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iPodweek newsletter’s coming; Vote on iLounge Poll

The latest edition of iPodweek, our weekly newsletter covering all things iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and Apple TV, is coming later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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And don’t forget to vote in the latest iLounge Poll, “Which way would you most prefer to play your iTunes media?” It can be found under iLounge Poll on the left column of the iLounge.com home page.

Uniea unveils U-Suit Case for unannounced iPod

In what we believe to be a first for the iPod accessory industry, a company called Uniea is beginning to promote a new iPod case for a model that hasn’t been officially announced or even more than indirectly confirmed yet by Apple. The case, described as the U-Suit Hard Protective Leather Case for New iPod, features a soft leather exterior, hard plastic interior with scratch-resistant inner lining, and a front hole sized for a roughly 2.3-inch screen and iPod nano-sized Click Wheel.

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The U-Suit case is priced at $30 with an as-yet-unknown date of availability. It is believed to be for the smaller video-ready iPod that was the subject of last week’s “spy shot” leaks and subsequent take-down requests from Apple.

Belkin showing TuneBase 2 FM Transmitter at IFA

Belkin is showing its upcoming TuneBase 2 FM Transmitter at the IFA 2007 conference in Berlin, Germany. The TuneBase 2 is said to sport a mono display for navigating stations, an auto tune feature that finds the clearest frequency on which to broadcast, and a “signal booster.” As with previous Belkin TuneBase products, the TuneBase 2 draws power for both itself and a connected iPod from its cigarette lighter mount. No pricing or release specifics are currently available, although pocket-link.co.uk claims the product will be released in the UK in October and will sell for £69.

Mix: Lobby, Exploding iPhone, Sony, Amazon

  • August 31, 2007

Apple spent $120,000 on lobbyists in the first half of 2007, according to a recent disclosure form. The firm Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP lobbied the federal government on behalf of Apple on issues related to the European Union’s intellectual property policies, according the the form.

An iPhone has exploded following a failed hardware-based unlocking attempt. An image of the damaged phone appears to the right.

Sony has officially decided to close its iTunes competitor, the Connect music store. In addition, it has also decided to drop its proprietary ATRAC file format.

According to a report in the New York Post, Amazon plans to launch its previously-announced DRM-free music service in mid-Spetember.

Apple responds to NBC, won’t offer upcoming fall season shows

Apple has announced that they will not be offering NBC television shows for the upcoming season on iTunes. In the announcement, Apple revealed that NBC wanted it to pay more than double the wholesale price for each episode, a move that would have resulted in the retail price of each episode increasing from $1.99 per episode to an eye-popping $4.99 per episode. Apple also noted that ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.

“We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers.”

Because the agreement between Apple and NBC runs out in December, should Apple have begun sales of fall series, NBC could have pulled the content from the store mid-season. To avoid this potential problem, Apple decided not to carry the shows at all. According to the announcement, NBC provided iTunes with three of its ten top-selling shows last season, accounting for 30 percent of iTunes TV show sales.

Shure rolls out SE110 Sound Isolating Earphones

Shure has introduced its new SE110 Sound Isolating Earphones, the latest addition to the company’s sound isolating line. The Shure SE110 features include a Balanced MicroSpeaker for more vivid and detailed sound, assorted sleeves, a modular cable, and come with a carrying case and nozzle cleaning tool. Mark Karnes, Executive Director of Marketing, Shure Incorporated, said “We’ve always refused to compromise sound quality or aesthetic appeal for a low price, and today we’re redefining the sub-$100 category.  The SE110 is premium audio at an everyday price point.” The Shure SE110 Sound Isolating Earphones will be available beginning September 17 and will sell for $100.

NBC decides against renewal of iTunes contract [updated]

NBC Universal has decided not to renew its contract with Apple to sell its television shows on the iTunes Store, reports The New York Times. The media giant is said to be unhappy over Apple’s refusal to give them more control over pricing, DRM restrictions, and the bundling of videos. Although NBC Universal notified Apple of their decision yesterday, its current contract extends through December, and talks will continue between the two companies. NBC Universal is the biggest supplier of video to the iTunes Store, accounting for around 40 percent of downloads.

Update: Apple has responded to the move by announcing that it won’t be offering any of NBC’s upcoming fall episodes.

Mix: iTunes UK, Nokia, iFuntastic, iCar

  • August 30, 2007

Some iTunes Store users in the UK are angry over the pricing of recently-added TV episodes, which sell for £1.89 each. Other UK video download services sell TV episodes for 99-pence each, roughly half the price of iTunes. Jupiter Research analyst Mark Mulligan said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they (Apple) had to change their prices soon: we’re in a situation where everything is always more expensive in Britain.”

