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ViewSonic unveils display line with iPod connectivity

ViewSonic today announced a new line of desktop LCD displays with integrated iPod docks. The ViewDock displays allow users to easily dock an iPod to watch videos or listen to music without cables or a separate device. The widescreen displays will also feature several USB 2.0 ports, an 8-in-1 card reader, microphone, integrated stereo speakers and subwoofer. According to ViewSonic, the displays feature “excellent front-of-screen performance, including ultra-fast response times, high brightness and contrast ratios, as well as wide viewing angles for getting the most out of fast action games, and downloaded video content and full-length movies.” The ViewSonic ViewDock displays are expected later this year. Pricing is not yet available.

Harman Kardon launches new iPod gear

Harman Multimedia has announced several new iPod products that it will debut this week at Apple Expo in Paris. The new accessories include the JBL Micro Radial ($130), a smaller version of the hoop-like docking iPod speaker system with IR remote; JBL On Stage Micro ($100), a circular-shaped portable speaker system that can be battery or AC powered; JBL Spot ($300), a skinable speaker system that uses different colored shells; and JBL Spyro ($100), a 2.1 system with flower-shaped speakers.

‘iTunes Store’ down for maintenance

Apple has taken the iTunes Music Store offline ahead of today’s special “Showtime” event in San Francisco. When connecting to the store, users are met with the message: “It’s Showtime. The iTunes Store is being updated.” Interestingly, the word “Music” has been omitted from the name. Apple is widely expected to announce full-length movie downloads today at the event.

Sound Leisure intros Xi Jukebox for iPod

Sound Leisure has announced the Xi Jukebox, a new full-size, hand-built jukebox made specifically for the iPod. The Xi features Sound Leisure’s classic jukebox design with color-changing LED lighting and chrome fittings, along with an iPod cradle, 6 speakers (2 bass, 2 midrange, 2 high range speakers), integrated LCD screen for video playback, and remote control. “The Xi’s impact is immediate with its iconic design, vibrant color and powerful sound delivered by a newly designed six speaker system custom configured to deliver the iPod output. Hypnotic presence that refuses to shy into the background, the Xi is meant to be seen and most definitely heard,” says the company. Pricing and availability were not announced.

Mustek rolls out new iPod speaker systems

Mustek today unveiled its new Paragon line of iPod-dockable speaker systems. Available in a compact table-top model and a larger tower design, the Paragon systems “make it easy to experience full-bodied, audiophile-quality stereo sound from an iPod in any home, office or dorm room,” according to the company. Both systems feature an Apple universal iPod dock, three-way shielded speakers, remote control, and audio inputs. The Paragon TW450 ($250) floor-standing tower system also features a 45W amplifier, 5.25-inch, dual-coil subwoofer and stands 37.8-inches high. The Mustek Paragon DT260 ($130) is a portable system (appearing to be similar to the top part of the TW450) featuring USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity and touch controls. Both are available in white or black to match the current iPod colors.

Update: The Mustek speakers appear to be OEM versions of the Ignitek iCarrier and iCruiser.

iFixit offers free iPod disassembly guides, iPod parts

iFixit, a company known for its do-it-yourself Mac computer repair guides, has posted a series of free iPod disassembly guides online. iFixit has also announced a large iPod parts store with over 100 parts and upgrades. iFixit has guides covering first through fifth generation iPods, the iPod mini, the iPod shuffle, and iPod nano.

Insurers begin covering claims for digital music

After years of covering music on CDs, records and tapes, insurers are now beginning to accept claims for digital music downloaded to iPods and other gadgets. “Nationwide has been the trail-blazer, including music and other entertainment downloads as standard in its home contents cover,” reports The Independent. “The building society argues—and a lot of iPod users would agree—that these virtual music collections count as family valuables, just like CDs and old LPs. Other insurers are considering a similar addition to their home contents cover… Nationwide’s cover is for any download—ringtones, games, films or music—wherever it is held, be that a phone, PC, laptop or music player. The important point is that the owner will have to prove they have paid for the download.”

