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Mix: Gator podcast, VW Golf, First iPod, Apple gear

The University of Florida is has launched a news podcast that can be downloaded by students and staff from the school’s website.

German car site Auto News says that Volkswagen is offering an optional iPod interface in the VW Golf and Golf GTI for 195 euros.

Writing about trading in her first iPod for a 10% discount at an Apple Store, Wired’s Regina Lynn admits: “I suspected I would feel a twinge as I handed over my first iPod. Instead, I cried. It wasn’t that I burst into tears. It was more of an overflow. My chest actually felt squeezed.”

Apple will reportedly begin selling Apple logo merchandise (such as shirts, golf balls and other gear) at its retail stores across the US.

Hebe Styling intros iFi stereo dock for iPod

imageHebe Styling has announced the iFi, a new iPod dock that lets you easily connect your iPod to your home stereo. The $61 product connects to your iPod via the Dock Connector and to your stereo with RCA cables. It features a blue neon glow and also charges your iPod while docked. The iFi is compatible with the 4G iPod and iPod mini.

“This is a simple ‘plug and play’ solution for anyone wanting to integrate their iPod into their home,” says Hebe. “One box contains everything you need, including a white stand with blue neon trim, gold-plated phono cables for enhanced sound quality, and easy-to-change inserts that allow compatibility with a range of iPod players.”

Update: Hebe Styling has corrected the US price at $61.

Analyst: iPod video, color minis in October

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu expects Apple to ship its video iPod in October.

In a research note discussing Portal Player’s second quarter financial results, Wu wrote: “We believe new iPods including color iPod minis, higher capacity flash, and a video-capable iPod will not likely ship until the October timeframe in the December quarter.”

Wu said he expects Apple to ship 7.1 million iPods this quarter, 3.1 million of which will be iPod shuffles. He also believes that Portal Player has “secured the design win in a new 2GB iPod mini using flash” and that Apple will discontinue its 4GB iPod mini.

Griffin unveils iFM for iPod

imageGriffin Technology today introduced the iFM, an all-in-one iPod add-on that combines an FM radio tuner, voice and radio recorder, and remote control functions.

The small aluminum device functions as a remote for Dock Connector iPods (3G/4G/Photo/mini models) and features a digital FM radio with a Band-Switch function to switch between US, European and Japanese FM bands. The iFM also lets you record radio content and, using a built-in omnidirectional microphone, voice memos. Radio and voice recordings (3G/4G/Photo models supported) are automatically saved to the iPod.

“With the flip of a switch users can now switch seamlessly between controlling their music library and listening to their favorite FM radio programming,” says Griffin. “Use the iFM as an inline remote to control the iPod’s transport controls, great for workouts, biking or hiking. iFM is also a recording device, with a built in microphone to record voice, or change modes to capture live FM radio directly to the iPod!”

Griffin’s iFM is priced at $49.99 and is scheduled to begin shipping in August.

Thank you: iLounge named to Forbes Best of the Web, Favorites lists

imageWe don’t generally post awards or kudos we’ve received on the main page of our site, but we wanted to thank Forbes today. They’ve named iLounge to their “Best of the Web” list, and also to the more exclusive “Forbes Favorites” list, calling iLounge “The ultimate in product reviews and tutorials on all things iPod.”

Thank you, Forbes, and thank you, loyal readers, for your support of the Lounge!

Mix: iPod cake, Canada levy, Podcasting, Solio

imageWhile there have been iPod cakes before, iLounger Tony Hartt sent us photos of by far the best we’ve seen. “I recently turned the big 4-O and because of my love for everything apple my wife made me and iPod birthday cake,” Hartt said.

The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday refused to hear any further arguments over a levy on iPods and other MP3 players, ending a dispute over the so-called iPod tax.

The New York Times’ David Pogue says that Apple “mainstreamed” podcasting thanks to a tried and true formula: “Find an exciting new technology whose complexity and cost keep it out of the average person’s life. Streamline it, mainstream it, strip away the geeky options. Take the credit.”

Better Energy Systems said today that Apple UK is now selling its Solio solar-powered iPod charger at the UK online Apple Store and high street retail stores.

ezGear intros ezEars SX50 earphones

imageezGear has announced the ezEars SX50 earphones for the iPod and other audio devices. The company says the earphones are the “first comfortable in-ear earphones for the iPod under $25.”

