Before the Portable Media Expo and Podcast Conference concluded last night, we spoke with visiting representatives of several companies about their upcoming products. Here’s what’s new and hot.
Core Cases: The iPod and games division of InnoPocket updated us on its Aluminum Case for iPod nano (sub-$20), previewed in our Holiday Buyers’ Guide. Last-minute tweaks before release have added further protection and features, including the ability to mount vertically or horizontally on a belt. The company is also planning to produce user-submitted (and other) protective stickers for Click Wheels and the faces of certain other cases, such as its Sony PSP hard case.
A1QP: A-1 Quality Products showed off two new versions of its iKeychain holder for the iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+). One of the two cases is plated with strong, attractive gold. The other is encrusted with Swarovski crystals, and was in the process of being tested for durability. Prices will be a lot higher than for the standard iKeychains, but people will like the new glitter.
Pacific Rim Technologies: The company’s top product was its upcoming Nano Cradle, a complete dock and iPod remote control set devoted to the iPod nano. In addition to a physically nice design, the Nano Cradle has rear ports for both data and audio out, as well as a matching, medium-sized remote control for volume, track forward/backward, and play/pause. Oh - and it’ll be available in black, too. If the company does in fact sell Nano Cradle for the $40 price we’re hearing, we predict great things. Pacific Rim also showed off a 5G magnesium case, which like its 4G version has a hard clear plastic front for easy viewing (and strong protection) of the iPod’s screen. There’s still no top, Click Wheel, or Dock Connector protection, but the case looks nice.
Thought Out: The makers of FlexPed and Ped 2 were showing off new Fury speakers ($480) developed by Soundruid - a set of two satellite speakers and a large, substantial subwoofer that combine for 2.1 channel sound. While the enclosures of the speakers weren’t quite our style in looks (they look like small birdhouses, but feel a bit stronger), and there’s no iPod-specific component such as a dock, they can be significantly color-customized and even produced in natural wood tones.
A gallery of photos from the Expo is now available online for your enjoyment. A podcast of our Panel Discussion with leading iPod accessory makers is being handled by the Expo hosts and will hopefully be available online soon. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the iLounge booth: we enjoyed meeting you and hope you enjoyed the Lounge!
Several iPod accessory makers and digital audio companies made announcements and revealed new products today at the Podcasting & Portable Media Expo in Ontario, California. iLounge is at the event and has rounded up all of the show news below. We’ll be updating this story as other announcements are made.
Griffin Technology announced that its new iTrip FM transmitter is now shipping. The new iTrip, which connects through the dock connector port and features a backlit LCD screen, works with all dockable iPods—3G/4G/5G iPods, iPod mini and iPod nano. It sells for $50. The company also showed off its RoadTrip all-in-one car solution in a charcoal color and delivered its iVault for the iPod shuffle in three new colors—green, blue and purple.
Speck announced at the show that it is now shipping its new ToughSkin for the 5G iPod. The rugged rubberized skin sells for $35 and has a screen protector and a detachable belt clip. The company is also shipping its See-Thru cases for the iPod nano. The tinted hard cases come in 3-packs of various colors for $30. Speck was also showing prototypes of its Cloud FunSkin and See-Thru cases for the 5G iPod.
Tunwear today announced the Tetran earbud cable winder. The spiked creature lets you wrap your earbud cords around its to reduce cable mess. It comes in pink, green, yellow, and orange for $13. The company also showed off its recently announced Icewear for the iPod nano and its leather Ambassador case for the 5G iPod.
Power Support used the event to introduce its Crystal Film Cover Set for the 5G iPod. The 3-piece set covers the front, back and click wheel to protect the new iPod from dirt and scratches. The adhesive side is made of a newly developed, static cling polymer plastic for easy installation and removal. The company also has on hand its Kimono 2 case in new colors for the 4G iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle, and a new car cupholder for the iPod nano and 5G iPod.
Audible today announced AudibleWordcast, “a pioneering set of Web-based tools that enables podcasters to build multiple revenue streams around capabilities such as advertising management, dynamic ad-insertion, underwriting and secured transactions.” The company said: “For the first time, podcasters will be able to manage, accurately measure, and monetize their audio content without significant infrastructure investments, allowing them to focus their resources and energy on creating superior audio programming.”
Belkin is showing off its Auto Kit in black. The $40 product lets you charge your iPod in the car and provides an adjustable amplifier and 3.5mm audio-out jack for use with a cassette adapter or FM transmitter. The company also debuted an XM Satellite Radio Boombox.
