Kensington has introduced its new LiquidAUX line of car audio accessories for the iPod, as well as a new car charger for the iPhone and iPod. The new LiquidAUX line was designed to deliver clean audio from the iPhone or iPod to the auxiliary-in ports found on many cars and aftermarket stereos. Features of the line include an auxiliary port connector, a wireless remote control designed to clip onto the car’s steering wheel, and the ability to function as a car charger. The line includes the Kensington LiquidAUX for iPhone and iPod, which offers all the features listed above and will sell for $80, the Kensington LiquidAUX Deluxe, which adds an adjustable cradle with a flexible arm to the standard AUX’s feature set and which will sell for $100, and the Kensington LiquidAUX Bluetooth Car Kit, which features Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, a built-in microphone with noise and echo-canceling technology, and a USB charging port. It will also sell for $100. Finally, the company’s Car Charger Deluxe features an adjustable dock with a flexible arm and iPhone and iPod compatibility, and will sell for $50. Kensington’s LiquidAUX line and Car Charger Deluxe will soon be available for pre-order from Amazon.com and Kensington’s website, and are expected to begin shipping in March.
iLuv has introduced several new iPod accessories, including the i1255 Desktop
iPod/DVD Player, the i399 Bluetooth Audio System for iPod, and the i720 and i730 Bluetooth/FM Transmitters for iPod. The i1255 is a combo desktop DVD player with built-in iPod Dock that also features on-screen display for navigation of the iPod from a TV screen, remote control, and compatibility with DVD, VCD, MP3 CD, Audio CD, and Kodak Picture CD. The i399 is a 2.1-channel audio system with an integrated iPod Dock that utilizes BluePin II technology to enable communication with Bluetooth devices from up to 300 ft. away. Other features include jAura sound technology, a built-in woofer, speaker phone capabilities, a rhythm-sensitive blue LED, FM tuner, and an auxiliary input for other audio sources. The i720 is a Dock-connecting Bluetooth hands-free transmitter that features a small display for caller ID and iPod and iPhone controls on its body, and also functions as a FM transmitter. Finally, the i730 is a Bluetooth hands-free car kit for the iPod and iPhone that features a Dock-connecting base for charging and a FM transmitter.
Memorex has introduced its new iWake Up clock radio for the iPod and iPhone. The iWake Up features an integrated Dock, an AM/FM radio, a white backlit LCD display, a snooze function, a wireless remote, SRS audio enhancement technology, and the ability to charge the iPod while docked. The Memorex iWake Up clock radio for iPod is expected to be available this spring and will sell for $70.
Casio has announced plans to introduce four new Exilim compact cameras featuring an iPod-friendly video capture mode that records in the H.264 format with ACC audio, making it easy for users to load their movies into iTunes and onto their iPod and/or iPhone. The new models include the Exilim Card EX-S10, a 10.1-megapixel pocket camera that the company bills as “the world’s smallest and thinnest,” the Exilim Zoom EX-Z80, a small 8.1 megapixel digital camera available in six different colors, and the 10.1-megapixel Exilim Zoom EX-Z200 and EX-Z100, which both offer a wide 28 mm lens and 4x optical zoom. The Exilim Card EX-S10 is expected to ship in February for $250; the Exilim Zoom EX-Z80, Z200, and Z100 are expected in March and will sell for $200, $280, and $330, respectively. [via Imaging Resource]
JVC has introduced its P-Series LCD TVs, featuring the company’s new TeleDock, a flip-down iPod Dock at the base of the set which provides a direct connection for audio and video playback through the TV. When an iPod is docked, a menu appears on the TV screen for selecting music, music shuffle or video playback. The iPod can be controlled from the TV’s remote, which includes a circular keypad with a control scheme that mimics the iPod’s control wheel, and photos can also be displayed as a slide show. Track information such as Song Title and Artist is displayed on the screen during music playback, while video playback is handled by two different modes: low-resolution files can be displayed in a small screen mode, while larger, higher-res videos can be shown in nine different aspect ratios, including full screen. A separate option allows for iPod music listening while a TV signal is displayed, and the iPod will charge while docked regardless of whether or not the set is on. Aside from the sets’ iPod abilities, features include HDMI, component, and S-Video inputs, and an analog audio output. The new JVC P-Series includes the 768p-capable, 32-inch LT-32P679 and the 1080p 42-inch LT-42P789, which are scheduled to begin shipping in March, and the 1080p-capable, 47-inch LT-47P789 and 52-inch LT-52P789, which are expected to be available in April and summer, respectively. Pricing has yet to be determined.
