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Case-ari intros leather cases for 5G iPod, nano

imageCase-ari recently introduced a line of form-fitting leather cases for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The cases, which resemble Vaja’s iVod, offer a Nappa leather exterior, impact resistant plastic shell, felt lining, and a screen protector and removable belt clip. The cases also provide access to all controls and ports. The 5G and nano cases come in a dozen different colors—red, black, yellow, orange, light blue, tan, pink, brown, blue, grey, purple, and white. The 5G Case-ari leather case sells for $30, while the nano version is priced at $25. They can be purchased here.

Editor’s Note 1-30-2006: Kesari/Case-Ari has rebranded their company and products, and is now known as Case-Mate.

Etymotic announces black 6i earphones

imageEtymotic Research today announced that its 6i Isolator earphones (iLounge rating: A) are now available in black to match the black iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod. The original white versions of the $150 in-ear earphones recently received the award for Best Headphones of 2005 by iLounge.

“The mildly enhanced bass and greater output of these earphones retains the high frequency response accuracy that Etymotic is known for,” said Mead Killion, Ph.D., founder and president of Etymotic. “The 25-band accuracy score of these earphones still exceeds 80%, which is higher than any earphones not made by Etymotic.”

iTunes hits 100 million downloads in Europe

Apple has announced that it has now sold 100 million songs in Europe. The company said that a Belgium iTunes user was the winner of its 100 million downloads contest. “Congratulations to Ken Reist from Steenokkerzeel, Belgium, the 100 Millionth Song Grand Prize Winner. Ken purchased the 100 millionth download in Europe—the album Die Zauberflöte by Mozart—at 6.22 pm on December 6th, 2005.” Reist will receive a 17-inch iMac G5, a 30GB iPod, a 10,000-song gift card for the iTunes Music Store, and two tickets to see Robbie Williams in concert.

Digital Sound Bag sports built-in speakers

imageRedEnvelope is now offering the Digital Sound Bag, a new messenger-style bag that includes two built-in speakers and a spot for your iPod. Available in blue, orange or white, the $70 bag features a clear acetate window lets you see the iPod’s display and access controls. It has a velcro closure on the bag’s front flap and requires three AAA batteries. “Taking a personal music player to the next level is in the bag,” says the online store. “All they have to do is slip it into the bag’s interior pocket, plug into the built-in speakers, and hit play. The reward? Instant amplification and tunes wherever they go.”

Mix: Christmas Carol, Bar codes, London restaurants, Classrooms

Storynory has released the first podcast of “A Christmas Carol.” The dramatization will be podcast in three-parts—re-creating the way Dickens published most of his books as serials.

Jonathan Baldino, a freshman electrical-engineering student at the University of Colorado, was recently caught using homemade bar codes to purchase an iPod for $4.99.

Restaurant Spy has released a London Restaurant Guide that can be transferred and viewed on an iPod. The guide includes 300+ restaurant reviews organized by Location, Cuisine, Price, and Rating. 

In an article entitled “iPod popularity stirs tech debate in the classroom,” The Indianapolis Star looks at how personal electronics are affecting students.

Vaja unveils iVod Crystal case for iPod nano

imageVaja has introduced its latest luxury case for the iPod nano—the iVod nano Crystal. The Swarovski crystal-encrusted case comes in seven different combinations and features a leather strap with silver appliques, padded interior, screen protector, and access to all controls and ports. Vaja’s iVod nano Crystal is made from the same high quality Argentine leather as the regular iVod case and can be personalized and upgraded. Prices starts at $240. Be sure to enter our Vaja Slogan Contest for a chance to win one of 45 $100 Vaja gift cards or the grand prize of one $500 gift card.

iAttire offers holiday iPod costumes

imageiAttire today announced the release of its holiday iPod costumes, including a Santa Claus outfit ($20) and a red-nosed reindeer outfit ($15). The hand-made costumes are available for the iPod, iPod mini, and iPod shuffle. “Designed to be replicas of people costumes, these costumes fit and wear just like those you might select for yourself,” says the company. The hand-made Santa costume has a furry hat, a big white beard that attaches with elastic, and a green velvet bag that is filled with gifts for all. The Red-Nosed Reindeer is a hand-made antler headband, red nose on an elastic band, and a candy cane to snack on later!”

Pressure Drop debuts DecoDock Ice, offers holiday sale

imagePressure Drop today announced DecoDock Ice, a special winter edition of its DecoDock iPod shuffle dock. “With a white base and glacier blue LEDs, DecoDock Ice provides users with a simple, cool, and stylish way to connect an iPod shuffle to their computer,” says the company. “Let your iPod shuffle ‘chill out’ in the DecoDock Ice while it recharges and syncs in Art-Techo style.” The DecoDock Ice is priced at $29 and is now shipping in limited quantities. Pressure Drop also announced today special holiday pricing on the classic DecoDock. It’s now on sale for $20, down from the normal price of $29.

