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Belkin rolls out new iPod accessories

imageBelkin today announced several new iPod accessories at the Consumer Electronics Show, including a new AV docking station, AV cable, and silicone case, as well as three products first shown in the iLounge Holiday Buyer’s Guide—the TuneCommand AV, TuneBase FM and TuneFM.

TuneCommand AV for iPod ($80; available in April)
The iPod docking station (shown) allows you to watch and listen to the content on your iPod through your home system, while simultaneously powering and charging the device. It features a wireless RF remote with a range of up to 120 feet, and is compatible with all dockable iPods with the included universal dock inserts. Connection options include RCA left/right, 3.5mm line-out, and S-Video jacks.

TuneBase FM for iPod, TuneBase FM for iPod nano ($80; available this month)
Two new models of the company’s all-in-one car mount, charger and FM transmitter. The devices offer four FM presets and tuning buttons, flexible-steel necks, and utilize the iPod LCD for tuning. The TuneBase FM for iPod comes with interchangeable trays for each dockable model iPod, while the TuneBase FM for iPod nano is specifically designed for the smaller nano.

TuneFM for iPod, TuneFM for iPod nano ($50; available this month)
Two new bottom-mounting versions of Belkin’s FM transmitter. The TuneFM plugs into the dock connector and uses the iPod LCD display to indicate the FM frequency and memory presets. They also feature a mini USB port, and four preset buttons.

AV Cable for iPod ($20; available now)
Belkin’s new 12-foot AV cable connects an iPod to your home entertainment system, allowing you to listen to music, watch videos and view photos. It features aluminum undermold shield, color-coded and chrome-finished connectors and nickel-plated contacts.

Sports Sleeve for iPod nano ($25; available now)
The form-fitting silicone case features a protective screen overlay, an adjustable and detachable armband, and access to all ports and controls. It comes in frost white and black.

Mix: ZenCast, XM Radio, Google, Keynote prep

Creative Technology has announced ZenCast, a new iTunes-like application for “accessing, creating and transferring thousands of audio and video blogs for select Creative Zen MP3 players.”

XM Satellite Radio has teamed up with Samsung and Pioneer to introduce a pair of portable radio receivers that will also store your own digital songs.

Google will reportedly announce plans today to let consumers purchase video over the Internet from CBS, the NBA and other providers.

Mike Evangelist, a former director of product marketing at Apple, has written an interesting article on the preparation and behind-the-scenes action of a Steve Jobs keynote.

Sonos offers Apple Lossless support, new ZonePlayer

Sonos has released a software update for its wireless multi-room music systems. Sonos software version 1.3 includes support for the Apple Lossless codec, Audible.com content, full-screen album art, detailed track information, and German language support.

Sonos has also introduced a new ZonePlayer to complement the Sonos Digital Music System. The ZonePlayer ZP80 “allows music lovers to play all their digital music, all over their house, on all of their favorite audio equipment—a home theater system, powered speakers, a premium table top radio such as a Bose Wave Radio, and more.” It will ship this spring for $350.

Targus expands line of iPod accessories

Targus has expanded its iPod accessory line with two new RemoteTunes wireless remotes, as well as an adapter that provides compatibility between older accessories and new iPods. All three new products will be available in March. We are awaiting photos from the company.

The RemoteTunes for iPod with Dock Connector ($60) uses RF technology, requiring no line of sight for use, and connects to any iPod with a 30-pin dock connector. The RemoteTunes TX for iPod nano ($80) is a combination wireless RF remote and FM transmitter. It also features an compact case that holds the nano and the remote for added protection. Targus’ 9-Pin to 30-Pin Adapter ($20) features a 9-pin remote connector on one end and a 30-pin dock connector on the other, enabling the use of older accessories with newer iPods.

HP drops iTunes, switches to RealNetworks

After nearly two years of distributing iTunes with its new PCs, Hewlett-Packard will reportedly drop the Apple application in favor of RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service. HP’s decision to drop iTunes is no surprise after the company said last summer that it would stop selling HP-branded iPods.

