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Mix: BadApple, iTunes problems, RipDigital & Tweeter

MP3.com founder Michael Robertson is targeting iTunes with a new version of his “BadApple” software, which allows people to use iTunes to sync their music collections with non-Apple MP3 players.

Some users of iTunes 5, which was released last week alongside the new iPod nano and ROKR phone, are reporting a range of problems on Apple’s support forums and elsewhere.

RipDigital and home entertainment retailer Tweeter have announced the first nationwide retail roll out of a CD-to-digital audio conversion service. Tweeter will now offer RipDigital’s service in its 160 retail stores. For information on other trustworthy CD ripping services, you can find our individual reviews of professional CD rippers here, and a comparison table in our Free iPod Book.

iPort intros five new iPod music systems

imageIn-wall iPod interface maker iPort today announced five new “free standing” iPort music systems, which allow iPod owners to stream music and photos to their home entertainment system as well as sync their iPod with iTunes.

The higher-end iPort models feature variable audio output for direct control of volume, IR remote control, and RS-232 two-way communication for viewing the iPod’s display information on touch-screen control systems. The FS systems start at $150 and are scheduled for release later this year.

“The FS systems incorporate a new patent-pending universal docking mechanism eliminating the need for adapters,” explains iPort. “All five FS music systems include a multi-function two-part mated cable for USB, audio, video, control and power. In keeping with iPort’s focus on style, the multi-function cable reduces clutter and simplifies connection. One side of the cable splits off for connection to the computer providing the means to sync the iPod to the iTunes library. The other side of the cable connects to a ‘breakout box’ that provides outputs for audio and video along with inputs for power and control.”

Analyst: Early iPod nano sales ‘good, not great’

Sales of Apple’s new iPod nano were lower than expected on the first weekend it was available, a Wall Street analyst said Tuesday. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu reported that a number of Apple retail stores only sold between 200 and 500 of their initial nano allocation of between 1,800 and 2,500 units.

“We believe iPod nano may cause sticker shock as consumers are not getting more storage for their dollar as they are accustomed to,” Wu said in a research report. “In contrast, iPod mini has superior storage capacity (4 gigabytes vs. 2 gigabytes at $199 and 6 gigabytes vs. 4 gigabytes at $249) and better battery life—18 hrs vs. 14 hours. We may be alone at this point, but we believe matching the super success of iPod mini may be a tough act for iPod nano to follow without some changes.”

Wu said Apple may need to increase the storage capacity of the nano or cut its price by $50. The analyst cautioned, however, that the iPod nano “has only started shipping since Sept. 7, and thus it may be difficult to draw a trend with only six days of data.”

Mix: ROKR, iPod nano map, iPod Xtras, Holiday competition

Bloomberg News columnist Mark Gilbert says Apple is “missing a beat by outsourcing production of its first mobile phone able to parley with iTunes,” and calls the Motorola ROKR “ugly, chunky and boring.”

The first iPod nano city map has been released—New York City. “This map was a challenge to make,” said the creator. “The iPod Nano’s screen is about half the width of an iPod Photo/Color, but its pixel resolution is similar. Hopefully we’ll be able to make similar maps for other cities just the same.” [via TUAW]

iPod Xtras is offering an exclusive 15%  discount to all iLoungers. To use the discount, which is valid until September 20, type “iLounger” in the coupon field during the checkout process.

TheStreet.com says the iPod will be battling harder for consumers’ holiday dollars this year. “Not only is Sony expected to post strong sales of the PSP, but analysts expect Microsoft to have a big hit with its forthcoming Xbox 360 game console. Further, the overall reduction in the price of flat-screen televisions could lead to a big selling season for those devices.”

DLO AutoPod in ‘nano black’ announced

imageDigital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the new DLO AutoPod car charger for the iPod, iPod mini and iPod nano. The AutoPod comes in both white and black versions to mach the nano, and features a 24-inch coiled cord and a color-coded, three-stage charging status indicator. The device is a available now for $24.99.

“The new DLO AutoPod has received a complete redesign that includes stylish new curves, a transparent status light lens and a new black or white glass finish,” explains DLO. “It also includes Velcro tabs that allow a user to mount the ultra-light iPod nano, connected to their AutoPod, anywhere they want in their car. This combination of design and functionality makes AutoPod simply the best car charger for the new iPod nano available.”

Sakar announces new line of iPod nano accessories

Sakar International today announced its new line of accessories for Apple’s iPod nano, including silicone cases, leather cases, armband cases, and protective clear skins. The silicone, leather, and armband cases will all be available in a wide variety of colors, according to the company. Pricing for the new gear will range from $14.99 to $29.99 and will begin shipping in approximately 2 weeks. iLounge is awaiting photos of the new products.

Mac: Speakables for iTunes released

Speakables for iTunes works in conjunction with Speakable Items—the free voice recognition software included in Mac OS X—to allow you to launch playlists just by using your voice. It sells for $10.

“Speakable Items frees you from your desktop (or makes you look cool when sitting there) by allowing you to control your Mac with simple voice commands. There are many common voice commands built in that you can already use right away, or create your own. Speakable for iTunes extends the capabilities of Speakable Items by allowing you to make your Playlists ‘speakable’ (that is, they will begin playing when you say the name of the playlist)—something you can’t do with Speakable Items alone.”

