Apple has announced a new £209 20GB iPod with a colour screen to replace the noncolour version. Essentially an iPod Photo, Apple has dropped the last part of the name on both this and the 60GB models and will no longer sell the 30GB version. Apple has also added a colour screen to the black-and-red 20GB iPod U2 Special Edition and has dropped its price to £229.
So, as we predicted, the entire high-capacity iPod line is available with only the photo-friendly colour screen. Apple has simultaneously made available iTunes 4.9, which features a built-in podcasting directory that uses the same graphically rich format as iTunes Music Store. This robust feature makes browsing for and downloading podcasts a cinch. In related news, the company has dropped the price of the 1GB iPod Shuffle to £89.
If you've tinkered with an iPod Photo, you know what this new 20GB version offers. It features a 51mm (2-inch), 65,000-colour LCD that supports digital photo browsing (as tiny thumbnails or in full screen), direct digital photo upload with the optional Camera Connector and an aesthetically pleasing colour interface that's compatible with album art. At 61 by 104 by 19mm and 181g, it's exactly the same size as the discontinued 30GB version and a tad thicker and heavier than the noncolour 20GB version.
Battery life is rated for 15 hours and will probably be more in our upcoming tests -- an appreciable improvement over the rated 12 hours of the noncolour version. Finally, the newest iPods include a Podcasts menu option and a convenient bookmarking feature that allows users to return to a specific point in a podcast; older iPods can make do with a firmware update. Basically, at the same £209 price, the new 20GB version with its colour screen and improved battery life is decidedly more attractive than the noncolour version.
The short-lived 30GB iPod Photo is now available from third-party retailers only. The heart of the iPod franchise -- its simplicity and good looks -- has been maintained, but we're still waiting for long-desired features such as a built-in FM radio, audio recording and even video support. Also, one would think that Apple could truly empower the masses with a cheaper black-and-white version of the 20GB iPod, but that would throw a wrench in the strategic and incremental iPod pricing scheme (the 4GB iPod Mini is available for £139).
While this iPod update isn't major, it brings all models of the flagship Apple player up to the same level of sophistication. Next up: colour screens on the iPod Mini. Along with the podcast-friendly iTunes 4.9, the iPod franchise is a one step closer to what we see as the inevitable addition of video features.
Additional editing by Nick Hide