Apple rehashes iPods, shrinks AppleTV in price and features
During its annual San Franciscan extravaganza this week, Apple revealed a revamp of its iPod line, introduced a smaller, streaming-centric AppleTV and revised its iTunes software application to include a new social network for music lovers.
Posted September 02, 2010
By GADJO CARDENAS SEVILLA, EVERGEEK MEDIA
Apple's annual media event was a music-centered affair this year, streamed live to Macs, iPhone and iPads as a test-run for Apple's new video on-demand rental initiative.
Apple's CEO Steve Jobs introduced an entirely new iPod line which has sold some 275 million units since its launch in 2001. The new iPod series consists of the new iPod Shuffle that now integrates buttons on the voice-controlled clip-on music player.
The new 16GB iPod Nano, meanwhile, has endured a dramatic makeover and is now all about the multi-touch, iPhone and iPod Touch-style. Now square, the diminutive new Nano sports a 1.5 inch touch screen at a bright, 240 x 240 pixel resolution as well as a pared-down version of Apple's "iOS" that enables scrolling, clicking and dragging using one's finger. Nano also features "Nike+" integration, the ability to see album art and photos. Gone, however, are the physical buttons, the ability to play back video and the 720p HD video recording that was the big feature of last year’s iPod Nano.
The iPod Touch, which Jobs declared as the no.1 portable gaming device (outselling Nintendo's DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable combined), also received the royal upgrade. Available in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB iterations and essentially a slimmed down iPhone 4 without 3G connectivity (the "phone" bit), the new iPod Touch comes with a striking Retina display, a speedy Apple A4 processor, 3-axis gyroscope for gaming controls as well as dual cameras for "FaceTime" conferencing and HD video recording.
The new AppleTV is one-fourth the size of the previous version and is substantially cheaper (US$99, C$119). The device no longer ships with a hard drive and no longer requires any synching with a Mac or a PC. It will instead link directly to iTunes where all content - including Hollywood movies and TV shows from ABC and FOX - will be available in a pay-per-view rental scenario, 99 cents a TV episode, for example, which you need to pay each time you wish to view it. Movies are listed for rent at US$2.99 for standard definition content and US$4.99 for HD quality content (but only at 720p, sadly).
None of the AppleTV content is for sale, and none of it will be stored in any device but simply streamed as desired and then gone from the menu after the rental period. Jobs mentioned that Netflix streaming is also an option, as is content from ABC and FOX. Seems like Apple is having a more challenging time getting TV studios to go digital the than it did the music industry, which has for the most part embraced the iTunes ecosystem for distributing their music digitally.
The catch here, of course, is that you can only watch content from Apple's celebrated "Walled Garden" of anti-interoperability. That said, AppleTV will continue to support video streaming freebies from the likes of YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe
What's more, owners of older, hard-drive based AppleTVs are out of luck; the new AppleTV streaming features and Netflix etc., will not be available on old (read: last month's) TV devices - though they will continue to feature movie rentals and purchases from iTunes. In other words, Apple will continue to take your money through your obsolete TV device.
Speaking of iTunes , Apple's do-it-all application for managing iPods, iPhone and AppleTVs has evolved from an elegant solution into a bloated beast over the years. As it happens, the new iTunes 10 revision streamlines and speeds up some of the processes while adding a social media element called Ping.
Jobs also mentioned large software updates coming to the iPad will include multitasking, printing and wireless music and video streaming in November.