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iPod Access for Mac, Windows updated

Findley Designs has released updates to its iPod Access software, which allows users to transfer files from an iPod back to a computer. iPod Access 3.7 for Mac and iPod Access 2.7 for Windows both bring support for playing video files directly from the iPod, as well as an option for ID3 Tag transfer for WAV, video and iFM files. iPod Access sells for $15.

Tunewear debuts Icewear Ultra Clear for iPod nano

imageTunewear has announced the Icewear Ultra Clear, a new version of its high-density silicone case for the iPod nano. The new transparent case comes with the company’s protective Tunefilm and sells for $13.

“Just like the rest of the Icewear series, Icewear nano Ulta Clear utilizes high density silicone as found in diving masks and our patent pending Rib-Technology to protect your iPod nano, however, this time it is crystal clear.”

Discovery Channel looking for your iPod photos, video footage

If you have photos and/or footage of you and your iPod in action, and want to get them on TV, here’s your chance. The first episode of a new Discovery Channel series (The Evolution of Portable Music Players) will be tracing the evolution of the iPod from phonographs to radios, boom boxes, Discmen, and modern digital music players. The producers of this show are looking for your high-resolution photos or video footage (beta, Quicktime, or mini dv) for possible inclusion in this episode.

If you have something handy, drop an email to [email protected] - who knows, maybe your favorite shot of you and your iPod will show up on cable TV worldwide.

iPod-using Olympians provide free publicity for Apple

iPods are being used by a number of athletes at this month’s Winter Olympics, and while Apple doesn’t pay for endorsements, the games are providing even further free advertising for the device. U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said Apple is “a sponsorship waiting to happen.”

“The biggest winner of all may have been Apple, maker of the tiny iPod that soared to glory along with snowboarder Hannah Teter,” repots the Baltimore Sun. “This Olympics, U.S. snowboarders have competed while listening to the personal music device, and skiers, speed skaters and other Olympians from all over the world have been observed listening raptly during practice and before competing. All of which makes for great press.”

“One of the lasting images of these games is going to be these snowboarders with their iPods,” said Abraham Madkour, executive editor of SportsBusiness Journal, a trade magazine that covers the sports industry. “It’s the perfect form of subconscious marketing.”

NASCAR highlights to be sold on iTunes Music Store

As expected, race fans will be able to purchase and download NASCAR Nextel Cup Series content throughout the 2006 season from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. NASCAR announced today that highlights and behind-the-scenes coverage from this year’s races, beginning with Sunday’s Daytona 500, will be available for $1.99 per video.

“NASCAR, which is the second highest-rated regular season sport on television and has seen TV audience growth of nearly 80% over the past 15 years, will produce the iTunes previews and reviews with unique content designed to drive fans to the race telecasts and complement those telecasts. In the U.S., there are 75 million NASCAR fans, including 30 million women.”

Mix: MP3 watermarks, Apple.com, BBC podcasts, Ultimate Ears

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a new MP3 watermarking technology for tracking pirated audio files in peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Apple’s website was the world’s 10th most popular online destination in January 2006, receiving just under 35 million visitors, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

The BBC plans to expand its podcast lineup and add several new shows including Radio 4’s Start the Week, Broadcasting House, Today in Parliament and Front Row.

Earphone Solutions is offering a $50 rebate on the Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5PRO earphones until Feb. 28. The company said the $50 rebate will be mailed by Ultimate Ears.

Monster cuts iCruze retail pricing

Monster has announced that its iCruze direct-connect iPod car audio solution is now available at a new low price. The main iCruze unit now retails for $70, the optional display is now $40, and additional interface connecting cables and/or interface modules range in price from $10 to $30.

“This means that a customer can put together a complete iCruze package for only $150 (that is a $280 price reduction for a complete iCruze system as compared to the previous pricing),” says Monster. “It also means that some customers who only need an iCruze and an Interface Cable, and who choose not to purchase the LCD Display can own iCruze for as low as $80.”

Monster is still running a special sale on a complete iCruze package. You can buy the kit—which includes the iCruze main unit, the LCD display module and necessary cables—for $99 directly from the company.

