September's annual iPod announcement was met by the usual hoopla as Steve Jobs ushered in new Shuffle colors, an updated iPod Classic capacity list, redesigned fourth-generation iPod Nanos, and a minimal iPod Touch price reduction. Check out photos and more details in this slide show.
There's one less hard-drive player in this world. Apple decided to keep the iPod Classic around, but the player will no longer be offered in two storage options. For those in need of an ultra-high-capacity device, the Classic will be offered with 120GB at a slim 0.41 inch (the same depth as the now-defunct 80GB version).
You can still get the Classic in a choice of two colors: silver or "graphite" (aka black). The player will be available for $249, which is the same price point at which the 80GB version started. Features remain largely the same, except Apple has added voice-recording capability via a mic built into the cable of the headphones. This new functionality will not, however, be offered as a firmware update to the previous model.
Apple has also returned to the seamless aluminum casing the wraps entirely around the player from the face to the rear. As with all iPods, custom engraving on the back is offered for free at check out if you purchase directly from the Apple Store.
By far the most noticeable changes comes to the iPod Nano, now in its fourth generation. Apparently, Apple thought better of the short and squat design and has lengthened the player back to the height of the 2G.
Apple also updated the iPod Nano's interface to match that found on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It uses the Cover Flow navigation, and has an accelerometer that automatically switches the screen orientation based on how you're holding the player.
The new Nano also has Genius, a new autoplaylist feature debuted in iTunes 8, built right in. With a few clicks, you can have the player create a playlist for you based on one song of your choosing. The lists are assembled based on song data gathered with iTunes.
The 4G iPod Nano is offered in a startling array of colors--nine of them, to be exact, all as brightly hued as the Shuffle. As with the Classic, there are silver and graphite versions, but with black Click Wheels on both. White wheels adorn the pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple models.
The iPod Shuffle enjoyed a minor refresh with a new paint job. The player will now be offered in five bright color options: silver, blue, green, red, and pink. We rather preferred the previous model's pastel hues, but to each his own.
Other than the color update, the design of the Shuffle is exactly the same: ultracompact with no screen and a built-in clip making it suitable for the gym. The player is available with 1GB for $49 or 2GB for $69.
Surprisingly, the price drops were not the only changes. Apple is putting out an entirely new Touch that is slightly thicker than the previous model and includes built-in volume controls. We're more than happy to accept that extra 0.02 inch if it means we get dedicated volume.
Changes to the iPod Touch were minor--too minor, some might say. Although Apple did drop the price on the player as expected, the drops were not as significant as some people were hoping: the 8GB version is $229, the 16GB is $299, and the 32GB is $399.