New thinner iPod Nano, wireless iTV connection announced
Apple's next generation of the iPod digital music players will feature brighter screens, longer battery life, improved earphones and lower prices, but the latest news is a wireless iTV connection.
Anew version of its music store iTunes offers movie downloads from Disney-owned studios. A soon-to-be-released piece of hardware will allow downloaded movies to play on a television through a wireless network.
The 30GB iPod with video will sell for $249 US and a new 80GB model — capable of holding 20,000 songs — will sell for $349 US, Applechief executive officerSteve Jobs announcedTuesday at anews conferencein San Francisco.
In another model change, Jobs unveiled a thinner iPod Nano with an aluminum case. It will beavailable in five colours, similar to the iPod Mini colours, except that black replaces the unpopular gold.
The low-end Nano holds2 GBand will be available only in aluminum. The mid-range model comes in four colours — blue, pink, green andaluminum — and will hold 4 GB. A new high-end model will contain up to 8 GB and comes only in black.
Jobs also announced changes to the iPod software. A new feature called gapless playback will allow albums meant to be heard as a continuous audio stream, such as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, to beplayed without breaks between songs.
Search by artist's name
A search feature will be added to the iPod that can find a particular song or artist by name.
Jobs announced more games for the iPod, such as Texas Hold 'Em Poker, Tetris and Pac-man, which will sell for $5 US a piece. All are designed to be used with theiPod scroll wheel.
Healso announced a new iPod Shuffle, billing it as the smallest music player on the market. The tiny aluminum square holds1 GB of music, the same as the previouswhite plastic model. It will sell for $79 US.
Anew version of Apple's iTunes music store was also unveiled, featuringa clearer interface and the ability to downloadfree album art, even formusic that users have not purchasedfrom iTunes. Until now, album art has not appeared on iPods for songs that were downloaded from CDs.
As anticipated by the event's title — "It's showtime" — the new iTunes will also feature movie downloads. About 75 titles from Disney will be available immediately.
The movies will be available at 640 x 480 resolution, which Apple describes as "near DVD quality." New movies will be added the same day as their DVD release.
Each movie download will cost $13 US during the first week of their release and other movies will cost $10 US.
The movies will only be available in the U.S., with international availability scheduled for 2007.
'One more thing'
It's become a tradition for Jobs to announce new products during speeches at news conferences or Apple events such as Macworld Expo. In 1998,the company founderunveiled the first bright blue iMac at such an event and followed it up with the first iBook in 1999.
Jobs also has a habit of pretending to conclude a speech and begin walking off the stage, only to turn back and announce that there's "one more thing," usually to revealthe most important product announcement of the day.
This time, the "one more thing" was a product preview. Tentatively called iTV, the small white box connects to a TV — conventional or high-definition — and establishes a wireless connection to a PC or a Mac.
The box can then play on the TV screen digital movies, TV shows and musicstored on the computer. It can also display digital photos and play video podcasts. Jobs said it will sell for $300 US.
The iPod with video, the MacBook Pro and Apple's transition from PowerPC processors to Intel processors were announced as the "one more thing" in past presentations.