A video showing a Symbian OS-based, iPhone-like touch screen interface from Nokia has been posted to YouTube. When asked about the similarity to the iPhone, Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s Executive VP & General Manager of Multimedia, said, “If there is something good in the world then we copy with pride.”

iPhone modification utility iFuntastic has been updated to version 3. The new version includes Power PC support, a “permanent jailbreak” tool called Unshackling, and more. [via TUAW]

A Volkswagen spokesman has confirmed a meeting between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and VW chief Martin Winterkorn to discuss the possibility of placing Apple products into a new automobile, which some have labeled the “iCar.” Hans-Gerd Bode, the spokesman for VW, claims there are “scores of ideas,” but few concrete plans at this point.

Klipsch intros IMAGE in-ear eaphones

Klipsch has introduced its new IMAGE in-ear earphones, which the company claims feature “the world’s smallest and lightest full-range in-ear earphone design.” The IMAGE earphones feature anatomically designed Coutour Ear Gels, provided in small, medium, and large single flange designs, as well as small and large double flange designs. Other features include extended-frequency KG926 balanced micro-armatures, anodized aluminum bodies in a “copper” color, patent-pending earphone nozzles with mechanical locking rings to prevent the ear gels from getting lodged in a user’s ear, and 50-inch-long vinyl cables. The Klipsch IMAGE earphones will include a carrying case, pouch, 1/4-inch adapter, airline adapter, the previously-mentioned ear gels, and a cleaning tool when they are released in November, and will be priced at $349.

GEAR4 to show BluPhones, HouseParty Blu at IFA

GEAR4 is set to show its new line of Bluetooth products at IFA 2007 in Berlin, including its BluPhones wireless headphones, and the HouseParty Blu, a Bluetooth-equipped iPod stereo speaker. The GEAR4 BluPhones feature a weight of 26g (less than 1oz), A2DP Bluetooth, headset capability, 5 hours of music playing or talk time, and 60 hours of standby time. The GEAR4 BluPhones are available now and sell for £50, or around $100. imageThe HouseParty Blu features Bluetooth 2.0, a built-in iPod Dock, LED controls, auxiliary-in for other audio sources, remote control, and 30W output from two speakers. It is also available now, and is priced at £80, or around $160.

ezGear debuts ezView Leather Case for iPhone

ezGear has introduced its ezView Leather Case for iPhone, a new accessory modeled after the company’s ezView Leather Case for iPod Video. The ezView for iPhone features high quality leather, a slim profile, a velcro band that allows the case to act as a stand for watching video, a flip-top cover for extra protection when the case is closed, two low-profile rubber feet to reduce slippage, credit card slots, a protective cover with magnetic closure, access to all controls and ports, and an included holster. The ezGear Leather Case for iPhone is available now and sells for $40.

DLO launches OpenFM frequency tool for iPhone

DLO has launched its new OpenFM application, a free iPhone-friendly online tool for searching for open FM frequencies. The application, which can be found at dlo.com/openfm, enables users to search for the clearest FM station in their area by city and state or zip code. To provide users with more up-to-date information, OpenFM searches an active FCC-provided database of licensed FM broadcasters. Andrew Green, vice president of marketing for DLO, said, “OpenFM is the perfect companion for any FM transmitter owner, because it gives you real-time access to the best available frequencies in any area, in any state.” In addition to the iPhone version of OpenFM, DLO is also offering a standard web-based version of the application, and plans on releasing an OpenFM widget for both PC and Mac in the coming weeks.

Poll Results: You really want new video iPods

The results of our last iLounge Poll are in, and the message is clear: 94% of responding readers really want new video-ready iPods.

A staggering 80% of the over 3,300 voters said that they wanted a hard disk-based touchscreen video iPod, with over two-thirds of that group hoping that the device would also include wireless wi-fi functionality. An additional 14% said that they were looking forward to smaller, flash-based video iPods: 6% said that they wanted a nano-sized iPod with a 2” video screen, while 8% indicated a preference for a thinner, flash-based version of the fifth-generation iPod similar to the “spy shots” that circulated last week. Only 6% said that they were most interested in cheaper, higher-capacity versions of today’s nano or shuffle models.

These results are especially interesting when considered in combination with our last poll, which was taken during the introduction of the iPhone. At the time, it was obvious that the demand for next-generation video iPods was soundly outstripping demand for iPhones, and that fewer than 1 in 10 responding readers were satisfied enough with current models not to want to upgrade.

