In a move aimed squarely at iPod, Sony today introduced the NW-HD3 Network Walkman, its first hard disk-based player to support the popular MP3 song format. The 20GB device is the successor of Sony’s first hard disk Walkman (introduced earlier this year), which only supported the company’s proprietary Atrac file format. Sony claims that the NW-HD3, which now comes in four new colors, plays 2.5 times longer than the iPod on a single charge, and can hold several thousand more songs thanks to the Atrac compression. However, the new Walkman will sell for approximately 30 pounds more than the iPod. It will be available in the UK before Christmas at 249 pounds ($462.70) and elsewhere in Europe in early 2005 at 369 euros ($489). The NW-HD3 will also go on sale in Japan this month for around ¥42,000 ($408.76). There is no word yet on US plans.
Marware is now offering its SportSuit Santa iPod case in new sizes to fit all iPods. The holiday-themed case is now available in two sizes—one for the original iPod, 3G iPod and 4G iPod (including iPod photo and U2 iPod) and one for the iPod mini (see iLounge review). The $19.95 accessory features a fuzzy neoprene exterior with white fur top, a plush-lined interior, and includes a lanyard and belt loop.
PDair has introduced an aluminum hard case for Apple’s fourth-generation iPod. Made of aircraft grade aluminum, the lightweight silver case features a neoprene inner lining, a removable 360-degree swivel belt clip, and neck strap. It also has cutouts that provide access to the Click Wheel, dock connector, headphone jack, and hold switch. Cases are available for both the 20GB and 40GB iPods.
Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Milunovich expects Apple to introduce a flash memory-based iPod in early 2005, possibly in January at Macworld Expo. In a research note obtained by iLounge, Milunovich said that he is looking for the new flash iPods to be priced in the $149 to $199 range. He notes that the flash MP3 market is five times the size of the hard drive player market in units and about two times its size in revenue. “This is a market Apple should want to participate in because it will pull new customers into the iPod/iTunes ecosystem,” Milunovich said. “We believe consumers will hesitate to switch once they become accustomed to the iPod’s scrollwheel or have purchased a number of iTunes (which only work on iPods). The land grab is on.”
DecalGirl.com is offering a host of removable vinyl decals for Apple’s iPod mini. They’re priced at $6.99 and come in a variety of designs—from tie-dyed to camo. “These iPod mini skins were prototyped using a highly detailed 3D polygon model for outstanding accuracy. They’re printed using UV-stable inks on glossy cast vinyl (instead of the less-expensive calendared material), then laminated with a clear protectant layer of cast vinyl. They’ll never smudge, smear or fade—by using only the best materials and equipment, we can guarantee they’ll never wear, discolor, smudge or smear for the life of your iPod—that’s our exclusive Battle Armor warranty.”
iPod.iTunes 2.7.2 from CrispSofties is the latest update to the iPod utility that provides synchronization of tracks and playlists from any iPod to any Mac, including track info like Rating, Last Played and Play Count. Version 2.7.2 adds compatibilty for iPod firmware 3.0.2 (4G iPod) and 2.4 (iPod mini, displayed as “1.2”).
The iPod was honored for the second consecutive year at the BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) Awards. It picked up the Experts’ Choice award, designed to recognize “products, services or initiatives that have influenced the digital sector in the past 12 months.”
After buying a colleague’s iPod still loaded with 3,000 songs, John Schwartz of The New York Times says that he now knows his co-worker better than ever.
Micromaxx is selling an iPod mini knockoff in Germany. “It’s probably just a matter of time until Apple has the lawyers saddling up and ready to ride,” notes Engadget.
One iPod owner has posted photos and detailed captions of his installation of the NaviPod wireless remote control for hands-free iPod navigation in his car.
iPodRip 3.7 is the latest version of the utility that allows you to transfer music from your iPod back to your iTunes Library or listen to music directly from your iPod. This release adds the ability to recover your playlists from the songs already in iTunes, visual display of playing songs, and other enhancements. iPodRip is available for $10.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the Los Angeles Times this week that the iPod’s popularity will endure because it’s more than just a pop culture icon. “I don’t think we’re seeing trendiness here,” Jobs said of the iPod. “I think we’re seeing a product that’s truly revolutionizing the way we listen to music. We didn’t sell 2 million of them last quarter because it’s trendy, we sold 2 million last quarter because it’s a phenomenal product that’s reinventing the way people enjoy music.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, iLounge’s servers have been slammed by readers during the holidays, and we’re working behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. Even if the servers are slow, don’t forget: you can still download the free iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2004 to read offline, including our reviews of all the best iPod accessories and new iPod hardware!