NASCAR offers free Daytona 500 preview on iTunes

NASCAR has made a free preview of Sunday’s Daytona 500 available on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The 20-minute video “takes you inside the world of NASCAR and the Daytona 500 in a way that’s never before been experienced,” according to the description. Interestingly, the preview is listed under a new iTunes section called “NASCAR 2006 Races,” hinting that this season’s race events could also be offered on iTunes.

“‘NASCAR Daytona 500 Preview’ delivers something for everyone. You’ll see never-before-seen footage from full-restored historical film to a first-hand look at the 2006 Daytona 500 test cars. You’ll watch exclusive interviews of veterans and rookies as they look ahead to the upcoming season. You’ll go on the track and inside the garage, where you’ll see and hear behind-the-scenes sounds from drivers and crew chiefs. And you’ll relive some of the greatest triumphs and tragedies in the host of ‘The Great American Race.’”

Mix: SigmaTel, iTunes disdain, Sprint, News Corp.

SigmaTel, which makes the chip that powers the iPod shuffle, is hopeful that it will win bigger contracts from Apple in the second half of the year.

iTunes “makes music disposable. It makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul,” Victory Records founder Tony Brummel said. “Apple/iTunes do not care about independent labels or, for that matter, the record industry. Without the music industry, their site and their iPods are useless.”

In the four months since the Sprint Music Store debuted, more than 1 million tracks have now been sold. In comparison, the iTunes Music Store sold the same amount in less than a week when it launched in May 2003.

CNN/Money’s Paul La Monica looks at News Corp.‘s digital content moves and notes that it “has yet to strike an agreement with a major tech firm for video content online” and that its Fox channel is “the only one of the big four networks to not do so.”

GEAR4 announces IceBox X-Clip case for iPod nano

imageGEAR4 today announced the IceBox X-Clip, a clear hard case for the iPod nano with the ability to use special clip-on accessories. The case is currently available in two versions: the IceBox X-Clip ($22), which is the basic model with belt clip attachment, and the Ice Box X-Clip Splitter ($29), which comes with both the belt clip attachment and an interchangeable headphone splitter. GEAR4 said that it expects to deliver 10 or more X-Clip accessories during 2006, including remotes, sports armbands, battery backup packs and speakers.

iTunes phone upgrade to remove song cap? [updated]

imageOne of the biggest complaints with Motorola’s iTunes-enabled mobile phones is their 100-song cap. But Apple has apparently been listening and appears to be planning to allow users to upgrade their phone to remove the software-imposed song limit.

References in the code of the iTunes 6.0.3 update reveal a link to a hidden page on the iTunes Music Store that says: “Want more music on your mobile phone with iTunes? Upgrade now.” The upgrade process is not yet active, as several ROKR and SLVR phone owners were unsuccessful in getting their song limit raised. It’s not clear whether Apple plans to charge for the upgrade.

Update: Engadget has confirmed with Apple that “the upgrade screen exists for non-US customers, some of whom initially had caps as low as 25 songs, and brings their phones up to the 100-song limit.”

Amazon plans digital music service, branded player

Amazon.com is planning to launch a digital music service and Amazon-branded MP3 players, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The online retailer is currently finalizing deals with the major music companies and could launch the service and portable devices as soon as this summer.

“Amazon is in advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart,” reports the Journal. “Among them: Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal.”

The article claims that music executives “privately welcome Amazon’s plans, which they see as one of the only credible challenges to Apple’s hegemony in both digital music and portable players. Now the question is whether Amazon’s massive customer base is enough to offset a long delay in entering the online music business.”

“Amazon’s online music plans would take advantage of the company’s strong position in selling CDs and portable music players,” the Journal notes. “The online retailer sells an estimated 10% of digital music players in the U.S., including iPods, and the pending deal could hurt its relationship with Apple. If Amazon’s competing offering presented enough of a threat, Apple could even stop selling iPods on the site.”

