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Neuros Recorder 2 Plus introduced

Neuros Technology today announced an upgraded version of its MPEG-4 Recorder 2, adding a multi-card slot for recording onto SD, miniSD, microSD and MMC memory cards. Like the original Recorder 2 ($150), the new Recorder 2 Plus ($160) can also record video directly onto Sony Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo cards, Compact Flash (CF) cards and MicroDrives. The Neuros Recorder 2 devices record iPod-ready video from any source (TV, satellite, DVRs, etc.) directly onto a flash memory card. They come with a remote control and provide three resolution settings and four quality settings.

Mix: TubeSock, Google, LimeWire, ColorEnvy

TubeSock is a new Mac application that allows users to download and convert videos from YouTube for playback on video-enabled iPods and the Sony PSP. The $15 software “converts YouTube’s native FLV file format into H.264, MP4, or MP3 files. It automatically determines the appropriate file format, bitrate, and naming convention for the selected target device.”

Google has denied that it plans to sell digital music. “We are not going to be selling music,” Chris Sacca, head of business development for Google, said last week at the annual NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) conference. “We’re already in the music business, because we’re the complement to the offline life,” he said. “After people hear the name ‘Gnarls Barkley’ their next move is to go and check on Google for it.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs set to kick off WWDC today

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will kick off today with a keynote presentation by company CEO Steve Jobs at 10:00 a.m. PT/1:00 p.m. ET. Jobs will give the first public preview of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple’s next major operating system upgrade. As with all Jobs keynotes, rumors are flying about what else might be announced—everything from new Intel-based “Mac Pro” desktop systems to the long-rumored iPhone. While we’ll be watching closely today for any iPod related news at the event, analysts are expecting Jobs to stick with Mac offerings. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said the probability is “low” that new iPods will be introduced today. “There is always room for firsts,” Wu said. “But WWDC is a Mac event and has not been used in the past for major iPod announcements.”

Update: As expected, Apple introduced new Mac Pro desktop workstations and previewed Mac OS X Leopard. No iPod or iTunes related announcements were made.

Speck debuts FlipSkin case for 5G iPods

Speck Products today announced the FlipSkin case for fifth-generation iPods. The rubberized case features an adjustable viewing stand and removable screen protector. “Enjoy watching your iPod video in any environment! On the plane, train, or sitting at your desk, the FlipSkin allows you to stand your iPod with video and adjust the viewing angle to suit your current situation,” says Speck. “The ‘kickstand’ folds flat against the case when not in use—and easily flips back out when needed. Choose the angle that’s best for your viewing needs.” The FlipSkin is available now for $35.

Warner readying DVD music albums with iTunes tracks

Warner Music Group is planning to release music albums on DVD discs that will include extras such as videos, ring tones, photos and pre-ripped digital music files. The Wall Street Journal reports [paid sub. req.]: “People familiar with the situation say Warner is close to a deal with Apple that would make the digital tracks essentially identical to those the computer company sells through its iTunes Music Store—something that has proved elusive for others in the music industry, since Apple has been unwilling to license its proprietary copy-protection software to outsiders. People briefed on the talks said a likely solution would involve Apple creating the digital tracks and Warner putting them on DVDs.” Warner plans to introduce the discs with “a handful of titles” in October, with a “full-blown launch” planned for early next year.

Napster subscribers decline; Company considers sale

Napster said yeterday that it wouldn’t rule out a sale of the company after reporting that the subscriber base for its online music service had fallen 7 percent. “We do not have our heads in the sand regarding an M&A (merger and acquisition) transaction. We continue to receive a lot of interest in the company. We will always carefully weigh any valuation alternative against the opportunity and risk associated with continuing as a standalone company,” Napster CEO Chris Gorog told analysts on a conference call. Napster reported a net loss of $9.8 million for its first fiscal quarter. The company’s total paid subscriber base as of June 30 was 512,000, including 4,000 university-paid subscriptions.