The online Apple Store and all Apple retail stores are offering discounts on iPods and iPod accessories as part of its after-Thanksgiving sale. The stores have taken $20 off all iPod models, today selling the iPod mini for $228, 20GB iPod for $278, 40GB iPod for $378, 40GB iPod photo for $478, 60GB iPod photo for $578, and iPod Special Edition U2 for $328. Apple has also taken $30 off AirPort Express, and $40 off both the JBL On Stage and Altec Lansing inMotion IM3 speaker systems. In addition, Apple is offering several iPod accessories, such as cables and leather sleeves, at discounted prices.
While Sony flounders, the iPod mini remains the No. 1 selling portable audio player in Japan.
Only 20 iPod owners showed up at Creative Technology’s headquarters to trade in their Apple gadget for a Creative Zen Micro MP3 player.
The MP3 Experiment is the world’s first live theatrical performance that audiences will experience exclusively through headphones—there are no actors. Audience members will download an MP3 track from the show’s Web site in advance, load it onto their iPod, and bring it with them to the show.
One iPod fan has created an excellent iPod commercial that rivals any big production company.
An online petition has been posted in hopes of getting Apple to add PDF booklets with liner notes to each song download from the iTunes Music Store.
Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf expects Apple to sell 13.3 million iPods in 2005 and an impressive 23.5 million iPods in 2006. He is also looking for 100 million Windows users to own iPods by 2008. In a research note to clients, Wolf said that a flash-based iPod could be “an opportunistic move to quickly capture an even higher share of the portable music player market.” He also suggests that iPod mini drive production costs could now have fallen by a third (the costs decline as yields increase, because overheads are spread across more units). “Apple should have sufficient margin to reduce the price of the mini from $249 to $199 once supply catches up with demand,” Wolf said.
Tunewear today announced an Icewear case for 30 and 40GB third-generation iPods. The transparent silicone case allows access to all ports and controls, has shock absorbing ribs on the sides, and sports a belt loop for use with waist belts or shoulder carry bags. The Icewear case for 3G iPods will be available next month for $24.95. Tunewear said it has no plans to release this case for 10/15/20GB 3G iPods.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) said today that it is now shipping the iBoom, its $149.99 boombox solution for the iPod. The 20-watt per channel, four-speaker sound system fits all iPods (including iPod mini, but not iPod photo), and features a fully digital FM stereo with four station presets and amber backlit display. “Users simply drop their iPod or iPod mini into the DLO iBoom dock, hit play and enjoy their music on the beach, at a party, or almost anywhere.” The DLO iBoom can be powered by six D-size batteries or AC power, which also charges the docked iPod as well.
MCE Technologies has announced that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Tunewear to sell and distribute the company’s products in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. The initial product line-up will consist of Icewear ($24.95), a transparent case made from high quality silicone, and Prie ($39.95), an upscale and fashionable case that is available in 4 different colors.
Anapod Explorer 8.6.5 from Red Chair Software is the latest version of the iPod utility for Windows. This release includes improvements to two of Anapod’s Maintenance utilities, “Recover Missing Tracks” and “Fix Mislabeled Tracks.” Handling of track and disc numbers has been fixed, sorting issues have been resolved, additional fields are now processed, and enhancements have been made to iTunes Music Store track handling.
ZappTek has announced the release of iPresent It 1.0, new software that converts PowerPoint and Keynote presentations into slideshows that can be synced to your iPod photo. iPresent It is priced at $17.95.
Dension has announced a new version of its ice>Link vehicle integration kit for the iPod. The new ice>Link Plus brings dual mode operation: Dension User Interface mode enables access to all iPod playlists through a combination of CD changer interfacing and the Dension menu, while iPod User Interface mode lets the user operate with the iPod control surface and maps car controls to major iPod commands. The new car kit, which will start shipping next month, also adds CD-text support to display album/artist /song information on selected radios, upgradeable firmware, and a modular design. ice>Link:Plus supports a range of vehicle systems (both factory and aftermarket) including those from Alpine, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Kenwood, Panasonic and Sony. Pricing starts at $199.99.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store today began selling the U2 digital box set, The Complete U2, as well as the band’s new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. The 446-song package includes all of the band’s albums, 40 previously unreleased tracks, and more than 100 rare live cuts, remixes, covers, demos, and B-sides. The Complete U2 also comes with a digital booklet (PDF) that has album artwork, track listings, and band commentary. Unsurprisingly, several of the rare tracks are not available for individual purchase and can only be had with the purchase of the $149.99 box set.