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News

Podfitness, Marware team up

Podfitness, the customized audio personal training service, has partnered with iPod accessory maker Marware to offer “exclusive product offers that will be bundled with the Sportsuit product line.” In their announcement, which provided no product specifics, the two companies said: “Additional product and cross promotional initiatives are being designed to enhance the fitness enthusiast experience.¬†Podfitness will also be distributing Marware products online as well as implementing a branded line of Marware products. Podfitness and Marware will continue to collaborate on co-branded strategies.”

Marware debuts Nike-compatible Sportsuit Relay

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Marware today announced the new Sportsuit Relay combo accessory pack for owners of the the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. The $30 set includes Marware’s previously announced Sportsuit Sensor+ pouch for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit sensor along with a new wrist/armband case designed specifically to accommodate the iPod nano and the Sport Kit receiver. Both feature neoprene and rubber construction, and the wrist/armband comes with an optional extension piece and sports a play-through protector window.

4Flix.net offers new plan, notes ‘6th generation Video iPod’

4Flix.Net has announced its Free*Pass monthly subscription plan, which allows unrestricted access to the site’s collection of iPod-ready videos for $9.99 a month. The service allows members to download any of 4Flix.Net’s DRM-free feature-length movies, classic TV shows, and independent films. Strangely, in 4Flix.Net’s press release for the new service, sent to iLounge, the company lists “Apple’s 6th Generation 16x9 widescreen Video iPod” as a supported device. Apple has obviously yet to introduce such a device and is unlikely to provide product details to a company such as 4Flix.Net in advance of such an announcement.

Update: As noted in the comments below, 4Flix.Net has updated its press release on its website, which now lists “Apple’s 5th Generation video-capable iPod” as a supported device.

Amazon opens ‘Unbox’ online movie store

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As expected, Amazon.com today launched its Amazon Unbox video store. The web-based service offers TV shows and movies from more than 30 studios and networks.

TV shows cost $1.99 per episode, and most movies range from $7.99 to $14.99. Movies can also be “rented” for $3.99. The “DVD-quality” movies and shows must be watched on a PC using Amazon’s software. Downloads also come with a second file that can only be viewed on one of a handful of Windows Media-compatible video players from Creative, Toshiba, Archos and iRiver. Movies cannot be burned to DVDs for playback in a DVD player. The average TV show weighs in at 600MB in file size and is expected to take 30 minutes to 2 hours to download, while a 2-hour movie is around 2.4GB in size and takes from 2-7 hours to download.

Apple is widely expected to launch its own online movie service at a special event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Recent reports claim that Apple has yet to sign the majority of Hollywood studios due to wrangling over movie prices.

100,000th Forum member announced, awarded special iPod

Congratulations to new iLounge Discussion Forum member Alycia Kohler from New Jersey, who officially became our 100,000th validated forum member last week! Having helped us to reach this milestone, Alycia won a custom-colored fifth-generation iPod, courtesy of iLounge. With over 100,000 members, 150,000 topics and nearly 1,000,000 posts - even more if you count those in our old forums - our Discussion Forums continue to constitute the largest independent community of iPod users and discussions anywhere on the planet.

Thanks to all of our Forum members for their continued support! If you haven’t visited or signed up yet, now’s the time.

Apple files patent for multi-function handheld device

  • September 7, 2006
  • iPod

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A new Apple patent application published today by the US Patent & Trademark Office details a “multi-functional handheld device” that has the ability to quickly switch between multiple operating modes. The patent, which was filed in March, describes a device with a touch sensitive screen covering the entire front of the unit and the ability to switch between functionalities such as PDA, cell phone, music player, video player, game player, digital camera, GPS, handtop, and remote control.

“Before a particular device functionality can be used, it typically must be selected for use,” a portion of the filing reads. “The selection can come in a variety of forms. For example, the selection may be made via a main menu that includes soft buttons or icons that, when selected, activate the device functionality associated with the soft button. During activation, the GUI for that particular device is brought into view on the display and the software associated with the device is installed, loaded or activated. From that point on, the multi-functional device operates like the selected device.”

