iPod Touch, New Nano, iTunes Wifi

Following on the heels of the iPhone, Apple has released the iPod Touch - essentially an iPhone without the phone. What are we dealing with here?

I had long wished Apple would design something like the Nokia Internet Tablet, which runs Linux and uses a stylus interface. iPhone embodies that idea and adds a GSM phone. iPod Touch is more along the lines of the Internet Tablet itself, sporting a WiFi Internet connection and the Safari web browser, and even the YouTube app.

I'm seriously conflicted about whether to get the iPod Touch, requiring me to be tethered to WiFi (I'm a bit more mobile than WiFi allows sometimes) or whether to wait until my existing mobile contract runs out so I can get the iPhone without the ETF kicking in. One technical factor that may come into play is that I haven't seen any evidence of email capability on the iPod Touch, although I'm sure hackers will be working on app portability before too long.

One other thing I haven't seen is whether or not the WiFi connection could allow iPhone and iPod Touch to play AirTunes, or to access shared iTunes libraries when you're on your home network.

Along with all this, the Nano has gotten a nice bump - it can now play video and sports the new interface as well.

Considering the $200 US price drop within two months on the iPhone, I'm glad I took the wait and see approach thus far.

Posted on September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple Teams Up With Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM & United to Deliver iPod Integration

The headline is lifted straight from Apple's site, and tells the story pretty accurately: Apple has made agreements with several airlines to build iPod integration into the seat back entertainment systems on passenger planes.

Due to debut in 2007, this system sounds awesome (for iPod owners, anyway) due to its total integration. You can charge your iPod in your seat's dock, while the seat-back display screen will play your iPod movies! No word on whether the system will support multiple media formats other than what Apple sells on the iTunes store, but presumably for the system to work well enough that people will actually use it they would have to support whatever iPod supports.

And so the iPod "ecosystem" grows and grows. Some have speculated that the days of iPod are waning, but with the integration of iPod into cars, multiple gadget accessories, and now airplanes, perhaps those prognostications are a bit premature.

It's almost as if the iPod is slowly evolving from a product line into a de facto standard for digital media integration at the consumer level. While individual superior mp3 players might come along, their success will be affected by whether or not they can play within this ecosystem.

Maybe I'm too excited about this, but if you're not at least a little interested in this development, then perhaps you haven't been wedged in the middle seat on an 8-hour flight. The entertainment system is sometimes all you've got if you are travelling light. Perhaps you didn't bring or can't get to your laptop; this integration will bring your choice of movies or TV shows to your seat with very little fuss.

Posted on November 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple Expands the Digital Hub - iPod Games, iTv, Movie Downloads

Today's "Showtime" event from Apple brings many of the speculated products into reality. One less-common rumor, the iPod games rumor, has come true! 5th-gen iPods can play Texas Hold'em, Tetris, Bejeweled,Pac Man and other classics. The games cannot be played in the iTunes client software, but should make iPodding more enjoyable.

The iTunes movie downloads have come into being as well. A quick glance at the iTunes movie store looks promising, with Apple saying they have over 75 movies to start with. Studios include Disney, Pixar, Touchstone and Miramax Films.

iPod Shuffle has been redesigned into a clothespin/clip form factor. Very clever; it will be interesting to see if this takes off, or if the hinge will have breakage problems due to its being a moving part.

Regular iPod now comes in an 80 gig variety, and the Nanos have dramatically expanded battery life (sounds like Apple has addressed at least some of the common complaints with this round of releases).

The iTV (shame the name is so similar to EyeTV... one of my favorite Mac peripherals) has been predicted by many for quite some time. It's a small box, comparable to a Mac Mini, which has a whole slew of video outputs (including HDMI support), Ethernet, WiFi, a USB port, etc. It is controlled by the Apple remote and allows your Mac to become a media server while you view content from your living room. It will retail for $299, according to MacNN.

So finally we have the video equivalent to the Airport Express with Airtunes... but perhaps more media-centric. I wonder if it will have printer capabilities.

