Apple’s 2010 iPod announcements, plus my thoughts

Today was Apple’s annual new iPod announcements. While I’ll have to see the new iPods in person at the Apple Store to fully gauge what they’ll be like, I thought I’d analyze on what was announced today, model-by-model. (All prices in US dollars).

General information on today’s Apple announcements:
http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/09/new-ipods-aboundincluding-multitouch-nanoat-apple-event.ars
http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/09/hands-on-photos-questions-answered-about-new-ipods-apple-tv.ars?comments=1&start=0#comments-bar

iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle, after the previous model dubiously moved the controls to the headphone cord, has reverted more or less to the style of the 2G model, with the controls once again on the Shuffle. The Shuffle will come in several colors, have 2GB capacity, and sell for $49.

I was highly disappointed in the previous Shuffle model’s design, and felt it was an ill-advised change. Needing a custom set of headphones just to control your MP3 player’s functions also struck me as very poor design.

While there’s still no screen, the Shuffle should remain popular as an inexpensive MP3 player.

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano received quite an overhaul, replacing the clickwheel with a touchscreen interface. Combined with the square shape and built-in clip, it looks more like the Shuffle’s bigger brother than the iPod Classic’s smaller sibling the Nano line was originally conceived as. However, with this revamp comes the loss of some of the previous models’ functionality: no video playback and no video camera. The FM radio is still included, however. The Nano will come in several colors (like previous models) and sell in two models, an 8GB model for $149 and a 16GB model for $179.

Once, the Nano was Apple’s most popular iPod model, but it’s since been eclipsed by the Touch. While I figured they’d move to a clickwheel-less Nano, I’m wondering how easy a touchscreen will be to handle at that size. There’s already some online grumbling about how you can no longer stick the Nano in your pocket and adjust the controls without looking at the screen. Additionally, the price for the 16GB model doesn’t seem far enough removed from the low-end Touch to merit the loss of Touch functionality (even with the difference in capacities).

Out of all the iPods, the new Nano is the one I most want to see and handle in person.

iPod Touch

Apple’s most popular iPod model, the Touch seems to be gaining most of the same features as the iPhone 4, along with a thinner size. The Touch also comes with new sizing and pricing, with three models priced at $239 (8GB), $299 (32GB), and $399 (64GB). Yes, they’ve removed the 16GB model.

I’m sure the Touch will continue to sell quite well, especially with the new iPhone’s features being added. The pricing/capacity for the low end model seems questionable; making the base model 16GB would’ve been much better, especially given the base model price’s $30 increase. On the other end, the top model with a 64GB capacity suggests the day isn’t far off when the Classic will finally be killed.

iPod Classic

No new revisions in store for the Classic. While I was wondering if Apple would quietly (or openly) kill off the Classic (as the sole clickwheel-based iPod with a screen left), it seems that the Classic is still around, albeit unchanged. Those looking to carry vast quantities of music and movies, or need an iPod that can double as a sizable removable hard drive, will be pleased.

Apple TV

Apple’s “hobby” also got an overhaul, with a price drop to $99, a size drop to one-fourth of its original size, and a new emphasis on streaming media (including Netflix).

Nice to see the Apple TV get an overhaul, but aside from the new TV/movie rentals and the use of Apple’s software, it seems similar to a lot of other streaming-media boxes, such as the Roku box. A strong advertising push (plus the Apple name behind the box) might give it an edge, however.

Other

A newer version of iTunes is also being released, which comes with support for Apple’s new social music service “Ping.” Ping seems similar to last.fm, but with extra social networking functionality included.

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