Griffin offers iTrip Auto Universal

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Griffin Technology will soon release the iTrip Auto Universal, a new FM transmitter designed to work with any portable audio player with a standard 1/8” (3.5mm) headphone port. Like the other iTrip accessories, this new model allows users to listen to the music on their player wirelessly through a car’s stereo system. The iTrip Auto Universal ($40) is powered by a 12-volt accessory (cigarette lighter) outlet and features an LCD for station tuning, switchable LX/DX Modes, and automatic shutoff function.

GizMac ships Titan case for iPod nano

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GizMac has announced the availability of its aluminum Titan case for the iPod nano. The Titan case, made from anodized aircraft aluminum, features a carabiner clip, armband, belt clip with 360-degree rotation, and lanyard accessories. The $40 case also sports a hard acrylic screen protector and thin film click wheel protector. The Titan case is available in black, silver, pink, purple, cranberry, light green, light blue, dark orange, and gold.

Mix: RAZR V3i, TightPod, SpiralFrog, Speck Products

  • September 6, 2006

Cingular is now selling Motorola’s iTunes-compatible RAZR V3i cell phone. The V3i, which was announced nearly a year ago, features a 1.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, microSD card slot, and more.

Apple will pay a laptop case maker to stop using the word “Pod” in its product names. Bloomberg reports: “Terry Wilson, 53, who sells the TightPod over the Internet, said Apple contacted her after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said she would soon receive a trademark for the product. She wouldn’t say how much Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., agreed to pay toward costs of the name change.”

Vaja debuts iVolution Leather Suit for 5G iPods

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Vaja has announced its new iVolution Leather Suit for the 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods. The $70 case is made from genuine Argentine leather and features all-around, padded protection, snap closure system, and a removable Lexan screen protector. The case also provides access to all controls and ports, is available in nearly 40 different colors, and can be personalized with a name ($10) or logo ($30).

New content from Nickelodeon, The N coming to iTunes

The MTVN Kids and Family Group announced today that it will soon offer new programming from Nickelodeon and The N on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Launching today on iTunes is The N’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, a “fictional, dramatic series that tackles tough issues in a realistic way, which ranked number-one in premiere ratings in its time period among teens.” During the month of September, Nickelodeon will add TEENick series Drake & Josh, Unfabulous and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, as well as Nick Jr. series The Wonder Pets!, and new seasons from Zoey 101. The network will also offer a free sneak peek of its new series, Mr. Meaty, prior its on-air network debut.

Report: Apple to launch movie service with only Disney offerings

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will use its special event next week to add full-length movie downloads to the iTunes Music Store, but that the company has so far only signed up Disney and no other major Hollywood studio. In contrast, Amazon.com plans this week to unveil its new Windows Media-based movie-downloading store with films from all of the major Hollywood studios except Disney. Apple’s lack of studio partnerships is due to Apple’s refusal to charge higher prices for new releases. Apple reportedly plans to sell older movies for $9.99 and $14.99 for new releases. According to Variety, Amazon.com’s movie prices will range from $9.99 to $19.99—about the same as those for other online movie services such as CinemaNow, Movielink and AOL. The movies on both stores are expected to go on sale at the same time as the DVD versions are released.

Harman Kardon Go+Play speaker system announced

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Harman Kardon has introduced its new Go+Play iPod speaker system. The portable system features a horizontal iPod cradle, stainless steel handle and speaker grilles, and can be battery or AC powered. The Go+Play also offers an IR remote control, touch-sensitive controls, and S-video out. Harman Kardon said the Go+Play will be available later this year for $300.

Analyst: Apple’s iPod phone set for production

  • September 5, 2006
  • iPod

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple’s first cell phone will be introduced in the first half of 2007 and is urging investors to purchase shares of Apple before such an announcement is made. “With a history of revolutionizing the PC industry, the music industry, and the movie industry, we encourage investors to get aggressive in purchasing shares of Apple prior to the potential revolution of the handset industry,” Wu wrote in a research note. “Our research indicates that an Apple-designed smart phone has moved from concept to prototype and recently has progressed to near completion as a production unit,” Wu said. “We believe this smart phone has been in development for over 12 months and has overcome substantial challenges including design, interference, battery life, and other technical glitches. We believe that Steve Jobs is finally satisfied with the end product Apple engineers have produced in terms of quality and the right blend of cell phone and portable media player.”

