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Apple shines up TV, iPod lines

Doug Gross
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iPod Nano goes touch-screen
  • Apple updates Apple TV, slashes price to $99
  • iPod line gets what CEO Jobs calls its biggest overhaul ever
  • TV system will include Netflix integration, TV rentals, but only from Fox and ABC
  • iPod Touch will get video chat, other features resembling the iPhone 4

(CNN) -- A reworked line of iPods and a new, drastically cheaper, version of Apple TV are on the way.

Those announcements highlighted an entertainment-themed presentation by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday.

The event, in San Francisco, California, didn't produce any bombshell announcements that hadn't been widely anticipated in tech circles.

But the moves refresh one of Apple's most enduring products in advance of the holidays and renew its efforts in the emerging Internet television market.

Having failed to make much impact since it was released in 2007, Apple TV will get a dramatic price cut -- from $299 to $99 -- an offer new features like television show rentals for 99 cents.

"We've sold a lot of them, but it's never been a huge hit," Jobs said, noting that no one else has dominated the TV-computer integration space either. "Nothing's really hit in the living room yet."

The move pushesApple deeper into competition with current TV-integration devices like Roku and TiVo Premiere and looks to get a jump on Google TV, which is expected out this fall.

Only ABC and Fox have signed on for the 99-cent TV rentals, which will be commercial-free. Apple TV currently lets users buy TV shows for $2.99.

The new Apple TV also features Netflix integration, letting users stream online movies from the movie-rental site instantly.

The device is about one-quarter the size of the current Apple TV box. It will be available in about four weeks, Jobs said, and can be pre-ordered immediately.

After tweaking the iPod media-player line last year, Apple is completely reworking the devices this year.

"This year, we've gone wild," Jobs said at the company's annual music-heavy event, which featured a performance by Coldplay singer Chris Martin (whose daughter, incidentally, is named Apple).

"It's the biggest change in the iPod lineup ever."

Topping the list of changes is the iPod Touch, which, based on Jobs' description, will be remarkably close to an iPhone 4, but with no phone.

The new Touch will be thinner, with the same high-definition retina display as the iPhone 4, a front-facing camera that allows FaceTime video calling and a rear-mounted camera with HD video recording.

"It's also an iPhone without a contract," Jobs joked.

The Touch has become the most popular iPod and is also the world's most popular mobile video game device, he said.

The Touch will be available for $229 for an 8-gigabyte version, $299 for 32 gigabytes and $399 for the 64-gig model.

Jobs also unveiled a smaller version of the micro-sized iPod Shuffle, which combines several previous models to include control buttons and a voiceover tool to let users select playlists.

The Shuffle will sell for $49 and hold 15 hours of music, Jobs said.

The new iPod Nano will lose its current click wheel, going to an iPhone-like touchscreen system.

The Nano will be 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than the current model, making it small enough to clip on to the user's clothing like a Shuffle, Jobs said.

It will sell for $149 for an 8-gig version and $179 for a 16-gig version, Jobs said.

He made no mention of the iPod Classic, which still has more storage space than any other model.

The new iPods will be available for pre-order immediately and begin shipping next week, he said.

Jobs said Apple has sold 275 million iPods since they debuted in 2001.

Jobs also introduced iTunes 10, a new version of Apple's online store, which has a built-in social feature called Ping.

"It's Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," Jobs said of Ping, which will let users share songs, playlists and other content with their friends -- a concept that other music sites embraced a while ago.

Users also can follow updates from musical artists, as on Twitter, or create a "circle of friends" who may follow them. Ping also will be available on the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

iTunes 10 is free and available for immediate download, Jobs said.


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