NBC to offer ‘Heroes’ pilot for free on iTunes

NBC has announced that it will make the pilot episode of its new Fall series “Heroes” available for free on the iTunes Music Store beginning September 1st. The free offering is part of a cross-promotional effort that NBC is doing for the show involving Nissan, Apple, and National CineMedia. “To access the free Heroes material, moviegoers at AMC, Cinemark, and Regal theaters will receive special cards with pin numbers that let them enter a special Heroes preview section on iTunes,” reports TV.com. “The card holders will be able to download the free pilot of Heroes plus behind-the-scenes footage and previews of other NBC series.” Heroes is described as a drama that chronicles the lives of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities.

Soloist Universal Media Dock for iPods, SIRIUS announced

Directed Electronics has introduced its Soloist Universal Media Dock, which employs interchangeable cradles to dock iPods and SIRIUS satellite radio receivers. The Soloist features SurfaceSound flat-panel speakers by NXT, a 10 watt-per-channel Tripath amplifier, a built-in alarm clock, and IR remote control. The system also offers auxiliary inputs, a headphone jack and USB connectivity. The Soloist, which will be available in September for $150, is compatible with all dock connecting iPods, the SIRIUS Sportster 4 and most newer SIRIUS plug-and-play receivers.

Apple warns of profit restatement, delays quarterly filing

Apple has announced that it will likely need to restate financial earnings and delay filing its quarterly report because of additional irregularities found in its accounting of stock options as part of an ongoing investigation. “Apple is now among the most high-profile companies caught up in a stock options scandal that has swept through the technology industry,” reports Reuters. “The SEC has more than 80 investigations underway to determine if companies manipulated the prices of stock options given to executives. Apple will likely need to restate results to record noncash charges for compensation expense relating to past stock option grants. Apple said it had not determined the amount of the charges, resulting tax and accounting impacts, or which periods may require restating.”

YoTank offers machined aluminum iPod cases

YoTank has announced a new collection of iPod cases made from machined aluminum. The iTank cases—available for the fifth-generation iPod ($75), iPod nano ($45) and iPod mini ($35)—are machined from solid aluminum and polished to a mirror-like finish. The cases have an integrated Lexan screen protector and openings for all controls and ports.

French iTunes interoperability law goes into effect

The controversial French law affecting the iPod and iTunes Music Store went into effect Thursday. “The Internet copyright law included passed France’s parliament June 30. The Constitutional Council threw out several measures last week, concluding that they violated constitutional property protections,” reports the Associated Press. “French President Jacques Chirac signed it this week with the body’s changes. The law was published in the government’s Journal Official on Thursday, formally putting it into force.” The copyright bill, which Apple previously called “state-sponsored piracy,” could force the company to open up its iPod and iTunes copy-protection technology in order to make Apple’s song downloads and player compatible with rivals.

SkinIt offers Simpsons iPod skins

SkinIt is now offering a new collection of vinyl skins featuring characters from Fox’s animated hit series, The Simpsons. The company said the skins are available for more than 500 consumer electronic devices, including every iPod model produced. The adhesive-backed, removable skins are available in 11 various Simpsons designs and are priced at $15. “The skin itself is made from a professional-grade vinyl, which is printed via a proprietary process that ensures detailed and premium images,” explains SkinIt. “The skin is then coated with a glossy finish and custom cut, which creates a perfect fit for each device.”

Apple defends iPod-iTunes compatibility in Scandinavia

In a 50-page response to Scandinavian regulators, Apple firmly defended its closed system of iTunes downloads playing on only iPods, indicating that it is not willing to change its business model by opening up its copy-protection technology. Norway’s consumer agency said it was disappointed with Apple’s letter, while the Swedish consumer society said that Apple had “given in to some demands but not to others.” As previously reported, the consumer agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden claim that the current iPod and iTunes model violates contract and copyright laws in their countries. According to the AP, Apple “asserted that the demands of the Scandinavian agencies are outside of their authority, specifically as they relate to copyright and digital rights management rules.”

Ford, GM, Mazda to offer iPod integration in 2007 models

Apple today announced that it has partnered with Ford, General Motors and Mazda to deliver iPod integration “across the majority of their brands and models, making it easy for iPod users to enjoy and control their iPod’s high-quality sound through their car’s stereo system.” With the addition of these models, Apple said more than 70 percent of 2007-model U.S. automobiles will offer iPod integration. Ford and GM will offer iPod connectivity in “the majority of their 2007 models” beginning later this year, while Mazda’s entire 2007 lineup will be iPod-ready. The iPod integration consists of built-in auxiliary audio-input jacks in some models and direct-connect options for others. Apple said iPod kits will offer a direct connection to a car’s stereo, glove compartment storage, iPod charging, and the ability to select and play music using a car’s multifunction controls.

