As expected, the biggest news with Apple's second-generation iPod Touch is its drastically reduced price. The 8GB version of the iPod Touch is now $229 (down from $299), the 16GB is $299 (down from $399), and the 32GB is $399 (down from $499).
The latest firmware for the iPod Touch (version 2.1) is available for both the first- and second-generation players, and adds support for on-device Genius playlist creation, Microsoft Exchange push e-mail, multi-language keyboard and dictionary support, MobileMe, multiple calendar management, contacts search, and a scientific calculator.
On the hardware end of things, we're happy to see that the new iPod Touch's lower price does not mean cut-rate construction. In fact, the new iPod Touch 2G feels sturdier and sexier than its predecessor, with a rounded chromed-steel backing that seamlessly wraps around the back and sides of the device much like the iPhone 3G. By popular demand, the iPod Touch 2G now includes a volume rocker switch just like its iPhone cousin, for making quick volume adjustments without fussing with the touch screen. A built-in speaker is also included, concealed within the body of the Touch.
Just like the iPod Nano 4G and iPod Classic 2G, the second-gen Touch now accepts microphone input through its headphone jack, by way of compatible iPod accessories such as the newly announced Apple In-Ear headphones. That may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but when you add in the iPod Touch's built-in speaker and App store compatibility, the Touch is starting to look like a ripe platform for VoIP communication over Wi-Fi. Time will tell.
Apple has also bundled Nike+ hardware and software directly into the iPod Touch 2G, leaving you to only need the Nike in-shoe transmitter hardware to activate the feature.
Apple rates the new iPod Touch at 36 hours for music (up from the first-gen's 22 hours) and 6 hours of video (unchanged), although mileage will vary based on screen brightness and Wi-Fi usage.