The question is an important one, particularly if you work in a music store because fewer of us are going to a specialist shop to buy a CD now when so many of us are migrating to buying music online. If you have been into one recently you will have noticed that CDs and actual music packages are quietly retreating from shelves and displays across the store. Music accessories, gadgets and assorted electronic gadgets are creeping into the abandoned positions.New giants in the music retailing business are clearly iTunes, Amazon and Google and recent events have seen these tech wizards fight each other in court and online. Amazon became the first of the majors to offer music in the “cloud”. This meant any digital music you had bought legitimately could be uploaded onto Amazon’s systems, and downloaded as and when you wanted it, and how you wanted it. Google was quick to follow with its Google Music Beta, Apple which had almost single-handedly changed the music industry with the launch of iTunes a decade ago, followed with iCloud, which allows online storage and synchronisation of users’ data on all Apple devices. The music industry is certainly changing.
No prizes for guessing that the hottest gifts this Christmas are going to be electronic gadgets. You will not be surprised to know that these tech gifts this season are going to be sleekly designed electronic tablets so thin you can barely see them when turned on their sides. Most are elegant, touch-screen devices, inspired by the iPhone, that respond to a flick of your finger. But beyond that, they may not have much in common. Some are souped-up music and mp3 video players that slip into your pocket. Others are designed to take the place either alone or in combination of books, sketchpads, cell phones, cameras, game machines, even laptops suitable for light business tasks.Amongst the tops this festive season will probably be: Apple iPad, a knockout to look at, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, giving maximum portability, or the Apple iPod Touch 2010, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the latest generation of the iPod. These are only three of what we expect will be a bumper, hot Christmas for tech gadgets.
Apple will not be releasing the long awaited white iPhone 4 until at least spring next year, the white version was supposed to launch in June, at the same time as the black iPhone 4, but Apple cited manufacturing issues, and pushed the launch back to July. That deadline passed, with Apple stating that the handset would be available by the end of the year, but it has now been announced that the white iPhone 4 will not be available until early 2011.Apple has never given a detailed explanation about the reason for the ongoing delay with the white iPhone 4. The company said that the device was “more challenging to manufacture” than it originally expected, but did not elaborate on why. It is thought in some quarters that Apple’s factories are finding it difficult to match the colour of the home button with the back and front plates on the device, while others say the issue is related to the device’s backlight, whatever the reasons, it will not be on sale until 2011.
When all you want to hear is the music then Skullcandy Smokin Buds are the ones for you. These ear buds deliver a full, crisp frequency range and the fast response of full-size headphones in a tiny direct-to-ear package-better than the sticks and stems sound of most other earbuds. They feature in line control on the headphones themselves so if you think your music is too loud then you can turn the volume down, relax and enjoy your music.Smokin Buds deliver the frequency range and fast response found in full-size headphones in a direct-to-ear package all the while isolating you from external haze. The Skullcandy comes with a stylish travel case so you can always keep them neat and tidy and make sure that the cable doesn’t get tangled when they are not in use.
The Nokia X6 is one of the latest mobile phones from Nokia and follows in the footsteps of its music orientated XpressMusic devices. With sleeker styling than the 5800 XpressMusic, the Nokia X6 sports a 3.2 touchscreen display (same as the one in the N97 Mini), 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity as well as a 5 megapixel camera on the rear.Being a music phone, the X6 has a 3.5mm headphone socket and an internal hard drive with a capacity of 32GB. The built-in multimedia player plays most music and video formats and the rear mounted camera has autofocus and dual LED flash for low light situations.All in all the X6 is a step up from the 5800 XpressMusic, but is substantially more expensive; this may put some people off, but Nokia fans will love the sleek looks and small form factor.The Nokia X6 is available now from free on contract or around £249 on Pay As You Go.
