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With each major Apple Computer event, we see more mock-ups of potential products created by fans being posted to blogs and message boards. And the company’s “special event,” to be held Tuesday in San Francisco, is no different. rnrn
Rumors of major movie deals and invitations to the event announcing that it’s “showtime” have visions of wide-screen iPods dancing in analsyts’ heads. And judging by the hundreds of fantasy mock-ups posted online, consumers are thinking along the same lines.
A contest held by iLounge.com, a blog that covers all things iPod, invited fans to submit their own concepts for the newest generation of the Apple music cum multimedia player. The most prevalent feature in fans’ designs was a touch screen. Incorporating a touch screen into the iPod would allow the screen to take over most, if not all, of the iPod’s body, allowing for a much larger viewing area.
Using a touch screen, while new to the iPod line, wouldn’t be a complete shock. An Apple patent for a “virtual keyboard” was published earlier this year. The patent covers a new way of “activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard.”
This design, submitted to iLounge by Orson, shows a touch screen that takes up the entire face of the iPod. In Menu mode, it’s essentially the same as a current video iPod. But it can be turned on its side for a larger, widescreen view.
The problem with using a touch screen, of course, is that users would inevitably end up viewing their newly downloaded movies and videos through a dirty, mucked-up screen. Several contest submissions attempted to solve this problem by combining a horizontal view with a scroll wheel on the side. These designs show a bigger screen size than the current video iPod offers while keeping users’ dirty paws from blurring video quality.
This entry has a similar design but uses two buttons–a scroll wheel on the right, with the play/pause button moved to the other side of the screen. rnrn
It also touches on what some analysts think would be a smart move for upcoming iPods–more wireless capability. The image shows a set Bluetooth headphones with remote control. Microsoft is planning to embed wireless capabilities into its Zune music player, which will be available this holiday season. Patent filings earlier this year showed that Apple was at least considering adding wireless chips to the iPod.
Greg Current submitted a full-size touch-screen design that incorporates Front Row-style menu navigation. And while we can’t confirm that it’s legitimate, Engadget has posted a photo, said to have been shot during the weekend, of a banner at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where Apple’s event will take place Tuesday. The image shows a video iPod much like the one shown here. But many people in forums discussing the picture are crying Photoshop.
The garish yellow in this design isn’t very Apple-esque, but moving controls to the side of the device would maximize screen size.
This design, which rated well with iLounge readers, takes a different tack, bringing the screen flush against the sides of the iPod and rounding out the two bottom corners. The concept increases screen size, updates the scroll wheel and adds three large, easy-access control buttons to the bottom, though the finished design looks more PDA than iPod.
If fan sites are any indication of public interest, a combination iPod-phone ought to be a hit. This design, one of dozens of “iPhones” submitted to iLounge, shows a flip phone with touch screen and music-playing capabilities. But analysts say the technology isn’t quite there and that consumers shouldn’t expect such a device this year.
This concept may not make the short list for most-likely-to-be-seen-on-Tuesday products, but we like it for its gusto. It combines an iPod with a phone and wireless-enabled PDA, incorporating a large touch screen and a partial slide cover to maximize functionality without taking us back to the days of the bulky PalmPilot 1000.