JVC has also introduced its NX-PN7 “dual dock” radio that features side-by-side iPod docks, with simultaneous charging capability, and offering playback from either through the built-in speakers. Other features include an AM/FM tuner, a clock and timer, auxiliary input, an included remote with dedicated iPod control keys, and an illuminated strip underneath each iPod that can display one of nine colors. Finally, JVC has announced the RA-P31 clock radio with integrated iPod dock. The RA-P31 also features a low-profile design, FM tuner, calendar, dual alarms, a white backlit display, two-inch built-in stereo speakers with surround mode, and an included remote control, and can be AC- or battery-powered by six AA batteries. The JVC NX-PN7 dual dock radio and RA-P31 iPod clock radio are scheduled for April availability and will sell for $150 and $100, respectively.
Philips has introduced its DCP951 Docking Entertainment System, a portable player with built-in iPod Dock and memory card reader. The 951’s iPod Dock is retractable, sliding into the side of the unit when not in use. Other features include a 9-inch, 16:9 format LCD display, a 2.5-hour, built-in rechargeable battery, compatibility with DVD, DVD+/-R and +/-RW, (S)VCD, DivX, and MPEG video media, SD/MMC card slots, a remote control, the ability to double as a digital picture frame, and Dolby Digital processing. The Philips DCP951 Docking Entertainment System is expected to be available later this month, and will sell for $200.
Netflix has announced a partnership with LG Electronics to offer an internet-connected set-top box that will allow Netflix subscribers to download movies and other programming directly to the television set. “It’s going to be very slick and easy,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive officer. “We want the TV experience to be very relaxing and not like visiting a Web site.” The box, which will be released in summer or early autumn, will likely compete against the Apple TV and the upcoming iTunes movie rental service.
An iPhone owner on vacation in New York city accidentally dropped his device onto the subway tracks, and, in a very dangerous and foolhardy move, jumped down to retrieve it. Luckily, both owner and iPhone emerged relatively unharmed.
France Telecom’s Orange unit has said that it sold more than 70,000 iPhones in the first month of availability in France, which in “right in line” with company targets of 50-100,000 units. In addition, a spokesperson revealed that 48 percent of the sales were to new Orange customers.
Lagotek has announced that it will showcase a version of its “HIP Modes” home control gadget running on the iPhone and iPod touch at CES. The company claims it is “the first technology that enables the use of iPhone and iPod touch for home control over WiFi and GPRS/EDGE.”
Nexthaus has released a beta version of its upcoming SyncJe client software for the iPhone. SyncJe for iPhone wirelessly synchronizes the iPhone’s Calendar, Contacts, and Notes applications with SyncML servers. The software is free until January 9, at which point it will be available for download for the price of $40.
Wadia Digital, maker of high-end digital audio products, has announced that it will demonstrate its new iTransport iPod Dock at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. According to Wadia, the iTransport is the “first digital player dock to retrieve a direct digital signal from an iPod.” The dock bypasses the iPod’s internal D/A conversion and output stage, allowing for output of pure, bit-perfect digital audio from full-resolution file formats (such as .WAV and Apple Lossless) stored on the iPod. “Until now, there has been no real bridge between the convenience of an iPod and the high-end audio listening experience,” said John W. Schaffer, president of Wadia Digital. “The goal of making the player a true high-end media server has been hampered by the need to send the digital signal through a portable player’s D/A converter rather than that of a high performance audio system. Instead, we designed iTransport to bypass the player’s converter and output stage altogether. When used with an iTransport, the iPod becomes a digital music source equal to some of the finest sounding transports in the high-end audio market.” In addition to S/PDIF digital audio output, the iTransport will also feature component outputs for DVD-quality video, as well as analog audio and video outputs, and will also feature compatibility with Apple’s standard remote control. Wadia Digital’s iTransport is compatible with all latest-generation, Dock-enabled iPods, including the iPod touch and iPhone, and is expected to be available in February for $349.