“Love your iPod but not the pain in your ears? We can relate,” says ezGear. “That’s why we created the ezEars SX50. iPod earphones with comfort. ezEars SX50s use in-ear technology with soft rubber earpieces to provide a great fit and extra comfort. The sound drivers of the in-ear earbuds provide good clean sound for a great listening experience.”

Report: iTunes phone to be unveiled at UK music festival

American Technology Research analyst Albert Lin says that the first iTunes-compatible Motorola phone will debut next month at the “V Festival” concert in the UK sponsored by Virgin Mobile. Lin says that Virgin Mobile UK will be one of the first carriers to offer the phone. The festival takes place August 20-21. The Sunday Telegraph reported this same news earlier this month.

“Observers note that rolling out a music phone at a concert featuring more than 57 bands would harmonize with Apple’s marketing style,” reports The Street. “The scuttled introductions earlier this year raised speculation that the phone companies couldn’t agree on how to slice the music download business. But Motorola’s Zander explained that Apple wanted to schedule the introduction when the music phone was available for sale.”

Griffin ships TuneCaps for iPod shuffle

imageGriffin Technology announced today that it is now shipping its TuneCaps, “three new options for keeping your iPod shuffle conveniently close at hand.” The TuneCaps package includes a wrist strap iPod shuffle cap, a belt clip cap, and a keyring attachment. The TuneCaps set is priced at $14.99.

“Slip on TuneCaps’ Wrist Strap cap for fingertip convenience,” says Griffin. “Replace the shuffle’s cap with TuneCaps’ handy pocket clip and secure it to your pocket (or belt or necktie or whatever). Slip on TuneCaps’ keyring attachment and take your tunes with you while you drive.

Marware TrailVue now available for 4G iPods

imageMarware has introduced a new version of its TrailVue ballistic nylon case for all fourth-generation iPods. Originally released for the iPod mini, the flip-lid style case features a velcro closure, access to the earphone jack and Click Wheel, a plastic screen protector, and Mareware’s Multidapt interchangeable clip system.

The TrailVue retails for $34.95 and is available in the following color combinations: black with gray strip, black with red stripe, blue with gray stripe and gray with light blue stripe.

Gap to launch free iTunes songs promo

Gap has teamed up with Apple to offer free song downloads to those who try on the clothing retailer’s new blue jeans. As part of a promotion for new denim fits for men and women, Gap stores next month will host “Find Your Favorite Fit” events, in which people who try on a pair of Gap jeans will be given a code for one free download from the iTunes Music Store.

Print ads and TV spots for the new jeans, the iTunes promo and the “Find Your Favorite” events will begin early next month. “Alanis Morissette and a cast of musicians including Joss Stone, John Legend, Jason Mraz and others appear in Gap’s newest campaign,” reports BrandWeek. “The campaign reprises an ongoing Gap theme, the relationship between jeans and music. For fall, the focus will be on ‘favorites,’ how your favorite jeans and favorite songs make the perfect fit.” [via TUAW]

Speck debuts mini Portfolio Skin

imageSpeck Products has announced the mini Portfolio Skin, a new version of its wallet-style silicone case for the iPod mini. The case opens like a book and is closed with four interchangeable straps.

Like the Portfolio Skin for full-size iPods, the mini version provides all-around protection (when closed) and access to the Dock Connector port, headphone jack and hold switch. The Portfolio is available for $34.95 in two color combinations—Pink (includes white, black, green and dark pink straps) and Clear (includes blue, black, green and orange straps).

Mix: Russound, Music sharing, SigmaTel, Harley-Davidson

Russound has posted iPod-friendly tech tips and application guides for installing compatible multiroom audio-video systems.

Digital music research firm The Leading Question said that people who illegally share MP3s online spent four and a half times more on paid-for legal music downloads than average computer users.

SigmaTel, maker of the iPod shuffle chipset, has purchased the “software, patents and engineering resources” associated with the Rio Audio line of digital music players.

Harley-Davidson’s 2006 lineup adds an auxiliary jack for iPods and other MP3 players, and optional XM Satellite, Bluetooth and GPS modules.

Chums announces e:personal iPod case line

Outdoor accessory maker Chums has introduced a new line of iPod carrying cases. The e:personal line consists of nine different cases for the full-size iPod or iPod mini in a variety of materials and colors that “blend versatility with funky patterns and stylish flair.” Each case features a lanyard, carabiner clip, and swivel hook.

