Called simply ‘the iPod’, the much anticipated iPod with video capabilities is finally with us.

Announced in the US only hours ago, the new iPod  looks like a cross between the original iPod and the nano. It comes in 30GB and 60 GB flavours, in a choice of black or white, and comes with a 2.5in screen.

The 30GB features the biggest changes, with a weight reduction of 20g to 136g, and a reduction in depth of around half. Due to the size of two disk platters, the 60GB is a bit deeper and also a little heavier, but still smaller than the existing 60GB.

Click to enlarge
New iPod Video

The new iPod features support for Mac formats such as  H.264 video, mov. and the increasingly popular MPEG-4, as well as AAC and MP3. Video out is supplied by a composite cable.

The new iPods will begin shipping next week for a suggested retail price of $449 (including GST) for the 30GB model and $598 (including
GST) for the 60GB model through the Apple Store (www.apple.com.au) and Apple Authorised Resellers. All iPod models include earbud headphones, USB 2.0 cable, case, dock insert and a CD with iTunes for Mac and Windows computers.Apple Computer.

Apple, has also unveiled a computer with a remote control, has long aimed to make its devices the hub for digital entertainment inside and outside the home, and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the ABC deal was a turning point in bringing television to the Web.

“I think it’s hard to overestimate the plate tectonic movement of this deal,” Jobs said in an interview. “I think it’s just the beginning.”

The video iPod — a long-rumored product that could further spark sales of the popular brand — has a 2.5-inch screen and comes with 30 or 60 gigabytes of memory. The sleeker, thinner version will sell for $449 and $598, respectively, and holds up to 150 hours of video.

The new devices drew oohs and ahs at the unveiling, although some analysts questioned whether consumers would want to watch TV on such a small screen.

As part of its deal with Disney’s ABC network, iPod users will be able to download five shows including ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost.” Current-season episodes of the series will be made available at the iTunes music store the day after broadcast.

The entire first season of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” will be available immediately. The television shows are only available in the United States and cost $1.99 per episode, without commercials.

Media companies and computer companies have traditionally been at odds over bringing entertainment to the Web, given rampant piracy of music online, and Disney and Apple said their deal was a watershed.

“This is the first giant step in terms of making content available to more people in more places,” said Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger from the stage of a theater in Silicon Valley in a joint appearance with Jobs. “This is just the beginning of what we believe will be a long and prosperous relationship between Apple and Disney.”

Both the deal with Disney and the new products — which also include an iMac with a remote control that acts as a home entertainment hub — give Apple a chance to forge a leading position in online media, said Cross Research technology analyst Shannon Cross.

“They are positioning themselves as the company that will connect video content to the end users and control your living room,” Cross said.

The Disney-Apple deal also sparked speculation that Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Inc,  the computer-animation company Jobs also heads, would forge a new distribution agreement, but Jobs declined to comment.

A next logical step for Apple, analysts said, might be adding a TV tuner card to an iMac to watch television programming live, a move that Jobs did not necessarily rule out.  “We’re doing what we know how to do right now really well,” Jobs said. We’ll see where we go in the future.”

Jobs also made clear that the new iMac computer with the Front Row remote control technology that plays songs, DVDs and other content would compete with Microsoft Media Center. Apple’s remote has six buttons, compared to more than 40 on the Microsoft remote, he said.

“The market is likely small for people who want to watch a portable video on a little screen,” he said. “That will not be the main reason people buy the iPod. It is just an enhancement.”

Apple has already sold more than 28 million iPods since their introduction in October 2001 and now has about 75 percent of the market for digital music players, representing a booming business that has helped the company’s stock triple in the past year.

The company has also refreshed the iPod line-up many times since its introduction. Apple on Sept. 7 unveiled the iPod nano, a pencil-thin device that uses memory chips instead of hard disk drives to store songs.

Apple shares fell US$2.34, or 4.5 percent, to $49.25 on Wednesday on Nasdaq.

Apple on Tuesday reported sales of 6.5 million iPods in the most recent quarter — a huge rise but less than some analysts expected, which sent the stock down 10 percent in after-hours trade on Tuesday.


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