As was widely predicted, Apple updated the iPod line today, introducing a second model of iPod mini with a 6 GB capacity, enough for 1500 songs. Battery life has been more than doubled, to an estimated 18 hours. Pricing remains at $249 for the top-of-the-line mini, but the 4 GB model has been retained at the very attractive price of $199. The iPod photo was also refreshed, with a new 30 GB model debuting at $349 and the 60 GB model cut in cost from $599 to $449. A digital camera connector accessory (a $29 add-on) is coming next month, allowing direct transfers of digital photos from a camera to the iPod. This new feature, along with the price cut, makes it easier to bear the news that Apple has entirely discontinued all 40 GB iPods, which were an excellent mid-range choice. Also discontinued was the so-called “gold” iPod mini, causing much weeping and gnashing of teeth among Apple’s MC Hammer demographic.
The new 60 GB photo model is still thicker than the now-discontinued 40 GB iPod “4G,” which means the accessories that didn’t work with the previous iPod photo will remain incompatible, and that third-party accessory manufacturers will need to keep making a separate accessory line for the top-of-the-line iPod. Apple has also partially forsaken FireWire on the iPod photo, choosing to include only a USB 2.0 cable. The iPod photo also no longer ships with a dock, AV cable, or carrying case, so to get a 60 GB iPod photo that is feature-equivalent to the original, your accessories tab at the Apple Store will run you $77 plus whatever you spend for the case. This is an important point, as Apple doesn’t offer a case for the 60 GB iPod photo, and most third-party cases are designed for the smaller previous-generation 40 GB model. In short, the real price cut here is more like $50, not $150.
The iPod mini has also lost two accessories. The AC adapter is now optional, with standard charging provided only through USB. Using your mini over FireWire will now cost an extra $19, and charging it away from a computer will run you $29, nearly wiping out the price cut for the 4 GB mini. Of course, the double battery life is probably more than worth it.
The mini accessories line has been updated as well, with a lanyard and armband making their debut. Armbands are available in blue, pink, black, orange, yellow, and grey — more of a silver, really — while the lanyard had not, at press time, shown up on the Apple Store. (Only a grey version is shown on the iPod mini page.) The armband is $29; there’s still no word on the lanyard’s pricing, but $19 seems like a logical price point.
Finally, Apple has at long last deigned to bring the (in)famous Shuffle feature to the main menu of every iPod ever made. A new firmware update provides a host of new features for all but the most recent 4G iPods. Best of all, it’s free.