New Apple Technology
Michelle Fordice | Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Once again, Apple is quickly phasing out previous generations of its sleek iPod devices, sending them to the refurbished department and replacing them with new, sleeker ones to tempt our wallets and complement our lifestyles. But we all know that the new additions and features – from hardier materials to better video capability – will make us want them anyway and smile in joy when they show up in their beautifully packaged boxes. Here’s a look at what Apple has just released.
Declared the “world’s smallest digital music player,” the new iPod Shuffle is definitely diminutive at just half the length of the first generation model (1.62 inches long – slightly larger than a quarter). The still-screenless second generation is now brushed with silver aluminum, making it much more durable than its predecessor. It also comes with a built-in clip that allows you to wear it almost anywhere.
The iPod Shuffle still holds 1 GB worth of music (about 240 songs) and uses an iTunes autofill feature to randomly load the player with music from the owner’s library. The shuffle battery lasts 12 hours. The second generation Shuffle still uses a USB flash drive to store music, but it now connects to the computer through a dock, making it somewhat less useful in carrying files. Still, it should be skip-free and ultra-portable. Apple Price: $79
The new iPod Nano is also a hair smaller, being less than .26 inches thick, 3.5 inches long and 1.6 inches wide. There are three capacity sizes – 4GB, 6GB and 8GB – that can hold between 500 and 2,000 songs and up to about 25,000 snapshots. The 4GB now comes in five colors (silver, pink, green, blue, and black), while the 2GB is available in silver and the 8GB in black.
More importantly, the second generation Nano comes with a much stronger finish of high luster anodized aluminum (like the iPod Mini) that is much less likely to scratch. The display is 40 percent brighter. The battery life lasts about 24 hours. Like the shuffle, the new Nano uses a USB flash drive, so it is non-skip. Apple Price: $149-$199-$249
Not wanting to be outclassed by its younger siblings, the iPod received a few new updates as well. It now has more game capability including games such as Texas Hold ‘Em, Mini Golf and PAC-MAN.
While the screen is 60 percent brighter than before, the battery can last through 20 hours of music or six hours of video, an unprecedented battery life. The new iPod is offered as either a 30GB or an 80GB, getting rid of the 60GB version. Perhaps what is most appealing is that it is now $50 cheaper. Apple Price: $250-$350
The new iTunes
iTunes received a facelift as well. The display is a little cleaner, but about the same as before. Better is the more inclusive iPod summary that is provided whenever the device is synched. Now you can easily see such things as what the space on your iPod is being used for and whether the version needs to be updated.
In a step toward reintroducing the album cover to downloaded music, you can automatically load covers and then use the new Cover Flow feature to flip through them on the screen to choose your music. The iTunes store also now sells videos (compatible with video capable iPods and playable in iTunes) and games (only compatible with the fifth-generation iPod and not playable in iTunes). As always, iTunes is free to download.
Steve Jobs and Apple also dropped a tantalizing hint about its upcoming product release currently called iTV. The device will plug into the TV and wirelessly pull video and music from either a nearby Macintosh computer or the Internet.
This announcement was met with much anticipation for the possibilities offered by iTV. The idea has been tried before with other companies, including Microsoft with its Media Center PC, and iTV will debut about the same time as some other similar products, such as a set-top box from Netflix. Only time will tell, however, if Apple will dominate this market as well.