iPodWeek - The Best of iLounge

This week at iLounge: Was this the slowest week for the iPod since 2003? Perhaps. With the entire iPod ecosystem quietly working on accessories for iPhone — 4 (!) of which we're giving away to lucky readers in our iPod Fashion Contest — the 100-million-selling iPod has taken a surprising backseat this week.

Thankfully, iLounge hasn't been entirely silent. Our editors' blog Backstage took a behind-the-scenes look at our controversial review of Wingspan Partners' iLoad, a $299 CD ripping device that underperformed even our oldest iTunes-equipped computer. The Backstage article, packed with rare testing videos, demonstrates connectivity issues and a bug that results in crazy long CD ripping times, both denied by the manufacturer. One reader called it the "Best Backstage article yet!" — see why inside.

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We also posted an update for all of our readers who use FM transmitters to listen to iPod music in their cars. In Bad Days Ahead for FM Transmission, we discuss how the FCC is knocking on the doors of transmitter makers, forcing them to cut excess broadcasting power from their recent devices. The consequence: more static and weaker signals from connected iPods. If you're forced to use FM transmission, you might want to find an older option, instead.

Many magazines have Letters to the Editor. We have Ask iLounge, a weekly column where an iLounge editor answers your questions — iPod, iTunes, iPhone, Apple TV and iLounge. This week's Ask column tackles six recent questions: how to tag content for Apple TV, organizing your Music Videos, dealing with duplicate music files, how the Universal Dock's line-out works, problems restoring iPods, and unlocking the iPod's volume limit. Submit your questions to Ask — just use the archives (from 2004 to the present) to be sure they haven't already been answered.

We also looked at four new and generally excellent cases for the iPod nano, each completely different from the rest, and drawn from a different part of the world. On the high end, New York-based AB Sutton's Nano Slip is the rare leather case we actually liked, with incredibly elaborate customization — dual-layer monograms, starburst patterns, and more — plus a 2-3 week waiting time. More affordable options came from two Asian companies: Hong Kong/San Francisco-based SwitchEasy's $20 hard plastic Capsule delivers great looks and an innovative Click Wheel cover, while Japan/Los Angeles-based Power Support's $30 Illusion Case updates the original silver mirrored design with second-generation nano curves, more protection, and a new gold mirror option. Finally, Nashville, Tennessee's own Griffin Technology is now selling the $25 iVault for the iPod nano, which offers machined and magnetized aluminum protection for first- and second-generation nanos.

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