09. 05. 2007
iPods, iPods, iPods- the new generation and Wifi iTunes
After two years of speculation, the 6th generation iPod was formally announced today. For me, the only question I needed answered was "did I get screwed buying a $600 iPhone just two months ago?" Yes, yes, yes!!!!! But also not really. Yes, there is a new iPod, the iPod Touch, which has nearly all the features of the iPhone (big touchscreen, wifi) but it doesn't have anything addititional which would make new iPhone owners want to throw their instantly antiquated phones through the windows of the nearest Apple store. But...the prices of the iPhone (still the same iPhone, relax, no 2G upgrade announced yet- stay tuned in January...) dropped significantly. The 4 GB model is now, $299 (while supplies last, and then gone completely), down from $499, and the 8 GB model is also $200 less, at $399. Bummer for the losers like me who rushed to get the iPhone, but great for holiday gifting and the smart people who waited just a bit.
Here's the whole new lineup:
The iPod Shuffle- unchanged, but now available in red.
The completely re-designed iPod Nano,now with video support and a 2" extra-bright QVGA screen. Steve Jobs called the Nano the "fatty" during the press conference because of its width and shorther height (2.75" long, 2" across) but it's a super-slim .26" in depth. The whole thing is just a hair over an ounce and a half. There is no touch screen, but the interface is more iPhone-like, with "Cover Flow" (enhanced way to scroll through music by album cover) supported by the touch wheel. There are a few uninspiring games included now too. Best thing? Great battery life- Apple is claiming 24 hours of audio, and 5 hours of video. The $149 4GB model comes only in silver, the $199 8GB model comes in silver, black, red, blue, or green.
Like Coca-cola, the iPod now comes in so many flavors that the old standard needs to be identified as the iPod Classic. It's not a complete overhaul, just a few improvements over 5G. There is an all-metal enclosure and the enhanced interface with Cover Flow. The 80 GB version goes for $249 and has claimed battery life of 30 hours audio, 5 hours video. The $349 160 GB (yes, 160 GB, holding 200 hours of video or 40,000 songs) model claims 40 hours of audio and up to 7 hours of video playback on a full charge.
And finally, there's the all-new iPod Touch. This is really an iPhone without the phone. Virtually identical specs-wise, including Wifi, YouTube, and the Safari browser. Without the phone, it's a bit lighter and thinner, but it only comes in 8 GB (same as the higher capacity iPhone) or 16 GB models as they're flash-memory based, unlike the massive storage you can get in the hard drive based iPod Classic. 8 GB is $299, 16 GB is $399. 22 hours of audio, 5 hours of video on one charge, oddly that's a bit less than the iPhone.
And finally...something to do with that Wifi connection: iTunes downloads directly to your iPod Touch or iPhone (this will require a firmware update for the iPhone, not yet announced or available but definitely coming). The Wifi iTunes store will let you browse, preview, and directly download songs and videos to your Touch or iPhone. You can then sync the songs that you've downloaded to your player back up with your computer. I'm sure Apple is still locking up full dual syncing- meaning you probably still can't, without some minor hacking, back up the contents of your iPod onto a computer. And in a somewhat bizarre partnership, you'll be able to get free Wifi access to the iTunes store (but not full unrestricted Wifi) when you're in a Starbucks.
Last thing- you can now turn some of your songs into ringtones for the iPhone for an additional $.99 on top of the price of the song. There's only support for 500,000 songs in the 6 million plus iTunes catalog. This will be available directly through iTunes.
All of the newly announced products are expected to be in stores by this weekend, and new software updates should be available for download soon.
Update 9-8: The new iPods are available at Amazon.