Newer offers AC-to-DC adapter for auto iPod gear

imageNewer Technology has announced a portable power adapter that allows you to use 12-volt auto iPod accessories—such as FM transmitters and car chargers—in your home.

The compact device plugs into any standard 120-volt electrical outlet and converts to a car adapter style plug (cigarette lighter outlet). The $9.95 adapter will also work with other car accessories such as cell phone chargers.

Mix: Samsung, nano hacking, Kanye West, nano praise

Samsung has introduced a new high-capacity flash memory chip that could “let Apple and other makers of portable electronic devices pack more data into less failure-prone gadgets,” reports the AP. “The 16-gigabit NAND flash memory chip, equivalent to 2 gigabytes of storage, doubles a chip Samsung introduced last September.”

Make magazine has posted an article on how to hack the iPod nano. “The new iPod nano is out and while it’s not as hackable (yet) as it’s older cousins, you can do a few things like change the text strings, mod the font and even change the graphics (sorta). Here’s How to mod a pod, a work in progress for the iPod nano.”

Apple has reportedly cut the Kanye West performance from the QuickTime stream of its special event in San Francisco.

“The iPod nano is the slickest of the already-slick iPod model lineup. The pictures don’t do it justice,” says Mike Wendland for the Detroit Free Press. “You have to hold it in your hand. It is so slim—about the width of a No. 2 pencil—that the first reaction of everyone I have shown it to has been, “Whoa!” Or something very similar.”

From an engineering and design standpoint, the nano is truly a marvel,” writes Larry Magid for CBS News. “Apple took advantage of advances in both memory and battery technology to build an incredibly small music player. Compared to the mini it replaces, about the only downside I can think of is that the nano’s small size will make it easier to lose and break.”

Mac: TuneTech for iPod released

Prosoft Engineering has announced the availability of TuneTech, a new Mac OS X software utility that helps users maintain, manage, and optimize their iPod.

“TuneTech for iPod is the only comprehensive software utility geared specifically toward iPod users,” explains the developer. “Recover lost or damaged music, repair corrupted data structures, backup your iPod to an exact copy, permanently delete unwanted files, or optimize the file layout of your music. You’ve invested a lot into your iPod and music, with TuneTech for iPod, you can be sure your iPod will faithfully perform and your investment will be protected.”

TuneTech is priced at $59.

iStyles offers ‘iPod Fashion Bonanza’

imageiStyles today announced what it calls an “iPod Fashion Bonanza.” The online store has added numerous new accessories for the iPod, iPod mini, and iPod nano, including: iPod Click Wheel Skins, iPod mini Click Wheel Skins, Complete iPod Skins, Complete iPod mini Skins, iPod nano Skins, Jeans Hard Cases for iPod and iPod mini, Luxury Leather Hard Cases for iPod and iPod mini, and FabriX Cases for iPod nano.

The Click Wheel Skins are sticker-like protectors for the click wheels of the iPod and iPod mini. They’re available in a range of patterns and are printed on premium grade adhesive-backed vinyl.

The Complete iPod and iPod mini Skins are bundles of matching iPod Click Wheel Skins and iPod Skins to form “stylish full face protection” for the devices.

The iPod nano Skins are based on the original iStyles Skins and are available in a slew of designs that can be mixed and matched.

iStyles’ Jeans Hard Cases are stylish hardcover cases for the iPod and iPod mini, made using a high-quality jean-like material.

The Luxury Leather Hard Cases protect the iPod and iPod mini from scratches, bumps and minor drops, and are made using the fine leather.

iStyles’ FabriX Cases for iPod nano are handmade specially for the nano “using the finest of high grade fabrics and inner quilt padding.”

iPodResQ launches iPod nano repair service

iPodResQ today announced repair services for the new iPod nano. The company is offering a flat-rate LCD replacement with 24-hour turn around time for $99. The service includes a custom “iBox” sent via overnight courier to pickup the nano for overnight delivery back to the iPodResQ service center. iPodResQ will receive the nano, install a new LCD the same day it is received, and return the nano back to the customer overnight. 

“We have our pricing in place, our parts in stock, and we are ready for the demand of out-of-warranty repairs. Adding the iPod nano to our repair line was just another small tweak in our repair system and we are happy to be able to support the nano immediately. Unfortunately, the nanos are still vulnerable to damage and the LCD in particular needs to be cared for. I wouldn’t keep this iPod in my back pocket,”  said Ryan Arter, President of MacResQ. “In fact, we received an LCD repair order the day after the nanos were released, and we are ready for the initial blast of repairs that always comes shortly after the announcement of a new iPod.”

iPodResQ said other repairs are available, but that “prices vary according to type.” iPod nano owners should call 1-877-Pod-Repair or visit the iPodResQ website for more information.

Time: How the iPod nano came to be

Time magazine has published a three-page article on the creation of the iPod nano and its replacement of the iPod mini.