With last week bringing us a revamped iMac line entirely based on the Intel Core 2 Duo processors, we now see why they want such aggressive increases in computing power, which IBM could not have (did not want to) provided through the PowerPC platform.

Posted on September 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Firefly, Buffy, and Lost in Space Available for Download on iTunes!

This seems to have slipped under the radar in many of the sites I frequent. iTunes now has in its television download section Joss Whedon's Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Lost in Space.

If you haven't caught Firefly during its unfortunately short run on television, I highly recommend viewing an episode or two now that it's a low-rish proposition. (one download versus a complete DVD set)  Once you've been hooked, check the fan sites for the proper order in which you should watch the
episodes because Fox aired them in the wrong story order.

iTunes is building up a nice collection of television programming. The A0-Team, Knight Rider, South Park, Lost, Weeds, BSG, Law and Order, and even Project Runway, along with countless others.

The rumor sites were claiming new iBook (MacBook?) releases on Tuesday.
Instead, we got Firefly and Buffy. I know which one I would rather have and  they delivered :-)

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Posted on May 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Apple's 30th Anniversary Approaches: Top 10 Guesses

We're just about two weeks away from April 1st, which this year is the 30th anniversary of Apple Computer. Knowing that Apple loves using auspicious occasions like anniversaries to launch new and exciting products, what might we encounter this year?

Since April 1st is a Saturday, it may be that they will make an announcement on the Friday before, or the Monday after.

Top 10 Guesses

Here are my top ten guesses, which are just that - guesses - and are in no particular order. Some of these are completely off the wall, yet almost plausible (a crucial ingredient in urban legends):

  1. Intel-based iBook
  2. "Asteroid" is released and we discover what it really is
  3. iTunes Movie downloads
  4. Video iPod with touchscreen interface
  5. Apple Tablet or PDA
  6. iPhone
  7. Wireless iPod
  8. FrontRow enhanced and packaged for separate purchase
  9. Apple buys EyeTV/elgato
  10. MacTV - Large LCD TV with Mac built in

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Posted on March 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New iTunes Phone! SLVR L7

The rumors of Apple and Motorola parting ways on the iTunes phone concept were premature. Despite Motorola's own over-the-air music service being announced, today a new iTunes Phone was released.  Cingular Wireless, the carrier that supports the phone, has its page here.

The SLVR L7 still has the 100-song limit and VGA resolution camera, but it's quite different from the ROKR E1 in many respects.  First, the aesthetics. While it retains the brick form factor rather than switching to a clamshell design, the look is much, much sleeker. A nice TFT display with 262k colors and a very thin phone make for an attractive handset.

Quad band GSM allows for international roaming with the SLVR L7, and the Bluetooth capability presumably gives the ability to use stereo bluetooth headsets.

Cingular is currently offering the SLVR L7 phone for $200 with a 2-year agreement.

Posted on January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Elgato Releases EyeTV 2.0

Elgato has released version 2.0 of its EyeTV software, which provides PVR functionality to Macintosh computers using compatible USB or Firewire peripheral video tuner devices.

New Features
For a complete feature list, visit their web page. Most compelling among these features are:

  • Integrated backup using Toast 7
  • One-click iPod video export
  • Integrated electronic program guide (no more need to open a web browser... and a worthy replacement for the discontinued Watson sofware which allowd EyeTV scheduling)
  • The EPG stores a week of listings offline for whenever you lose network connectivity
  • Batch export
  • Scheduled iPod sync (extremely cool - launches iTunes and allows iPod sync without user intervention!)
  • New interface using playlists matches iPhoto and iTunes

*Speculation* The tight match between the new EyeTV interface and iLife apps almost makes it seem like the fabled Apple Mac Mini PVR could one day come about by Apple purchasing EyeTV from Elgato, much like they did with iTunes. However, Apple is probably busy negotiating content partnerships for the iTunes video store, which gets them more downloads and more iPod sales. Elgato will no doubt remain independent for a long time if not forever... and with their products leading the pack in the Mac PVR world they are probably quite comfortable doing so.

