Apple Unveils Photo IPod

SAN FRANCISCO -- At a special music event featuring Bono and The Edge from rock group U2 held here this week, Apple Computer took the wraps off the IPod Photo, a color IPod available in 40GB or 60GB storage capacities.

The company also introduced the IPod U2 Special Edition, Apple's 20GB player clad in black, equipped with a red Click Wheel and featuring engraved U2 band member signatures. The IPod Photo is available immediately, and Apple expects the IPod U2 Special Edition to ship in mid-November.

In Living Color

The IPod Photo looks identical to its music playing-only cousin, but it uses a 220x176-pixel resolution color screen capable of displaying 65,536 colors.

Apple's Auto-Sync technology, built into ITunes, makes sure that the IPod is playing the same music as ITunes, but it has been extended also to support the IPhoto software included as part of Apple's ILife application suite--included on all shipping Macs and available for purchase separately. For Windows users, Auto-Sync supports Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album, or the user's "My Pictures" folder. The new photo syncing capability is supported by a new release of ITunes, version 4.7.

The IPod Photo can display 25 color photo thumbnails at a time, and lets users scroll through their photos the same way they scroll through their music playlists. An included AV cable enables the IPod to connect directly to a TV or video projector as well--the IPod will even format the photos depending on whether your set uses the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio or the 16:9 format preferred by newer widescreen sets.

Apple also claims the IPod Photo sports longer battery life than previous models--the company says IPod Photo can play music for up to 15 hours continuously, or up to 5 hours while showing photo slideshows.

Available now in 40GB and 60GB capacities, the IPod Photo costs $499 and $599 respectively.

ITunes Updated

In addition to the ability to copy and synchronize photos, ITunes 4.7 sports a few other changes of interest to users who don't have an IPod Photo. The new release of ITunes, available for download from Apple's Web site, now sports the ability to show duplicate songs in your library. Other performance improvements have been made as well.

Apple also took the wraps off the IPod U2 Special Edition, to celebrate the company's promotional partnership with the legendary rock band. The 20GB IPod U2 will ship in mid-November for $349, and sports a black case equipped with a red Click wheel. On the back are custom engravings of U2 band member signatures.

It's the latest promotional effort between Apple and U2; earlier this month Apple began televising spots featuring U2 in one of Apple's signature silhouette ads, playing "Vertigo," the first single off U2's forthcoming album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," which will be released in late November.

Apple also announced plans to offer a "Digital Box Set," which the company claims is a first in the online music industry. "The Complete U2" will feature more than 400 tracks from U2, including all of the band's albums and more than 25 rare and unreleased tracks. It will be released on the ITunes Music Store in the US and Europe beginning in late November for $149. What's more, the IPod U2 Special Edition includes an ITunes Music Store coupon that users can redeem for $50 off the "The Complete U2.

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