Sony BMG will become the last of the “big four” music labels to offer its music catalog without digital rights management, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claims that the company is finalizing its plans, and will begin DRM-free sales sometime in the first quarter, possibly in concert with a Super Bowl promotion involving Sony artist Justin Timberlake, Pepsi, and Amazon. The promotion will kick off Feb. 3 and will offer free distribution of 1 billion songs from all of the major labels through Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 store. In an open letter penned last February, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called on the labels to abandon DRM. Following the letter’s publishing, EMI began DRM-free sales through several services, including the newly-launched iTunes Plus, only to be followed into DRM-free sales by Universal Music Group, who in August revealed plans to sell DRM-free tracks from several online retailers while excluding iTunes. In December, Warner Music Group made its catalog available through Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 service, while joining Universal in what appears to be a boycott of Apple’s own DRM-free iTunes Plus service. It is unclear whether Sony BMG plans to make its music available through iTunes Plus, or whether it will choose to join Warner and Universal by eschewing iTunes for the Amazon MP3 store.
A new antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple on Dec. 31 claims the company has an illegal monopoly on the digital music market. The plaintiff, Stacie Somers, and her representation claim that Apple is dominating the market for online video and music sales, as well as the digital music player market, and that its position is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. “Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets,” the complaint states. More specifically, the complaint takes issue with Apple’s refusal to support Microsoft’s proprietary Windows Media Audio format. “Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format,” the complaint says, while listing several competing music services that support protected WMA files. This specific complaint is based on the idea that the music labels “are generally unwilling to license their music for online sale except in protected formats,” a statement that seems to lack credibility in light of recent moves into DRM-free sales by industry heavyweights EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group.
Proporta has announced its new Dual Skin Silicone Case line for the iPod classic, touch, 3G nano, and iPhone, as well as the new Splash Proof Sports Kit for the 3G nano. The Dual Skin cases will feature two layers of impact-resistant silicone in a variety of colors, and will also feature cut-outs for access to the iPod’s ports and controls. They are expected to sell for $22 each when they are released. The Splash Proof Sports Kit for the iPod nano (with video) comes with a Dual Skin Silicone Case, a polycarbonate clear screen protector, an adjustable armband, a lanyard attachment, a splash-proof base that hooks over the lanyard attachment to protect the headphone port from spills, and an optional belt clip. It is expected to sell for $40. Proporta’s Dual Skin Silicone Case line and Splash Proof Sports Kit are expected to be available in the coming weeks.
Newer Technology has announced its new line of iPhone accessories, which will debut at Macworld Expo later this month. The line includes the Speaker Dock & Hands-free Mic ($35), which features a Dock for using the phone for both calls and audio playback, controls for call and playback functions, and the ability to charge the iPhone while docked. It was originally shown in our 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide, alongside the new Mic Extender Cable ($15), which functions as both an iPhone adapter with in-line mic and control button and as an extender. Other accessories in the new line include a Headphone Jack Adapter ($8), an iPhone & iPod Auto Charger ($13), Bass Response Earbuds ($20), and iPhone Hands-Free Mic & Earbuds ($20). All products in the NewerTech iPhone Accessory line are available now, except for the iPhone Speaker Dock & Mic, which is expected to be available beginning January 28.
iLive has announced that it will introduce the iT188B, a new sound bar-style speaker system with an iPod Dock, at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. The iT188B is designed to mount on the wall as a “complete flat screen TV 2.1 speaker system,” and features a remote-controlled, motorized iPod Dock which “disappears completely” when not in use. Other features include two high-power speaker enclosures, an AM/FM radio, a full-function clock, auxiliary input, dual AV inputs, video and subwoofer outputs, and a full-function remote. “We worked very hard to bring the very best quality sound and functionality with this product,” said Bill Fetter, CEO for DPI, Inc. “It’s fair to say that our efforts have met with a great response from our retail customers.” The iLive iT188B will include both a table stand and wall mounting hardware, and will be available in April for $100.
