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Tech Report – Apple's new iPod line-up



After a prolonged absence caused by his continuing battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs reappeared at Apple's self-styled Rock & Roll event in San Francisco on Wednesday. His presence managed to upstage some much-anticipated upgrades to Apple's iPod range and its dominant iTunes software.

The rejuvenated Jobs wasted no time in taking aim at some of Apple's competitors in the portable music player space, and even managed a swipe at Cisco's popular Flip video camera. This unlikely target was a result of Apple adding video capability to the iPod Nano, allowing Jobs to position the smaller, sleeker Nano as the leader in all-in-one, pocket-sized entertainment devices.

Here are the highlights of Apple's iPod/iTunes makeover for the Fall:

A new lineup for the iPod Touch, dropping the base price below $200 for the first time and adding storage and speed in the two higher-end models. The 8GB version falls from $229 to $199, while 32GB and 64GB versions have replaced the $299 16GB and $399 32GB models at the same prices. Apple claims that both are up to 50% faster. None of the new iPod Touch devices include a camera.

A new iPod Nano with a video camera and larger 2.2-inch color display, making it easier to watch movies. The new model also includes a built-in microphone and speaker, FM radio with iTunes tagging features, a pedometer and a polished aluminum and glass body. The 8GB version sells for $149 and the 16GB for $179.

An updated iPod Shuffle line-up that drops the entry price to $59 for the 2GB model, while the 4GB model remains at $79. Both come in a range of new colors: silver, black, pink, blue and green. Apple also announced a new 4GB special-edition polished stainless-steel model, which will only be available through Apple's online and retail stores for $99.

A new version of iTunes including support for iTunes LP, an enhanced format that provides expanded content and interactive features such as videos, lyrics, artwork, liner notes, interviews, photos and album credits. It will launch with albums including Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited", The Grateful Dead's "American Beauty", and Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me."

ITunes 9 also adds an organization feature that lets users manage iPhone apps right in iTunes and rearrange their home screens. The Genius feature has also been expanded to include Genius Mixes, an automatic song mix-generator which can produce up to 12 compatible mixes from the user's iTunes library.

Another new feature called Home Sharing lets users copy iTunes content among five authorized computers using drag-and-drop, and which can also auto-sync new music, movies, TV, audiobooks, or app purchases across each computer.



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