MusicJam portable iPod audio mixer announced

Cerventis has introduced the MusicJam portable iPod mixer. The $230 unit features a pro-quality microphone, microphone stand clamp, audio effects, AC adapter, and cables. The MusicJam also offers an electric guitar input with Tone and Distortion controls. “Turn your iPod into your own band,” says the company. “Play backing tracks or songs and sing along. We add an echo effect to your voice to make it sound like you are on stage… The MusicJam has a sophisticated circuit design with very low noise and superior sound quality that may be used for public performances and recording via standard RCA jacks on the side.”

Analyst: Apple could sell 8-12 million iPhones next year

While he doesn’t expect Apple to introduce a cell phone at tomorrow’s special event, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster continues to expect the company will ship an “iPhone” within the next 4-6 months. Despite admitting that his firm “has not seen any concrete evidence that the product is near completion or launch,” Munster says Apple could ship between 8-12 million phones next year. “Assuming Apple ships its iPhone early in 2007, at Macworld-07 or a special event, we expect the company will sell 8-12 million iPhones in the full calendar year,” Munster says. “We believe the most likely iPhone buyers would be those who have previously owned a higher average selling price HDD iPod.”

iBreath iPod add-on features alcohol breathalyzer

The iBreath is a new iPod accessory that purports to combine an alcohol breathalyzer and an FM transmitter. “Just fold out the BAC blow wand and exhale into it for a full 5 seconds. 5 seconds later, this jail-saving gizmo let’s you know if you’re safe to drive,” says David Steele, the company selling the product. “It even houses a timer that can be set from 1 minute up to 4 hours in order to remind you when it’s time for the next test. And if keeping you out of the pokey isn’t enough, this cool gadget doubles as a wireless FM transmitter to beam your tunes directly to any FM stereo.”

Apple working to increase iTunes sales in Japan

Apple is pursuing new ways—including prepaid iTunes cards and free downloads at concerts—to increase sales at the iTunes Music Store in Japan. The company is also targeting consumers who commonly purchase mobile phone downloads. “Apple dominates the market for music downloads in the United States, but its iTunes online music store has about a 5% share in Japan, where most fans download songs onto mobile phones and many people prefer not to buy music online with credit cards,” reports Reuters. In Apple’s favor is the popularity of the iPod. According to BCN, iPods dominate the top nine slots of the latest digital music player sales ranking in Japan.

BluPod iPod add-on offers Caller ID, radio features

Zenecom debuted a new Bluetooth iPod accessory with Caller ID functionality at this week’s IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. When connected to an iPod and a call is received to a Bluetooth-compatible phone, the BluPod displays the caller’s number on the iPod’s screen and automatically turns down the music volume. The small, iPod shuffle-like device also functions as an FM radio and remote control. Pricing and availability for the BluPod were not announced. [via Gizmodo]

Podfitness, Marware team up

Podfitness, the customized audio personal training service, has partnered with iPod accessory maker Marware to offer “exclusive product offers that will be bundled with the Sportsuit product line.” In their announcement, which provided no product specifics, the two companies said: “Additional product and cross promotional initiatives are being designed to enhance the fitness enthusiast experience. Podfitness will also be distributing Marware products online as well as implementing a branded line of Marware products. Podfitness and Marware will continue to collaborate on co-branded strategies.”

Marware debuts Nike-compatible Sportsuit Relay

Marware today announced the new Sportsuit Relay combo accessory pack for owners of the the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. The $30 set includes Marware’s previously announced Sportsuit Sensor+ pouch for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit sensor along with a new wrist/armband case designed specifically to accommodate the iPod nano and the Sport Kit receiver. Both feature neoprene and rubber construction, and the wrist/armband comes with an optional extension piece and sports a play-through protector window.

