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TIM, Vodafone to offer free iPhone 3G with select plans

Telecom Italia Mobile has announced that it will offer the 8GB iPhone 3G for free with certain subscription packages depending on the tariff plan chosen, while a separate report states that Vodafone is expected to offer similar discounts. In an official press release, TIM said that the initial price of the 8GB iPhone will range from zero to 199 euros, depending on the plan chosen, and that all offers include at least 1GB of data throughput per month. Meanwhile, Macity reports (Translated link) that Vodafone will offer the iPhone 3G at a cost between zero and 199 euros depending both on the model and plan chosen. These discounts mirror earlier announcements from O2 in the United Kingdom and T-Mobile in Germany, which will offer the iPhone 3G for free or for one euro, respectively, with a high-level monthly tariff. Citing anonymous sources, the Macity report goes on to state that Vodafone’s subscription plans will range from 19 euros to 89 euros per month, and that the carrier may not begin offering subscription plans on the iPhone 3G until July 21. TIM and Vodafone had previously announced that they will sell the iPhone 3G unsubsidized for 499 euros (8GB) and 569 euros (16GB).

Apple, iPhone named in broad touch patent lawsuit

Apple has been added to a patent infringement lawsuit by Typhoon Touch Technologies, which claims that Apple’s iPhone violated two Typhoon touch-based computing patents. The patents, issued in 1995 and 1997, refer to any touchscreen device capable of collecting information, and are focused on in-field situations such as police stops. Despite this, AppleInsider reports, the patents are so broadly worded that nearly every company manufacturing a touch screen tablet computer or smartphone may have violated some parts of both patents, which are claimed exclusive to a company listed as Nova Mobility. While the complaint originally named only Dell, whose Latitude XT tablet PC was the primary catalyst for the lawsuit, other companies such as Fujitsu, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Nokia, Palm, Panasonic, Samsung, and Toshiba have been added in addition to Apple. Typhoon hopes to be awarded both financial damages and an injunction against the products involved, which would last until the companies agree to pay a “reasonable royalty” every three months.

iLounge announces Quest for the Best iPhone App Contest

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iLounge and Bowers & Wilkins are teaming up to bring you the Quest for the Best iPhone App Contest, in which we’ll be giving away three of B&W’s Zeppelin speaker systems to our three favorite native iPhone applications. To enter the contest, simply submit your application to our Application Gallery, which will highlight new iPhone software with individual listings and information for each application. One winner will be picked from each of three categories: Games, Business/Professional, and Just Plain Cool, with each winner receiving their own Zeppelin system plus a $100 Apple Store Gift Card. The contest runs from today through July 23, and only official, App Store-ready applications will be considered, with the winners being announced on July 25. So get coding, and good luck!

TV shows now available through iTunes in Australia [updated]

Apple has begun offering TV shows on the iTunes Store in Australia. As with the rollout of television offerings to French iTunes users, the shows have appeared on the Store prior to any official announcement from Apple. Currently programs from five different studios — ABC Studios, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the Disney Channel, Nine Network, and MTV — are available, with individual episodes costing $2.99 Australian Dollars each. Individual programs being offered include popular U.S. shows “Lost” and “South Park,” as well as Australian shows like “Sleek Geeks” and “Summer Heights High.”

Update: Apple has officially announced its television offerings on the iTunes Store in Australia.

“We’re thrilled to bring television programming to the iTunes Store in Australia,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We’re off to a great start with shows from Australia’s top networks combined with favorites from the US, which customers in Australia will love being able to watch on their computer, iPod or on a widescreen TV with Apple TV.”

iPhone, iPhone 3G comparison photo appears

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Curious about the relative sizes, shapes, and rear icon or text locations of the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G? We’ve added a comparison photo to our First Look at the iPhone 3G, showing how the phones compare. Differences in height, width, and text locations are apparent, as are sharp distinctions in texture, while similarities in camera and icon location are also shown. Click here for the full-sized new image and First Look!

JVC now shipping iPod-docking TVs, dual dock radio

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JVC has announced that it is now shipping its P-Series LCD TVs with built-in iPod docks, as well as its NX-PN7 “dual dock” sound system. Originally announced in January, the NX-PN7 features side-by-side iPod docks, which offer simultaneous charging capability, and 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, Works with iPhone-certified iPhone compatibility, and an illuminated strip underneath each dock that can display one of nine colors. The JVC NX-PN7 is available now and sells for $150.

JVC’s P-Series LCD TVs feature 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. Playback 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 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 ($1000), the 1080p 42-inch LT-42P789 ($1600), and the 1080p-capable, 47-inch LT-47P789 ($2200), all of which are available now. The last model in the series, the 1080p 52-inch LT-52P789 ($3200), will be available in August.

