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XtremeMac debuts Shieldz Collector Series iPod shuffle cases

XtremeMac has announced the availability of its Shieldz Collector Series cases for the iPod shuffle. Featuring officially licensed movie and cartoon characters and major league baseball team logos, the $20 cases protect your shuffle while personalizing it with your favorite character or team design. Eight designs are currently available: Batman, Darth Vader, Yoda, SpongeBob SquarePants (two designs), New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals.

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“Shieldz Collector Series are clip-on shields made of strong, impact resistant plastic that feature full-color artwork from MLB teams, movies, and TV shows. The secure snap-on design protects the front and sides of the iPod shuffle while allowing easy play-through access to the music player’s controls and earbud jack. Furthermore, Shieldz provide additional protection against accidental loss by securing iPod shuffle to its neck lanyard or the XtremeMac SuperHook.”

iPod mini still a popular choice

While the iPod nano and new video iPod are receiving all of the attention this holiday season, Apple’s discontinued iPod mini is still at the top of many Christmas lists and is fetching top dollar at online stores and auctions.

“Patrick McHenry of Eerie, Pa., for example, just bought a pink 4GB Mini, which holds 1,000 songs, on eBay for $275. That’s $76 over the original $199 price tag,” reports CNET News.com’s Michelle Meyers. “But it’s also less than McHenry would have paid at Compu-America—one of the few electronics retailers with the Mini in stock. The store is selling the same model for $349. And sellers on Amazon are listing prices for the 4GB Mini at more than $400.”

eBay spokesman Dean Jutilla said that about 36,000 minis have sold on eBay in the past three months, with an average of 15 to 16 bids per auction. Jutilla also noted that the average price per mini—whether 4GB or 6GB—has gone up from $173 to $229.

ezGear intros ezArmor for iPod nano

imageezGear has announced the ezArmor nano case for Apple’s iPod nano. Made from anodized aircraft grade aluminum, the case features a clear screen protector, access to all controls and ports, a neoprene-lined interior, and comes with a removable belt clip and a removable neck strap. The ezArmor nano comes in two models—Standard Aluminum and Onyx Black. Both are available immediately for $30 each.

iPod tops holiday shopping searches

Apple’s iPod appears to be the hottest holiday gift this year as widely expected. According to new research from comScore, the iPod was the most searched for product in November, beating the highly anticipated Xbox 360 and other popular items. The research firm said that consumers made more than 6.6 million iPod-related searches last month. Following the iPod was the Xbox 360 (5.0 million searches), Harry Potter items (4.8 million searches), Star Wars (2.5 million searches), Barbie-related items (2.1 million searches), and PlayStation (1.9 million searches).

“While high consumer interest was expected this holiday season for items such as the Apple iPod, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation, the intense amount of search activity observed to-date demonstrates how popular these items are with consumers,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. “It’s also clear that search has become a mainstream way for consumers to research products, irrespective of whether their ultimate purchase will occur online or at a retail store.”

iLounge Dashboard Widget updated

imageWe’ve updated the iLounge Mac OS X Dashboard Widget, which provides quick access to our news and reviews, plus a panel for recent FAQs and help, and an easy full-site search feature. Version 1.5 of the widget displays a rotating gallery of photos from the iPods Around the World Photo Galleries and checks our server for the latest version for download. Stay tuned for an update for the iLounge Konfabulator Widgets.

iHome clock radio for iPod now available in black

imageThe iHome iH5 clock radio is the latest iPod accessory to be offered in a black version to match the latest iPods. The iH5—which lets you wake up to music from your iPod, an AM/FM radio or buzzer—features a built-in iPod cradle, stereo speakers, a backlit LCD screen and line-in to connect non-docking iPods and other audio players. The $100 device also charges your iPod while docked. It works with any dockable iPod, including the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. In addition, previous owners of the white iHome can now order cradle inserts ($6) for the iPod nano or cradle cushions ($3) for the 5G iPod.

iPod accessory market booming

While it’s no surprise to see the iPod accessory market doing great, analysts and industry insiders have recently tried to put a dollar figure on the overall “iPod economy.”