“The deal marks a new direction for HP, which had seen its entertainment products overshadowed by the power of Apple’s own brand,” reports CNET News.com. “Rhapsody will now be the default music-playing software on HP’s new PCs and laptops, and beginning in spring 2006, HP customers will get a free 30-day trial subscription to RealNetworks’ music subscription service.”

ezGear offers ezArmor for 5G iPods

imageezGear hsa announced the availability of its ezArmor case for the fifth-generation iPod. Made of anodized aircraft grade aluminum, the $35 case features a hinged front cover, a clear screen protector, cushioned neoprene lining, and a removable belt clip and a removable neck strap. It has cutouts for the click wheel and headphone jack, but not for the dock connector or hold switch. The ezArmor case comes in two sizes for the 30GB and 60GB iPod.

Mix: Motorola SLVR, The Who, Song pricing, MP3 players

Engadget reports from CES that Motorola’s slim SLVR phone will apparently come with the mobile version of iTunes and be offered by Cingular.

Pete Townshend, famous guitarist in the 60s band The Who, has warned iPod users that they could end up with hearing problems like his if they don’t turn down the volume when listening to music on earphones.

The New York state antitrust probe of record labels’ digital music pricing could delay a move away from iTunes’ 99-cent per song price tag.

MP3 players sales are expected to climb to $4.5 billion in 2006, with 30 percent of all MP3 players sold having video playback capability, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Icuiti debuts video eyewear headset for iPod

imageIcuiti today announced the availability of its DV920 video eyewear headset for the video iPod and other portable devices.

Unlike the recently announced eMagin EyeBud, the DV920 displays video in front of both eyes with two VGA micro-LCD panels (920,000 pixels each). The company says the wearable display is akin to watching a 42-inch screen from 11 feet away. It runs off of two AA batteries, which provide 2.5 to 4.5 hours of continuous use. The DV920 is available now on Icuiti’s website and through select retailers for $550.

Memorex intros customizable iPod Wraps

imageMemorex today announced its iPod Wraps, a line of adhesive, removable iPod protectors made of printable photo-quality paper. The iPod Wraps—availalbe for 4G/5G iPods, iPod mini, iPod nano and iPod shuffle—can be customized with the company’s included exPressit label design software.

“Using the new edition of exPressit, consumers can choose an iPod Wrap template and select from over 1,500 background images—or use their own—to create a custom look for their iPod. Memorex’s new, feature-rich exPressit software has more templates, more text effects, more clip art and background images than any previous version, and is the only major brand of labeling software to include templates for iPods.”

Tavo Gloves let you use iPod in cold weather

image4sight Products has introduced its Tavo Gloves, a set of gloves specifically designed to allow wearers to use the iPod click wheel and other devices with touchpads. The gloves are available now and retail for $35.
 
“Insulation materials typically used in gloves inhibit this interaction,” explains the company. “Tavo Gloves are constructed with an electrically conductive overlay on the index finger and thumb to engage touchpad sensors and thermal stretch fabric for superb warmth and comfort. Silicone texture on the fingers and palm enhance grip and control. They can be worn alone or as a liner for winter gloves, and they are perfect for everyday use, commuting, running, walking, and cold weather sports.”

Rivet intros earphone lanyard for iPod nano

imageRivet has announced its Rhythm Earphone Lanyard and Grab for the iPod nano. The $50 accessory integrates a set of in-ear earphones, adjustable lanyard and polycarbonate holder.

“Hang your nano around your neck or clip it to your belt, shirt, pocket or bag and listen to your music, tangle-free. Comfortable and near custom fit earphones block out noise from the outside so all you hear is the full sound and extended bass. The Rivet Grab, designed specifically for the iPod nano, is made of durable polycarbonate and provides complete protection with full access to controls and ports. Rivet’s Rhythm and Grab are the perfect pair for your nano—superior sound, protection and tangle-free comfort.”