“It’s amazing that the nano even made it to the stage,” writes Time’s Lev Grossman. “The story of the nano started nine months ago, when Jobs and his team took a look at the iPod mini and decided they could make it better. On the face of it, that wouldn’t appear to be a fantastically smart decision. The iPod mini was and still is the best-selling MP3 player in the world, and Apple had introduced it only 11 months earlier. Jobs was proposing to fix something that decidedly was not broken.”

The article also includes some choice quotes from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

“The more we started to talk about what this could be,” Jobs said, “it wasn’t long before I said, ‘You know, what if we just bet our future on this? Is that possible?’ And everybody immediately looked pretty scared. Including me.”

“What’s really been great for us is the iPod has been a chance to apply Apple’s incredibly innovative engineering in an area where we don’t have a 5%-operating-system-market-share glass ceiling,” Jobs said. “And look at what’s happened. That same innovation, that same engineering, that same talent applied where we don’t run up against the fact that Microsoft got this monopoly, and boom! We have 75% market share.”

Mac: iPod It 2.5 released

ZappTek has released iPod It 2.5, an update to its Mac OS X software that lets you transfer calendar and contact information from applications such as Entourage, Mail, Address Book and iCal. This release adds RSS feed support, revamps iCal support to provide greater control over your calendars, improves Mail processing and a number of other enhancements. iPod It sells for $14.95.

Tunewear announces Tunewallet for iPod nano

imageTunewear continues its barrage of iPod nano accessories with the announcement of the Tunewallet nano. The business card-sized leather case opens up like a bi-fold wallet and features a card slot inside the flip-cover for credit cards, business cards or cash.

“Best of all, Tunewallet nano is small enough and protective enough that you can simply throw it in your bag or pocket and enjoy your music wherever you go without having to worry about your iPod nano getting scratched,” says Tunewear.

The Tunewallet nano will be be available in October 2005.

Mix: nano destruction, Playing it safe, Discovery, nano uses

As part of its review for the iPod nano, Ars Technica performed a stress test that included dropping the device at various speeds and heights, and running over it with a car.

“Playing it safe is the most dangerous thing we can do,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs recalls telling a gathering of Apple executives and engineers last year regarding the company’s lead in digital music. “We have to get bolder.”

Some scholars say iPods, TiVos and other technology are causing consumers to miss out on discovering new content. “What concerns me is that we are developing an information segregation,” said Jeffrey McCall, a communications professor at DePauw University. “People are ending up exposing themselves only to the ideas, issues and entertainment that suits them. And I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run.”

Geek Culture’s Joy of Tech comic has a humorous look at alternative uses for an iPod nano.

Apple posts iPod nano TV commercial

imageYou can now download and watch the new iPod nano television commercial, which was first shown during Steve Jobs’ presentation at Apple’s special event last week. A departure from the company’s long-running silhouette ads, the new spot features nothing but hands and the new iPod nano along with the tagline “1000 songs. Impossibly small.” The ad has been receiving heavy rotation on network and cable TV since the nano was introduced.

Klipsch announces iJam boom box

imageIn addition to its new iGroove speaker system, Klipsch has introduced the iJam boom box for all iPods with dock connectors. The portable system features an iPod cradle, FM tuner, dual 4.5-inch woofers with coaxial mounted tweeters, and a passive radiator located on the rear that delivers “hard-hitting bass response.”

“Perfect for the beach, the garage or a backyard barbeque, this high-end portable digital music system will allow iPod and other MP3 users to easily share their tunes with anyone anywhere,” says Klipsch.

The battery-operated iJam also comes with an A/C adapter. It will be available in “multiple finish options that reflect the season’s hottest colors.” Pricing and availability was not announced.

Forums: New Forums, nano views, pico?, iTie

In this week’s look at the iLounge Discussion Forums: with the release of the iPod nano, new forums have been created to cater for the latest member of the iPod family. We have added a iPod nano General Discussion Forum as well as a forum for Problems & Solutions. There’s also a sub-forum for the surely imminent range of iPod nano Cases.

Like the iPod nano? Dislike it? Disappointed or overjoyed? Share your nano views with other iLoungers in the “The Official New iPod nano Thread ..... What do you think?!” thread.

And just as the iPod nano hits the shelves, one member posts what he believes is the next in the iPod line - drumroll please - the iPod pico!

And one member has posted what must the ultimate iPod accessory for the school or office - a hole new dimension in ties - The iTie…...

New Podcast: iLounge Week in Review 9, enhanced

imageNow available is the ninth (and abbreviated) iLounge Week in Review podcast, hosted by iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz.

This week’s podcast rapidly covers the obvious big topics of the week: Apple’s introduction of iPod nano and iTunes 5, and Motorola’s introduction of the ROKR E1 phone. We also discuss Harman Kardon’s new Drive + Play, which is featured in a brand new First Looks article today. Enhanced (with pictures and links) and regular (audio only) versions of the podcast are available.

Past podcasts, including week 7’s edition with audio samples from the voice recorders iTalk (2) and iFM, are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Direct download: Enhanced Version (includes photos and URL links)
Direct download: MP3 Version
Subscribe to our Podcast feed
Subscribe to our iTunes Podcast feed
Listen to Past Podcasts

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