two Your Mac Life chat rooms are available. Go to the World Without Borders site (http://www.wwbchat.com/login/index.shtml) or use the dedicated IRC Server at irc.netmug.org, channel #yourmaclife.
Update: A transcript is now available here.
In response to reader requests, iLounge is proud to announce two new ways you can simplify your search for iPod accessories. Today, we have launched “Ratings Only,” a way you can compare letter grades across all of the approximately 350 products reviewed by iLounge, and a collection of improved accessory categories that make it easier to find and sort accessories by type.
Click on “Ratings Only” at the top any of our Reviews pages to view this new page with grades of all reviewed products, listed in alphabetical order. A drop down menu at the top of the page will let you narrow down the grade listings to the following new review categories.
Adapters and Cables
Car Power Chargers, Kits and Adapters
Cases - iPod 1G & 2G
Cases - iPod 3G
Cases - iPod 4G/HP/U2/photo
Cases - iPod mini
Cases - iPod shuffle
Clips - iPod shuffle
Clips and Cord Managers - General
Headphones & In-Canal Earphones
iPod Hardware Expanders - General
Microphones and Microphone Adapters
Stands (Docks and Cradles)
Stickers, Guards and Film
If you’re looking for a way to view our reviews in “best grades first” order, download the most recent issue of our free iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2005 and check out the Report Card on pages 90-92.
PodBrix has announced its latest iPod-themed novelty mini figure — Mister Brix. The $16.99 figure, which attaches to the Apple earbuds cord, will go on sale today at 9:00 p.m. ET.
“Mister Brix is designed to be attached to the earbud cord of your iPod music player. His hands are fixed and he uses two vinyl grips to keep himself firmly attached at all times,” explains the creator. “Mister Brix never gets tired and he will not damage your earbud cord. He can be used with any model of iPod. Mister Brix is made from injection molded white plastic. He is not painted.”
Update as of Saturday, April 9 at 2:09PM PST: We are aware that a significant number of our readers are experiencing formatting issues with the new homepage on different browsers, and we’re working hard to fix them. There will be a number of additional tweaks to the main page over the next 24-48 hours to further improve layout and readability, so stay tuned.
A picture of the homepage as it generally should display on your monitor can now be viewed by clicking on Read More below. If it is not displaying in this way, your browser is likely set to display fonts at an unusual size, and most layout issues can be temporarily fixed by adjusting downwards to “normal” font settings.
And yes, the navigation bar will soon be fully functional. Instead of drop-down menus, the gray bar will change contextually by section (news, articles, free music, etc) to let you jump to the preferred sub-section below.
Welcome to the new iLounge. Even though we’re still tweaking the many pages of the site, the first stage of our long-awaited redesign is finally live and ready for you to kick the tires. Our aim with the new look is to streamline every aspect of the site, making it faster and easier for you to find and read the content you want. Be sure to email us what you think of the sparkly fresh site, and inform us of any major issues caused by the redesign. If you’d rather not send an email, you can comment on this news story and we’ll be sure to read everything you say.
Also, keep in mind that this is only the first phase of the redesign — more sections will be getting a makeover in the coming weeks. You can look forward to the revamped iLounge forums, tips & tricks, gear guide, and hacks & mods sections. In addition, we’ll soon be launching the new myPod online helper, which will offer one-click access to the information and accessories that are related to your specific iPod model.
iLounge today announced a new 2005 Buyers’ Guide (Spring/Summer) contest just for those of you with blogs. The contest is simple. We’ll publicize and award prizes to three blogs that spread the word about the new Buyers’ Guide.
Our grand prize winner will be picked on straight numbers: the blog with the most referrals to our Buyers’ Guide 2005 page will win a pair of Shure E5c Earphones (valued at $500). We will also select two second place winners randomly from the pool of all blogs with 25 or more unique referrals, so virtually anyone has a chance to win. Each of these second place winners will get one set of Etymotic 6i Isolator Earphones (valued at $149). All of these prizes were donated by EarphoneSolutions.com. All you need to do is insert one of the contest badges onto your blog’s page - with the code that lets us properly count your referrals.