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Apple releases iPod update with maximum volume limit

In response to recent concerns of potential hearing loss, Apple has announced an iPod software update that provides the ability to set a personal maximum volume limit on the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. The version 1.1.1 update also gives parents the ability to set a volume limit on their child’s iPod and lock it with a combination code. Update: An iLounge tutorial on the new feature is now available online.

iHome reveals iH52, iH7 iPod speaker systems

Following the introduction of three new iPod speakers systems earlier this month, iHome Audio has provided iLounge with exclusive photos and information on two more systems—the iH52 and iH7—which will be released this year. While product details are slim at this time, iHome said that the iH52, a 2.1 bookshelf system with subwoofer, will be available in July for $199. The company said the iH7, the successor to the best-selling iH5 speaker system/clock radio, will add several enhancements including an extra “bedside” speaker and iPod shuffle dock. The iH7 will go on sale in Fall 2006 for $149. iHome said that these images are “not necessarily reflective of the products’ final design.”

Announcement: Join iLounge editors and Evan Stein of iHome for an informal live chat on April 6th at 3:00 p.m. PT. We will also be giving away several iHome products during the chat.

Apple offers Lost, Desperate Housewives Season Passes

Apple has added Season Pass options for both of ABC’s top shows — “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.” iTunes Music Store customers now have the option of buying a $34.99 Season Pass for either of the shows, which includes all past episodes from the current season as well as future episodes that will download automatically. The Season Pass price will provide a discount of around $15 compared to buying the episodes individually for $1.99. Apple has previously sold older seasons of shows for a discount if purchased all at once. For example, the entire first season of “Lost” consists of 25 episodes and can be purchased for $34.99. The Season Pass feature debuted with the addition of NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament games to the iTunes store.

Geneva iPod speaker systems now shipping

Geneva Labs has announced that it is now shipping its first two Geneva Sound System models. Available in red, white or black, the Geneva Model L (100 watts) and Model XL (600 watts) feature a dedicated iPod dock, built-in CD player, FM radio, and audio inputs. In an update to the models announced late last year, the systems now come with color-coordinated remotes. The Geneva Model L sells for $600 and the Model XL is priced at $1075. Optional stands for both models are priced at $100.

Mix: Avie Tevanian, New shows, Cardboard case, Jobs taxes

Avadis “Avie” Tevanian, Apple’s Chief Technology Officer, is leaving the the company to “pursue other interests,” Apple confirmed yesterday.

Comedy Central’s “The Showbiz Show with David Spade” and the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” have been added to the iTunes Music Store.

Numark to debut iDJ2 iPod mixer with pitch control

Numark this week will introduce the iDJ2, a new version of the company’s professional iPod mixing console. Unlike the original iDJ, the new iDJ2 features only one iPod dock, but can play two songs simultaneously from a single iPod. The mixer provides real-time scratch, pitch control, looping, and full cueing of music from the docked iPod.

Sumo debuts limited edition World Cup iPod cases

Sumo Cases has introduced a new collection of leather iPod cases designed for the 2006 World Cup soccer tournament. Made for fifth-generation iPods, the new striped cases feature the flag colors of eight countries, a soccer ball patch, and hexagon-shaped stitching. The $40 cases are available in the colors of Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, USA, England, and Mexico. Sumo is also offering a basic black case with a white stripe.

iPod propels Apple to top of BusinessWeek top 50 list

Apple has taken the top spot on this year’s BusinessWeek 50 list, which ranks the best performing companies of 2006. “All those little white earbuds are a bona fide cultural phenomenon—and serious business for Apple. Booming sales of its iPod music players have propelled the Cupertino (Calif.) icon to the top of our list of the best corporate performers,” says BusinessWeek. “Apple shows few signs of slowing down. Of the 42 million iPods sold since the line was introduced five years ago, 32 million were sold in 2005, including 14 million in a killer Christmas quarter. Apple’s profits leapt 216% in 2005 on a 66% jump in sales. Investors are still bullish, not only for what Steve Jobs has done, but also for what lies ahead.”

Apple leather iPod cases now available

Apple’s new $99 leather iPod cases are now shipping to customers and can be found at Apple retail stores. The cases, which were announced during Apple’s special media event last month, are made from Italian leather and come in sizes to fit the iPod nano and the 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods. You can check out iLounge’s review of the cases for hands-on details and photos.

Denmark to follow France’s lead with DRM law?

Following France’s push for DRM interoperability, a report has surfaced that Denmark may be next in line to force Apple to open its FairPlay copy-protection technology used on the iTunes Music Store and iPod. Maersk and TDC, two large Denmark-based companies that run online music ventures, are reportedly speaking out in favor of such a law.