Designed with a mixture of 80’s retro styling and futuristic sleek design, the JayBird SB2 Bluetooth headphones are the perfect accessory for your iPhone 4. Available in 9 eye-catching colours including red, black, blue, orange and white, these headphones can produce CD quality sound over Bluetooth.The JayBird SB2 headphones can be used with any Bluetooth music device and have built in buttons to play, pause and skip tracks. What’s more there is also a built-in microphone and a button for answering calls should you be using your mobile phone, simply push the button and the music will be paused and will resume when the call has finished.Don’t worry if your music device doesn’t have Bluetooth, as JayBird also sell Bluetooth adapters. The iSport adapter is designed for the iPods, iPhones and iPads, and the uSport adapter is for any device with a 3.5mm headphone socket.The JayBird SB2 Bluetooth headphones are available now for $99 each, the iSport and uSport can be purchased separately for $50 each.
Sony has been synonymous with great portable music players since the introduction of the Walkman back in 1979 and the new Sony Walkman b153 is no exception. Although Apple’s iPod has taken much of the market share for portable mp3 players, there is still a market for ultra small mp3 players without the trills of the iPod.The Sony Walkman B153 has a 4GB internal hard drive and direct USB input that makes it easy to drag and drop any of your favourite songs from any computer and boasts a large jog wheel for easy control. It also features a range of equalisation settings as well as bass boost, but probably its best feature is the quick charge option, which means that a 3 minutes charge can give up to 90 minutes of playback time.The Sony Walkman B153 will be available in June and will come in black, red, pink or blue. There is no word on price yet.
Skinput is a development project that aims for the user to touch their body to operate devices such as mobile phone and mp3 players. Still in its development stages, Skinput is a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft and works by using an armband that incorporates sensors which measure the pressure, speed and force of a person’s touch.
Due to the popularity and practicality of wireless devices and in a bid to rid multiple wall chargers, Powermat has developed its new wireless charging system. Capable of charging various handheld devices such as mobile phones, handheld games consoles, mp3 players and digital cameras, the Powermat will charge your devices up with the same efficiency as a standard wall charger.
Popular music steaming software Spotify has signed a deal with music store 7digital to sell music downloads. The new service will put a link on certain downloadable track, which will link directly to the 7digital website, where users can download the tracks they are interested in.Spotify are now working on an update that will allow users to buy tracks, whilst still being in the Spotify music application. The new deal will initially be available for single songs and albums, but the company hopes to add entire playlists for download in the future.The new feature will be available in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy to start off with, but Sweden, Finland and Norway will follow a few weeks later. No prices for each of the 320kbps MP3 files have been given yet.The Spotify application, which is similar to those offered by Last FM and Imeem, lets users build and make their own playlists, which are then steamed to their computers via the internet. The service can be used free of charge, but will be interrupted by advertisements in between songs or can be listened to ad-free by paying a subscription of £9.99 a month.
Apple has unveiled the new iPod Shuffle, which is now the smallest audio player in the world and is also the first to introduce VoiceOver, which tells you what song you’re listening to by saying it to you. The new iPod Shuffle has its controls mounted on the headphones as opposed to being on the unit itself, meaning that it measures just 45.2 x 7.8mm.With the new control layout, you can navigate through your music and activate the VoiceOver command without looking, making it easier to concentrate on what you are doing. The new iPod Shuffle has an internal 4GB flash drive capable of holding up to 1000 of your favourite tunes and battery power has also been increased, meaning that it will last up to 10 hours when fully charged.The device is made from stainless steel and has a small clip on the back so you can attract it to your clothes or bag without worrying about it getting lost. There is also space to personalise the Shuffle’s clip with the text of your choice.The VoiceOver feature is really unique and at the touch of a button, the iPod will tell you what track you are listening to and it can even announce the names of your playlists as well. The VoiceOver feature can also speak in 14 different languages so it can tell you artists and songs in there correct languages.The new iPod Shuffle is available in silver or black and comes bundled with Apple’s headphones with remote and a USB cable for charging; the iPod Shuffle is available now from the Apple website for £59 each.