In one of its trademark media events in San Jose on 12-Oct-05, Apple Computer took the wraps off its new fifth-generation video-capable iPod and a new, slimmer iMac with an integrated iSight video camera and new Front Row media software.
First, Apple's fifth-generation iPod sports a 2.5-inch LCD screen which, like previous color iPods, can display album art and photographs, but can also play video, including music videos, television episodes, video podcasts, and home movies. The new iPods are available in 30 GB and 60 GB capacities at $300 and $400, respectively: Apple says the 60 GB model can hold up to 150 hours of video. The new iPods are also slimmer than their now bulky-seeming predecessors: the 30 GB model measures 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.43 inches (104 by 61 by 11 mm) while the 60 GB model is just slightly thicker at 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.55 inches (104 by 61 by 14 mm). The new iPods will be available from Apple this week in both white and the highly popular black.
Like previous iPods, the new fifth-generation portable player works with both Mac OS X and Windows XP; video and other content is synchronized to the iPod from the user's computer via iTunes 6, also announced (see "iTunes 6 Gets Video," elsewhere in this issue). Apple says the new 60 GB iPods get up to 20 hours of battery life playing music, while the 30 GB models play tunes for up to 14 hours. Video and slideshow playback is more costly, however: the 60 GB model can play 4 hours of slides or 3 hours of video, while the 30 GB model conks out after 3 hours of slides or 2 hours of video. The iPods feature a stereo minijack for headphones, a Dock connector enabling USB 2.0 connections to a host computer, and (most intriguingly) composite video and audio output through the minijack, enabling users to play iPod-stored video on a television or other video device with a special AV cable. A separate Universal Dock accessory supports S-video. Missing from the new iPods? FireWire. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you'll want a Mac with USB 2.0 to load music, podcasts, video, and other content onto a new iPod.
Not to be lost in the (ahem) shuffle, Apple also showed off a new, slimmer iMac G5, sporting either a 17- or 20-inch LCD screen, an integrated iSight video camera, and new Front Row media software which can play music and videos from your iTunes collection, show slides of iPhoto images, or play home video - all from any nearby seat, via an included remote control that features an (ahem) familiar-looking click wheel design. Although Front Row offers easy access to media stored on the iMac, it's almost more interesting to say what Front Row is not: a personal video recorder or media server. Front Row does not turn a Mac into a TiVo-like personal video recorder, nor does it manage distribution and access to media across a network.
Clearly aimed more at the dorm room than the home theater, the iMac G5 faetures a familiar set of specifications and features: either a 1.9 or 2.1 GHz PowerPC G5 processor, 512 MB of RAM (expandable up to 2.5 GB), a 160 or 250 GB hard disk, an 8x SuperDrive, an ATI Radeon X600 Pro or X600 Pro XT graphics controllers, two FireWire 400 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, two USB 1.1 ports, and VGA out, plus S-Video and composite video out (via a separate adapter). The iMac G5s also sport Gigabit Ethernet, AirPort Extreme, built-in Bluetooth, built-in stereo speakers, a built-in mic, headphone/optical audio output, and audio line in. Notably missing is a built-in modem, although you can add an external USB modem for $50 if you're forced to use a dial-up Internet connection or wish to send and receive faxes.
New to the iMac equation is the built-in iSight video camera, suitable for video conferencing via iChat AV, or for creating your own home movies and video podcasts. A new application called Photo Booth turns the iMac into... well, a photo booth. The new iMacs also sport Apple's multi-button Mighty Mouse, making the new iMac G5 the first Macintosh in history to ship with a multi-button mouse by default. It appears that the single-button Apple Mouse is on its way out, given that the Mighty Mouse and the Bluetooth-based Apple Wireless Mouse are the only pointing devices now available separately.
The new iMac G5 models are available starting this week; pricing ranges from $1,300 for the 17-inch, 1.9 GHz version to $1,700 for the 20-inch, 2.1 GHz version, with several build-to-order options available.