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Mix: iTunes 4.9, Super Tangent, Odeo, Family, WWDC

Make magazine reports that podcast download logs are showing a new user agent for iTunes 4.9, hinting that Apple is actively testing the new version internally.

Kodawarisan has posted photos of its teardown of the Luxpro Super Tangent.

Screenshots of Odeo’s upcoming podcasting service have been posted on flickr.

Meanwhile, another flickr user has posted a rather strange photo of her “iPod Family”—a dad (1G) and mom (iPod mini) looking over their baby (iPod shuffle).

CNET has posted the complete transcript from Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference, which took place earlier this month in San Francisco.

Mac: Pod Genius 1.0 released

Prosoft Engineering has announced the release of Pod Genius ($59), new Mac OS X software that helps you maintain, manage, and optimize Your iPod, according to the developer.

“Pod Genius is the only comprehensive software utility geared specifically toward iPod users. Recover lost or damaged music, repair corrupted data structures, backup your iPod to an exact copy, permanently delete unwanted files, or optimize the file layout of your music. You’ve invested a lot into your iPod and music, with Pod Genius, you can be sure your iPod will faithfully perform and your investment is well-protected.”

Belkin acknowledges Power Pack defect, calls for returns [updated]

imageBelkin has confirmed to iLounge that a manufacturing defect affects a portion of its Power Pack units for the iPod shuffle. The company said that while the Power Pack is providing the appropriate voltage, a connected iPod shuffle may not charge with either the AC or DC adapters even after hours of charging.

“This defect was first reported to us and verified on June 14th as a result of a customer support call,” Brian VanHarlingen, Belkin’s Senior Technology Manager, told iLounge. “Upon identification of the potential issue, we immediately ceased all shipments of the product from our distribution centers.”

VanHarlingen said Belkin is currently looking into the cause of the defect and how the issue slipped through the cracks. “We are currently conducting detailed testing to determine the cause of the problem and the extent of the problem (what percentage of products, and which production lots, are affected). We are also determining how our usually very thorough manufacturing QA processes allowed them to be produced.”

VanHarlingen said that customers who purchased a Power Pack and are experiencing the charging issue should either return the product to where it was purchased, or contact Belkin directly at 800-2-BELKIN x2064 to arrange a return. “We will continue to offer updates as we determine the cause of this defect,” he said. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that this causes for customers who have purchased the product.”

Update: As expected, VanHarlingen has provided iLounge with an update on the defect:

“We have confirmed that the affected Belkin Power Pack for iPod shuffle products properly charge the iPod shuffle as long as the iPod shuffle is turned on—in either the shuffle or play-in-order modes,” he said. “However, the iPod shuffle will not charge using the Power Pack if the iPod shuffle is turned completely off.”

“We are currently revising the design to ensure that the product will consistently charge the iPod shuffle in either circumstance. Once we have the revised product in stock, we will exchange units for customers experiencing this issue, and, as previously mentioned, we are honoring any requests for refunds.”

Speck debuts Portfolio Skin case

imageSpeck Products continues its onslaught of new iPod accessories with the Portfolio Skin, a new silicone case that opens up like a book and closes with a strap made out of the same material. The case, which offers all-around protection, is available in clear or pink and each comes with four different colored straps.

Speck says the Portfolio Skin will work with 20, 30, 40 and 60GB 4G iPod and iPod photo models. It will be available from the company’s online store early tomorrow morning for $34.95. Click below for our exclusive photos.

Apple pact with Wal-Mart ‘broader than some realize’

Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle said today that Apple’s pact with Wal-Mart may be broader than some realize.

“While we don’t believe Apple iPod availability at Wal-Mart is completely new news, we do think the partnership is broader than people think, in transition and set to expand in the near-term,” Runkle said in a research note to clients.

Runkle said Apple and the retail giant have expanded their initial test rollout in the last few months. Confirming the report, iLounge readers in Florida, Indiana, Texas and elsewhere have noted in recent weeks that they’ve seen various iPod models at their local Wal-Mart stores. Select Wal-Mart locations are carrying the 20GB iPod, the iPod mini, and the iPod shuffle, along with HP-branded versions.

Runkle estimates that sales of iPods at Wal-Mart locations could boost sales by 100,000 units and add $20 million in revenue each quarter. “We view the growing Wal-Mart relationship as a positive—a way to expand the brand to the mainstream and additive to the bottom-line,” she said.

Apple to offer Sundance Channel podcasts

Apple and the Sundance Channel have signed a deal to make content from the cable network available exclusively as podcast downloads from the iTunes Music Store.

“The partnership with Sundance gives iTunes one of its first exclusive podcast partners and inches Apple’s iTunes operations—originally created as a music distribution hub—toward becoming a broader, radio-like media entity,” reports AdAge (free registration required).

One of the first podcasts from the Sundance Channel will be “The Al Franken Show,” which features the Air America talk show host.