BlueTake used the event to introduce the iPhono mini, an updated version of its Bluetooth iPod headset. The product uses a top-mounted receiver that requires a 3G/4G iPod or iPod mini. The iPhono mini features a less rigid earphone system with a loose cable instead of hard plastic neck piece.
While the company did not have any on hand, Otterbox provided shipping dates for its upcoming waterproof iPod cases. The company said it will be shipping its Otterbox for iPod nano in December and the Otterbox for 5G iPod in February.
Battery Technology Incorporated
Battery Technology Incorporated (BTI) told iLounge it is updating its powerful iPod Battery ii to turn it into a combination stand/add-on battery unit. Targeted at 5G iPod users, the product adds 40-50 hours of additional playback time to full-size iPods.
iLounge Giveaway Winners
Friday winners: Peter Kong, Rick Balian, Marilyn Madsen, Doug Dobbies, Derek Dukes, Adam Raimer, Ralph Maese, Thuy Tran, and Greg Pene.
Apple could possibly create an iPod with 1 terabyte of storage, as well as a true “iPhone” says one analyst. “A terabyte iPod might sound crazy today, but we believe in five years a terabyte iPod will emerge as a portable home media center,” says Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster in an research report obtained by iLounge. “We continue to believe that Apple will enter the mobile phone market. We would not expect an ‘iPhone’ to be launched for at least 12-18 months.”
The report also discusses possible future plans for iTunes and the Mac mini. “The key to iTunes in the next 12-24 months will be gaining access to more video content… Apple will work with networks, film studios, and other content providers to coerce them into offering more content via iTunes,” continues Munster. “Expect Mac to become a hub for consumer digital media as Front Row technology gets incorporated into the Mac Mini.” The report also mentions a possible AirPort Express for video to stream video from iTunes to TV.
In response to widespread complaints about the scratchability of the iPod nano’s clear front surface, Apple has quietly added a protective fabric sleeve to the packages of all iPod nanos. As first noted in the iLounge forums, the slip cases are identical to the ones included with fifth-generation iPods.
Apple last month was hit with a class-action lawsuit for the nano’s susceptibility to scratching. The lawyers representing consumers in the suit filed a similar class-action lawsuit last week on behalf of United Kingdom and Mexico.
If you’re in Southern California on November 11 or 12, we invite you to drop by the iLounge booth (Booth 113) at the Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference in Ontario, California. Surrounded by iPod accessory makers Belkin, blueLounge, BTI, Contour Design, Griffin, Macally, Otter Products, Power Support, Speck Products, Thought Out, Tunewear, and Ultimate Ears, the iLounge booth will host many giveaways, a full lounge space for weary attendees, and members of the iLounge editorial staff.
iLounge will also be hosting a panel discussion, “Expanding the iPod: From Tech Toy to Icon, Music to Multimedia,” with leading iPod accessory manufacturers. The panel will convene in Room 107 from 11:45AM to 12:45PM on November 11 (Friday), and is open to attendance by paid conference attendees. TNC New Media’s Official Site for the event contains additional details and travel directions.
iSkin has today announced eVo3 ($30), the latest in its popular line of full-sized iPod silicone rubber cases. eVo 3 boasts several new features, namely a “specially coated full face screen protector” for an enhanced viewing experience, “micro-pores to aid in heat dissipation” during video playback, a dust- and lint-reducing textured surface, integrated Click Wheel protection, a RevoClip 2 belt clip, and “free iPod video software.” It will be available for both 30GB and 60GB iPods in early December, 2005. A full-sized, rendered image of eVo3 is available at Read More.
Wingspan Partners has launched a teaser page for iLoad, an all-in-one device that promises to handle CD ripping and transferring to an iPod “along with all album and track data at a high rate of speed” without the use of a PC. No pricing or other specifics are provided. (via Gizmodo)
Following up on the release of its $150 portable i-Fusion speakers (iLounge rating: B+), reviewed by iLounge in August, Sonic Impact has announced i-Pax, a new $80 portable system designed specifically for the iPod shuffle. Unlike i-Fusion, which includes its own rechargeable battery pack, i-Pax runs off of four AA batteries for 24 hours, and uses a 9-pin docking connector specific to the iPod shuffle.
Olympus said today that it would halt production of portable digital music players because it is unable to keep up with companies such as Apple and Sony.
Brand Republic reports: “iTunes is to be denied access to John Lennon’s entire solo back cataloge, most of which becomes available for digital download for the first time next month, due to a long-running dispute between Apple and The Beatles’ management.”
iDoom 1.1, the latest version of the Doom port for the iPodlinux platform, adds support for the iPod nano.
ThoughtOut will be attending the Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference this week and is offering 10% to 20% off its line of iPod stands.
Cingular has slashed the price of Motorola’s iTunes-enabled ROKR phone by $100. The phone, which was introduced two months ago, now sells for $149.99 with a two year contract. The price cut is apparently due to poor sales and the cold reception from consumers. Motorola sold about 83,000 ROKR phones per week in the first weeks after the official unveiling. In comparison, the company’s top-selling RAZR sells 500,000 units per week on average.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today released its PodFolio Leather Case for iPod nano. The flip-style case is made of cushioned leather, and features a clear front window to protect the nano’s face, screen, and click wheel, complete access to controls and ports, and a leather-covered sewn-in belt clip. The PodFolio Leather Case for iPod nano is available now and sells for $29.99.
Steve Jobs, CEO of both Apple and Pixar, said yesterday that 125,000 copies of Pixar short films were sold on the iTunes Music Store in under a month.
National Public Radio has announced three new podcasts that will be distributed under an “alt.NPR” label. They will feature “news and interviews about gambling, classic rock music, and creative work from young radio producers.”
“iPod finger” and “Blackberry thumb” have apparently joined the list of repetitive strain injuries.
SplittingImage is a small Applescript application for Mac users that lets you “zoom” into pictures on a color screen iPod by splitting the high resolution image into several smaller tiles.
Soldius has released its Soldius1 Universal Solar Charger for iPods. Relying on solar power to charge the iPod, the device features Maximum Solar Power Tracking, a unique combination of patented and patent-pending solar technology developed by Soldius scientists. Plug it into the iPod, put it in direct sunlight and solar energy flows into the iPod. The Soldius1 will also charge more than 250 mobile phones, and is available from the company’s website for $89.99 - $109.99.
Noreve has announced its Tradition leather case for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. Available for both the 30GB and 60GB iPod, the case features a flip-top design with snap closure, a removable belt clip, two business cards slots, and is available in four colors—black, white, pink and light blue. It provides access to the screen, click wheel, hold switch, headphone jack and dock connector port. The Noreve Tradition leather case for the 5G iPod is priced at €39 and will be available later this month.
SKProducts today announced the availability of its CarClip for the iPod nano. Like the iPod mini CarClip released last week, the auto accessory hangs from your car’s rear view mirror and holds your iPod for easy access. The CarClip for the iPod nano sells for $20.
“The CarClip conveniently hangs from your rear view mirror to allow easy access to your iPod nano. Each CarClip comes with 10 rubber Fishband motion buffers (5 colors, 2 sizes each). These specially designed rubber bands go through the CarClip and attach to the center button of your rear view mirror. In addition, each CarClip comes with a Universal Auto Attachment and two 3M CommandStrips for placing your CarClip in other locations in your vehicle.”
Members of the the Sylvius project have released an iPod edition of their human neuroanatomy glossary, which is currently in use at Duke University. SylviusVG, iPod Edition is a “visual glossary of the human brain and spinal cord, combining audio (MP3 files), visual (album art) and text (notes) content into a pedagogically-sound learning tool for the iPod, containing over neuroanatomical 400 structures and terms.” SylviusVG, iPod Edition is available for any color screen iPod at an introductory price of $10.
NBC and CBS yesterday announced separate plans to make select prime-time shows available on-demand for 99 cents an episode. NBC shows will be available on DirecTV, while CBS shows will be available through Comcast cable.
Fruitcast is a new service that inserts ads into podcasts. “We download a podcast’s MP3 audio files, add the advertisements on the fly, and then send them to the podcast’s subscribers,” explains the Fruitcast team. “Each time a podcast episode is downloaded, the advertiser is charged a certain amount, and a significant portion of that amount is credited to the podcaster.”
The creator of the Shufflicious iPod shuffle case has written an interesting article about his experience in bringing such an iPod case from idea to market.
The iPod’s click wheel interface has been named Best Consumer Product at the UK Usability Professionals’ Association (UK UPA) Awards 2005. The awards highlight “stuff that takes you along the curve… stuff that’s designed to be learnable and doesn’t keep ‘reminding you how elegant and smart it is’ by getting in the way.”
Motorola on Tuesday announced the RAZR V3i, an updated version of its popular RAZR V3 mobile phone that will include iTunes and other new features. The new quad-band handset will be only the second phone with iTunes.
The RAZR V3i also features a 1.23 megapixel digital camera, microSD (TransFlash) card slot, Bluetooth, dual color screens, and an updated design with a new spun metal look. The phone will use a mini-USB stereo headset. There’s no information provided regarding music storage capacity and whether the new RAZR will be crippled with a 100-song cap like the ROKR.
The only phone currently available with iTunes is Motorola’s ROKR, which received widespread criticism for its poor design and performance. Including iTunes on the RAZR V3i will give the Apple-Motorola partnership and its mobile music initiative a much-need shot in the arm, industry experts say.
“Putting iTunes in the flagship phone shows that Motorola is committed to the partnership despite an early rough start,” Jon Gales, editor of mobile phone news site MobileTracker, told iLounge. “Many critics (including myself) chided the ROKR for decidedly plain design and aging specs. Those don’t apply with iTunes on the RAZR V3i.”
The RAZR V3i is expected to be available before the end of the year. A carrier was not announced, but is widely expected to be Cingular due to its success with the original RAZR and its ties to the promotion of the ROKR phone with iTunes. Pricing has yet to be determined and will most likely depend on the carrier.
Tivoli has announced that it is now shipping its iSongBook portable music system for all docking iPods. As noted in iLounge’s in-depth review, the iSongBook utilizes the new Universal Docking Station from Apple, made to fit all iPod models, including the 5G and nano.
The $330 portable system features a flip-down dock that charges the iPod while it plays, a remote control, user-positionable stereo speakers, AM/FM tuner (with 5 AM and 5 FM favorite station preset buttons), and digital clock. It’s also got a blue backlit LCD display, alarm and sleep timer functions, and an auxiliary input and stereo headphone output. The iSongBook can run off of batteries or AC power.
RadioShack today announced that it has become an authorized Apple reseller and now offers all iPod models in its more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. The consumer electronics retailer, which had previously sold HP-branded iPods, will also continue to offer a large range of iPod accessories.
“iPod owners already know RadioShack as the place to go for add-on accessories to enhance their overall experience and enjoyment of these great digital devices while at home, work or on the run,” said Jim Hamilton, RadioShack’s senior vice president, chief merchandising officer. “Now, this new robust assortment allows us to be a complete turn-key destination for iPod players and accessories alike.”
Following a similar lawsuit last month, iPod nano owners in the United Kingdom and Mexico have filed a class-action suit against Apple over the nano’s susceptibility to scratches. The consumers of the international suit are being represented by the same two law firms as the U.S. case. The new suit was filed last Friday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
“Apple’s iPod nano has sold in record numbers around the world, just as it did in the US,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney on both cases. “It seems that wherever the nano is sold, problems with the defective design soon follow.” According to Berman, “The far-reaching response also reveals that this is not just a small problem or a bad batch of Nano’s, but a defect in the overall design that should have been rectified prior to the release.”
Belkin this week will announce its new line of cases for the fifth-generation iPod. “Designed to reinforce Apple’s latest iPod that displays video, Belkin’s cases specifically address various aspects of user functionality while still maintaining a sleek-yet-simple aesthetic design,” says the company. The new cases will be available in early December, and will be on display at the Portable Media Expo in Ontario, California, later this week.
The leather Kickstand Case (iLounge Rating: B-) can be folded back to create a stand for watching videos on the 5G iPod without holding it. The case comes with a detachable carabiner clip, plastic screen cover and click wheel protector. It’s available in black or white for $30.
Belkin’s Classic Case “safeguards your iPod with a durable, protective, plastic screen cover and a sturdy, double-stitched case design in fine-grain leather construction.” The $20 case provides access to the screen and click wheel and features a belt clip with earbud cable management.
This black case is constructed of high-grade PVC and encloses the front and back of the iPod with a durable, double-stitched design. It has a rotating belt clip and detachable lanyard. The Holster case is also priced at $20.
Belkin’s Flip Case (iLounge Rating: B) “completely protects your iPod with a sturdy design that fully envelops your iPod” and has a clear plastic screen and click wheel cover. It sports a built-in belt clip that can also be used with an adhesive knob to secure the iPod on the dashboard of a car. The $30 case is available in black and in white.