NPD Group, a marketing-analysis firm, estimates that iPod owners will spend $500 million in 2005 on accessories, not including speakers and headphones.

Gavin Downey, a director of product management at Belkin, says that sales come in at more than $300 million annually. Downey said that sales of iPod accessories are actually growing faster, on a percentage basis, than the iPod itself. He noted that in the early days of the iPod there was a relatively low “attach rate” with the device. For every 15 to 20 iPods sold, one accessory was sold. Today, it’s at almost a one-to-one ratio.

Jobs, nano make BusinessWeek ‘Best of 2005’

imageApple CEO Steve Jobs and the iPod nano are featured in this month’s BusinessWeek “Best of 2005” issue. Jobs was named among the best business leaders of the year, while the nano is listed among the best products of 2005.

In the “Best Leaders” category, the magazine says: “No one in techland had a better year—or a broader impact—than Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs. Apple continued to set tech’s fashion agenda in 2005 with products such as the iPod nano and the video iPod, as well as the Mac mini, Apple’s cheapest computer ever.”

In its list of the best products of 2005, the magazine says: “Welcome to Apple’s take on the flash memory MP3 player: There’s no question it’s an iPod, but it’s impossibly thin—and expensive. The 4-gigabyte model, the world’s first 4GB flash player, holds about 1,000 songs and costs $249; the 2GB version is only $50 cheaper. It has a big color screen for your photographs. And, man, is it thin.”

SendStation giving away 1,000 PocketDock iPod adapters

imageSendStation Systems has announced that it is giving away 1,000 free FireWire PocketDock adapters. The tiny PocketDock lets you connect a standard 6-pin FireWire cable to the dock connector of any iPod, enabling you to sync/charge your iPod with a FireWire cable or use older iPod accessories. The offer is available while supplies last or until December 24, 2005 and is limited to one PocketDock per person.

XtremeMac debuts TuffWrap case for 5G iPod

imageXtremeMac today announced its new TuffWrap silicone cases for the fifth-generation iPod. Available in two sizes to fit the 30GB and 60GB iPod, the TuffWrap cases offer ribbed sides and slip-resistant finish, access to all controls and ports, and screen and click wheel protectors. The TuffWrap is available in translucent white for $20 or in color-coordinated 3-Packs for $35. The 3-Pack is available in either red, white and black, or gray, orange and green. The cases are available now from XtremeMac’s website and will be shipping in one to two weeks.

Mix: Wireless iPods, 5G demand, AutoPod, iBoxer

A Citigroup analyst is speculating that iPods will have wireless capabilities in 2006. He notes that iPod part supplier PortalPlayer is looking to acquire a small company with a wireless technology portfolio.

Demand for Apple’s fifth-generation (video) iPod is on par with the company’s iPod nano, and may be proving more popular in some retail locations, according to a Bear Stearns retail survey.

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has lowered the price of its DLO AutoPod Car Charger for iPod, iPod nano and iPod mini to $20 (from $30)

If you like to rock out in just your underwear, the iBoxer might be for you. It’s a $22 men’s knit boxer with an integrated front pocket for an iPod.

More Duke classes to use iPods this spring

While iPods were distributed to students more sparingly this year, more classes at Duke University will incorporate the use of the devices. According to the AP, 42 classes will require the use of iPods next sememster, up from about 20 classes last spring. Last year, Duke gave iPods to all 1,600 incoming freshmen, but this year the school limited distribution to students whose professors required them. Approximately 1,200 students will get iPods in the spring semester.

“Most classes that have used iPods previously have been foreign language, engineering, music or documentary studies classes. University officials said the list is broadening to include math, biomedical engineering and even dance,” reports AP. “A history course called Digital Durham and the New South will use iPods as students record data from archives such as court records. From course materials, students may also create podcasts, or online presentations to which people can subscribe for automatic download.

