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Apple’s Big News Day: Games, Movies, New iPods, New iTunes, Set Top Box

by Paul Strauss
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At today’s “It’s Showtime” event, Steve Jobs showed off a bunch of new iPod and iTunes features and products. Here’s the skinny on all the new stuff:

iPod Multimedia Games, Music, TV, Movies
    Games for the iPod:

  • To initially include: Bejeweled, Cubis 2, Mahjong, Mini golf, Pac-Man, Tetris, Texas Hold ‘Em, Vortex, and Zuma
  • $4 per game from the iTunes store
New iPods September 2006
    New iPod models:

  • iPod Video 30gb – $249
  • iPod Video 80gb – $349
  • 75% improvement to battery life and 60% brighter display with brightness control
  • iPod Nano 8gb – $249 (various colors)
  • iPod Nano 4gb – $199 (various colors, no black)
  • iPod Nano 2gb – $149 (silver only)
  • New colors, case design and up to 24 hour battery life for Nanos
  • iPod Shuffle 1gb – $79 (smaller than ever, metal case instead of plastic, super tiny!)
    iTunes 7

  • Available later today (9/12/2006)
  • New interface improvements
  • “List View” – traditional iTunes view
  • “Album View” – complete with album artwork
  • “Cover Flow View” – sorta like flipping through your CD rack
  • Free cover art downloads for any music in your collection
  • Separate views for each device
  • iPod updater integrated into iTunes now
  • iTunes TV: over 220 different shows from every major network
  • TV shows now encoded at 640×480 resolution using H.264 encoding (up from 320×240)
    Oh, and One More Thing… Movie Downloads

  • 75 films today, more coming weekly
  • Disney movies to start: Walt Disney, Pixar, Touchstone, Miramax
  • Older titles $9.99
  • New releases: $12.99 pre-order, $14.99 after release
  • Initially movies will be at “near DVD” quality (also 640×480 resolution), with a 5mb/sec broadband connection – 30 minutes to download a movie, can watch the movie as it downloads (on fast connections)
  • Dolby surround encoded audio (not sure which type)
  • Initially U.S. only, hoping for International in 2007
  • Future releases will be day-and-date with DVD releases
  • Movies to feature artist bios, cast lists, extras
    Oh, and One LAST Thing… Content on your TV
    Apple's iTV prototype

  • Apple’s long rumored Set Top Box in Q1 2007
  • Similar to a Mac Mini, but 50% of the size
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Codename “iTV” (likely will change)
  • Built-in Power Supply
  • USB, Ethernet, 802.11 “wireless component video”, optical audio, HDMI and RCA analog audio ports
  • Again “Close to DVD” quality
  • Works with PC or Mac iTunes
  • Will retail for $299

While we are disappointed to not see a the rumoured widescreen iPod today, the overall improvements to the iPod and iTunes line are pretty impressive. With the price/performance ratio continuing to improve on these devices, Apple should have a good shot at maintaining its market leadership in the media player sector. In addition, the “iTV” device slated for release in early 2007 looks like an interesting way to bridge the gap between iTunes and your TV. That all said, I’d really like to see if they can support HD content in the future.

[UPDATE: New iPod models available at the Apple Store now
New iTunes 7 available from Apple]

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