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The cases include: i Frame ($25), i Frame Mini ($25), Flip ($30) Flip Mini ($30), Groupie ($30), Diddie ($35), Funky Betty ($35), Lotus ($35), and Sherpa ($45). “Whether its Zen-like yoga, backcountry trekking, or weekend warrior fun, Chums iPod carrying cases are designed to suit any lifestyle and personality, be it serious, sporty, or sassy.”

PortalPlayer guidance hints at new iPod

iPod chip maker PortalPlayer said it expects to see “significant demand” in the second half of the year for “exciting new models” from its partners, hinting that Apple does indeed have at least one new iPod coming this Fall. Analysts believe that since more than 90% of PortalPlayer’s sales come from Apple, the company is forecasting upcoming demand for a new iPod.

“We have completed the design win activity for our customers’ exciting new models intended to ship in the second half of 2005,” PortalPlayer CEO Gary Johnson said. “In addition, we worked with the supply chain to prepare our operations for significant demand in the second half of the year.” Johnson went on to say that his company is “excited about the upcoming back-to-school and holiday season and believe we are very well positioned for significant growth in the second half of the year.”

Johnson also said that PortalPlayer will soon benefit from its flash-based designs and wireless technologies. The company believes that “market demand for high-capacity flash players (1GB or greater) has accelerated.” Johnson also noted that PortaPlayer “accelerated its investment in innovative wireless technologies that we believe will help fuel our growth in 2006 and beyond.”

Mix: Video iPod, Podscope, Napster-XM, Darth Vader

BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows says that the video iPod may not be designed for watching full-length movies and Apple could use the opportunity to “introduce a subscription service, in which customers would pay a fixed monthly fee to watch as many videos as they want.”

Podscope is a new spoken word index and search engine that currently contains content from more than 20,000 podcasts from over 3,500 sites. [via TUAW]

Napster and XM Satellite Radio have announced that they will launch an online service and XM-compatible digital music players that let users bookmark songs on XM for future purchases online.

A Star Wars fan is auctioning off a 20GB fourth-generation iPod that has been modified with a red screen, painted Darth Vader theme, and a protective clearcoat.

Apple to hold Tokyo music event; Japanese iTMS imminent?

Apple has invited select media to a special music event in Tokyo that is expected to bring a Japanese version of the iTunes Music Store. The event will be held on Thursday, August 4, at 10:00 a.m. at the Tokyo International Forum.

The long-awaited Japanese iTunes Music Store has been rumored for months. While reports stretch back more than a year, the Nihon Keizai business daily reported in June that major Japanese record labels had signed agreements to provide songs for the service—news that was corroborated by AFX News Limited earlier this month.

PlayDock MP3 speaker system announced

imageCambridge SoundWorks has introduced the PlayDock MP3, a new portable speaker system for iPods and other MP3 players. The $199.99 system features an integrated dock that works with select devices, including the iPod, iPod mini, Creative Zen Micro, and the Dell DJ and Pocket DJ.

The PlayDock MP3 has a rechargeable battery that offers up to 10 hours of cord-free playback, a 15-watt powered subwoofer with 4-inch driver, and a three-driver amplified speaker design that “delivers rich, full-bodied sound normally associated with larger stereo systems.”

Poll results: How much space is left on your iPod?

The most recent Lounge Poll, “How much space is left on your primary iPod?”, is now closed.

With nearly 6,000 votes cast, a slim (51%) majority of responding iLounge readers indicated that they still had around half or more of their top iPod’s total capacity left over. Only 8%, however, said that their iPods were 90% empty. The remaining 49% indicated that they had around a quarter or less free space, with 27% saying that they have only enough room for one more album, some files, or no room at all.

Complete results are available in Read More below, and at the Lounge Poll archives. Our new poll on an easier topic, “How Old Are You?”, is now open. You can find it on the left column below Ask iLounge.

Mix: Indie payments, Text games, Phone carriers, Vaja contest

CD Baby’s Derek Sivers has told his clients that “Apple iTunes USA just raised their wholesale payout to 70 cents per download.” He also says Japan and Australia will soon get stores.

Wired News has an article on Malinche Entertainment, a new company that’s offering interactive fiction (text-based games) for the iPod.

CNET News.com reports: “Led by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Wireless, the big phone carriers are edging toward releasing their own iTunes-like music services, aimed at persuading people to download or listen to music files over new broadband wireless networks.”

Digital Media Thoughts is giving away 30 Vaja iPod mini cases valued at $1800.

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