The iNews Review

iPod Recovers ThinkPad, Official Star Wars iPod Skin, Brush Chrome Your iPod, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.03.11

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

iPod Defeats Blue Screen of Death, Recovers Data from Crashed ThinkPad

NEWS: Techworld's Chris Mellor reports:

"If your laptop crashes, what's the best to recover the data on it? Well, one IBM engineer used his iPod.

"At Big Blue's USA PartnerWorld conference Steve Welch used software on the iPod to save the crashed ThinkPad. The software is One-touch Rescue & Recovery On Linux and is not as yet an announced IBM product.

"Welch said the iPod-based software could rebuild a hard drive in an hour or so and provide instant access to data such as e-mail and Lotus Notes...."

Star Wars iPod skinOfficial Star Wars iPod Skin

PR: The first and only official Star Wars iPod skin was introduced today at StarWarsShop.com - the official Star Wars Store from Lucasfilm. It features Episode III Darth Vader in flames and was developed by MacSkinz exclusively for StarWarsShop.com.

The "i" Behind iPod - Innovation, Integration, or Inertia?

NEWS: engadget.com's Peter Rojas says:

"More than two decades after the debut of the Macintosh, Apple decided not to license the iPod design generally. The one exception has been HP, which is currently acting more as a reseller than a licensee. So, as with its famous computer, the iPod's fate rests solely in Apple's hands, Those hands have pushed the polyphonic pods toward a dominant market share. However, how much of this has been due to innovation, the integration with iTunes, or simply brand momentum?

"Early iPods had clear form factor and ease of use advantages versus their competitors. Nowadays, though, the hardware competition has become much stronger, particularly in the "mini" segment that's seeing strong growth. The changes that we've seen since the debut of the iPod have mostly been refinements - thinner designs, color screens, smaller form factors, shuffled controls, and tweaked interfaces. Compare this with Apple's iMac, which has seen two dramatically different form factors since incarnation. One could argue that the slow-growth consumer desktop computer market needs more pizzazz to create excitement, but shouldn't a company be advancing the product that's driving its growth most aggressively?....

"Ask Apple what's driving the iPod's success and the company will tout integration. Indeed, producing a product with the benefit of tighter integration often results in losing the first-mover advantage. Apple's integration has reaped huge benefits for the iPod in a time when digital music has been confusing and awkward for many users and the company will likely continue to maintain a wider lead here than it will in hardware or software per se. However, it's a risky bet that over time the Windows Media world won't simplify to the point where that advantage is minimized.

"So how does Apple avoid what happened to the Mac?"

brushed metal iPodBrush Chrome Your iPod

NEWS: ukthoughts.co.uk has posted a tutorial that will enable you to turn your (previously shiny) scratched iPod into a more individual chrome brushed iPod...

You will need:

  • An iPod (duh!)
  • Some sandpaper - this is key, you don't want it too coarse to give a better effect.
  • Masking tape (or equivalent)
  • A secure base to put your iPod on.

NewerTech High-capacity Replacement Battery for 4G iPods

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) and Other World Computing (OWC) have introduced a new high-capacity 750mAh replacement battery for all Fourth Generation Click Wheel iPod models from Apple Computer.

Available immediately for $25.99, this new NewerTech NuPower 4G 750mAh battery model offers the maximum capacity possible with 20% more capacity than the factory-installed battery shipped with 4G iPod models. Also available are NewerTech's 2100mAh and 1800mAh iPod batteries, which offer up to 70% more capacity for First and Second Generation models, and the 850mAh iPod battery, which offers 30% more capacity for Third Generation models.

"With NewerTech's NuPower battery line, you're not just getting a replacement but a battery that makes your device better than new in terms of longer runtimes between charges," said OWC President Larry O'Connor. "In general, our company's focus is to go beyond just maintaining a device and to help users get more from what they own. There is always a time to buy new, but we're here to make things better than when they were new."

As with all of the NewerTech iPod batteries, non-scratch installation tools and instructions are included with the 4G version. An installation video also can be found in OWC's online tech center at www.macsales.com/techcenter

Fifth Generation PortalPlayer SoC Triples MP3 Player Battery Life

PR: PortalPlayer, Inc., a leading supplier of advanced system-on-chip, firmware and software solutions for the MP3 personal media player market, today announced its next-generation PP5022 System-on-Chip (SoC). The PP5022 is designed to meet next generation requirements for feature-rich hard-disk drive-based personal media players.

The PP5022 is the fifth generation personal media player integrated circuit from PortalPlayer. With a range of architectural improvements from the previous PP5020, the new chip, starting to ship now, offers more than a three times reduction in SoC power consumption and enabling up to triple the battery life. PortalPlayer's innovative parallel processing architecture combined with optimized firmware allows for lower clock rates and core voltages, leading to dramatically lower SoC power levels versus a comparable uniprocessor system. Decoding a typical 160 kilobits per second (Kbps) MP3 stream now requires less than 25mW.