Mix: Amazon, Apple birthday, TomTom, Vinyl recently lowered iPod prices slightly, offering $20 off both the 30GB and 60GB models, and $10 off both iPod nano models.

The Associated Press notes that Apple will celebrate its 30th anniversary on April 1st and is the first to take a look back at the company’s history.

Beatles’ Apple Corps, Apple Computer to meet in court this week

The Apple Computer vs. Apple Corps case is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at London’s High Court before iPod-owning Justice Edward Mann. Apple Corps, owned by the Beatles and their families, claims that the iTunes Music Store breaches a 1991 agreement on the companies’ use of the Apple trademark. “Any damages for this latest clash could amount to tens of millions of pounds because it concerns Apple Computer’s hugely successful iTunes Music Store and iPod,” reports the Times UK newspaper. “The court will be treated to a demonstration of an iPod, but it is unlikely to play a Beatles song.”

Nintendo building ‘video game version’ of iTunes

During a keynote address yesterday at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata divulged further plans for Virtual Console, an online download service he described as “the video game version of Apple’s iTunes music store.” Like GameTap, a subscription-based game service launched last year by Time Warner, Virtual Console will serve as a legal online download service for classic video games. However, only Nintendo’s service will feature titles from its own past consoles, as well as games from past competing platforms such as Sega’s Genesis and NEC’s TurboGrafx-16. “Between them, [Sega’s and NEC’s] systems built a library of more than a thousand different games,” said Iwata. “Of course, not all of them will be available, but the best of them will.”

Dodge Caliber sports integrated iPod cradle

The new 2007 Dodge Caliber, which will be launched with a large marketing campaign starting this Sunday, features a built-in cradle and auxiliary stereo input jack designed for the iPod and other devices. While Dodge describes the cradle as an “MP3/Cell Phone Holder,” the company clearly shows it being used with a fourth-generation iPod. The rubber-lined holder flips open from the top of the center console armrest to face the driver.

HandStands intros iSnug set for 5G iPod

HandStands has announced a new version of its iSnug case for Apple’s fifth-generation iPod. Like the iSnug Set, the hard-shelled case features an EVA foam cutout, belt loop, and a mesh pocket for earphones or cables. The iSnug Video also includes a leather case, lanyard, micro-fiber cloth, screen protector, and doubles as a stand. The iSnug Video Set is priced at $40 and is expected to be available in mid-April. 

Mix: Intel chip, Podcast usage, Gratis suit, Missing Manual

Deborah Conrad, VP and director of Team Apple at Intel, has commented on the use of an Intel chip in an iPod. “I don’t think you’re going to see anything soon,” she said. But when it comes to future Apple devices, “that’s where we get very, very excited.”

According to a recent consumer survey by Bridge Data, more than 80% of podcast downloads never make it to a portable audio player—they are listened to on a PC or deleted first.

U.S. backs Apple against French interoperability law

The U.S. government is backing Apple in the company’s protest against a French law that would force it to open up its FairPlay digital rights management technology. Speaking on CNBC, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Apple needs to protect its intellectual property. “Any time something like this happens, any time that we believe that intellectual property rights are being violated, we need to speak up and in this case, the company is taking the initiative,” he said.

Jimi iPod nano case announced

Mr. Smith, maker of the popular Jimi wallet, has introduced a similar product for the iPod nano. The Jimi nano case ($20) is available in six translucent colors and features interchangeable faceplates, a belt clip, and access to all controls and ports. “The case and cover each come in 6 colors, so that’s 36 possible combos,” says the company. “Aqua and Safety Orange, Ruby and Green, Clear and Magenta… whatever you fancy. And exploiting the iPod polished back we created a ‘mirror’ window, which allows you to use your nano-case to signal for help (very Macgyver), change your contact lenses, or check your smile.”

Scosche intros RF remotes for 5G iPod, nano

Scosche has announced its new Freestyle line of RF remotes for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Both RF remotes offer up to a 150-foot range, the signal capability to travel through walls, and can control basic functions (play/pause, on/off, volume, track and RWD/FFD) plus the random song feature and access playlists. Both $70 remotes—the Scosche NRF remote for the iPod nano and the IPRF-Doc remote for the 5G iPod—are available in black and feature pass-through dock connector ports and audio-input jacks.

Speck announces CableGuys, Mystery Case deal

Speck Products today announced the CableGuys, “fun and functional” audio/video cables for iPods. The CableGuys come in a 3-pack that includes a home stereo cable, computer speaker cable, and a headphone splitter for $25. An iPod-to-USB cable is available for $20. Speck also announced its Mystery Case of the Day promotion. “Every day, Speck will be shipping a different mystery case valued at $20-$35,” the accessory maker said. “Take a change and surprise yourself with one of Speck’s great iPod cases.”

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