Alesis unveils ProTrack digital recorder for iPod

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Alesis has introduced its new ProTrack handheld digital stereo recorder for iPod. The ProTrack provides direct-to-iPod 16-Bit, 44.1kHz or 22kHz stereo recording in a portable, handheld device that integrates two condenser microphones with an iPod dock. Designed to securely hold the iPod during use, ProTrack includes mounting sleds for all supported iPods including the fifth-generation iPod, the iPod classic, and second- and third-generation iPod nanos. The device’s two built-in microphones are fixed in a XY stereo configuration, and users may choose to use ProTrack’s XLR - 1/4 inch inputs to connect other external microphones or audio sources. In addition, the device offers 48V phantom power when operating off the included AC adapter; it can also run for up to five hours on four AAA batteries. The Alesis ProTrack handheld digital stereo recorder for iPod will be available in Q3 2008; pricing has yet to be announced.

iPod touch poll ends, iPod shuffle poll begins

With over 3,400 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“What should Apple do with the iPod touch?”—has ended with some interesting results. Readers were given the option to change iPod touch’s storage space, screen, or pricing, as well as keeping it the same.

Storage capacity was the most requested reader upgrade. Over 60% of readers felt that some sort of storage upgrade would be a good idea: 32% preferred a little more storage in the form of flash memory, while 31% preferred a lot more storage in the form of a hard disk. A total of 24% of responding readers wanted to see Apple improve the screen, while 32% would be satisfied with the same device at a lower price point. Only 3% responded that nothing should change in the iPod touch. Thanks for your responses!

Our new poll, “What should Apple do with the iPod shuffle?,” has just been opened. As always, it’s on the left hand column of the main iLounge.com home page, and provides a handful of possible changes Apple could make to the device. Cast your vote today!

Wadia Digital ships iTransport digital iPod dock

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Wadia Digital has announced that it is now shipping its 170iTransport Advanced iPod Docking Station. First announced in January, Wadia claims 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 a bit-perfect S/PDIF digital audio output from full-resolution file formats (such as .WAV and Apple Lossless) stored on iPod nano (video), iPod classic, or iPod touch models. The iTransport also offers a high-resolution component video output, analog audio and s-video outputs, and limited compatibility with older docking iPod models. It comes with a coaxial digital cable, iPod dock inserts for all compatible models, and an IR remote control. The Wadia Digital iTransport Advanced iPod Docking Station is available now and sells for $379.

Marware debuts two leather cases for iPhone 3G

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Marware has debuted its C.E.O. Glide and C.E.O. Flip Vue cases for iPhone 3G. Available in black, white, or red, the C.E.O. Glide is a slim, sleeve-style case made with a firm-textured Nappa leather exterior and microfiber interior. It features a dual-purpose strap that both helps with iPhone removal and helps secure it by folding over the top of the phone and attaching to the other side with Velcro. The C.E.O. Glide for iPhone 3G will also include clear protective film and a microfiber cleaning cloth, and is available for pre-order now for $25.

The C.E.O. Flip Vue is a flip-style leather case for iPhone 3G, offering a black leather exterior with perforated leather and contrast stitching accents, a magnetic closure, and access to all ports and controls. Other features include an interchangeable Multidapt low-profile belt clip, elastic siding for a more secure fit, and included clear protective film and microfiber cleaning cloth. Available for pre-order now, the C.E.O. Flip Vue for iPhone 3G sells for $30. Both cases are listed as “coming soon.”

Apple signs iPhone distribution deals in Germany, Italy

Apple has reportedly signed a number of deals that will help ensure wide availability of the iPhone 3G. In Germany, Apple has reached a deal with computer reseller Gravis to sell the iPhone 3G with T-Mobile contracts through its chain of stores. The phones will also be available through T-Mobile shops. As Apple lacks its own retail store in Germany, the deal with Gravis will help widen distribution of the phone in the country. Apple runs only a single store in Italy, and has decided to allow local Apple Premium Resellers to offer the iPhone 3G through their stores, supplementing the sales of Vodafone and Telecom Italia, both of which will offer the handset. The company is expected to take a similar approach in the Netherlands, allowing Apple resellers to sell the iPhone. The Carphone Warehouse became the first third-party reseller of the iPhone when the device launched in the United Kingdom last November.

SoftBank reveals Japanese iPhone 3G pricing

Japanese iPhone carrier SoftBank has revealed pricing details for the handset. In a statement the company revealed that it will offer the 8GB iPhone 3G for 23,040 yen (around $215), while the 16GB model will be sold for 34,560 yen (around $322), subsidized. According to a Reuters report, the company expects the monthly charges for iPhone customers to be 7,280 yen (around $68), including unlimited data-transmission usage. The iPhone 3G will launch in Japan on July 11.

Knomo rolls out leather cover for iPhone 3G

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Knomo has introduced its leather cover for iPhone 3G. The case features a form-fitting leather exterior with a black velveteen interior lining and a snap-fastening clasp. It offers full access to all ports and controls, and features cut-outs for the new phone’s three front sensors. The knomo leather cover for iPhone 3G will be available in black, ember, yellow and red from Apple both in-store and online and through knomo’s website and will sell for £30, or around $59.