Besides, the Mac Mini is pretty tightly packed into that case. Having an integrated DVR would necessitate changing the form factor. The iMac, now resembling a TV in its form factor, would be a good candidate for built-in DVR even though its also tight inside. Even so, the EyeTV boxes are attractively designed and are powered from the Firewire or USB cable, keeping clutter down and saving space on your power strip (the third party devices mostly seem to use AC adaptors).

Posted on January 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Developments from Motorola

Motorola's announcement of the ROKR E2, which will apparently not include Apple's iTunes Mobile version, has been bounces around the blogosphere as an unfortunate, but inevitable outcome of the poor design limitations of the ROKR E1. The 100 song limit and brick form factor put many off the ROKR E1, even though the iTunes mobile app was expected to be killer.

The ROKR E2 is to include Motorola's own iRadio functionality. iRadio looks promising as a competitor to XM and Sirius satellite radio services- digital radio programming on the go. But what does Motorola have to contribute to the mix, and why might they be a force to be reckoned with?

iRadio Features

iRadio will have a similar programming format to Sirius and XM- digital audio channels carrying diverse content to a portable player. But a key difference is the player itself. iRadio will be carried on mobile phones.  This gives a device which many people already carry on their person with a receiver for terrestrial digital radio wherever their carrier's network allows. A bookmarking feature allows the user to hit a button on their phone to mark a song they hear and like, which they will be able to download through the carrier's music service of choice either over the air or on their PC when they get home.  The audio quality is said to be higher than satellite radio, and plays over Bluetooth stereo headsets.

iPod Still in the Picture

Something else Motorola announced that everyone seems to have ignored is the Media Duo. This is a bundled Bluetooth adaptor for current-gen iPods with a Motorola stereo headset. The bundle allows wireless iPodding, and when the user's Bluetooth-compatible phone gets a call, they can easily pause the music and answer the call.  A nice feature of the ROKR E1, the pause capability will be a welcome addition to regular iPod use.

Motorola in the Home

Mototola has also announced a push in the direction of home media networking. They plan to release set-top boxes that are capable of using the internal coaxial wiring of many homes (wired for cable TV) as a network for shuttling content between different devices in different rooms. The overall theme of CES this year appears to be online video, with many vendors announcing Media Center PC ventures, especially those embracing Intel's new Viiv marketing initiative. Many other announcements involved HD-DVD, and even holographic storage. Motorola is certainly not behind the trends in this case, having a set of strong offerings that should compete well in the marketplace if positioned correctly.

Below is an extended quote from the Motorola press release for more detail:

...the Motorola ROKR E2 delivers an optimized multimedia experience. With up to 2GB of removable SD™ mass memory*, ROKR E2 lets you store as many as 500 of your favorite tunes, and wirelessly stream music from your handset to compatible Bluetooth®-stereo-enabled devices. And, oh yes, you also can make and receive phone calls, take pictures, send text messages and much more. All with one Motorola mobile handset – “the device formerly known as the cell phone.”

iRadio™ Digital Music Service. The award-winning Motorola iRadio debuts its subscription service with 435 commercial-free channels and a listening experience that seamlessly follows you from home to car to headphones. It’s a complete audio experience enabled by the one device you’re never without – your mobile handset.

O ROKR Sunglasses. Building on the excitement around the innovative RAZRWIRE™ Bluetooth enabled eyewear, Motorola and Oakley do it again with O ROKR™, the world’s first sunglasses featuring integrated, Bluetooth stereo technology for wireless communications and wire-free music enjoyment. Go wirelessly incognito as you stream music from your compatible mobile handset or portable music player equipped with a separately available add-on Bluetooth adapter.