Apple to hold ‘Showtime’ event on September 12th

  • September 5, 2006
  • Apple

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Apple today confirmed that it will hold a special event on Tuesday, September 12th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, California. An invitation sent to select media, including iLounge, features Hollywood premiere-style spotlights and reads simply, “It’s Showtime.” The event will kick off at 10:00 a.m. PT.

Reports of a September 12th press event first surfaced last week after the hosts of the Your Mac Life radio show and European Apple enthusiast websites claimed to have knowledge of the event. Apple’s date choice appears to be intentional, as the event will overlap with the opening day of this year’s Apple Expo in Paris, France, an international Mac and iPod show the company declined to grace with a keynote.

Analysts have speculated that Apple will use a September event to launch numerous product and service offerings, ranging from new iPod nano and video models to a 23-inch iMac, new iPod-inspired phone and a movie download service. Such speculation rarely proves entirely accurate, however, as few people know Apple’s plans for certain until the event actually takes place. As always, iLounge will be on hand with updates.

SendStation giving away 20,000 iTunes song downloads

SendStation Systems, maker of the PocketDock line of iPod adaptors, has announced that it is giving away 20,000 free song downloads from the iTunes Music Store. SendStation customers who purchase the company’s smartCharge iPod car charger ($25) or PocketDock Combo USB/FireWire iPod adapter ($23) will receive 20 free songs from iTunes for each of these items bought. The offer is available to U.S. and Canadian customers while supplies last.

SanDisk launches ‘Made for Sansa’ program; Players seized at IFA show

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SanDisk has announced that several companies will be making accessories for its line of Sansa digital media players under a new “Made for Sansa” licensing program—an obvious imitation of Apple’s “Made for iPod” program. Among SanDisk’s first seven accessory partners are six well-known iPod accessory makers: Altec Lansing, DLO (Digital Lifestyle Outfitters), Griffin Technology, HandStands, Macally Peripherals, and Speck Products.

MySpace entering digital music market with indie bands

Popular social networking website MySpace has announced plans to launch a major digital music service. The News Corp.-owned site, which currently has 106 million users, said it will offer music from nearly 3 million unsigned, independent bands before the end of the year. “The goal is to be one of the biggest digital music stores out there,” said MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe. “Everyone we’ve spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative.” The indie songs will be sold in unprotected MP3 format, compatible with the iPod. Bands will decide how much to charge per song after including MySpace’s distribution fee. DeWolfe said MySpace will be “enhancing and customizing” its online music service to eventually offer copyright-protected songs from major record companies.

Foxconn drops libel suit against journalists

  • September 5, 2006
  • iPod

Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple’s iPod, has withdrawn the defamation lawsuit it filed against two Chinese journalists over claims of labor abuse at its iPod factory. Foxconn and the Chinese newspaper China Business News issued a joint statement saying the two sides had resolved the dispute after apologizing to each other “for the disturbances brought to both of them by the lawsuit.” Last week, after a wave of criticism, Foxconn reduced its demands in the suit to a token 1 yuan (12 U.S. cents) from 30 million yuan ($3.8 million) and filed to unfreeze the personal assets of the two journalists, reporter Wang You and editor Weng Bao of the China Business News.

Chinese iPod maker ordered to unionize

  • September 1, 2006
  • iPod

Hongfujin Precision Industry Co., the unit of Foxconn responsible for building Apple’s iPod, has been told by the Chinese government to let its more than 200,000 workers form a trade union. The Associtated Press reports: “Hongfujin Precision Industry Co. is on a list of companies in the southern city of Shenzhen that have been ordered to set up such a union, which would be affiliated to the government’s All-China Federation of Trade Unions. China does not allow independent labor organizing, but in recent years it has been pushing foreign invested companies to allow the state-sanctioned labor groups. Such groups are not industry-wide, but represent workers in a single company or sales outlet. They traditionally have been allied with management.” Foxconn has been at the center of labor violation claims this year following reports of substandard working and living conditions at its iPod factory.

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