Mix: Film festival, Artist podcasts, Data recovery, Apple history

The Flux today announced the opening of an online film festival/competition for content formatted for the video iPod.

iCompositions has launched Artist Podcasts, a new service allowing artists to syndicate their music through iTunes and other podcast-tracking applications.

ESS Data Recovery is now offering an iPod data recovery service for as low as $99.
 
To coincide with the launch of its “This Day In Apple History” feature, Apple Maters is giving away a 5G iPod engraved with the original Apple logo.

ESPN, ABC Sports, more come to iTunes Music Store

The Disney ABC Television Group announced today that it plans to add a slew of new programming to the iTunes Music Store. The new offerings will come from ESPN and ABC Sports, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, ABC Family, ABC News, Buena Vista Television, Disney Channel, SOAPnet, and Walt Disney Feature Animation. The content will be a mix of free and paid downloads.

ESPN and ABC Sports are offering condensed versions of all four BCS Bowl Games from ABC Sports. Yesterday’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Nokia Sugar Bowl will be available today, while today’s Orange Bowl and tomorrow’s Rose Bowl will be available the day after they air. Other ESPN content will be available later this month, including the “Best Of The X Games,” ESPN Classic’s “SportsCentury” interviews, “This is SportsCenter” commercials, and “Knight School,” the forthcoming reality program featuring Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight.

Also available later this month will be ABC Family’s original series “Wildfire,” Disney Channel’s animated series “Kim Possible” and “The Proud Family” and SOAPnet’s original biography series “Soapography,” as well as ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and the popular 1970’s Saturday morning “School House Rock” vignettes and episodes of Buena Vista Television’s “Ebert and Roeper.”

Classic animated shorts produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and featured on Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s upcoming “Disney at the Academy Awards,” including the 1933 Academy Award-winning “The Three Little Pigs” and the 1935 Academy Award-winning “The Tortoise and the Hare,” will also be available.

In addition, free video podcasts from ABC News will be available on iTunes, including daily segments from “Good Morning America” and the “World News Tonight” webcast, as well as ABC News Now’s “Money Minute,” “Medical Minute” and “Buzz Cut.”

iSee 360i adds video recording, playback to iPods

imageAdvanced Technology Office (ATO) has unveiled the iSee 360i, an add-on video recorder and player for iPods. The device allows users to download videos directly from a computer, TV, cable, satellite, DVR, or any other analog source. Measuring 6 x 3.2 x 1.1 inches and weighing 6oz, the iSee has a 3.6-inch 320 x 240 LCD screen, a rechargeable 2200mAh battery, and offers a video-out option for watching videos on a TV.

“The iSee is the first video recorder for the iPod that lets you record what you want and watch it through your iPod,” says ATO. “It lets you see video bigger and better, because it has a 91% larger viewing area than the iPod with video and can be played back onto any TV at full TV resolution. Its rechargeable and replaceable battery has a minimum 4-hour battery life, so you won’t have to recharge your iPod to watch the end of a movie. Most importantly, it brings video viewing and recording to millions of existing iPod users.”
 
imageThe iSee 360i works with most fourth-generation iPods, and with the help of an adapter, iPod minis, iPod nanos and the 30GB fifth-generation iPod. It will retail for $250 and is expected to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2006.

Starz launches iPod-incompatible movie service

Cable network Starz is launching a new subscription service that allows users to download full-length movies and watch them on portable video players and computers. The Windows-only service, called Vongo, uses Microsoft digital media technology and does not work with any iPod.

“As a subscription service, Vongo will allow users to download as many movies as they want for $9.95 a month,” reports The New York Times. “They will be able to choose from an ever-changing roster of about 800 movies, including about 300 films in rotation on the Starz cable channel (mainly movies released in theaters one to three years earlier) and 500 older titles.”

Motorola to drop iTunes in next ROKR phone

imageMotorola will reportedly drop iTunes support in the next version of the ROKR cell phone in favor of its own iRadio subscription music service. According to Reuters, the ROKR E2 phone, an update of the iTunes-enabled ROKR E1, will only play music via the iRadio service.

