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Posts Tagged ‘iPod’

Is iPhone OS 3.0 a boon for the accessory market?

Posted by comtech3 on March 18, 2009

March 17, 2009 11:35 AM PDT

by Donald Bell

At Tuesday’s iPhone OS 3.0 preview event, Apple unveiled several new features of the iPhone operating system, including the capability to create applications specifically for interfacing with third-party hardware. Examples given included a five-band EQ interface for speaker docks, or an FM transmitter control that allows you to select broadcast frequencies based on signal strength.

Alesis ProTrack iPod recorder.

An example of the Alesis ProTrack using an application front end for recording control.

This may sound like a benign little announcement to most people, but as someone who closely monitors trends in iPod accessories, I expect that this will be huge for the industry. What company isn’t going to want to differentiate its products with a slick app?

I expect that everything from battery chargers to stereo Bluetooth headsets will (for better or worse) be given the app treatment. The products won’t necessarily be any better for it, but the gee-whiz appeal alone will probably carry manufacturers and consumers through to the end of the year.

The nightmare for me is going to be all the apps I’ll need to download for each iPod and iPhone accessory I review. Every speaker and every dock will likely require an app download to get the full picture of the product. Version updates for apps will also be a pain. If Altec Lansing hypothetically updates the EQ control on the app for its latest line of speakers, suddenly, I’ll need to add a note to all its product pages.

But there are some potentially cool things to come out of hardware-specific applications. Here’s what I’m looking forward to seeing:

Buttonless products. Call it the “Shuffle Effect,” but if you can migrate all of a product’s controls to the iPhone’s touch-screen interface, then why have buttons? I’m not saying it’s a good idea, necessarily, but the potential makes it inevitable that we’ll see a product like this sooner or later.

Game controllers. Maybe it’s just me, but I get a little giddy from the idea of plugging a reproduction of the vintage NES controller into the dock of the iPod Touch to play a little old-school Super Mario. Not every game is suited to touch screen and accelerometer controls.

Audio recorders. Companies like Alesis have already been trying to accomplish app control of hardware by advertising its product’s compatibility with Bias’ iProRecorder application. It’s not a perfect marriage, though. The iPhone/iPod Touch behaves like a recording medium, while the settings for the recording hardware are still strictly controlled by buttons and switches. Really fine-grain control over gain settings, compressor ratios, gating, panning, surround effects, and audio editing are much better handled on the screen than with hardware, allowing the expression of greater complexity and unique graphical controls.

Nike+iPod alternatives. The Nike+iPod exercise kit is a very cool way to track your progress with running and jogging, but you’ve got to buy special Nike shoes and the proprietary Nike pedometer puck, and the software isn’t for everyone. I know Apple and Nike are closely partnered on the Nike+iPod product, but I could see something come along that doesn’t compete directly and works more like the Wii Fit, with it’s own hardware and application.

I’m sure there’s way more potential here than I can come up with. Personally, I would love to see some hardware for enhancing the portable music-listening experience on the iPhone with EQ or music sharing, but I’m not sure how you would pull it off without being able to run applications in the background.


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Bump up your old iPod to 240GB

Posted by comtech3 on February 6, 2009

February 4, 2009 2:54 PM PST

Posted by Donald Bell

Photo of Toshiba iPod hard drive.

I’ll catch some hell for saying it, but Apple’s fifth-generation iPod (aka the iPod Video) is one of the best hard-drive MP3 players of all time.

Say what you will about sound quality or the easily scratched screen, compared with today’s iPod models the 5G iPod has a lot of advantages: it’s compatible with just about every iPod accessory ever made; video output is built right in; you can use it with older computers and old versions of iTunes; and there are countless ways to hack and modify it. Unfortunately, the old guy just doesn’t offer enough storage.

Don’t throw out that old 5G just yet. Rapid Repair now offers a 240GB replacement hard drive specifically made for the 5G iPod (iPod Classic and Zune users will have to look elsewhere). Granted, the drive will set you back $294, but it could be worthwhile if you just can’t live without your entire music collection in your pocket or you insist on listening to large lossless audio files.

I could also see the justification for upgrading if you’ve already invested in a lot of iPod accessories (speakers, car stereos, video docks) that won’t work with new iPod models due to differences in voltage or video output. Spending $300 to upgrade an MP3 player you love makes much more sense than spending the same money to upgrade all your perfectly good iPod accessories.

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Apple’s Black Friday deals

Posted by comtech3 on November 26, 2008

November 25, 2008 9:47 AM PST
Posted by Julie Rivera
(Credit: Apple)

Update: The promotion is now live on the U.S. Apple Store site.

Apple will be holding a one-day shopping event on Black Friday, according to a teaser up on Apple’s Web site. Every sale on the Apple Store is an event, as it happens very rarely, and discounts on Apple products are meager throughout the year. That is, if this is an event full of discounts and sales. The interesting part is in the wording:

“Come back to the Apple Online Store this Friday for a special one-day-only Christmas shopping event. You’ll find dozens of great iPod, iPhone and Mac gift ideas – all with free delivery.”

However, anyone who is familiar with how Apple works, one would surmise that Apple is referring to iPhone accessories as the “gift ideas” and not the device itself.

Furthermore, and not to play devil’s advocate here, but this teaser is for an Apple Online Store sale. Not to mention that this promotion is only up on the New Zealand Apple Store currently, as MacRumors notes — but it will undoubtedly be up for other parts of the world as well soon.

Although, Apple isn’t specific as to what products they will offer at this “special one-day event” on Friday, the symbol on the teaser page pretty much contains all Apple products. Most likely, one of the products that Apple will offer hot deals on would be the iMac as it wasn’t updated this fall and new iMacs should be coming early 2009.

In the meantime, Best Buy currently offers $50-$150 discounts on Apple Computers

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Microsoft chopping Zune prices

Posted by comtech3 on November 19, 2008

November 18, 2008 12:10 PM PST
Posted by Ina Fried

With the economy tanking and the holidays looming, Microsoft is hoping to salvage some Zune sales by chopping prices.

Zune(Credit: Microsoft)

The software maker plans to announce on Wednesday a price cut for its flash-based models. The 4GB version will drop to $99, the 8GB model will drop by $10 to $139, and the 16GB model will sell for $179, down from $199.

Microsoft is also cutting prices for several of its Zune accessories. The cuts take effect on Wednesday in the U.S. and on Friday in Canada.

Zune marketing director Adam Sohn said in an interview on Tuesday that the moves were being made to “ensure hopefully we have a good holiday season.” The prices put Zune’s flash players cheaper than a similar capacity iPod Nano, though Sohn said that wasn’t the explicit goal of the price cuts.

“We’re trying to take into consideration what the realities of the market are,” Sohn said.

The company introduced the latest Zune models, as well as the version 3.0 update to its software in September. Microsoft introduced a few new games and other device features on Tuesday as part of a version 3.1 firmware update.

Microsoft also kicked off a new wave of TV ads on Monday that aim to get more people to download the free Zune software, even if they haven’t yet decided to plunk down for a Zune player or Zune Pass subscription.

“We think we need to attack it from both sides,” Sohn said. The ads will run in prime time as well as on national cable and online, he said.

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