RealTime IT News

Meet The New iPods

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple introduced several new iPods at an event here along with a major enhancement to its iTunes software available for free download.

With iTunes 7, Apple has played to one of its core strengths; easier-to-use, more graphical features.

A new "Cover Flow" view in iTunes lets you search for music, TV shows and movies by cover art. Click a slider with the mouse and the covers whiz by until you find the one you want to play. Also, registered iTunes users can find the missing cover art for their albums.

CEO Steve Jobs said Apple might not have art for every title, but the iTunes store has a good start with over 3.5 million titles. .

Viewing TV episodes got simpler too. You can, for example, request the three most recent episodes of The Office that you haven't already downloaded, and the iTunes will get them.

The iTunes store also now includes a series of retro games for the latest iPods including Tetris, Mahjong, Mini Golf and Pac Man for $4.99.

Jobs said Apple is currently in the fifth spot among music sellers and the only pure online retailer. The others include Walmart at number one, followed by Best Buy, Target and Amazon (whose sales include CDs). He said Apple's iTunes was on track to pass Amazon next year. Apple also announced a deal with the NFL Network to offer the whole 2006 season and highlights at the iTunes store.

Shuffle Clip
Clip the Shuffle.
Source: Apple

The newest iPod model for video still sports a small, 2.5-inch color display, but the brightness has been improved by 60 percent. Jobs said that resolution on all its video downloads is being upped from the current 320 x 240, to 640 x 480 pixels .

This so-called fifth generation iPod is also priced lower, $249 for a 30 GB model and $349 for an 80 GB model (the latter holds up to 20,000 songs or 100 hours of video).

The latest iPod nano is priced the same as earlier models but has an new aluminum body and twice the storage. Another big improvement is battery life - up to 24 hours. The nano silver, with 2 GB of storage, is $149; a 4GB model now in silver, pink, green and blue colors, is $199 and a new 8 GB model in black sells for $249. All of the models are shipping now.

Finally, at the low end, Apple came out with redesigned iPod Shuffle with an aluminum body, and lowered the price from $99 to $79. At only half a cubic inch in volume and weighing less than an ounce, Apple said the new Shuffle is the world's smallest digital music player. The Shuffle now also includes a built-in clip for attaching, for example, to a pocket or waistband.

New Nanos
Rainbow of nanos.
Source: Apple

Like the original, the Shuffle doesn't include a display for navigation to select songs to play, rather users select them randomly or in linear fashion such as songs in an album. But the price is almost $100 less than Apple's next cheapest iPod, the $149 2GB nano.

The new Shuffle holds up to 240 songs and has up to 12 hours of battery life. It's expected to be available next month.