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Apple's iPod family refreshed

Shuffle, Nano and Touch  beefed up; new features point to convergence of music, movies and communication.


Apple has announced India prices for  new editions of its iPod family members, simultaneously with the global launch on September 9.  We   introduce you to  three different iPods at one go, because we believe there is a message in  the way Apple has been beefing  up  ( or not in one case) the specs of these   flagship products in its personal entertainment  lineup.  The message is  this: The era of stand-alone music players, movie players, movie recorders, web browsers  is over.   Customers are not going to pay three times if they need three  functions on the move. They will look to industry to bundle all of them under the hood of one device... to change brands


Apple has  got the message, faster than many others and this month's new lineup is first proof.


The cheapest iPod is the Shuffle, ' the world's smallest music player'  and the new pricing is Rs 3700 for  the 2 GB version, Rs 4800 for the 4 GB. These in our opinion,  represent the last gasp of the  stand alone  music player. The Shuffle's main USP is its size. We're betting customers will  soon say 'gimme more features, even if  they  weighs more'.


The biggest enhancement is reserved for the iPod Nano, which now comes with  a  larger ( 2.2 inch)  screen, an FM  radio and a build-in video camera.  The camera adds a new dimension to music players -- and is possibly a nod at  customers' need to  leverage such Web places like Youtube or Facebook, by sharing video grabs from where ever they happen to be and whatever they happen to be doing.  The new Nano allows you to mix-n-match  your iTunes downloads using the Genius Mix feature.  The 8 GB Nano costs  Rs 9400, while the 16 GB version is priced at Rs 11,200


The iPod Touch family  with Apple's touch-based controls comes with a large 3.5 inch screen, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth  -- and good speakers for its size.  The  8GB Touch is Rs 12,400, while the  32 GB  costs Rs 18,400 and the top-of-the-line 64 GB model will set you back  Rs 24,400.   It also includes the iPhone's  "Cut, copy, paste" software as well as the ability to work in landscape and portrait orientations. This is the closest an IPod gets to a pocket PC and  the keypad works for Mail, Notes and the Safari browser.


What the new Touch lacks is a camera.  Steve Jobs  explained this by saying the Touch was   not for pix, but for games.  Experts who have been sneaking inside the device, report that a definite niche  has been left vacant on the board, suggesting that a camera could be part of Apple's  next Touch avatar. Also, the chip used to power the 32 GB and 64 GB versions  has the  unused ability to upgrade  the speed of the Wifi from the current 802.11 b/g to   the  zippier 802.11n.


So that's it from Apple this time. Always a wee bit above the asking price of other players of similar functionality, but hardcore fans won't be complaining as  they lap up the new features.


Anand Parthasarathy, September  14 2009