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New PortalPlayer chips cut power and size; future iPods to benefit?

PortalPlayer, which makes the chips that power all current hard drive-based iPods, today disclosed details of its next-generation PP5022 chip for portable digital media players. The PP5022 improves upon the current PP5020 chip, offering “up to triple the battery life” thanks to better power consumption. It should be noted, however, that many factors such as LCDs, hard disks, and other integrated components will have a significant impact on battery life. Currently, the 4G iPod offers 12 hours of playback time; the iPod photo 15-17 hours; and the iPod mini 18-26 hours. The PP5022 also builds on the multimedia capabilities of the 5020, with support for video playback and, like the iPod photo’s TV slideshow features, dual-screened control of video: a menu could be on the portable screen while video clips play on your TV.

In a related announcement, PortalPlayer introduced the PP5024 chip, a more limited processor intended for high-capacity flash memory-based music players. In future generations of the iPod shuffle, the PP5024 could eventually replace the SigmaTel processor Apple currently uses. There is currently no clear reason to make such a switch, however.

Mac: AccessTunes 1.0 released

AccessTunes from Bains Software is a new Mac OS X program that provides always-on music sharing via iTunes and the Web. “AccessTunes starts sharing your iTunes Music Library as soon as you turn on your computer, making it available as a shared iTunes library on the local network, and accessible from anywhere in the world via the Web,” explains the developer. “With accessTunes, you can listen to your roommate’s music even if he doesn’t have iTunes open, or listen to music from your home computer at work, even if you’re on a PC.” AccessTunes is $15 shareware, allows you to share your entire iTunes Music Library or certain playlists, and supports password protection.

High-capacity replacement battery for 4G iPods debuts

NewerTech and Other World Computing today introduced a new high-capacity replacement battery for all fourth-generation iPods. The $25.99 NewerTech NuPower 4G 750mAh battery “offers the maximum capacity possible with 20 percent more capacity than the factory-installed battery shipped with 4G iPod models,” according to the companies. Non-scratch installation tools and instructions are included with the battery.

Also available are NewerTech’s 2100mAh and 1800mAh iPod batteries, which offer up to 70 percent more capacity for first and second-generation models, and the 850mAh iPod battery, which offers 30 percent more capacity for third-generation models.

iTunes song download rate holds steady after holidays

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Apple’s announcement today that it has sold more than 300 million tracks from the iTunes Music Store means that the daily average of downloads has held steady following a holiday uptick. In a research note to clients, Munster said the average per day since January is approximately 1.35 million downloads, in-line with the 1.43 million average after the holidays. “We had been anticipating a more significant drop off in iTunes sales from the levels seen in the weeks following the holidays,” he said, noting that iTunes sales have exceeded his estimate for the March quarter.

Mix: iPod hack, Mac mini, TiVo, iRiver

“Computer enthusiasts have worked out how to reprogram Apple’s iPod music player with their own code using an ingenious acoustic trick,” reports New Scientist.

The Register speculates that Apple’s Mac mini was originally intended to feature an integrated iPod Dock.

Forrester Research analysts Josh Bernoff and Chris Charron suggest to Apple CEO Steve Jobs that he should buy TiVo.

South Korea’s Reigncom, maker of the iRiver line of MP3 players, took out ads in local newspapers yesterday, saying it’s the patriotic duty of citizens to buy Korean-made players.

PeriodicPod chemistry software for iPods released

Synergy Creations has announced the release of PeriodicPod 1.0, new educational chemistry software for the iPod. PeriodicPod, which works with third and fourth-generation iPods, gives you quick access to atomic properties. “Due to the limitations of the current iPod screen and interface, PeriodicPod is a reference tool rather than a visualization tool like our Periodic Table software,” the developer explained. PeriodicPod is $9 shareware.

Graphic Clings add character to your iPod

pic Graphic Clings are personalized protective skins for all sizes of the fourth-generation iPod. They feature printed graphics—such as wood grain, camo, flames, and graffiti—on vinyl that provides “a thin, long lasting, removable and re-usable protective skin that resists scuffs and scratches.” Graphic Clings use static-cling to stick to the iPod, and leave “absolutely no adhesive or residue when removed, and can be left on the iPod for as long as you like.” They offer wrap-around protection to cover the front, back and sides of an iPod, including a clear section for the screen. Graphic Clings are available in 2-packs for $10.

iTunes Music Store tops 300 million songs sold

Apple today announced that more than 300 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store since it launched. The company also said that the benefit single “Across the Universe,” available exclusively on the iTMS, debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, making it the most successful exclusive digital track ever in its first week of release.

Windows: XPlay gets iPod shuffle support

Mediafour has released XPlay 2.1, which adds support for the iPod shuffle and all USB-connected iPods under Windows 98SE and Me. “Now, everything that made XPlay easy to use with the iPod makes it just as clear with the iPod shuffle,” says the developer. “You can move music to and from your iPod with the powerful drag-and-drop interface; copy music from your iPod to your hard drive; revise and reorder playlists; use your iPod shuffle like an external hard drive; listen to your music through Winamp, Musicmatch, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and most other popular software; plus take advantage of other powerful XPlay features.”

Mix: Jack Johnson, Odeo, Walkman phone, Creative

The iTunes Music Store is offering a free digital booklet and exclusive track when you download Jack Johnson’s new album, “In Between Dreams.”

Odeo’s Evan Williams says his new company is not just about making a buck off podcasting. “Our focus is on humanizing a very promising technology. Making it easier for those already doing it (listening or creating),” he says.

Sony Ericsson’s new W800i Walkman phone sports MP3 playback, a 2 megapixel camera, 32MB of internal memory, 512MB Memory Stick Duo card, Bluetooth, and more.

