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PDASmart offers 100GB iPod upgrade

PDASmart has announced the availability of a 100 gigabyte hard drive upgrade for fifth-generation iPods. The PDASmart 100GB iPod upgrade installs without modification in any 60GB or 80GB 5G (video) iPod. For 30GB 5G iPods, a new rear casing is required to allow for the slightly larger drive size. The upgrade is said to extend storage capacity to 25,000 songs or 125 hours of video. The 100GB upgrade for 60GB and 80GB iPods is priced at $275 for a do-it-yourself kit, which includes the Toshiba drive and tools necessary for the installation. A mail-in installation service is available for $10 extra. The upgrade for 30GB iPods is only available as a mail-in service for $300.

Hyatt hotels get iHome systems, digital music downloads

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts today announced that it plans to add iPod-ready iHome clock radio speaker systems to guest rooms in its U.S., Canada and Caribbean properties. “Whether traveling for business or pleasure, guests can now kick back, relax and enjoy their personal digital music library in the comfort of their Hyatt hotel room,” says the company. Hyatt also announced a new digital download music pilot program in which “individual properties will offer unique, destination-specific music collections.” The first two locations to get signature collections will be Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch and Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa located between Austin and Bastrop, Texas. Hyatt said it plans to roll out the digital download program to its properties across North America throughout 2007.

Sharper Image offers new iPod-ready speaker systems

The Sharper Image recently added several new speaker systems designed for the iPod and other MP3 players. The new offerings include: iBeam Stereo with AM/FM & Universal Dock for iPod ($170, shown); Dual CD Stereo with universal Dock for iPod ($100); Metro Stereo/Tuner for CD, iPod & MP3 ($100); Bedside Phone Center with Universal Dock for iPod ($150); Solo CD, iPod & MP3 Stereo ($160); Big Screen Clock/Radio with Sound Soother 20 and Stereo ZipConnect for iPod and MP3 ($100); and AudioClear CD Stereo with Universal Dock for iPod ($160).

Nike to make all running shoes iPod compatible this year

Nike executives said last week that the company plans to make its entire line of running shoes compatible with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit by the end of this year. The AP reports: “It was the 22nd consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue growth for the company. Nike leaders were equally enthusiastic about its retail changes as it is about its product lines for the coming year. Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said the company is entering a year of what could be its ‘best product lines ever.’ The company wouldn’t disclose everything that’s coming but hinted at changes from Nike Shox and in apparel. Nike did say it plans to make all its running shoes compatible with its Nike+ technology by the end of the year. Nike+ allows runners to track their workouts with Apple’s iPod.”

iTunes Store adds Sony TV shows

Apple and Sony Pictures Television have teamed up to offer a handful of classic and newer television content on the iTunes Store. Among the offerings just added are “Starsky and Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Til Death,” “Rules of Engagement” and “NewsRadio.” The shows sell for the standard $1.99.

Griffin ships updated iTrip for 2G iPod nano

Griffin Technology has begun shipping its newly updated iTrip for Apple’s second-generation iPod nano. Redesigned to fit the latest aluminum models, the iTrip nano offers FM transmission in a slim, sled-like form factor. It features one-touch tuning and setup control, a mini USB port for charging, and Griffin’s SmartDisplay on-screen iTrip technology. The new iTrip for iPod nano sells for $50.

Star Trek: The Original Series beams back into iTunes

Apple, which had quietly dropped “Star Trek: The Original Series” from its roster of iTunes downloadable programming, looks to have returned not only to iTunes the first season of this series but also a remastered version as well. This remastered version (which costs $56.99 as a season pass for the first season) has “dozens of new and higher-detailed visual effects” blended into the episodes.

Mix: Apple TV hacks, YouTube rival, Vodafone, Sea cruises

The Apple TV hacking begins with one user who claims to have upgraded his unit with a 120GB hard drive, while another user has added support for DivX video files. In addition, TechRestore has posted dissection photos of an Apple TV.

To counter YouTube, News Corp. and NBC are teaming up to launch a new online video service with television and movie content from both networks. The site, which doesn’t have a name yet, will launch this summer. AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! will be “distribution partners.”

The Guardian reports: “Apple wants to secure a deal with a single pan-European network for the launch of its iPhone by the end of the year, with industry insiders suggesting Vodafone has emerged as an early front runner.”

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is now offering audio walking tours for port cities that passengers can download onto an iPod for $15. Each 90-minute tour comes with a map and features “commentary, historical context, a touch of humor and exclusive tips.”

MoMA Music Mug iPod holder available

The Music Mug, for sale through the MoMA Store, is an iPod speaker designed to look like a white ceramic mug. The mug, designed by Masato Tokuno, has a mini plug you insert into the iPod’s headphone jack for audio playback. Power is provided to the Music Mug by the iPod. The product is currently selling for $42.

Starz sues Disney over iTunes movie sales

Starz Entertainment is suing Disney’s Buena Vista Television unit for copyright infringement and breach of contract, claiming the company is allowing other movie download stores to sell titles that were exclusively licensed to Starz. “Under the terms of the 1993 and 1999 Starz-BVT agreements, extended by BVT in 2005, Disney is prohibited from selling its films for transmission over the Internet prior to Starz’s first exclusive license period and during all of Starz’s exclusive license periods,” Starz says in its announcement of the suit. “Despite this prohibition, the suit notes that Disney has ‘begun to sell over the Internet via services like Apple’s iTunes Store and the very same Disney films licensed to Starz.’ Such conduct, the suit adds, constitutes ‘a blatant breach’ of the licensing agreements between BVT and Starz.”