Hitachi Maxell has unveiled its Audio Transmitter/Dongle for the iPod, one of two new Bluetooth-enabled products featuring SRS WOW HD audio and bass enhancement technology. The adapter connects to the iPod via Dock Connector, allowing audio from the iPod to be processed with SRS WOW HD audio enhancement before being transmitted to any Bluetooth enabled headset or speaker system. The WOW HD process, which according to the company provides “improved sound quality and restored fidelity to all files residing on the iPod,” can be turned on and off via a small SRS-branded button on the dongle. The second product is a Bluetooth 2.0-enabled stereo headset, which processes received audio using WOW HD before playback. “We wanted to work with SRS Labs because they are an industry leading audio provider with proven high quality sound techniques,” said Akio Mishima, Manager, Brand Business Div. at Hitachi Maxell. “SRS WOW HD audio and bass enhancement incorporated into our new Bluetooth devices provides significant sound improvement for all types of audio content commonly stored on portable media devices.” No release date or pricing information has yet been provided for the new products.
Digital album packaging is set to improve in 2008, adding extras such as more interactive album art, lyrics, liner notes, and more, according to a Reuters report. CD sales continue to outpace those of digital albums, the report claims, in part because the digital versions lack the extras one receives with a physical album purchase. Of those in a position to offer enhanced digital album sales in ‘08, iTunes is the “most likely candidate,” due to its ability to roll out new features simultaneously across both iTunes and iPods. The article also mentions Microsoft’s Zune as another candidate, while stating that Apple may use the enhanced offerings as a way to “make nice” with its label partners.
Makayama Software has introduced its new Camera PRO software for jailbroken iPhones. The application improves on the iPhone’s existing camera application by adding features such as a self-timer, digital zoom, and burst mode. Other features, including flickr integration and manual exposure, are expected to be added in the coming months. Makayama Camera PRO for iPhone is available now and sells for $20; a feature-limited free version is also available.
A fourth-generation iPod owner has posted a article showing how to add internal Bluetooth capability to the device using a Jabra A120S Bluetooth Music Adapter. According to the author, the process requires “a steady hand and decent soldering skills,” as well as a voltmeter, hook-up wire, a Phillips screwdriver, a Torx screwdriver, a Xacto knife or razor blade, and, obviously, a 4G iPod.
Apple’s iPhone ads that showcased the functions of the device have been selected as the “Made me want to buy it now” ads of 2007 by USA Today. “Apple gets it,” said William Ward, a marketing professor at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y. “The ad clearly demonstrates the benefits. Most companies aren’t able to do ‘simple’ — but Apple takes a pretty complicated product and makes it simple.”
Following the release of the SIP VoIP application for the iPod touch, a new picture tutorial shows how to make a VoIP-compatible microphone attachment for the touch using a Macally iVoice III iPod microphone and a small bit of soldering.
One of the most prominent iTunes holdouts, English rock band Radiohead’s latest release, In Rainbows, is now available through the service as a DRM-free iTunes Plus offering. In October, Radiohead released the album on its own through its website on a “pay what you want” basis; in Dec., it was reported that the band was in talks to release the album through the iTunes Store. [via Daring Fireball]
Alpine’s Spring 2008 catalog (PDF link) has revealed three new standard-sized, iPod-oriented receivers, as well as a new double-DIN unit with iPod video playback. The iDA-X100, -X200, and -X300 are new models based on the iDA-X001, and offer full speed connections for all Dock-connecting iPods, lack CD drives, and feature a large dial for control and navigation. All three models are HD Radio ready, but it appears only the iDA-X100 has support for iTunes Tagging. The IVA-W505 is also HD Radio ready with support for iTunes Tagging, and features a double-DIN design with a 7-inch touch screen display, DVD-R/-RW/MP3/AAC/WMA/DivX playback, a full speed connection for Dock-enabled iPods, and support for iPod video content playback, as well as album artwork display. No pricing or release information is yet available for the new units. [via Engadget, AudioJunkies]
Mark/Space has officially released its The Missing Sync for iPhone software. The Missing Sync offers users data migration of contacts, tasks, events, and photos from Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry smartphones, as well as the ability to archive, browse, and search iPhone call logs, SMS text messages, and notes. Brian Hall, Mark/Space president and CEO, said, “Prospective iPhone customers want to know that they can take their existing smartphone data with them, and Missing Sync for iPhone is designed to meet that need. Existing and prospective iPhone customers alike will benefit from enhanced access to their Call Log, SMS text messages and Notes.” The Missing Sync for iPhone requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later and sells for $40; a crossgrade from qualifying Mark/Space products costs $25.