Today's Apple event in San Francisco offered plenty of iPod news to be excited about. In only the first few minutes, Steve Jobs announced that the whole iPod lineup--from the shuffle to the iPod--would get an upgrade. There had already been a ton of speculation about what Jobs would announce today, but as is usually the case, an Apple event almost always means a surprise.
First on the list of new hardware, the iPod Shuffle. Not much in the way of changes here, but the clip-on design comes in several new colors. It has 1GB of storage space and retails for $79.
There was a lot of speculation around the Mac rumor sites before this event about the new iPod Nano, with alleged leaked photos and feature lists. The real version is a bit different, having a 320?240 screen (204 ppi) and supports the same resolution as iPod videos. Coverflow is now offered for paging through your music and is controlled using the touch wheel on the bottom. A new graphical navigation system splits the screen down the middle with the familiar list navigation on the left side and a snippet of video, a picture, or song name and album art on the right side. It comes in both 4GB and 8GB models like the previous Nanos and sells for $149 and $199, respectively.
At this point I was already pretty excited about what I'd already seen, but that's when Jobs said the name "iPod" was too outdated. The iPod as we know it would now be called the iPod Classic. Sporting a "full metal" design, the latest version of the iPod Classic is thinner than the fifth-gen predecessor and comes in 80GB and 160GB storage capacities. These will retail for $249 for the 80GB and $349 for the 40,000-song 160GB iPod.
We're not done yet! Next on the list was on my personal wish list: The new iPod Touch. With a similar design to the iPhone, this iPod features Coverflow song navigation, full-screen album art, a photo library, and--like the iPhone--the ability to flick the screen to move around. To push it over the top, the iPod Touch uses Wi-Fi Internet so you can browse the Web like the iPhone using Safari and connect with the iTunes Store to purchase and download songs--all of which automatically sync to your home computer when you dock the iPod.
As an added bonus, Apple made a deal with Starbucks so whenever you pick up their Wi-Fi signal, a Starbucks icon shows up giving you free Wi-Fi access. It also allows you to purchase and download songs from Starbucks' song list including the last 10 songs played. The iPod Touch comes in two varieties: 8GB for $299 and 16GB for $399. Though I'm not happy with the somewhat limited storage capacity, the Internet access, including YouTube video and free Wi-Fi access from a gazillion Starbucks Coffee stores, might make it worth it. One caveat: the Starbucks store Wi-Fi access will be slow to roll out. Only New York and Seattle Starbucks stores will offer the free Wi-Fi starting in October (600 stores), with San Francisco in November (350 stores). Later in February 2008, Los Angeles Starbucks locations and Chicago in March. Starbucks will have full coverage for all their stores by 2009.
One last thing: Starting today, the iPhone 4GB is no more. Now only the 8GB iPhone will be available and will retail for $399--a $200 price drop.
What do you think? Which of the iPods is your favorite? What do you think of the Wi-Fi access and iTunes Store compatibility? Is the iPod Touch a letdown because of the storage capacity, or is the Internet access worth it? Let me know in the comments!