Tag Archives | iPod

Mophie's iPhone 4 Case Adds Suprisingly Little Bulk

Mophie has built a name for itself with its line of external battery cases for the iPhone and iPod. There’s always been a real problem with these (at least for me), and that was the sheer amount of bulk they add. It appears the company may have finally figured out how to combat this problem from the case I saw in New York City on Wednesday.

Actually, the battery pack looks all but like an typical hard case, but a little thicker. As you can see, the case itself mimics the actual design of the phone itself, so from a distance you may not even notice it.

While I love my Mophie and think that a battery extender is almost a necessity for any heavy smartphone user, the bulk it adds is cumbersome and sometimes slightly annoying. The fact that the company has been able to shrink down the case to eliminate a large chunk of that bulk is very impressive.

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iPods DO Get a Refresh, But Only the Nano

While it looked as if this Apple event was going to be for the birds with not much if any impressive news out of Cupertino, turns out we were wrong. As expected, the Nano got a refresh, adding a microphone, camera, and speaker to the device.

As far as I know, the video camera was expected, but this is the first I’m hearing of a microphone or speaker. The size of the player is not changing — although Apple is smartly mentioning that the Nano is a fifth the size of the popular Flip digital video cameras, which the Nano obviously now competes with.

Guess what else the Nano has now? An FM radio. Thought you’d never see that, right. And Apple knows its market for these things: all Nanos come now with built in pedometers, giving those athletes who make up a significant portion of its customer base another reason to upgrade.

An 8GB model would be available for $149, and a 16GB for $179.


Apple Starts a Price War

You knew this was coming: Apple has announced that it would cut the price of the 8GB iPod Touch to $199, while offering a 32GB for $299 and a  new 64GB for $399. This effectively puts it in direct competition with the Zune HD, whose 16GB model retails for $219, and 32GB model which retails for $289.

Think the iPod Classic is about to die? Think again, it lives on: Apple announced a gargantuan 160GB model for $249, as far as I know the cheapest out there for a portable media player of that capacity.


Apple Tries To Hush Owners of Exploding iPod

ipod-fire-1.jpgIn true Apple fashion, the company has reportedly attempted–and failed–to hush the owners of an defective iPod that ended up exploding in England. Acording to The Times, the only way the Stanboroughs would get a full refund was if they agreed to sign a settlement form.

On it, the form specified that if the family would talk, it would open them up to possible legal action by Apple. Obviously since The Times is reporting on it, they didn’t accept Apple’s terms.

While the Stanboroughs apparently may have some culpability here–the iPod touch in question was dropped shortly before it reportedly exploded–it’s still a little worrisome. There are a lot of us out there who have done the same thing.

This is only the latest reported incident of pressure by Apple to keep folks with defective iPods quiet. Last month, the company did all it could to prevent KIRO reporter Amy Clancy from investigating fire incidents involving the company’s ubiquitous music device.

Documents obtained by Clancy indicate Apple knew about issues with its players and overheating as early as 2005–even though they were telling people complaining years later that it was the “first time” they ever heard of such a problem.

It is believed that the iPod’s lithium-ion batteries may be the source of the problem. But with 175 million iPods sold, how do you go about recalling the devices if it was necessary? That could be a daunting task.


HP's MediaSmart Servers to Crunch Video, Stream to iPhones

HP LogoMicrosoft’s Windows Home Server platform has only one major booster among PC manufacturers, but it’s a doozy: HP, whose MediaSmart Servers pack sizable quantities of redundant storage, Microsoft’s software for backing up, restoring, and sharing data, and HP’s own tweaks and additions, such as support for Macs. And today HP announced a software update for its EX 485 and EX 487 models with two significant new features: automatic conversion of videos for streaming and viewing on computers and mobile devices, and a new app called iStream that gives iPhones and iPods Touch remote access to the videos, music, and video you have stored on the server.

The software update, which HP plans to release late this month, can automatically generate high-resolution and low-resolution MPEG4 H.264 video files from multiple formats (including unprotected DVDs–but not, of course, copy-protected ones). I’ve spent enough time tending to computers that were slowly crunching away at video files to find the idea of a sever silently doing it in background mighty appealing.

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Time Running Out for iPod Competitors

ipodnanosIf anything was evidence that Apple’s iPod is ready to be the de-facto digital music device, the latest survey of teens by financial research firm Piper Jaffray should be it. Of the 606 teens surveyed (54 percent male, 46 percent female), those planning to buy a player all responded they were considering Apple’s iconic device.

About one out of every five teens are planning to buy a new music player in the next 12 months, down from 34 percent in the fall survey. Of that group, 100% say an iPod.

