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Mix: Gadget of the year, Gruber, SNL, Joy of Tech

Mike Wendland of the Detroit Free Press says the iPod mini is his gadget of year. “All of the iPods are awesome. But this little package, weighing in at 3.6 ounces, a half-inch thick and the size of a business card, is so slick and so sleek that all I can say is: Sweet.”

In his latest commentary piece, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber aims to dubunk the image and description of the rumored flash iPod that TheMacMind posted earlier this week.

Actor Colin Farrell, who is hosting Saturday Night Live this week, appeared in a Spanish-language talk show skit as U2’s Bono along with the band’s special edition iPod. The host, “Fericito,” countered Farell/Bono with an older Sanyo cassette recorder/player that “holds 15 songs and your photos too” (fold-out wallet photos were taped to the back of the large player).

The current Joy of Tech comic pokes fun at the rumored flash memory-based iPod. The comic features four “flash” iPods including a Super-hero branded iPod, a disco edition, and an iPod “flasher.”

iTunes Music Store now accepting PayPal

Apple and PayPal today announced that the US iTunes Music Store now accepts PayPal for purchases of music, audiobooks and gift certificates. Starting today, PayPal users can shop at the store with a credit card, bank account or stored account balance. “We are thrilled that PayPal users can now buy their music on the world’s number one online music store,” said Todd Pearson, general manager of PayPal’s Merchant Services. “PayPal’s virtual wallet offers iTunes customers the convenience of paying in the way they prefer.” The first 500,000 customers to open a new iTunes account in the US using PayPal as their form of payment before March 31, 2005, will receive five free songs.

Booq announces PodPaq Denim

pic Booq has announced PodPaq Denim, a new version of its PodPaq case for the 4G iPod and iPod photo. The $39.95 case is made from washed denim and trimmed in soft Nappa leather. The case features a removable flap with cutouts for headphones and charging cable, an internal neoprene accessory pouch and a swivel belt clip.

New iPods to use Toshiba flash memory?

Toshiba has reportedly agreed to supply Apple with flash memory chips—presumably for the much-rumored flash iPod. China Daily reports that Yasuo Morimoto, senior executive vice president at Toshiba, has confirmed his company will start selling the memory chips to Apple “early next year.” Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Milunovich expects Apple to introduce a cheaper flash memory-based iPod at Macworld Expo in January. Toshiba currently supplies Apple with the 1.8-inch hard drives that the company uses in its 4G iPods.

Mix: iTunes Top 100, MSI X2, Podvertising, iStudents

Apple’s iTunes Music Store has posted its Top 100 Songs and Top 100 Albums of 2004. The No. 1 song is “This Love” by Maroon 5, while the No. 1 album is U2’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

John C. Dvorak highlights yet another “iPod Killer

iSoundz portable speaker system for iPod debuts

pic Digital Age Products has rolled out the iSoundz portable desktop speaker system for iPods with Dock connectors. The system features fold-away speakers for easy portability and offers “clear, crisp sound in a design that cradles your iPod, but doesn’t hog your desktop (or your iPod’s battery charge).” The iSoundz speaker system, which retails for $39.95, includes an audio cable, AC adapter and a USB charging cable for recharging the system’s Ni-MH battery from your notebook or desktop computer.

AudioOutfitters unveils iPod PowerStick

pic Audio Outfitters today introduced the iPod PowerStick, an auxiliary power source for use with all iPods with Dock connectors. The PowerStick triples the battery life of your iPod when used with four AA batteries, according to the company. The accessory features an on/off switch and LED, and charges the internal iPod battery while attached to the iPod via the Dock Connector. The iPod PowerStick retails for $27.99.

iPod icons hacked, tutorial provided

Our friends at Engadget have posted an impressive, nicely illustrated tutorial on changing an iPod’s graphics to include custom visuals of your choice. The hack requires a program called iPod Wizard, which is explained in greater detail at the tutorial link.

PowerGuard, ScreenShield, WheelFilm for iPod debut

pic PDAtrends has introduced three new iPod products—PowerGuard, ScreenShield and WheelFilm. The iPod PowerGuard protects the back of the device from scratches and dirt. It is available in several different colors and patterns. The ScreenShield acts as a protective layer for the screen of the iPod. Each pack contains six ScreenShields. The iPod WheelFilm is a sticker-like add-on that protects your iPod’s Scroll/Click Wheel. It also comes in different colors and patterns. All three products work with the 3G and 4G iPod, iPod mini and iPod photo. They are priced at $9.95 each.

Mix: Milk jug, Radiologists, Negativland, bootleg earphones

One MacGyver-like iPod owner has posted detailed instructions on how to make an iPod carrying case out of a milk jug.

Radiologists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and other institutions from as far away as Europe and Australia are now using iPods to store medical images.

eBay has removed a modified U2 iPod promoting Negativland from its auctions after Apple complained of copyright violations.

