Apple’s News Conference: “Completely Remastered”

Music gadget geeks (like us) have been dialed in to the 1 pm EST Apple news conference via Engadget’s live blogging exploits. Here’s the quick and dirty on how Apple plans on taking your money this holiday season:

First up, iPod. Looks like everyone was hoping for a video iPod (as distinct from an iPod with video — someone, please explain the difference?), but Apple had some hardware tweaks and cost cuts in mind instead; look for a 60% brighter screen, longer battery life (from 4.5 up to 6.5 hours on the big model), and price for the 30GB set at $249. This generation’s iPod also comes closer to our dream of triple digit memory with an 80GB model, clocking in at $349. In addition, we’re given a new text-based search feature (so those click-wheel thumb sprains will finally heal), gapless playback (for smooth segues in your favorite concept albums), and games for purchase (so you can get back to spraining those thumbs).

Next, Nano. The slogan for the new generation is “Completely Remastered” (see picture). They’re offering a new, aluminum-only, 1GB model (that’s even thinner than before) for $149; a 4GB at $200 (available in blue, green, black, pink); and a black-only 8GB at $250. And the Shuffle’s also launching a second generation, one with a built-in belt clip and, yes, an aluminum body (Reynolds Wrap inventory in grocery stores will be noticeably diminished for the remainder of ’06).

On to iTunes 7: The Movie Store! Jobs seemed enthused about the updates to his cash cow, bragging about its current position as #5 retailer of legal music (and poised to take #4 from Amazon soon); guess bringing movies to the fold was inevitable. The resolution on purchased flicks will be near-DVD quality and, though the initial catalog (from Disney-owned studios like Disney, Mirimax, Pixar, and Touchstone) will feature only 70 films, it’s sure to grow just like their TV show roster (from five to over two hundred within a year). The iTunes application itself will get some cosmetic upgrades but remain fundamentally unaltered. Says Engadget:

It’s the same but different — tidier, cleaner, more whitespace and more obvious organization of items. It’s as if design guru Jeff Bekes gave it a makeover.

And finally, the iTV video streaming box. It’s wireless, it’s like a flattened Mac mini, and it’s available in early ’07. The device enables you to stream your iTunes video content from your iTV to your television, via its “wirless component video.” (Finally! We are so sick of tripping on that DVD video-out wire.)

Expect Engadget to have some in-depth analysis of these products. Expect everyone to buy everything anyway.