Red Wine Audio has announced the iMod, a $249 upgrade that enhances the sound quality of your iPod by tapping directly into the DAC (digital-to-analog converter) chip inside the device.
“The goal of the Red Wine iMod is to significantly minimize the analog signal path that follows the output of the internal Wolfson WM8975 DAC chip,” explains the company. “Using D.H. Labs silver wire, we take the analog output (line out) directly off of the DAC chip and send it out of the iPod rear case (via a drilled 5/32” hole) to a custom made assembly that contains Black Gate Non-Polarized NX HiQ coupling capacitors soldered directly to a new 1/8” stereo line out jack.”
As a reminder for potential entrants, two iLounge contests with roughly $2700 in prizes are ending this week - one tonight. Our Search for iPod Trivia Contest gives you the chance to win one of three Klipsch iFi Speaker Systems, each worth $399. You’ll find the contest on page 72 of The Free iPod Book and Back to School Guide. This contest ends at 11:59PM tonight.
Our separate Blog The Book Contest ends on September 23, 2005, so new bloggers still have a chance to win. A total of 15 iPod shuffles or cash prizes up to $1500 will be given away. Complete contest rules are available here.
In a glowing review of the iPod nano for The New York Times, David Pogue writes: “Apple says its iPod and iTunes music store have 74 and 85 percent of their worldwide markets. But according to Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray analyst, the end is near… Well, he’s right about one thing: Apple’s market share won’t stay at 80 percent. It’s about to go up.”
BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl discusses a video iPod and online video store: “If Apple doesn’t do it, someone else will. But my money is on Apple—and Jobs. Apple is the only company that can do this right. And in fact, the movie industry needs some help in finding its way in the digital world. Apple has been this way before with music. It can do it again with video, and change the entertainment world once again.”
iPodMyBaby.com has added a “Nano Black” version of its iPod-themed onesie. “Ultra realistic black with glossy click wheel on 100% cotton American Apparel one piece. A special silk screening technique was used with high density inks to provide a slick and shiny wheel on your baby’s belly. Impossibly cute.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg reviews the Motorola ROKR: “As a music player, the Motorola ROKR is OK, as are the two other music phones we tested. But none of them approaches either the style or the functionality of the iPod, and none lives up to the full potential of what a combined cellphone and music player could be.”
Apple has acknowledged problems with the Windows version of iTunes 5 and said it will release an update next week to fix the issues.
“Apple is aware that a limited number of customers are experiencing issues with installing iTunes 5,” the company said in a statement. “We’re working to resolve this and expect to have a software update early next week.”
Problems reported on Apple’s support message board include computer crashes, deleted playlists, problems with purchased music transfers, and application conflicts, among other issues.
Mediafour has released XPlay 2.2, which adds support for the iPod nano and iTunes 5 compatibility. XPlay enables you to move music to and from your iPod with its drag-and-drop interface, copy music from your iPod to your hard drive, use a Mac-formatted iPod on both a Mac and PC, revise and reorder playlists, and more. XPlay sells for $29.95.
Images found in the resource files of iTunes 5—including “Gift video,” “Buy video,” and “Add video” buttons—hint that Apple could soon start selling standalone videos.
In his positive review of the iPod nano, Matthew Fordahl of the Associated Press writes: “But the biggest problem, which also turns out to be its biggest selling point, is size. The Nano is so small that it tends to disappear quite easily on a cluttered desk. It’s also conceivable that more than a few Nanos will be forgotten in pockets and sent through the washing machine.”
Apple has posted a support document containing Motorola ROKR connectivity troubleshooting tips for those using Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, iSync 2.1 or later, or iTunes 4.9 or later.
Coldplay, Capitol Records and Apple today announced Fix You, a digital EP that will benefit Hurricane Katrina Victims. The EP, which is available exclusively on the iTunes Music Store for $2.99, includes two songs previously unreleased in the US—“Pour Me” and “The World Turned Upside Down”—in addition to two versions of “Fix You,” the band’s new single from the double Platinum album X&Y. Coldplay, BMG Publishing, Capitol Records/EMI and Apple will donate 100 percent of their share of the proceeds of sales of the EP to the American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences’ MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund.
Contrary to analyst comments made yesterday, Piper Jaffray said Wednesday that Apple’s iPod nano is “selling well.” The research firm said that all of the 20 Apple retail stores it contacted in a survey this week expressed that demand for the nano, especially the black nano, is high. “No store that we checked with had Black 4G nanos in stock,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note obtained by iLounge. “One store sold out of the Black 4G nano within the first three hours of availability and then sold out of the White 4G nano on the second day of availability.”