BTI to release new iPod add-ons next month

imageBattery Technology, Inc. (BTI) today announced that it will ship a number of its new iPod products early next month.

Among the new gear is the Mpod 3, a new battery-powered FM transmitter for the iPod shuffle ($29.95); a 20-hour rechargeable battery for the iPod and iPod mini ($69.95); an international AC power adapter for the iPod, which includes US, UK, EU plugs ($29.95); a headphone splitter with dual volume control ($14.95); and a belt clip and neck strap set for the iPod and iPod mini ($29.95).

The company also said that its Tunestir iPod FM receiver/transmitter and remote ($69.95), which was expected to ship in April, would also be available early next month.

Ignitek announces three iPod speaker systems

imageIgnitek has announced three new iPod speaker systems that are set to be released next month.

The first, called iCarrier, is a 3-way, floor-standing speaker system with a powered woofer and variable bass control. The top docking mechanism will accommodate both the iPod and iPod mini, and the unit will ship with a remote control. Ignitek said it will retail for $249.99.

The second speaker system is the iCruiser. Like many other iPod desktop systems, it is an all-in-one unit that features an iPod cradle in the center with two flanking speakers. The iCruiser ships with a remote control and audio-in for other music players. The iCruiser will sell for $129.99.

The iDeck, the third system offered from Ignitek, is built specifically for the iPod shuffle. It is a 2-Way speaker system in a compact, portable design. The battery-powered system works with an optional car charger. The iDeck is priced at $79.99.

Former Apple exec joins DLO

iPod accessory maker Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced that F. Garey De Angelis has been appointed Vice President of Product Development. In his new role with DLO, De Angelis will be responsible for “taking new products from the idea stage into successful production.”

De Angelis previously held product, software, and corporate executive roles at Apple in the Far East and at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. He also held technical management positions at DuPont, was a partner in a start-up consulting business, and served as CEO for video communications company Motion Media Technology.

Mix: Jobs, U2 switch, iPod Soufflé, Trademarks, Errol Morris

Stanford University has posted the transcript of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ commencement speech. Jobs offers three very interesting and heartfelt stories from his life.

iLounger Francis Real has posted details on how to put a faceplate from a U2 iPod onto a 30GB iPod photo.

iPod Soufflé is a site that shows you how many iPod shuffles you could get in exchange for certain items or dollar amounts such as Donald Trump’s net worth, a year’s supply of Twinkies, or the US national debt. The site also lets visitors add their own. [via Airbag]

Apple recently applied for several new trademarks, including one for “iPod Socks.”

Well known director Errol Morris revealed in an interview that he is filming new commercials for Apple that will be set in an Ames room.

Microsoft taps Xbox exec to fight iPod

imageMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer has tapped Senior Vice President Robbie Bach to revamp the company’s digital music offerings in an effort to keep up with Apple. Bach, who is also the head of Microsoft’s Xbox unit, has been called a “rising star” in the tech industry for his work on the video game console.

“Bach is expected to be given the authority to push for a range of changes, such as setting up a team focused solely on digital music, reorganizing product groups, or acquiring companies,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. “One immediate mission for him will be to make Microsoft’s new Xbox a hub for handling digital music.”

Ballmer reportedly assigned Bach to the new music role after an executive retreat in which his team privately showed the new Xbox 360 and marketing plans. “Later, executives talked about how they might employ lessons learned from Mr. Bach’s group,” the paper notes. “The retreat included a brief analysis of rival Apple’s music strategy.”

Microsoft insiders say that Bach plans to work more closely with certain media player makers to aid them in building better devices. “It would be an extension of the PlaysForSure branding program Microsoft started last year that subjects partners’ music players and services to a battery of tests to assure they will work smoothly with music services,” the paper reports.

Mix: Apple’s Brand, South Korea, Fraudsters, Walkman

Apple is the fastest growing brand in the world, according to marketing consultants Vivaldi Partners and Forbes. Apple has increase its brand value by 38% in the last four years thanks to the popularity of the iPod.

Apple reportedly said South Korean citizens will not be eligible for compensation in its iPod battery settlement.

iPods have “become the tool of choice for some fraudsters who use them to download vast quantities of corporate information either to sell to rivals or to support their own start-up operations,” reports The Guardian.

An inventive iPod owner created a case for his device out of an old cassette Walkman. The procedure required a special “dock-pinout-to-headphone-jack hack” because of the tight fit.

Update on Apple vs. Thought Out dispute

Thought Out’s Mike Talmadge provided iLounge with an update regarding the ongoing trademark dispute with Apple over the use of his company’s iPed name.

“We understand Apple’s request in protecting their trademark of the ‘iPod’ name, but we feel we are being singled out,” Talmadge said. “We pointed out to Apple that many other companies use the iPod/Pod name and variations of it in their products such as i_od or Pod this or that. We have been told by Apple as excepted, (in so many words) that this is not of your concern, and that Apple is, has, will be addressing them too.”