In response to Apple’s announcement of a 6GB iPod mini and a cheaper 4GB iPod mini, Creative today lowered pricing on its Zen Micro line. The company’s players now start at $180.

Gel Shield for iPod shuffle announced

pic Pacific Rim Technologies today announced Gel Shield, a new silicone case for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The Gel Shield case will be available in a choice of five colors—lime, charcoal, pink, blue and white—and come with a cap protector. Pacific Rim’s Gel Shield for iPod shuffle will begin shipping on Tuesday, March 8, and will be available in a choice of 3-packs for $24.99 or as a single for $10.99.

Burning Love opens US online store

pic Burning Love, a German company that makes hand-made iPod covers, today announced the launch of its US online store. The company offers a stylish lineup of iPod cases in a number of colors and fabrics, including wool, felt, corduroy, and fake-fur. “The products are aimed at iPod users who are looking for something different for their gear than the usual silicone or black leather cases available,” Burning Love said. Prices range from $13 to $16.50, and are available for 20/40GB fourth-generation iPods and iPod minis.

Mac: Airfoil streams audio from any app to AirPort Express

Rogue Amoeba Software has announced the immediate availability of Airfoil (originally announced as Slipstream), its new Mac software that enables users to send audio from any application (instead of just iTunes) directly to an AirPort Express base station. “Everyone who owns one of Apple’s popular AirPort Express devices will be thrilled to be able to send audio from applications like RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and Safari right to their remote speakers,” says the developer. “In just seconds, Airfoil can send audio from almost any application on OS X directly to the AirPort Express.” Airfoil is available at an introductory price of $20.

Mix: Grateful Dead, Duke, Negativland, Podcasting

The iTunes Music Store is now featuring 30 live “Dick’s Picks” Grateful Dead albums “representing the best concerts digitally remastered from the original 2-track source tapes.”

Steve Veres of The Chornicle looks at the past, present and future of the iPod project at Duke University in an extensive article.

Francis Hwang says he will offer his unauthorized special edition Negativland vs. U2 iPod on his website after he was blocked from selling it on eBay due to Apple complaints.

In an article entitled “Podcasting faces growing pains,” Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe looks at the struggles podcasting faces.

ShuffleClip for iPod shuffle announced

picThe ShuffleClip is a new accessory for your iPod shuffle that allows you to clip the device virtually anywhere. “Formed from a single piece of transparent PETG polymer, the ShuffleClip compliments the design of your iPod while keeping it safe and secure,” says the company behind the add-on. “PETG is an extremely strong, yet flexible material that in many ways behaves more like aluminum than plastic. And unlike products made from other materials, the ShuffleClip will never scratch your iPod.” The ShuffleClip sells for $14.95.

Wall Street Journal seeks unique iPod user (updated)

The Wall Street Journal’s Jim Carlton writes with the following request:

“I am finishing up a story on how folks are using more computer gadgets these days while on vacation. I’d like to include iPod users in this story, and in particular am looking for someone who has used an iPod while on vacation for something unusual - like listening to a book on tape, or learning to speak French, rather than for just listening to music. If anyone has a story to share, please email me at: [link deleted]. My deadline is the next couple of days, and I’d ask that you include name/age/occupation/hometown, and details such as when and where you took the vacation. I’d be sure to email you copy of story once it is published. Thanks again.”

iLounge just might have someone reading who fits the description. If it’s you, please use the link above to e-mail Jim.

Update: Jim received so many responses in the first five minutes of the news story’s posting that he’s overwhelmed. Thanks to all who responded!

AudioOutfitters intros ezGear clearCase

pic AudioOutfitters has announced the ezGear clearCase for iPods and iPod minis. Made of ultra-clear acrylic, the $19.98 case has openings on the top and bottom for access to all ports, an opening for the Click Wheel, and comes with a detachable clearClip and lanyard. The top of the clearCase flips open for installation and removal of your iPod. The AudioOutfitters clearCase comes in three sizes to fit the 20GB and 40GB fourth-generation iPods, and iPod mini.

Windows: iPod Access 2.2 released

iPod Access 2.2 from Findley Designs is the latest version of the Windows utility that enables you to copy songs from your iPod back to your computer. Version 2.2 brings the ability to limit iPod Search with the “Assign Drive Letter” utility, and the ability to delete the Preference file for troubleshooting. iPod Access for Windows is available for $14.99.

XtremeMac iPod shuffle gear revealed

pic Following our report last week on XtremeMac’s extensive new collection of iPod shuffle accessories, the company has now added the products to its online store, showing for the first time what the products will look like. The new accessories are now available for pre-order and are expected to ship next month. They include: AirPlay FM Transmitter for iPod shuffle ($49.95); Car Charger for iPod shuffle ($24.95); Bumperz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/5-pack); SportWrap for iPod shuffle ($29.95); Shieldz for iPod shuffle ($19.95/3-pack); Wrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack); TuffWrapz for iPod shuffle ($24.95/3-pack); SuperHook for iPod shuffle ($19.95); SuperClip for iPod shuffle ($14.95); Audio Splitter for iPod shuffle ($12.95); and Audio Kit for iPod shuffle ($49.95).

WaterField intros Gear Pouch for iPod mini

pic WaterField Designs has announced a Gear Pouch specifically created for the iPod mini and its accessories. Like the rest of the WaterField Gear Pouch line, the Gear Pouch for the iPod mini is made of durable Ballistic nylon with a neoprene base and self-locking zippers. On one side of the product are two padded compartments for storing the iPod mini and its power charger or armband; on the other side are two slots for keeping earbuds and cables. The iPod mini Gear Pouch is priced at $29 and comes in black with Blue, Celeste, Checkers, Lead, or Taxi Indium trim.

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