At least one company in Hong Kong is selling a bootleg set of Apple’s trademark white earphones.

Pacific Design offers 4G iPod Pouches

pic Pacific Design has announced a new version of its iPod Pouch for fourth-generation iPod models. The new case is made of microfiber and features full access to all buttons and ports, a 360-degree detachable belt clip, and clear PVC to protect the LCD screen. The new iPod Pouch fits both the 20GB and 40GB iPod and is available in Titanium grey metallic, Pretty pink metallic, and Super silver metallic.

Mac: iPresent It 1.0.1 released

iPresent It 1.0.1 is the first update to ZappTek’s software for converting PowerPoint, PDF and Keynote presentations to slideshows viewable on your iPod photo. This version adds built-in Keynote processing, improved image quality, and support for PowerPoint X in addition to 2004. iPresent It sells for $17.95.

Contour announces hard case for iPod photo

pic Contour Design has announced the Showcase Photo, a new hard case designed for Apple’s iPod photo. Based on the original Showcase for 3G and 4G iPods, the accessory offers all-around protection, clear exterior with shock-absorbing interior, screen protector, detachable belt clip, Click Wheel access, and top and bottom openings for access to connectors, headphone jack and hold switch. The Contour Showcase Photo will be available beginning next week in two colors—black or white—for $32.95.

Mac|Windows: YamiPod 0.4.7 released

YamiPod is a freeware application to manage your Apple iPod for Windows and Mac OS X. It can also help you to rebuild the music library, in case some program messed up your iPod. New features in this version include: notes are automatically split if longer than 4KB, choice of destination playlists and many more.

Sony, Warner Music execs plan to conquer iPod lead

At this week’s UBS Media Week Conference in New York, two executives took aim at Apple’s iPod. Andrew House, VP of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said he plans to first get the company’s Playstation Portable (PSP) in the hands of consumers as a gaming device and then use it to sell music and video downloads. The device uses a proprietary Sony storage disc format that can store about 2GB worth of content. “In the portable space, there are devices that are a necessity, like a cell phone, and there are devices that are indulgences,” House said. “The iPod fits very much into the indulgence and status category and that is where we are going to go head-to-head with PSP.”

Meanwhile, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman said in a separate presentation at the conference that he sees a large opportunity to sell the label’s music on mobile phones, which he expects will hold as much as 1,000 songs like the iPod mini. “Eventually, the greatest competition [for the iPod] comes from the wireless network providers,” Bronfman said. “If my cell phone—or one of those 1.3 billion cell phone users as opposed to the five million iPod users—can give me the same kind of functionality as the iPod, that’s the biggest competition.”

Sena Cases unveils iPod product line

pic Sena Cases has announced the release of a new line of cases for Apple’s 4G iPod and iPod photo models. Made of specially selected soft European leather, the new cases are offered in two different designs—with or without a flip cover. They feature a slim design, the ability to sync/charge via the iPod dock, access to all buttons and headphone jack, and a multi-purpose pocket (flip cover model only). The Sena cases are available in nine different colors—black, tan, blue, light blue, red, white, orange, green, and violet. The flip cover model is priced at $36.99, while the non-flip cover model sells for $33.99.

TransPod compatible with iPod photo

pic  Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced that its TransPod all-in-one car solution for iPod is fully compatible with the iPod photo. The TransPod lets owners transmit, charge and secure their iPod in one compact device in their cars. “After extensive testing, DLO now confirms the iPod photo fits the TransPod as well as the current lineup of 3G, 4G and mini iPods,” the company said. The TransPod retails for $99.99.

Mix: Blade, iPod My Photo, Gephardt,

The female lead in the new Blade: Trinity movie relies on her iPod when fighting vampires, according to a video on the film’s new music Web site, Music To Slay By.

iPod My Photo is a new service that transforms any of your digital photos into an image identical to Apple’s silhouette ads for $19.95.

Missouri congressman and former Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt loves his iPod and says he listens to both Nelly and Eminem.

Apple is in a battle with the owner of the domain name. The owner claims to have registered it before Apple was granted a trademark.

White leather iAlbea case debuts

pic The iAlbea is a new white leather iPod case. It is hand-made by craftsmen from a Spanish traditional leather production zone, and features quick access to controls, and a secure removable clip. The iAlbea comes in two models to fit all third and fourth generation iPods. It is priced at $85 (shipping included).

iTunes, Napster most recognized in digital music

Apple’s iTunes Music Store and Napster 2.0 are the most recognized online music services, according to a new study from global marketing research firm Ipsos-Insight. “New findings from TEMPO, the company’s quarterly study of digital music behaviors, reveal that in summer 2004, American downloaders aged 12 and older were equally as likely to be aware of Napster 2.0 and Apple’s iTunes on a top-of-mind basis (20% each). However, when prompted with brand names, about four out of five (79%) downloaders recognize the Napster 2.0 brand, while nearly half (46%) are aware of iTunes.”

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