Munster also notes that Alexa.com web traffic data shows increased interest in Apple’s products. “Apple’s ‘traffic rank’ has recently spiked to all time highs, having a ranking of 39 on Sept. 12 vs. a ranking of 64 on June 30,” he said. “We believe that the publicity surrounding Apple’s launch of the new iPod nano, and to a lesser extent, the unveiling of Motorola’s ROKR phone, has fueled the spike in interest observed in the web traffic data.”
Apple may also be learning from past mistakes with product production, according to the analyst. “While the Apple stores are currently out of the Black 4G nano, we believe that Apple has learned from the production mistakes of the iPod mini made during last year’s holiday season and will produce enough of the iPod nano to meet demand,” Munster said. “This is based on comments from Apple in which they said their manufacturing partner has dedicated a facility solely to nano production. Thus, going forward, we believe that if the lead time of the nano increases, Apple would likely be selling more nanos than their initial aggressive expectations.”
Incase Designs has announced a new collection of officially-licensed Collegiate Folio cases for the iPod. Available next month in time for the college football season, the initial line includes 10 top universities. The Folio cases feature the school’s logo on front with name on belt clip, a flip-down cover, synthetic fiber exterior and suede interior, and elastic sides in complimentary colors. They will retail for $29.95 and be available in in Apple retail and online stores as well as select college campuses. In related news, Incase said it has plans to launch a line of products for the new iPod nano.
In its latest move to differentiate itself from other digital music retailers, Apple has teamed up with Ticketmaster to offer advance pre-sale tickets for the upcoming Depeche Mode tour to those who pre-order the band’s new album from the iTunes Music Store.
Depeche Mode fans can pre-order the new album, Playing the Angel, from September 13-26. After the purchase, you’ll receive a passcode via email from Ticketmaster which gives you access to buy up to four tickets for the tour before they go on sale to the general public.
The Think Different Store will open its first retail location to sell iPod accessories this month on Long Island. The grand opening celebration is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the 1-800-ipod.com Store at 280 Middle Country Road in Selden. Over $1000 in iPod and Macintosh related merchandise will be given away during the celebration, including an iPod Nano.
“Covering 3000 square feet of prime retail space along a major thoroughfare in Suffolk County, the store features a wide range of accessories and enhancements for Apple’s wildly popular iPod music player and Macintosh personal computers,” says the owners. “Staffed with a friendly, knowledgeable group of Long Island techno-wizards, the 1-800-ipod.com store is destined to become an easily accessible local resource for iPod and Macintosh users.”
Crestron has introduced a 2-way iPod interface that reproduces the iPod display and controls on any Crestron touchpanel. The iPod Connect CEN-IPOD offers high-speed Ethernet communications with the Crestron control system, buffered unbalanced and CAT5 balanced stereo outputs, and supports 3G/4G iPods, iPod mini, and iPod photo. Pricing was not available.
“Just plug the iPod into its docking station and replicate the iPod experience on a Crestron touchpanel, instantly sharing your entire personal music collection with speakers throughout the house,” says Crestron. “Select tunes by genre, artist, album and track, and even view iPod photos right on the touchpanel.” [via Engadget]
Speck Products tomorrow will announce nine new iPod nano accessories in a variety of colors, textures and shapes. The company said that the nano products will begin shipping next month.
Speck’s new collection of unique nano gear includes:
Nano Grass FunSkin ($34.95; right) - This new case provides “fun as well as functional protection” with its green grass-themed design, screen protector and belt clip.
Nano Connect and Protect ($34.95) - Includes SkinTight Skin, holster, caribeener clip, lanyard and wrist strap. Available in clear only.
Nano See-Thru Three-Pack ($29.95) -Three translucent hard cases for the nano. Set includes a pink, blue and clear case.
Nano Cloud FunSkin ($34.95; left) - The white case was designed to look like a “fluffy cloud” and features both a screen protector and belt clip.
Nano Armband ($29.95 for Armband; $34.95 for Armband and Skin) - Features a soft comfort fit adjustable strap and earphone cord clips. Available in clear only with black strap.
Nano iGuy ($34.95) - A smaller version of Speck’s bendable, posable friend for the iPod and iPod mini.
Nano ToughSkin ($34.95; lower right) - Available in clear or black, the case provides “rugged protection and style.” The case features an aggressive design, screen protector and belt clip.
Nano SkinTight ($19.95 each; three-pack also includes pink, $29.95) - A form-fitting skin with two-part design that covers nano and includes cap for easy synching. Available in clear or black.
Nano SkinTight Deluxe ($24.95 each; two-pack $34.95) - Same as above, but with a screen protector and Deluxe Swivel Holster, which works as a belt clip. Also available in clear or black.
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.
In-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.”
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.”
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.”
Digital 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 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.
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.”