“We have been making every effort to come to terms with Apple in regards to the iPed name with out any major legal battle,” Talmadge said. “Apple and Thought Out plan to meet in the near future to discuss further actions for our iPed name.”

iH5 alarm clock radio for iPod announced

imageThe iHome division of SDI Technologies has announced the iH5 clock radio, which lets you wake up to music from your iPod, an AM/FM radio or buzzer. With its built-in iPod cradle, the iH5 charges your iPod while docked, and sports a backlit LCD screen, and line-in to connect non-docking iPods and other audio players.

The iH5 also features “Gentle Wake and Gentle Sleep,” which “gradually increases and decreases Alarm/Sleep volume for a more relaxing beginning and end to each day,” and utilizes Reason8 speaker technology to create “sound quality that has outstanding depth, clarity and power.” The iH5 works with the 3G/4G iPod, iPod mini and iPod photo. iLounge was told the iH5 will be available in August for $99.99, and that a website for the product will go live later this week.

AudioOutfitters offers clearCase for iPod photos

imageAudioOutfitters has introduced the ezGear clearCase 60, a new version of its clear, hard case for larger iPods such as the iPod photo. The clearCase is made of ultra-clear acrylic, has openings on the top and bottom for access to all ports, and an opening for the Click Wheel. It covers the iPod’s screen completely to prevent scratches, and comes with a detachable clearClip and a lanyard. The clearCase 60 works with the iPod photo 30GB, 40Gb and 60GB models and the 40GB fourth-generation iPod. It sells for $19.98.

Weak iPod shuffle sales may affect flash prices

Because of “weaker than expected” iPod shuffle sales, NAND flash prices could drop up to 40% for other manufacturers if Apple’s allotted portion is made available, according to a DigiTimes report.

“Although the iPod Shuffle was a hit when it was first introduced on the market, sales of the MP3 player are not justifying the supply forecasts for NAND flash that Apple has secured from Samsung, the sources stated. If Apple cancels the orders, Samsung may release even more NAND flash into a market already being affected by the influx of a number of new NAND flash producers,” the tech site reports.

Forums: Sound distortion, Summertime, iTunes tidiness, perfect earphones

Some points of interest this week in the iLounge Discussion Forums: The iPod photo ‘sound distortion issue’ reported by some members - are you having the problem described?

With a school break looming for many readers, thoughts are turning to summer trips. Do you have anything exciting lined up? Don’t forget to take your iPod!

Are you a neat person? Does “a place for everything and everything in its place” hold true for you, even when you’re organizing your music library? Other readers exchange their stories of iTunes tidiness (iTidiness?), or lack of it, in this thread....

The quest for the perfect earphone and iPod combination goes on as a member posts his impression of Shure’s E3c ‘phones. Have you found your perfect match yet? The Ear/Headphones Forum might be a good place to start, alongside the official iLounge Reviews section.

Mythix intros iChant iPod speaker

imageMythix has introduced the iChant, a new mini-speaker for the iPod. The iChant, which plugs into the headphone port on the top of an iPod, lets you “finally free your ears and share your music” without the “hassle of always being connected to your iPod.” It’s made of iPod-matching white ABS plastic with a metal grille and features an on/off switch to extend battery life (up to 8 hours on one AA battery). The iChant is priced at $32.99.

Mac|Windows: iPurseona 1.0 released

Helmes Innovations has announced the release of iPurseona, new content that turns your iPod into a “digital purse accessory” using the iPod Notes feature. iPurseona includes: Beauty Recipes & Homemade Remedies; Body Care Tips & Tricks; Hair Care Tips & Tricks; Skin Care Tips & Tricks; Make-Up Tips & Tricks; Fragrance Tips & Tricks; Pick-Up Lines; and How-To’s. The $9 shareware works with both Macs and PCs.

Mix: Stanford, Hickman, eBooks, Nokia, iPodStyles

During his commencement speech at Stanford University Sunday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told graduates that dropping out of college was one of the best decisions he ever made, and that when he was diagnosed with cancer, his doctor initially told him he only had three-to-six months to live. “Your time is limited so don’t let it be wasted living someone else’s life,” Jobs said.

In an article on Inside Bay Area, Speck Products general manager Tim Hickman talks about the birth of his company’s new iGuy iPod case.

Make magazine’s Phillip Torrone has posted a guide to creating eBooks for your iPod.

Nokia announced today that its new mobile web browser for its Series 60 Platform is based on the same open source components that Apple uses in its Safari browser. “Nokia intends to continue its collaboration with Apple and actively participate in the open source community to further develop and enhance these components, contributing Nokia’s expertise in mobility,” the company said.

iPodStyles has launched a design competition in which designers will have a chance to win iPod shuffles and earn recurring income, and customers will get to vote for the designs that they would like and want to purchase.

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