Real’s Rob Glaser: Apple’s Steve Jobs is ‘pigheaded’

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser said yesterday that Apple’s refusal to make the iPod compatible with other digital music stores besides iTunes was “pig-headedness” on the part of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Glaser also said that Apple’s closed system promotes piracy of copyrighted music.

“We think Apple Computer, and Steve personally, are making a mistake by making the software proprietary,” Glaser said at the Digital Living Conference in San Francisco, noting that RealNetworks would continue catering to Mac users. “There’s no reason we should penalize Apple customers for Steve’s pigheadeness.”

“Steve makes for a good pinata because he’s taken a position against interoperability,” Glaser said. The music industry “should be pressuring him to change because they have leverage over him. Apple being on its own in term of interoperability makes piracy more compelling for consumers. Because, hey, if I take all my MP3s from this illegal site or that illegal site, they’ll work on the iPod or anything else. Whereas if I buy them legitimately, they’ll only work at one place.”

Sena intros new leather case for 5G iPods

imageSena Cases has announced its “Video Dockable Case” for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. The leather case features a flip-top design with hidden magnetic closure, Bantam belt clip, and provides access to all controls and ports. In addition, the $40 case is dockable, allowing users to charge/sync their iPod without removing it from the case. The Sena case is available in both 30GB and 60GB sizes, and comes in black, tan, red, royal blue, light blue, magenta, green, orange, yellow, brown, and white.

NBC iTunes deal announced; Video sales top 3 million

Following a quiet launch earlier today, NBC Universal and Apple have now officially announced their partnership to bring several new primetime, cable, late-night and classic TV shows to the iTunes Music Store. In the announcement, Apple also said iTunes now offers more than 300 episodes of 16 different TV shows, and that customers have purchased and downloaded more than three million videos since their debut on October 12, making iTunes “the world’s most popular video download store.”

“We’re thrilled to expand the iTunes video catalog with 11 popular TV shows from NBC, USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel,

ezGear Elite leather case for iPod nano announced

imageezGear has announced its ezGear Elite leather case for the iPod nano. Available in black, white and brown, the ezGear Elite features a built-in screen protector, access for the click wheel, all ports, and the hold button. The case also sports a polished nickel belt loop clip and comes with a removable neck strap with a polished nickel clasp. The ezGear Elite leather case is priced at $40.

Report: NBC, Apple to announce major iTunes deal [updated]

NBC Universal and Apple are set to announce a major deal that will make TV programming from NBC, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and other outlets available on the iTunes Music Store, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Details about the pact were murky, but sources said it was wide-ranging and would cover programming in a variety of genres and dayparts,” the entertainment trade publication reports. “It is expected that the deal will encompass some NBC Universal-produced primetime series and NBC’s late-night franchises ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien’ and possibly ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

Update: Apple has now added several new shows from NBC, Sci Fi, and USA. NBC shows include Law & Order, The Office, Surface, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. “Vintage NBC” shows offered are Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Adam-12, and Knight Rider. The Sci Fi channel offers Battlestar Galactica, while USA offers Monk. Like the ABC TV shows, the NBC offerings cost $1.99 each.

Update #2: Prices for NBC videos range at the iTunes Music Store from $1.99 up to $9.99 per download. For instance, 6 to 12 minute sketches from the Conan O’Brien archive sell for $1.99 each, while 1 hour clips such as “10th Anniversary Special” and “The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” sell for $9.99. Apple is also selling the four-part Sci-Fi Battlestar Galactica Miniseries only as a $15.99 “Album,” and not in lower-priced parts.

New: Share your opinions on the new $9.99 iTunes Download Pricing in the Reader Editorial.

Sony rootkit included Apple FairPlay DRM?

While deconstructing Sony’s stealth rootkit, Princeton researchers have found an unusual link to iTunes and the iPod. The copy protection software reportedly includes code that could apply Apple’s FariPlay digital rights management to songs.

“According to their new findings, the Sony software had a hidden component that could convert songs from the CD, or other ordinary MP3s, into a file compatible with Apple’s copy protected FairPlay format,” reports CNET “That would mean that the songs could be played on iPods, which hasn’t been the case with copy protected CDs in the past. It apparently accomplishes this by using open-source, yet copyrighted code, a practice deemed a no-no in programming circles. It’s not yet clear how this came about.”