Two Apple TVs versus Mac mini photo gallery posted

In addition to posting our own Apple TV unpacking photographs—showing the unboxing of two Apple TV units—we’ve included comparison photographs of the Apple TV and a Mac mini computer, so that readers can get a sense of the dimensional differences between the two units. Additional details, photos, and videos of Apple TV are available in our repeatedly updated First Look; a review is coming soon.

Best Buy scores Apple TV exclusive

Best Buy has made an exclusive deal with Apple to sell the Apple TV device at its stores for two weeks before other retailers. Best Buy said the Apple TV will go on sale in its stores on Tuesday. Apple retail stores are obviously excluded from the two-week window, as most will be selling the device this week. Best Buy said it will have a limited initial supply of 3,000 units, which will be spread across its 822 stores.

Update: Best Buy is apparently backpedaling on its statements of exclusive availability.

Apple TV added to Apple support site

Apple has added an Apple TV section to its Service & Support website. Currently offered are tips and troubleshooting information, how-to articles, a discussion forum, as well as a quick start guide. A downloadable PDF of the Apple TV user manual is also available. In addition, Apple has added further pages and details on the Apple TV to the product’s main section, including extended technical specifications and a QuickTime tour.

CD sales plummet sharply; Digital albums no help

U.S. sales of music CDs plunged 20 percent in the first three months of the year, according to figures released by Nielsen SoundScan. “89 million CDs were sold from the start of the year through March 18 as compared with 112 million CDs sold during the same period in 2006,” reports AFP. “Purchases of digitized albums online failed to make up the difference—instead they dropped from 119 million during that time period in 2006 to 99 million during the first three months of this year, SoundScan reported. Meanwhile, sales of individual songs in digital format on the Internet rose from 242 million tracks during those months last year to 288 million this year.”

Apple TV unboxing photo gallery posted

First photographs of the Apple TV’s packaging and unboxing have been posted by our friends at Gizmodo. As noted in our First Look, the device comes without video or audio cables of any sort, so you’ll have to purchase them separately for $20-40, depending on the configuration of your home AV system.

Case-mate debuts CarryMe iPod case

Case-mate has announced its CarryMe case for fifth-generation iPod models. The leather, pouch-style case features a contrasting elastic band with a clasp that can be used to attach the CarryMe to bags, belts and other items. The case—available in black/white with red band and orange/white with blue band—retails for $17.

iTunes Store to offer entire Elton John catalog

Elton John’s entire music catalog—more than 30 albums—will be available in digital format from the iTunes Store starting next week. “I’ve wanted my music to be available for digital download worldwide for some time, but I knew that the entire catalog not just the hits needed care and attention to be released in this way,” the singer said. “Now that it’s happening, I’m pleased for the fans’ sake. The world has certainly changed since Philips Records issued my first single on seven-inch vinyl 39 years ago this month.” The catalog will be available exclusively from the iTunes Store from March 26 until April 30 before being made available on other download services. The move will coincide with John’s 60th birthday and the release of a new, 18-track compilation of his work, “Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits.”

Mix: Apple TV, Palm buyout, Wine Spectator, Google phone

Apple has provided The Wall Street Journal with an early look at the Apple TV. “Our verdict is that it’s a beautifully designed, easy-to-use product that should be very attractive to people with widescreen TV sets and lots of music, videos, and photos stored on computers,” write Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret. “It has some notable limitations, but we really liked it. It is classic Apple: simple and elegant.”

A buyout of Palm could happen as early as this week, according to reports. The Treo smartphone maker has hired Morgan Stanley to explore its strategic options, including a possible sale, and now the investment firm reportedly wants to close a deal by the time Palm releases its fiscal third-quarter results Thursday. Rumored potential buyers include Nokia, Motorola, and private equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners.

Wine Spectator has released its Top 100 Wines of 2006 for free in iPod format at Mogopop. “Each year, Wine Spectator senior editors survey the wines they have reviewed over the past twelve months and select the most exciting for the Top 100. This year, using Mogopop, these Top 100 Wines have been compiled into a portable, take-it-anywhere guide for iPod.”

Google has denied that it is developing a mobile phone. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: “The search giant said it was more logical to form partnerships with existing handset makers instead… Google was keen on porting its search and other technologies to mobile devices, but it was not interested in entering the crowded handset market, as Apple has recently done with its iPhone.”

Monster intros cable lineup for Apple TV

Monster Cable has announced the availability of a new lineup of high-performance cables designed specifically for the Apple TV. The new products, which connect the Apple TV to televisions and A/V receivers, include: Monster iTV Component Video Cable ($40), Monster iTV Fiber Optic Cable ($30), Monster iTV HDMI Cable ($60), and Monster iTV Analog Audio Cable ($25). Among the features of the cable are 24k gold contacts, full-coverage shielding, and Duraflex protective jackets.

Koloroo debuts widgets for iPods

Koloroo today announced two new widgets—TipKalc and KolorWheel—that run on any iPod with a color screen. TipKalc ($5) is a tip calculator with instant check-splitter, and KolorWheel ($8) is a color utility that provides color schemes for various uses. Both widgets can be loaded onto an iPod from either a PC or Mac, according to the developer.

“TipKalc is easy to use. Just spin your iPod’s Click Wheel until your bill amount is displayed in the center of the screen,” explains Koloroo. “Everything else is automatically calculated for you. It calculates recommended 15% and 20% tip amounts, grand totals, and even splits the check up to five ways. Using KolorWheel is just as easy. You select a base color by moving your thumb over the iPod Click Wheel. A suggested color scheme is automatically displayed in the four corners. If you prefer to match your base color to a particular object, you hold your iPod next to it. Again, a suggested color scheme will be automatically displayed in the corners.”

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