4Flix.net offers new plan, notes ‘6th generation Video iPod’

4Flix.Net has announced its Free*Pass monthly subscription plan, which allows unrestricted access to the site’s collection of iPod-ready videos for $9.99 a month. The service allows members to download any of 4Flix.Net’s DRM-free feature-length movies, classic TV shows, and independent films. Strangely, in 4Flix.Net’s press release for the new service, sent to iLounge, the company lists “Apple’s 6th Generation 16x9 widescreen Video iPod” as a supported device. Apple has obviously yet to introduce such a device and is unlikely to provide product details to a company such as 4Flix.Net in advance of such an announcement.

Update: As noted in the comments below, 4Flix.Net has updated its press release on its website, which now lists “Apple’s 5th Generation video-capable iPod” as a supported device.

Amazon opens ‘Unbox’ online movie store

As expected, Amazon.com today launched its Amazon Unbox video store. The web-based service offers TV shows and movies from more than 30 studios and networks.

TV shows cost $1.99 per episode, and most movies range from $7.99 to $14.99. Movies can also be “rented” for $3.99. The “DVD-quality” movies and shows must be watched on a PC using Amazon’s software. Downloads also come with a second file that can only be viewed on one of a handful of Windows Media-compatible video players from Creative, Toshiba, Archos and iRiver. Movies cannot be burned to DVDs for playback in a DVD player. The average TV show weighs in at 600MB in file size and is expected to take 30 minutes to 2 hours to download, while a 2-hour movie is around 2.4GB in size and takes from 2-7 hours to download.

Apple is widely expected to launch its own online movie service at a special event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Recent reports claim that Apple has yet to sign the majority of Hollywood studios due to wrangling over movie prices.

100,000th Forum member announced, awarded special iPod

Congratulations to new iLounge Discussion Forum member Alycia Kohler from New Jersey, who officially became our 100,000th validated forum member last week! Having helped us to reach this milestone, Alycia won a custom-colored fifth-generation iPod, courtesy of iLounge. With over 100,000 members, 150,000 topics and nearly 1,000,000 posts - even more if you count those in our old forums - our Discussion Forums continue to constitute the largest independent community of iPod users and discussions anywhere on the planet.

Thanks to all of our Forum members for their continued support! If you haven’t visited or signed up yet, now’s the time.

Apple files patent for multi-function handheld device

A new Apple patent application published today by the US Patent & Trademark Office details a “multi-functional handheld device” that has the ability to quickly switch between multiple operating modes. The patent, which was filed in March, describes a device with a touch sensitive screen covering the entire front of the unit and the ability to switch between functionalities such as PDA, cell phone, music player, video player, game player, digital camera, GPS, handtop, and remote control.

“Before a particular device functionality can be used, it typically must be selected for use,” a portion of the filing reads. “The selection can come in a variety of forms. For example, the selection may be made via a main menu that includes soft buttons or icons that, when selected, activate the device functionality associated with the soft button. During activation, the GUI for that particular device is brought into view on the display and the software associated with the device is installed, loaded or activated. From that point on, the multi-functional device operates like the selected device.”

Griffin offers iTrip Auto Universal

Griffin Technology will soon release the iTrip Auto Universal, a new FM transmitter designed to work with any portable audio player with a standard 1/8” (3.5mm) headphone port. Like the other iTrip accessories, this new model allows users to listen to the music on their player wirelessly through a car’s stereo system. The iTrip Auto Universal ($40) is powered by a 12-volt accessory (cigarette lighter) outlet and features an LCD for station tuning, switchable LX/DX Modes, and automatic shutoff function.

GizMac ships Titan case for iPod nano

GizMac has announced the availability of its aluminum Titan case for the iPod nano. The Titan case, made from anodized aircraft aluminum, features a carabiner clip, armband, belt clip with 360-degree rotation, and lanyard accessories. The $40 case also sports a hard acrylic screen protector and thin film click wheel protector. The Titan case is available in black, silver, pink, purple, cranberry, light green, light blue, dark orange, and gold.

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