PodGear offers HouseParty speaker system in black

imageUK iPod accessory maker PodGear has announced a black version of its HouseParty speaker system to match the new black iPods. “The PodGear HouseParty turns your iPod into a mini stereo system, pumping out 2x6W of crisp stereo sound,

iPod Express checkout at Apple retail stores

In an effort to streamline the busy holiday shopping season and handle more iPods sales, Apple retails stores have implemented a new iPod Express area and EasyPay checkout system. Located at the existing iPod display tables, the area is staffed with employees equipped with new hand-held POS (point of sale) devices. The system, which appears to be only for the holidays, is said to speed up checkout times dramatically for those looking to quickly buy an iPod and be on their way.

Burton Audex jacket offers iPod, cell phone connectivity

imageMotorola and Burton Snowboards today announced the Audex jacket, which offers connectivity for iPods and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. The $600 jacket features a removable control panel located on the left-hand sleeve, allowing for “simple and easy access to your incoming and outgoing calls, and music selections.” Cell phones connect to the panel wirelessly via Bluetooth, while an iPod is hooked up via “hidden, unobtrusive wires within the jacket.” It offers playlist, artist, album and track navigation, volume up/down and play/pause/stop via a click wheel style button. Speakers and a microphone are located in the hood for taking and making calls as well as listening to music. The Audex jacket works with any 3G or newer iPod.

Griffin intros PowerBlock charger, new iTrip in black

imageGriffin Technology today introduced the PowerBlock, a universal wall charger for iPods. The iPod shuffle plugs directly into the top of the PowerBlock, while all other supported iPods use an included USB dock connector cable. The PowerBlock accepts 120 or 240 Volt service for use with international plug adapters. The PowerBlock works with 4G/5G iPods, iPod mini, iPod nano and iPod shuffle. It sells for $30.

imageGriffin also today announced that its new bottom-mounting iTrip is now available in black. Compatible with all full-size dockable iPods (3G/4G/5G), the new iTrip features a backlit LCD screen, a side-mounted switch to select broadcast frequency (88.1-107.9MHz), and the ability to set the iTrip to either US or International tuning modes. The new iTrip is priced at $50.

Direct video transfers from camera to iPod, possible with manufacturer support

If your company has developed a camera with MPEG-4 or H.264 video recording and USB transfer capabilities, iLounge would like to hear from you. As you may know, Apple has already released the iPod Camera Connector, which adds a USB port and direct-from-camera transfer capabilities to existing still cameras. With the increased popularity of the fifth-generation iPod (with video), we’re interested in hearing whether your company would work to support direct video transfers to the iPod in MPEG-4 or H.264 format. This would conceivably allow instant movie playback without iTunes synchronization. Please send an email if so.

iSkin Vibes limited edition cases released

In addition to its new eVo3 silicone cases, iSkin today also announced the availability of its limited edition iSkin Vibes iPod protector series. First shown to iLounge in August, the unique sleeves feature Japanese-inspired characters and scenes created by designers from Toki Doki. The Vibes cases, constructed of a high-quality polymer, are available in eight different patterns for the iPod mini ($20 each), and nine styles for the iPod shuffle ($15 each). The iPod mini protectors come with a belt clip and lanyard.

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HBO launches podcasts on iTunes

HBO recently added several podcasts to the iTunes Music Store, including special content from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Extras, Rome, Entourage, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

“Download an HBO Podcast to experience outstanding HBO original programming wherever you are! Sample your favorite HBO shows, get great sports commentary, and laugh along with the best stand-up comedy. Listen to interviews and behind-the-scenes features with the stars and creators of award-winning HBO series, moves and more. Plus, download great Spanish-language programming from HBO Latino.”

[via Micro Persuasion]

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.

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