Sony’s rookit has turned out to be a PR nightmare for the company. As widely reported, the copy protection software deceptively installed itself automatically when consumers put select SonyBMG music CDs in their Windows-based PC.

‘Podcast’ named word of the year

The editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have selected “podcast” as the Word of the Year for 2005. Podcast will be defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.” The word will be added to the next online update of the New Oxford American Dictionary, due in early 2006.

iFace interchangeable iPod cases announced

imageWinzz has announced the iFace, an interchangeable iPod case designed to allow users to easily change the outside cover style without having to buy a completely new case. The iFace consists of a black nylon case with a micro-suede interior and velcro attachments, and comes with one basic cover in your choice of black leather, pink canvas, white canvas, patent yellow or blue denim. The $25 case is available in three models—iFace v1.0 (1G-4G iPods), iFace v1.1 (5G iPod) and iFace nano v1.0 (iPod nano). To customize the iFace, Winzz has released its first collection of interchangeable covers for the case. The Hot Wave Series offers 20 different music-themed cover designs, each priced at $20.

ESPN eyes iTunes content deal

Walt Disney’s ESPN is the latest network to consider a deal to offer its programs on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. ESPN’s sports content would join shows from ABC, which is also owned by Disney. Although ESPN has not yet held talks with Apple, the cable sports network plans to offer its shows and game clips to “any pipe, any device,” ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer said at the UBS global media conference. “We’re not just in the TV business anymore. We’re going to the table as a sports media company,” Bodenheimer said.

Track Happy intros iPod shuffle belt clip

imageTrack Happy has announced the release of “thclip,” a thin plastic belt clip for the iPod shuffle. The holster clip is made from matching white plastic and allows the shuffle’s controls to remain accessible. It is priced at £15. “Designed to match in style and shape, the thclip is the perfect partner for the ipod shuffle. The thclip was designed with simplicity as a priority. We know that track happy customers don’t want over-complicated or fussy products. They want something that is small, sleek and usable. Our thclip is the perfect answer.”

Sharper Image offers new iPod speaker systems

Sharper Image recently added several new ZipConnect speaker systems designed for the iPod and other MP3 players. Each ZipConnect sound system comes with a universal ZipConnect module with a 3.5mm plug for connecting to the headphone jack of any iPod or other device. You can purchase a $9.95 iPod connector that lets you play and charge your iPod through the Dock Connector port.

imageiTower ($200; shown)
The slim tower system features four aluminum-cone speakers, a one-inch true-dome tweeter and a built-in subwoofer. It stands at 3.5’ tall.

iFrame ($140)
The square speaker system has a perforated aluminum frame surrounding a center well that glows with blue LEDs. It has four aluminum-cone speakers and an auxiliary input jack.

ZipConnect CD Stereo DECO ($230)
The stackable five-piece system features a top-loading CD player (with ID3 technology that displays MP3-CD audio text tags), AM/FM radio, and an integrated amplifier with adjustable EQ and dual high-output satellite stereo speakers.

iSoother ($150)
The all-in-one portable speaker system offers an AM/FM digital radio, a backlit LCD talking alarm clock and a “Sound Soother” with 20 environmental soundscapes. The iSoother has dual aluminum-cone speakers deliver, sleep timer, equalizer, subwoofer, and headphone jack.

ZipConnect 900MHz Wireless Outdoor Speakers ($170)
The speakers sport a weatherproof housing, 900MHz dual-frequency wireless transmitter (works up to 150 feet away), iPod cradle, and wireless remote control.

iSplash ($100)
The iSplash is a wireless and splashproof speaker system. It also uses a 900MHz transmitter to send audio from your iPod to the speakers up to 150 feet away. It can be hung from a showerhead or curtain rod.

Beetle ZipConnect Speaker System ($130)
The mini VW Beetle convertible has hidden speakers, working headlamps and a back seat iPod stand. It also features an AM/FM digital tuner, windshield LCD, and a control panel hidden under the hood.

Apple to use videos to drive hardware sales

Following a recent meeting with Apple executives, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said the company made it clear that paid video offerings on iTunes, like digital music, are being sold in order to help drive hardware sales. The Apple executives, VP of iTunes Eddy Cue and CFO Peter Oppenheimer, also made it no secret that it is a priority to expand the company’s library of video offerings.

“Apple confirmed that its main goal with video is not to make money off the content but to help drive hardware sales, including iPods and Macs,” Wu said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “Unlike other resellers like bricks and mortar stores and service providers, Apple views content as strategic, choosing to break-even while leaving the majority of the profit to the content owners.”

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