For whatever reason, Zune’s share has collapsed — probably due to the fact the players have gone without any update for quite awhile. In the fall, 15 percent said they were considering a Zune. If this is true, Microsoft may find itself being forced out of the digital music player market as the youth is what drives this industry.

There really isn’t much untapped potential here either: 92 percent of teens own a player, up from 87 percent in the last survey. So even if this is exaggerated, the growth potential is slipping away for Microsoft — I’ve often heard them argue about the untapped market as its salvation.

I just can’t see with the increasing amount of negative data for Zune how it is worthwhile for the company to stay in the market. We are hearing that the wagons are circling in Redmond and talks are ongoing with partners on the next Zune model, which should come out in the fall if what we are hearing is correct.

However, will it even be worth it?


Apple Adds DRM to Shuffle Headphones?!?

iPod Shuffle([UPDATE:] This post was written with the information Technologizer had at the time. Since then, we’ve learned a bit more. Please reference this new post from Harry.)

The “Apple tax” has been somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek joke in the tech world for a long time: where the consumer pays a higher price for a product simply because it bears the Apple logo.

Well, that concept may be coming to Shuffle headphones as well. Amid giving the Shuffle its first-ever “no” recommendation for an iPod/iPhone product, Apple enthusiast site iLounge also dropped a bombshell: Shuffle headphones are essentially DRM protected.

iLounge claims that the headphones add some type of  “authentication chip,” which means that standard headphones will not work with the device. Obviously they wouldn’t, since all the navigation is done via the iPhone-like pushbutton device on the right earbud wire.

But if third-party headphones add playback controls but don’t have this chip, they won’t work either. That means no volume, no voiceover, and no navigation. Nada. You’re S.O.L. To make them work, iLounge says a $20-30 to-be-manufactured adapter is needed, or approved headphones, which so far are no cheaper than $49.

Seeing on my end how easily those headphones short circuit at the pushhbutton unit causing them to malfuction on my iPhone, this should be something Apple users should be concerned with. If they bring this technology to other devices, God knows owning an iPod will become more expensive.

I’ve played with the Shuffle. And frankly, my experience was nothing like Harry’s, and more like iLounge’s. I struggled to get the thing to move from track to track–instead i was nearly blowing out my eardrums cause the volume was getting louder. Count me in as one of those who prefer their controls on the device.

I was watching others in the Apple store with me. Quite a few were having trouble with it. I really do see this Shuffle as the iPod line’s version of the Cube–kinda cool idea, but just not necessary.


Apple's New iPod Shuffle: The First Invisible MP3 Player

iPod Shuffle TeaserIt’s tempting, when writing about Apple’s new third-generation iPod Shuffle, to veer towards the whimsical, and stay there. You might compare the tiny player to various other tiny objects, or theorize that the next Shuffle will be the size of a Tylenol, or even perform stupid Shuffle tricks such as stuffing one inside a Pez Dispenser. This is not going to be that kind of review. I found this player unexpectedly interesting, and there’s a lot to talk about beyond its lack of obesity.

When Apple updates other iPod models, the change is usually about two things: better features (such as the bigger iPods’ addition of video) and slicker industrial design (such as the Nano’s evolution from a blocky plastic device to a gracefully curved metal one). The Shuffle is fundamentally different–it’s on a track of ever-decreasing size and ever-increasing minimalism. What Apple would like, I think, is for the Shuffle to be invisible. Not in the ha-ha manner of SNL’s iPod Invisa, but in the sense that the music matters and the gadget itself is sort of beside the point. The new version takes a major leap in that direction, and not just because Apple shrunk its size by almost fifty percent.

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IBM to Watch Papermaster’s Moves at Apple

It appears as if for now, IBM will let Mark Papermaster work at Apple starting in April, but with a catch. Everytime there may be a question of whether or not Papermaster might disclose confidential information, he must check in with IBM, court documents indicate.

IBM’s assistant general counsel Ron Laureldale would then make a determination “in good faith” whether or not the information may include trade secrets of the company.

Additionally, in July and October he would be required to sign declarations that he has not shared any IBM trade secrets with Apple under penalty of purjury. The agreement expires on October 24, one year after he left IBM.

What does this mean? Big Blue could get unprecedented access by a third-party into Apple’s plans for future products. No doubt, this must not have Jobs and Co. very happy considering the level of secrecy they like to maintain over products, however Papermaster must be such a catch that Apple is willing to sacrifice a little security.

Agreements like this are not unheard of, but are rather rare to be disclosed publicly. No doubt, the media attention this case has made this a little higher profile than most non-compete litigation.

When he joins Apple, Papermaster will take the position of iPod/iPhone developement chief, replacing Tony Fadell who stepped down late last year.

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