"The PP5022 chip is a very sophisticated product that enables a rich user experience with substantially longer playback time," said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, a research firm covering the electronics market. "PortalPlayer is continuing to bring new innovations to the audio market such as a tripling battery life for MP3 players, integrating USB 2.0 Host Controller and Transceiver into the media processor and providing transparent compatibility with peripheral devices such as digital still cameras and printers."

"Our goal with the PP5022 was to offer a solution that balances lowest operating power while continuing to increase system performance." said Michael Maia, vice president of sales and marketing at PortalPlayer. "We achieved this goal and will continue to deliver the lowest operational power during playback and encoding of rich media content-the PP5022 is our most innovative SoC to date, resulting in best-in-class battery life in hard drive jukebox systems."

PortalPlayer PP5022 System-on-Chip

Power - Power consumption of the system was markedly reduced by using a 0.13 micron CMOS process with 1.0 to 1.2V core power, dynamic load balancing, clock gating, and support for 1.8V Low Voltage synchronous DRAM. Efficient parallel processing reduces the required clock rates driving typical operation down and further enabling lower voltage operation. Together with pseudo synchronous blocks within the device that improves clock distribution by dynamically turning off inactive modules on a per clock cycle basis, these improvements lead to dramatic power reductions. The PortalPlayer Firmware Development Kit (FDK) will support these features as well as highly optimized split decoders to further lower clock rates on MP3, AAC and WMA decodes. Dynamic Voltage Scaling (DVS) is supported enabling the device to operate over a wide voltage range to match needed performance to the specific task.

Performance - The PP5022 features a highly parallel media processing architecture that integrates dual 32-bit ARM7 central processing units (CPUs) with zero wait state four-port 128 kilobytes iRAM and six direct memory access (DMA) channels connected through multiple high-speed internal buses. The PortalPlayer SoC maximizes total processing throughput per clock cycle, which leads to lower clock rates in standard operation than a comparable ARM9-based SoC. Additionally, having multiple internal buses provides higher data throughput, while avoiding the performance bottlenecks of competing systems. The PP5022 architecture enables a high on-demand peak performance without sacrificing ultra low power for mobile devices in standard operation than comparative DSP, VLIW, SIMD, or single RISC microprocessor solutions.

The high performance media processor engine design supports up to sixteen concurrent tasks for maximizing system throughput and responsiveness to end-user commands. Dedicated high-performance interfaces reduce latencies and improve download speeds and performance of database engines when a large number of music files and photos are being managed.

System Input/Outputs - The PP5022 is offered in a 261-pin 12mm x12mm TFBGA package, providing added flexibility through a wide selection of fully integrated high performance system input/outputs including: the analog physical layer and USB 2.0 controller for high-speed Device, Host and On-the-Go support; FireWire Link Layer integration; dedicated ATA-66 enhanced IDE bus supporting up to four devices; 4-bit SDMMC controller; consumer CD I2S port; 8/16-bit expansion IO; B/SIR infrared; TWC 3-wire controller; 4 channel, 8-bit ADC; 4 channel, 8-bit PWM/FM; up to 48 GPIOs; dedicated 16-bit memory controller for two banks of 2.5V or 1.8V SDRAM; and digital video input for direct connection of image sensors or mobile video services such as DVB-H.

Display - The PP5022 display subsystem meets the demands of today's diverse display technologies in personal media players ranging from mobile high-resolution TFT and STN flat panels to NTSC and PAL TVs. The "Dual View" display enables navigating the handheld players' LCD to preview and select music, photos and video while playing a different image concurrently on the TV. Display support includes: 8-bit parallel bridge interface; 4-bpp mono serial or parallel controller for direct interface panels; 18-bpp color TFT or CSTN controller; CCIR-601/656 TV out; hardware color space conversion and 4-bpp hardware overlay support.

SV-iMini Water Housing for iPod

NEWS: Surfermag.com's Mason Freekirk reports:

"San Diego-based H2O Audio has come out with a sealed waterproof housing that it claims will enable you and your iPod mini to go wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding, swimming or kayaking. The housing is called the SV-iMini and it retails for $149.95. Supposedly, the SV-iMini housing is submersible up to 10 feet, but after reading a few mixed reviews I was hesitant to risk losing my $250 iPod to King Neptune - but was willing to give it a shot anyway in the name of science."

RadTech Announces mini Cocoon

mini CocoonPR: RadTech announced immediate availability of the Mini Cocoon - a stylish and versatile, semi-rigid clamshell case for iPod mini. Designed for maximum protection, the Mini Cocoon is really two cases in one. A tough, outer clamshell completely encases the iPod mini for rugged protection. And, a silicone skin allows access to all control elements and ports, providing added protection while nestled in the case, or when used separately apart from the case.