Apple releases iTunes update

Along with updates to its other Mac-only iLife applications, Apple today released iTunes 6.0.3. According to the release notes, the update “includes stability and performance improvements over iTunes 6.0.2.” A detailed list of changes was not provided. The update is available from Apple’s website for Windows and Mac users, and via the Mac OS X software update preference pane for Mac users.

Apple adds comedy genre to iTunes Music Store

Apple has updated to the iTunes Music Store with a new Comedy genre. While the company has been adding individual comedy items to the store for some time, there’s now a dedicated section that highlights comedy albums, TV content, and Audiobooks. Highlighted comedians currently include Dane Cook, Mitch Hedberg, Ron White, Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy, and more.

Apple confirms AIDS-related special event invite a fake

Contrary to an earlier report, Apple will not be holding a special event on March 1. An Apple representative has confirmed to iLounge that an electronic invitation—marked with indicia of a benefit for AIDS—is an elaborate fake. The sender was apparently taking advantage of recent speculation that Apple would introduce a red iPod as part of Bono’s Product RED initiative. iLounge apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.

Companies including American Express, Converse, Gap and Giorgio Armani have all joined the project and plan to release specially-designed red products with a portion of the profits going to the Global Fund to support AIDS programs in Africa. The U2 frontman was reportedly overheard mentioning that Apple would be joining the initiative by introducing a red iPod.

Mix: RealNetworks, Aussie warning, Tesco, Parentcasting

RealNetworks says it has doubled the number of paying customers for its music subscription service in the past year—1.4 million at the end of 2005, up from 700,000 a year before.

Following the death of an Australian woman, police in the country have warned that cyclists should never listen to an iPod while riding. “If you’re a cyclist and you want to stay alive, I wouldn’t wear an iPod under any circumstances,” Assistant Commissioner (Traffic) Noel Ashby said.

UK-based supermarket Tesco has launched its first dedicated section for selling iPods and Macs. The first store is located in Milton Keynes, about 50 miles northwest of London.

USA Today reports on parents creating podcasts for other parents. “Parents, it turns out, are eager to download programs created specifically for them that would have been unlikely to air on a traditional broadcast radio station.”

iBikeMount for iPod nano announced

imageThe iBikeMount is a new iPod nano accessory that allows you to quickly and securely mount the device to the handlebars of bicycles, exercise machines, and strollers. It attaches to a variety of handlebar sizes (22 mm–26 mm) and requires no tools to install. The iBikeMount is priced at $30 and will begin shipping on March 15, 2006.

“The new mount eliminates the inconvenience of digging the iPod out of a pocket, removing it from an armband, or bringing a dangling lanyard up to the face in order to make selection or setting change.  iBikeMount keeps the Nano safely in plain sight and within easy reach by securely attaching it to the handlebars.”

Pod2Go Windows beta released

Kainjow has announced the release of the first public beta of Pod2Go for Windows. Previously only available for Mac OS X, the software lets you put a variety of content on your iPod, including news feeds, weather forecasts, movie showtimes, driving directions, lyrics, stock quotes and more. The beta download is free and requires Windows 2000 or XP. You can register now for a discount on the final version.

EvolutionTV gets real-time video compression for iPod

Miglia Technology today announced the release of a free software update for its EvolutionTV digital video recorder for the Mac. The version 2.6 update adds real-time video compression for the fifth-generation iPod as well as the Sony PSP. “EvolutionTV is the only digital video recorder to offer real-time iPod encoding,” says Miglia. “Real-time encoding removes the need to go through a software export step, a very lengthy operation.”

Mix: Screech, Sony Bean, AKG K27i headphones, iPod love

Apple has added 90’s TV show “Saved By the Bell” and early segments from “Schoolhouse Rock.”

Another iPod casualty: Sony said that its Bean MP3 player, which was launched at the end of last August, will be discontinued in April.

Earphone Solutions is offering a free pair of AKG K27i headphones ($70 value) with the purchase of the UM2 earphones. Add both to your cart and enter the coupon code FREEK27ILOUNGEUM2.

USA Today’s Laura Vanderkam writes: “Modern youth culture’s love affair with the iPod may explain why this holiday will be lonelier for many people of my generation.”

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