Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple: It's Showtime

After last month's disappointing WWDC, the announcement that Sir Steve would be holding a surprise event dubbed "It's Showtime" led to some high hopes. While we didn't get the grand poobah: the 16x9 true video Ipod, we did get heap upon heap of other great updates. Where to begin? For the most part, the grand show included updates to the entire iPod family, as well as a few software tweaks, so let's work our way up.

The head of the class iPod received a marginal update today, with new headphones, a brighter screen, a longer battery life, and the long in the making support for gapless playback of Pink Floyd albums. Also, it's top of the line went from 60 to 80gb at new price points, 249-349 respectively. Also some cool new additions that will work on any 5g player, games are available from iTunes for 4.99 a pop, and a spotlight type search function to find songs.

Thrust into it's second generation this time out was the ever popular iPod nano, getting an iPod mini like makeover, with new metal casing and 5 colors. Three different models ranging from 149-249 are ready to order now.

Also getting a second generation update is the oft-ignore iPod shuffle. Now the worlds smallest mp3 player will come in a 1gb flavor for 79 affordable dollars.

Getting the biggest update of the day, and an exciting one for me because it's mostly free, was iTunes itself. No longer do you have to use a wonky third application to update your iPod, it's now handled internally, and beautifully I might ad, to the iTunes program. The UI has been cleaned up and it looks even snazzier and less program like than before. You can now browse by album cover art. Don't have album art you say? iTunes will get it automatically for you now. This is huge, because no third party utility has quite been able to get this right yet. Sure, you will still have problems with your obscure acid jazz that is not on the iTunes store, but I'll take it. Oh yeah, they also have full movie downloads on the newly named iTunes store. Not just music anymore folks.

Oh and one more thing.

In a move that would be usually considered crazy, that is pre-announcing a product this far in advance for the famously secretive Steve Jobs, Apple today announced a media server that is meant to connect to your television. The device will wirelessly stream media from your computers to your television, and thus completes and wins the war on packaged media. The device, dubbed iTv for now, will debut early 2007 and retail for 299.

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