Following a weekend trickling out of initial product details, Apple Computer has this morning officially premiered a “remixed” fourth-generation (4G) iPod on its web site. Confirming initial reports, the 4G iPod offers 12 hours of battery life and, while available in two familiar capacities, has dropped in price: 20 gigabytes ($299) and 40 gigabytes ($399). No 15 gigabyte version is available, nor is any size larger than 40 gigabytes. The 4G iPod also features a gray and white plastic Click Wheel controller (see iLounge Backstage for additional discussion), the familiar black and white backlit two-inch screen, Apple’s proprietary Dock Connector on the bottom, and the Signature iPod white and chrome case design familiar from prior high-capacity iPod hardware.
Contrary to initial reports, however, the 4G iPod’s body has not changed dramatically in size: the 20GB unit measures 4.1″x2.4″x0.57” and weighs 5.6 oz., while the 40GB unit measures 4.1″x2.4″x0.69” and weighs 6.2 oz.
But iPod packages have changed, generally for the better: each iPod now includes a USB 2.0 cable, removing a separate but frequently necessary $19 purchase for 3G iPod consumers. However, only the 40GB iPod includes a new Dock ($39, new part number M9602G/A)
, wired Remote ($39), and carrying case ($39); the 20GB iPod loses these optional accessories.
The 4G iPods are the beneficiaries of additional firmware features, as well. Version 3.0 of the iPod’s firmware allows multiple on-the-go playlists to be created and audiobook playback speed (faster/slower) to be adjusted – but apparently not other audio. Menus have also changed slightly to create easier access to certain key features, including shuffled playback, and Apple’s site lists another new feature: “Clicker playback through headphones,” which lets users optionally hear their Click Wheel adjustments through headphones.
Additional languages have also been added to the iPod, however, game and other menu offerings remain the same as before. Packed-in software also remains largely the same: the 4G iPod ships with the current (4.6) version of iTunes.
Apple claims immediate availability of the new iPod, and Hewlett-Packard has confirmed that its HP-branded version of the iPod will be based upon the fourth-generation design, and available in September. As of the time of this article’s publication, Apple’s online store currently shows 1-2 business day availability for the new iPod, and international orders are being taken. Free laser engraving is also available.