The case has an integrated, high-quality belt clip and comes with a lanyard to allow the iPod mini to be worn around the neck while in the skin, or while encased by the clamshell. While in the case, a clear strap safely secures the skin to the case, even when open. Plus, for added convenience the case comes with a storage pocket for items such as ear buds and cables.

OWC Offers Products to Extend Life of iPods

PR: Consumers want the biggest bang for their hard-earned bucks. But in an increasingly throwaway society, products that provide a good value are harder to come by.

So when companies like Apple Computer, producer of the popular iPod, leave consumers to choose between paying for an expensive replacement option or buying new, Other World Computing steps in. The McHenry County company offers high-capacity batteries that extend the life of First, Second, Third, and Fourth Generation iPods.

Priced from $25.99 to $39.95, OWC's NewerTech iPod Batteries cost a fraction of Apple's replacement program and also provide 20 to 70 percent more capacity than Apple's iPod batteries. OWC includes non-scratching tools and instructions for installing each replacement battery. For individuals who prefer more visual guidance, installation videos for the different models are available under the Tech Center tab at the company's website - http://www.eshop.macsales.com. A typical installation takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

OWC ships about 10,000 batteries each month. They represent the fastest growing segment of this $28 million-per-year company.

Another iPod enhancement sold by OWC is the iPod Road Trip! FM transmitter. This $14.99 device allows users to listen to their iPod tunes through a car stereo by plugging one end into their cigarette lighter, the other into their iPod and tune their radio to 87.9 or 107.7.

"Our goal is to offer customers better and more cost effective alternatives that don't just keep them at their best, but make them better," said OWC President Larry O'Connor. "Our products not only save people money, but extend a product's life with a replacement part that itself lasts longer, which is more friendly to the environment."

ice>Link v1.1 for iPod Car Integration Bracket

PR: ice>Link is a solution in high quality iPod vehicle interconnection.

ice>Linkice>Link takes the place of your external CD Changer and it operates like one. iPod starts when CD changer is selected on a supported factory or aftermarket radio, and paused when any other source is selected. Track control from radio and steering wheel controls are provided.

The next evolutionary step in iPod vehicle integration - ice>Link v1.1 - allowing cross platform compatibility and effortless migration from classic to 3G or mini iPods without having to replace the entire ice>Link unit. Even better, you can use all generations by simply using the appropriate connectors.

Active Docking Cradleice>Link's Active Docking Cradle fully supports all 3rd and 4th generation iPods. The cradle securely holds your iPod in place and it has a built-in dock connector to connect your iPod to the ice>Link.

Featuring support for both the 30/40 GB and the 10/15/20 GB models with the help of user installable spacer takes the worry out of future upgrades of your 3G and 4G iPod.

Modular design allows interchangeable iPod connection options, as well as easy routing and extending of cables.

When ordering an iceLink kit, you will need to choose what the type of connection will be included in your order. You have the option of choosing one of the following connections:

  • 3G/4G Active Docking Cradle - Supports all 3G and 4G ipods.
  • 3G/4G/mini Active Docking Cable - Supports all 3G, 4G and mini iPods.
  • Active mini Docking Cradle - Supports the mini iPod.

Charging the iPod while in the car is effortless - just place the iPod into the cradle.

For classics the connection option includes a firewire plug that connects directly into the iPod and supplies 12V DC at all times.

The dock connector models now feature a variable output line voltage to match the specifications of the OEM or aftermarket amplifier system - 0.8V-1V-2V-4V. For the classics, output is derived from the top connector and power-on volume level may be pre-set by end user.

Retail boxed and end-user installable kits connects to the trunk end of CD changer cable for BMW, Mini, Audi and VW vehicles.

Professional installer kits require the removal of radio to connect vehicle specific cables. Parts of the dash, console and trim may need to be removed in order to remove the radio. Original cabling generally will not have to be cut or altered in any ways, but will connect into provided socket. Kits are radio specific, must know exact type for successful installation. Requires specific radio removal tools, some electronic and installation knowledge. Security code may be required to unlock radio.

Professional installation is strongly recommended.