We’ve just launched our new Poll, “Which way would you most prefer to play your iTunes media?” Find the poll on the left column of the main iLounge.com page, and submit your response today!

Bose SoundDock Portable packs lithium-ion battery, more

Bose has revealed its new SoundDock Portable iPod speaker system, a battery-powered take on the company’s popular SoundDock. The SoundDock Portable, which appeared on Gizmodo earlier today, features a retractable Dock, auxiliary input, a redesigned remote, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. According to reports, the system will run off the battery for three hours at full volume, or “much longer” at reduced settings. The system measures 6.75 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and just over 4 inches deep, and weighs just under 5 pounds. The Bose SoundDock Portable will be available at the end of September and is priced at $400.

New video, FAQ from iPhone unlocking groups

After several days of quiet, both iPhoneSIMFree.com and iPhoneUnlocking.com have posted new information for potential customers awaiting the release of their iPhone unlocking solutions. iPhoneSIMFree.com, whose unlocking procedure has been verified by Engadget, has posted a FAQ concerning its software, which it hopes “to release in the next 48-72 hours”. Addition details reveal that the software will require a “jail break” of the iPhone, and that the device must be activated for the software to work. iPhoneUnlocking.com, meanwhile, has uploaded a video demonstration of its unlocking solution to YouTube. The video shows the iPhone being unlocked using a Windows machine, connecting to a Mac, and making trial calls. iPhoneUnlocking.com’s parent company, UniquePhones, was contacted by AT&T lawyers over the weekend concerning the release of its unlocking software.

Belkin cases continue support of breast cancer research

Belkin, continuing its fundraising efforts for breast cancer research, has introduced its latest cases for the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Belkin will donate 10 percent of the retail price of each pink- and bone-colored case to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The cases include the Sport Amband for iPod nano, which features “stitchless” construction and sells for $25, the Remix Acrylic for iPod nano, which offers a clear acrylic front, soft touch back, and also sells for $25, the Statements case for iPod nano, which features a folio-style design, interior mirror, and is priced at $25,image and the Sport Armband for iPod shuffle, which is made from a rubber material, features reflectors for nighttime use, and sells for $20. Mark Reynoso, President of Belkin International, said, “Our new pink- and bone-colored iPod cases celebrate the active lifestyles of women, their empowerment, and their strength. We are proud to support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and we hope to raise awareness while positively affecting the lives of women and their families everywhere.” All four cases will be available in mid-September.

Apple adds TV Shows to UK iTunes Store

Almost two years after the introduction of TV show content to what was then called the iTunes Music Store, Apple today added a collection of downloadable shows to the United Kingdom’s iTunes Store. Found under a new “TV Programmes” heading, the shows are priced at £1.89 each, and include offerings from ABC/Disney, Viacom’s Nickelodeon and MTV, and Paramount, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, South Park, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and That 70’s Show. [Thanks, Jasper!]

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Apple announces Sept. 5 Special Event

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With a Cover Flow-themed widescreen graphic for its invitation, Apple has invited selected members of the media to a September 5, 2007 “Special Event” in San Francisco, California. The graphic, titled “The beat goes on.”, shows a silhouetted iTunes dancer holding a fifth-generation iPod in hand alongside six album covers. As with other major iPod- and iTunes-themed events, the Moscone Center has been selected as the venue, suggesting the need for greater seating capacity than the smaller Mac- and iPod accessory events Apple has staged in months and years past. iLounge editors will be on site to cover the Event live.

Contour Design unveils Showcase for iPhone

Contour Design has announced the release of its new Showcase for iPhone, a case that offers two-layer protection for the iPhone thanks to a combination of shock-absorbing rubber and clear polycarbonate. Features include a hinged door, full access to the iPhone’s touch screen, sensors, camera, and ports, and an included low-profile holster that can hold the Showcase forward or backward in both vertical and horizontal positions. image“The Showcase is our flagship case, and we wanted it to perfectly complement the iPhone,” said Mike Jackle of Contour Design. “This Showcase, like all others in this product line, uses the dual layers of rubber and polycarbonate to perfectly contour to the phone. We met our goal with a case that is strong and stylish.” The Contour Design Showcase for iPhone is available now and sells for $35.

WirelessGround offers iPhone USB Sync and Charge Cradle

Mobile Accessory retailer WirelessGround.com is now offering an USB Sync and Charge Cradle for the iPhone. The cradle, which sports a black casing with blue LED and an angled, translucent stand, offers features like a built-in Dock Connector, rear USB port for syncing, and an included AC adapter that allows the cradle to charge the iPhone without connecting to a PC. The iPhone USB Sync and Charge Cradle with AC Charger is available now and sells for $23.

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