Apple (opens in new tab) has given its iPod (opens in new tab) range a major overhaul this evening - a move that could kill of poorly specced rivals like the Microsoft Zune.
The biggest news of the night was the launch of the iPod touch (opens in new tab) - effectively an iPhone (opens in new tab) without the phone bits inside. Apple CEO Steve Jobs half-jokingly called it "one of the seven wonders of the world."
The iPod touch has the same 3.5-inch widescreen display as its cellular sibling, but measures 8mm thin. It also has built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and between 8GB and 16GB of storage depending on model. Pricing is set at £199 for the 8GB version and £269 for the 16GB version.
Battery life has been set at 22 hours for music, five hours for video.
iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store
Jobs also introduced the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store to accompany the iPod touch. You can access the Store direct from the iPod touch's interface simply by touching its icon on the front screen.
The iTunes Wi-Fi Store itself has just four buttons: Featured, Top Tens, Search and Downloads. Any songs you download can be synchronised back to iTunes the next time you're at your PC or Mac. You can also use your iPod to purchase songs from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store via the Starbucks coffee chain.
Jobs also announced a $200 (£100) price cut to the US-only 8GB Apple iPhone, bringing its price down to $399. The less popular 4GB version has been discontinued
Apple iPod nano
The other big news of the night was the introduction of a new iPod nano (opens in new tab). The new version will be shorter and wider than the current version, and will be available in five colours - black, white, green, blue and a Product [Red] version, some of the proceeds from which will go to AIDS charities in Africa,
The new model has a revamped user interface that includes Cover Flow, an all-metal body, video playback and games. Apple is even bundling three games for free, including one which Steve Jobs demonstrated called Vortex.
The new iPod nano also has a larger, brighter display, measuring 2-inches across. Steve Jobs says it has the highest pixel density of any display that Apple has shipped in an iPod.
The new iPod nano also has vastly improved battery life of up to 24 hours music playback and five hours video playback. The nano also has more storage - you can buy the 4GB version for £99, the 8GB version for £129.
However the iPod nano hasn't entirely replaced the 5.5G iPod. It's been revamped as the iPod classic (opens in new tab) which will now come in two flavours - one with an 80GB hard disk drive, and a second with 160GB - enough for 40,000 songs. Pricing and other details stack up like this:
- The iPod classic 80GB will have 30 hours of battery life with audio playback and 6 hours with video playback. It will be available for £159.
- The iPod classic 160GB version has 40 hours' battery life with audio playback and 7 hours with video playback. it will sell for £229.
Both now sport thinner, all metal case and will be available in both black and silver. There's no such thing as a white iPod anymore.
Apple iPod shuffle
The only real disappointment was the lack of any real change to the iPod shuffle (opens in new tab).
The new version merely gets a refresh with five new colours: Product [Red], plus silver, blue, turquoise and green models, All have 1GB capacity and are available for £49.
Ringtones and more
Steve Jobs says a new version of iTunes will be launched today. It will support all of the new iPods and add a new feature - the ability to download and create ringtones for the Apple iPhone. Ringtones cost 99 US cents each in addition to the cost of the song itself. There will be 500K participating songs from next week.
Jobs also said that 600 million copies of iTunes have been downloaded since launch, with over 3 billion songs and 95 million TV shows sold through the iTunes Store. He also said that the Store takes pole position in every one of the 21 countries in which it operates.