Limitations

ICELink requires disconnecting of trunk or glove compartment mounted cd changers, however does not effect the operation of factory in-dash single or multi cd changers, but may not be compatible with factory satellite or DVD modules for some vehicles. Please read compatibility remarks on vehicle specific kit.

ice>Link Plus for iPod Car Integration Bracket

PR: The ice>Link Plus plays high quality music from your iPod through your existing car entertainment system's CD changer port. There is no longer a need for cassette adapters, cigarette lighter chargers or bulky FM transmitters. You can start enjoying crisp, clean CD quality music with charging and iPod control from your exisitng car entertainment system. Imagine having access to over 10,000 MP3s at the touch of a button. The sleek design of the ice>link cradle will compliment most vehicle interiors as if it were offered form the factory.

ice>Link PlusWhen used wth compatible vehicle entertaiment systems, the ice>Link Plus starts and stops the iPod as you enter and exit CD changer mode on your car's entertainment system. Fast Forward, Rewind, Search and seek commands are passed to the iPod also - this is really great for vehicles with entertaiment controls. You can also select your first five playlists by selecting disk numbers 1-5 on your radio.

Use your radio or iPod to navigate through playlists, albums and songs and access the simple to use ipod interface. The ice>Link interprets the radio controls from your vehicle to the iPod to emulate a fully loaded CD changer with advanced features.

ID3 Text Display...

Simple Interface...

Compatible with ALL iPods...

iPod integration kits for 1999+ Mercedes Benz vehicles with the D2B fiber optic system for Audio 10, 30, Comand 2.0 and 2.5 systems. Call for details at 562-595-5153.

Complete Guide to the iPod shuffle

NEWS: ipodlounge.com's Jerrod Hofferth says:

"As the most stripped-down version of Apple's iPod to date, the iPod shuffle represents an all-new philosophy in iPod design: its lack of a screen and touch-sensitive control wheel, combined with its low price and low capacity, make it an interesting new member of the iPod family in two fundamental ways. First, it's a low-risk way for new iPod owners to test the digital music waters. Second, it is different enough - and cheap enough - to entice existing iPod owners as a supplemental unit for workouts or light travel.

"Regardless of which of these two types of shuffle owner you may be, we hope you will find much of this iPod 101 tutorial useful. New iPod owners users will find themselves better acquainted with iTunes, and existing iPod owners will see tips on how best to choose and transfer small portions of a large music library onto the iPod shuffle...."

Nonviolent iPod Shuffle Disassembly

NEWS: Engadget's Barb Dybwad says:

"So you just know the iPod shuffle will be the next casuality in the non-replaceable battery saga, right? Hackaday editor Jason Striegel heads this off at the pass by showing you in technicolor detail how to "non-violently" disassemble your shuffle to prepare you for that inevitable need to jettison the no-longer functional lithium ion. Or, take the guts of your shuffle, sew it into your favorite article of clothing and give that Burton snowboarding jacket a run for its money, fashionista."

Jason Striegel says:

"While most shuffle owners don't know it yet, in a year or two there will be a lot of folks wondering where their battery life went. applecare's battery replacement service for normal ipods is available for the low, low price of $99. think they will have a cheapo shuffle battery replacement service? Think different.

"We mentioned earlier that someone posted photos of an ipod shuffle disassembly. The previous disassembly left a few key questions unanswered, namely:

  • do you need to butcher the buttons to take your shuffle apart?
  • will the average joe be able to replace the battery?
  • what else is under the hood?
  • can it be cleanly reassembled?

"This howto will attempt to answer these questions while disassembling the shuffle in a non-destructive manner."

iProtect Cleaning Cloth

PR: The iProtect Cleaning Cloth is a convenient way to clean an LCD screen. Each side has a different surface for the most comprehensive cleaning requirements. One side is micro fine for removing all dust particles. The other side is more course for removing fingerprints and greese.

Safely remove greasy fingerprints and dust from your LCD monitor.

The iProtect Cleaning Cloth is made with ultrafine microfibers especially to effectively remove dust particles, grease and fingerprints that reside on the LCD surface.

iProtect LCD Cleaning Cloths do not scratch the LCD surface but will pick up and hold particles from the LCD screen.

iProtect LCD Cleaning Cloths have two different surfaces designed to effectively clean LCD screens. The soft vanquished surface (front surface) is designed for fine particle removal and dust cleaning. The rough and interlacing strands of the knitted surface (reverse side) is designed to clean fingerprints, grease and marks on the surface etc.

The iProtect LCD Cleaning Cloth features a fringe wave design that will not scrape the LCD panel compared to the fringe stitch found commonly on most cleaning cloths.

Cleaning Applications:

  • Use soft surface of the cloth to clean fine particle and dust from the object
  • Use rough surface of cloth to remove fingerprint or grease; rub gently
  • To get rid of stubborn grease damp the cloth with water, clean gently and wipe
  • Cloth is machine washable; use only PH-Neutral agent; tumble-dry
  • After drying, keep cloth in the protective box it is packaged in.

The iProtect Cleaning cloth is ideal for cleaning LCD displays, notebook computers, MP3 players, lenses, compact discs, computers, cameras, musical instruments, and a large range of optical equipment.

iPod Deals

For current iPod prices from a variety of sources, see our Week's Best iPod Deals. LEM

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