Audex™ Burton Jacket Series. Audex Burton jackets deliver a new high for mountain- and mogul-loving audiophiles! Combining Burton’s active sportswear for snowboarding, Motorola mobile communications and Bluetooth wireless technology, Audex Burton jackets enable hands-free fun and mobility – again, taking wearable communication to new heights of fun and functionality.

Motorola Music Duo. At last, iPod™ can deliver the music without the wires! Music Duo – a combination of the TEN Technology naviPlay™ Bluetooth® Adapter for iPod™ and the Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones – lets you stream music from your iPod** to your Motorola Bluetooth Stereo headphones. Now you don’t have to miss a beat – or a call! With the Music Duo, you’re in control – and in charge. Listen to your music, pause to take your calls, and resume playing music when you’re done.

JBL On Tour™ Mobile. Optimized to work with your favorite Motorola music-enabled phones, JBL on Tour Mobile portable music box and speakerphone connects with your mobile phone and fills your room with music while you stay connected to your calls.


Mobile TV Solutions. On-demand entertainment meets your wireless lifestyle! See how Motorola is combining leadership in mobile devices, wireless and broadband networks and digital video encoding to drive broadcast-mobile convergence. This must-see experience will demonstrate live television streaming to an automobile headrest and to your mobile device.

Whole-Home Media Software. Seamlessly access stored digital entertainment – whether high-definition video on a DVR, music on a laptop or pictures on a digital camera – from any connected device in your home. Or, if you’re out and about, view recordings synched from your Motorola DVR to a mobile device.

Digital Set-Tops with Integrated Home Media Networking. Create a connected home network to access and share high-definition content through the existing coaxial cable in the walls of your home. These new set-tops also support high-definition digital video recording, video-on-demand, an interactive program guide and other technologies. Verizon Communications is deploying this product as part of the Verizon FiOS™ TV service now available in parts of Texas, Virginia and Florida.

Posted on January 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iTunes Video Downloads: Now include NBC, USA's Monk, and SciFi

Apple's inclusion of ABC/Disner and Pixar content on the Video download section of iTunes was just the beginning, a taste of things to come. Today on the iTunes Music Store you can download to iTunes and your video iPod episodes of Monk, Battlestar Galactica, and many NBC television shows both new and old!  Even Knight Rider and NBC staple Law & Order are now available for purchase.

This development comes on the heels of several video-related rumors, including the possibility that ESPN might want their content on iTunes, the addition of other television networks to the iTunes download area, and speculation that Apple may release a new Mac Mini code-named Kaleidoscope with media center PVR capabilities and integrated iPod dock.

I wonder who initiated the deal with SciFi and USA.  It makes sense that Apple, looking for content producers, would be initiating contact, but you may recall that the producers of Battlestar Galactica were very progressive when they put out director commentary podcasts and even downloads of a few early episodes when media buzz was reaching its peak. The iTunes video store seems the ideal place for online media-savvy production houses to advance new ideas and content that won't make it to TV.

Posted on December 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TiVo to integrate TiVo2Go with iPod and PSP?

According to an AP article that appeared on Forbes Online, TiVo is beta testing a feature that will allow iPod or PSP owners to download TiVo content to their portable device for viewing on the go.

TiVo2Go has not previously supported Mac OSX due to the unavailability of the Windows DRM fair use restrictions mechanism on the Mac platform, so this new service is said to use digital watermarking  that will discourage piracy on all platforms. With every new hard disk iPod sold now supporting video display, this appears to be a smart move by tiVo because it's offering iPod users a new source of video content, no longer constrained by the television companies' willingness to sell through iTunes.

I've previously mentioned the rumor that the EyeTV PVR software will soon have an Export to iPod feature for its video recordings. As new iPods are sold, portable video devices will approach ubiquity and the content providers will need to get on board. Steve Jobs was often quoted in the past as saying that the market doesn't want portable video playback on such small screens, but the introduction of video as a standard feature to the market dominant player device may have changed the market itself. Witness the power of the Reality Distortion Field.

Posted on November 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack