"i" is for improved - The new iPods

"i" is for improved - The new iPods

Summary: Yesterday saw Steve Jobs unveil some serious upgrades to all three of the Apple iPod line, putting them in a strong position to compete with Microsoft's Zune. In fact, it sounds like Apple has listened to criticisms and and taken the opportunity to make some core changes to the iPod, iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Oh, and they introduced the iTV.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Yesterday saw Steve Jobs These improvements put me one step closer to buying an iPod and maybe two steps closer to getting a nanounveil some serious upgrades to all three of the Apple iPod line, putting them in a strong position to compete with Microsoft's Zune.  In fact, it sounds like Apple has listened to criticisms and and taken the opportunity to make some core changes to the iPod, iPod nano and iPod shuffle.

Let's begin with the new iPod 6g.  Core changes here include:

  • Brighter screen (complete with brightness control)
  • Gapless music playback
  • 75% better battery life (now allowing for 6.5 hours of video playback)
  • Games available for download from the iTunes store (Tetris, PacMan, that sort of thing) - these will also work on the 5g iPod
  • Music now searchable
  • New headphones
  • Price drop - the 60GB iPod costs $249 while the 80GB will set you back $349

The iPod nano also gets some major upgrades to take it to 2g, although much of these are cosmetic.  These include:

  • Revamped interface (bringing it in line with the iPod)
  • Brighter screen
  • New, tougher aluminum case in a number of colors (depending on capacity)

Major changes for the iPod shuffle 2g:

  • Dramatically smaller - now making it the world's smallest audio player
  • All metal construction
  • Long life 12 hour battery
  • 1GB capacity
  • $79

Now I have to be honest and say that I'm not an iPod owner, but these improvements put me one step closer to buying an iPod and maybe two steps closer to getting a nano.  The increased size and tougher aluminum case on the nano make it particularly compelling.  Yeah, I know that you're still locked in to Apple's format and DRM, but the lock-in is getting sexier.

In other Apple hardware related news, also announced were details of a set-top box I'm certainly not going to pay $12.99 for "near DVD" quality video that I don't really own when I can buy a DVD and own it and play it anywhereprovisionally called iTV which is due to hit the shelves January 2007.  The iTV wirelessly bridges the gap between the PC/Mac and the TV and allows users to stream downloaded videos directly to their TV.  The iTV has connectors galore - USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, RGB, RCA and optical audio - and will be controlled by the familiar white remote control.  All this is slated to cost $299. 

Personally, I'm not interested in yet another set-top box (YASTB) and I'm certainly not going to pay $12.99 for "near DVD" quality video that I don't really own when I can buy a DVD and own it and play it anywhere.

There's no doubt that by combining a movie download service with hardware, Apple is taking on a lot of competition (much more than it did with the iPod/iTunes).  Part of this competition will come from the movie studios themselves, who might at this point enjoy the additional cashflow, might later on feel too much under Apple's control.  Apple is also taking on other fiercely ambitious companies such as Amazon who launched their Unbox video download service (who already have 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros on board, while Apple is left with Disney). 

By adding hardware into the mix Apple is no doubt trying to entice partners by demonstrating how serious they are, but it's still risky because they're not the only hardware players (think Microsoft and the Xbox 360).  There are a lot of competitors in this market, and many are interlinked in very deep ways and I doubt that there is enough interest at present in movie downloads for all these companies to survive. 

Who will survive and who will fall by the wayside?  We'll have to wait and see.

Topic: Apple

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13 comments
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  • Lock In

    ---Yeah, I know that you're still locked in to Apple's format and DRM, but the lock-in is getting sexier.---

    No, you're not locked in at all. Just don't buy music from the iTunes store. Buy cd's and rip them, or buy non-DRMed mp3 files from eMusic. Then you can have an iPod with no lock in at all.
    tic swayback
    • But when my stuff is all in WMA/WMV format ...

      ... moving all that over still means being locked in to a different format - if the iPod played WMA/WMV, then I'd already have an iPod.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • I believe iTunes will automatically convert for you from WMA...

        ...although not sure if there's a subsequent loss in audio quality.
        tic swayback
        • locked in to wmv format

          looks like you locked yourself in to the wrong format. Convert them to mp3 or AAC. I am sure there is software that will do this.
          JohnM865
          • No doubt!

            Yeah, WMA is a good enough format but I should have gone MP3 (I didn't because at the time ripping to WMA was faster on my setup).
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • I'd probably have to go back to disc ...

          ... :-(
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • If you want better quality...

            ...then back to the discs is definitely the way to go. MP3 has the advantage of being pretty universal at this point. It has the disadvantage of being an old format that's not as good in terms of size and audio quality as newer formats.
            tic swayback
          • Since disk space is no longer an issue ...

            ... I'm going back to MP3. Back when I ripped my stuff (many moons ago ...) I was a bit more drive challenged. Also, my portable player only had 64MB of space!
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • I have all the features above

    It's called a Pocket PC phone and it also gives me internet and email as well as office apps. Why the hell would I want an extra iPod?
    TonyMcS
    • Sigh

      Do you own ANYTHING computer-related that doesn't have M$ stamped all over it?
      Roger Ramjet
      • There are . . .

        Palm-based units that do the same thing as the Pocket PC/Smartphones. Buy and use anything you want. These's no gun pointed at your head (at least from the MS side).
        jlhenry62
  • Sounds good to me

    Apple made it even simpler for me when it's time to buy a new music player.

    http://opendomain.blogspot.com/
    opensourcepro
  • MP3

    is NOT a "free" format - there ARE licensing fees (that no one seems to care about). It may just be for playback (and not ripping) though . . .
    Roger Ramjet