Study finds widespread usage of iPods in automobiles

According to the bi-annual Harris Interactive AutoTechcast study, nearly two-thirds (65%) of adult automobile owners who also have an iPod/MP3 player use the device while driving their vehicle. The study found that among all adult automobile owners, ownership of iPod/MP3 players is about one in 10 (12%). Harris reports that over half (52%) of those who use an iPod/MP3 player in their vehicle, and 14% of all adult car owners, indicate that they are “extremely or very likely” to purchase an audio interface for their next vehicle. The study found, however, that FM transmitters and cassette adapters are the least preferred. The respondents said they prefer connecting through an auxiliary jack located on the stereo head unit (39%) or through either Bluetooth (23%) or Firewire/USB connections (19%).

Mix: Q101, Schwarzenegger, Wine guide, Lollapalooza

Chicago’s Q101 radio station is giving away iTunes gift cards to anyone they spot carrying an iPod. “Now thru August 3rd, our ‘iTunes spotters’ will be running around Chicago giving away iTunes gift cards featuring over 20 Lollapalooza bands. If you’re spotted around town with your white earbuds and your iPod, you’ll get free a Lollapalooza music card from Q101 and iTunes.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave British Prime Minister Tony Blair a 60GB iPod preloaded with songs about California during Blair’s visit last weekend to Silicon Valley. The iPod was inscribed: “Presented to the Right Honorable Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California.” [via MDN]

iPod, MP3 accessory market to reach $2 billion

According to a new report from Research and Markets, sales of iPod and MP3 accessories have grown from $50 million in 2001 to $2 billion in 2006 because of “strong sales of MP3 players, increased availability of accessories, lifestyle changes among consumers and continuing product development.” The study found that 75% of respondents have headphones, 49% own a car audio accessory and 48% own a case or USB power adapter. Research and Markets said respondents who own iPod or MP3 accessories spent an average of $90 on their last accessory purchase, with “male respondents, those with income over $50K, married respondents and over-35s all showing higher levels of average spend.” The firm estimates that there are currently over 200 suppliers of accessories for the iPod, with “more companies making universal accessories, but due to the immaturity of the market, few of these have developed significant awareness among consumers.”

iTrax Mixing Console for iPods introduced

Gemini DJ has introduced the iTrax Mixing Console for iPods. The iTrax features dual angled iPod docking cradles, USB connectivity, composite video output, and two phono/line inputs. Each iPod channel features 3-band rotary EQ controls with gain and cut options. The $230 unit also offers a microphone input with 2-band EQ controls, master volume control, cue section, and a user-replaceable X-Fader. Gemini said an enhanced model called the iTrax2 will be released later this year, adding touch-sensitive jog wheels and other new features.

European iTunes Music Stores sell 200 million songs

Apple today announced that more than 200 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from its European iTunes Music Stores in just over two years. The company also said that its European music catalog now includes more than 3 million songs. The iTunes Music Store was launched in the UK, France and Germany in June 2004, and now operates in 17 European countries. “The number of songs downloaded and purchased from the iTunes Music Stores in Europe have tripled in the past year from 50 million to 200 million,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We’re thrilled that music fans in Europe have shown such enthusiasm for the artists and exclusive music content found only on iTunes and would like to thank them for making iTunes such a success.”

Altec Lansing debuts M602 iPod speaker system

Altec Lansing has introduced the M602 iPod audio system. The M602 features a built-in iPod dock, four full-range neodymium speakers, digital amplification, and XdB bass-enhancement technology. The $200 system also offers a wall-mountable design, composite video output, a wireless remote, and an MP3 cradle adapter for non-docking iPods and other devices. “It’s the complete package: Striking good looks, plus rich, clear sound from its four custom-designed speakers,” says Altec Lansing. “What’s more, the M602 is surprisingly affordable, so you can still send the kids to college. Just place your iPod into the M602’s built-in dock and enjoy.” Check out our First Look at the M602 for hands-on photos and details.

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