“The iRadio service, will include 435 commercial-free radio channels, including genres such as Heavy Metal, Rockin’ Cowboys and Angry Women. iRadio will let users download channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos, like satellite radio. The iRadio service will cost about $7 a month but the price may vary depending on which wireless phone service the subscriber uses, according to Motorola.”

In November, Motorola announced the RAZR V3i, an updated version of its popular RAZR V3 mobile phone that includes iTunes and other new features.

PyP-Bomb iPod/guitar amp available

imageThink Geek is now offering a unique portable iPod speaker system and guitar amp made from actual PVC pipe. Priced at $150, the PyP-Bomb offers 18 watts of power and features an internal liquid acid battery that gives you “days of play time.”

“Made from durable PVC pipe this tiny little powerhouse dominates with sound,” says the store. “Simply jack in your iPod or your guitar and crank the volume. The PyP-Bomb gets seriously loud with 18 watts of power blasting from its single enclosed speaker. Sound output is optimized for the iPod (or other external music source) when using the 3.5mm phono input jack. Plug your guitar into the standard 1/4” input jack and the one-of-a-kind electric/acoustic switch enables you to actively control the frequency response of the amplifier and cater it to the requirements of the instrument you are using.”

Mix: AAPL, Yahoo Maps, 1GB shuffle, Satellite

The iPod helped Apple shares gain 128.5 percent in 2005. The company accounted for a rise of 3.7 points in the S&P 500 index—more than any other stock.

iPod-iWay is a new service that lets you easily transfer driving directions from Yahoo Maps onto your color screen iPod.

Troy Wolverton of TheStreet.com is the latest to speculate that Apple will soon replace the 1GB iPod shuffle.

A small UK company last week launched the first Galileo satellite made of low-cost components from consumer gadgets, including the iPod.

Hammacher Schlemmer offers $4K iPod speaker system

imageHammacher Schlemmer is now selling a $4,000 tube-based iPod speaker system. Scheduled to ship on January 20th, the system produces a “luxurious warmth and clarity prized by audiophiles and previously difficult to reproduce outside of custom-built amplifiers of a handful of live musicians.”

“Developed and built by German audio technicians, the system consists of an aluminum-encased amplifier housing four powerful Class-A tubes which glow gently as they generate warm, low-octave sound that is virtually distortion-free, considered by audiophiles to be the most pleasing to the human ear,” says the store. “The tube amplifier smoothes over distortions found in modern digital recordings while helping to compensate and minimize the quality loss inherent in compressed audio such as MP3s. The matching double-cone, full-range speakers—designed solely for use with this system—faithfully generate warm, realistic tones using a single, highly synchronized chassis per speaker (reducing ill-timed and out of phase audio).”

iPod FM transmitters could soon be legal in UK

The January issue of MacFormat magazine has an interesting article on the future of FM transmitters in the UK. The publication notes that representatives from Ofcom—the regulating body for the UK communications industries—were on hand at October’s MacExpo in London to clamp down on exhibitors illegally selling FM transmitters for the iPod. However, Ofcom was also at the show to negotiate a way to offer the accessories legally.

From the issue:

The current problem is that British, and indeed European, law prevents people from broadcasting on commercial FM frequencies. It’s also illegal to sell the transmitters, as they can’t receive the required certification. Commercial radio is less tightly monitored in countries such as America, which is why products like Griffin’s iTrip are so popular over there.

Over the past year, though, Ofcom has been working with the likes of Griffin and Belkin to find a way around this problem. At the Expo, Griffin and its UK reseller, AM Micro, were presented with a draft spec for a legal alternative. This solution involves a transmitter that operates over a very small distance. AM Micro’s Stephen Hawkins explained: “The maximum power of the device has to be small. That way the range is limited so it cannot interfere with your next door neighbour.”

The proposal is still awaiting official approval, but Hawkins is confident that it will go through early next year, as it already has government support. “The government has realised that its missing out on a lot of taxes from these products,” he said. “Also, its receiving a load of complaints from people who want to buy them.”

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