Mercedes-Benz launches iPhone cradle in Germany

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Luxury auto maker Mercedes-Benz has announced its new Apple iPhone Cradle. The cradle, which mounts in the center console, is designed to allow for full integration of the device with the car. It connects to the audio system via the optionally available Media Interface or the retrofittable iPod Interface Kit, and enables the car’s multi-function steering wheel controls to activate both phone and audio features of the iPhone. Information about phone status and music functions such as the device’s phone book or currently playing track, album title, and artist appears on the vehicle’s display, and the cradle also charges the iPhone while docked, and ensures the best reception possible by connecting it with the vehicle’s own antenna. Compatible with C-Class, E-Class, CLK-Class, CLS-Class, S-Class, CL-Class, SL-Class, M-Class and R-Class vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz Apple iPhone Cradle is now available in Germany for €249.

First iPhone 3G cases debut in First Looks

Weeks before the multi-country launch of the iPhone 3G, iLounge has started to receive the first actual iPhone 3G cases from key developers, all newly previewed in our First Looks section. Cases currently appearing in the section include Belkin’s Silicone Sleeve for iPhone 3G, and Marware’s Sportsuit Convertible, C.E.O. Premiere, and C.E.O. Sleeve for iPhone 3G. Of course, we will be adding many more in the days to come. To find out more about these cases, follow the links above, and keep an eye on our First Looks section for more iPhone 3G accessory previews in the coming weeks.

Apple, O2 working on in-store activation for iPhone 3G

Apple and O2 are scrambling to ready Apple’s own retail stores in the United Kingdom for the launch of the iPhone 3G, according to a Mobile Today report. The report states that Apple’s retail stores are currently not set up to run the necessary credit checks needed for in-store activation, and that workers are unfamiliar with the process of signing customers up for subscription contracts. “We are currently working closely with Apple to enable them to issue contracts in store. Full details are still to be confirmed,” said an O2 spokeswoman. The spokeswoman went on to confirm that non-subsidized iPhone 3Gs, which will be sold to pay-as-you-go customers, will be available at full price from Apple’s stores, as well as O2 and Carphone Warehouse.

NLU Products debuts BodyGuardz for iPhone 3G

NLU Products has announced that it is releasing a new BodyGuardz Skin for the iPhone 3G. BodyGuardz Skins are custom-made, thin transparent protectors that are meant to cover the entire device, including the screen, and offer protection from nicks and scratches. Made from the same material that is used to protect the front of automobiles from stones and other abrasive elements, each set will include two complete BodyGuardz protectors, application solution, a squeegee card, and application instructions. NLU Products BodyGuardz for iPhone 3G are now available for pre-order and are expected to begin shipping on July 12 for $25.

ezGear intros ezSkins for iPhone 3G

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ezGear has introduced its upcoming ezSkin Plus and ezSkin Landau cases for the iPhone 3G. The ezSkin Plus for iPhone 3G is a form-fitting silicone case that covers nearly all of the iPhone’s exterior save for the screen, ringer switch, Dock Connector, and headphone port. It employs the company’s ezButton feature to allow for easier pushing of the buttons while protecting them in additional silicone. The ezSkin Plus for iPhone 3G will include a static screen protector and a spring loaded belt clip, and will be available in white, black, or blue for $20. The ezSkin Landau for iPhone 3G is a slim silicone case that uses a transparent film to protect the iPhone’s face, while covering the bezel, top, bottom, sides, and back in silicone. It also offers the ezButton feature for the volume and power buttons, while offering full access to all other ports and controls. The ezSkin Landau for iPhone 3G will be available in white, black, or pink, and will sell for $15. ezGear’s ezSkins for iPhone 3G are expected to begin shipping July 8.

Speck unveils PixelSkin case for iPhone 3G

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Speck Products has unveiled its PixelSkin case for the iPhone 3G. Made from lightweight, form-fitting rubber, the PixelSkin offers slightly thicker corners for extra bump and drop protection, while the textured tile pattern provides extra grip. The case offers access to all ports, controls, and sensors, and the front features a raised ridge detail to help protect the iPhone 3G’s screen when it is placed face down. “The introduction of the elegant iPhone 3G has caused an explosion of creativity from our design team” said Irene Baran, CEO of Speck Products. “We took inspiration from historical trends, social catalysts and color forecasts and crafted a product that encompasses the key qualities this case design needed to offer: protection, personality and comfort.” Speck Product’s PixelSkin for iPhone 3G will be available in July in 6 different single-pack colors, and will sell for $25.

Apple patent points to plastic touch screens

A newly-published Apple patent application outlines a new process for creating plastic-based touch screen panels that would provide benefits over existing plastic and glass touch screen panel technologies. Originally filed on June 13, 2007, the application for a “PET-based touch pad” describes a touchscreen comprised of two layers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic that could help the company make thinner and cheaper touch-sensitive displays than their existing glass and plastic counterparts.

Images filed with the application show the panel used in both an iPhone-like mobile telephone and an iPod classic-like digital media player, suggesting that Apple could add the panels to a more traditional iPod, as well as possible future iPhone and iPod touch models. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product releases from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Electronista]

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