New iPods vs. Old: Specs, Design Reveal Big Improvements

New iPods vs. Old: Big Improvements
Apple on Wednesday unveiled what CEO Steve Jobs called Apple's "biggest change in the iPod lineup ever." The newly released iPods are available for pre-order now and start shipping next week. New iPods include a smaller iPod Nano featuring a multitouch screen and a throwback iPod Shuffle featuring physical playback controls on the device. Apple also debuted a new iPod Touch featuring back- and front-facing cameras and FaceTime video calling.

While there are all kinds of new features in Apple's redesigned iPod lineup, there are also a few tradeoffs from previous iPod iterations. Here we compare the specs of the last generation of iPods with those announced Wednesday.

As soon as PC World gets the actual iPods to test we will get back to you with formal comparisons based on testing - not technical specification. In the meantime, here is a quick comparison between the new iPods and their most recent predecessors.

iPod Touch vs. iPod Touch

The fourth-generation iPod Touch is closer to being an "iPhone without the phone" than ever before. The new iPod Touch has all kinds of iPhone 4 features including a front-facing camera for FaceTime, and a rear camera for capturing still images and 720p high-definition video. The new iPod Touch also sports the iPhone's A4 processor, the new Retina Display with an image density of 326 pixels-per-inch, and a 3-axis gyroscope for improved gameplay. (Click here to view the comparison chart)

*Advertised Battery Life (Click to Zoom)
But early impressions indicate the iPod Touch's camera is seriously crippled compared to the iPhone 4. For example, the new iPod Touch camera can capture 960 x 720 pixel images, while the iPhone 4 can take 1936 x 2592 px images.

As for the third-generation iPod Touch, its successor is miles ahead in several areas. The new iPod Touch has 960 x 640 px resolution, while generation three has half that at 480 x 320 px. The new iPod sports Apple's 1Ghz A4 processor, while the older iPod Touch's processor speed was estimated to be about 600MHz, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

The new Touch is a little bit taller at 4.4 inches versus generation three's 4.3 inches. But Apple was able to shave 0.05 of an inch off the new Touch's profile bringing it down to 0.28 of an inch. The new Touch also drops almost half an ounce of weight down to 3.56 ounces from generation three's 4.05 ounces.

If you're interested in the 8GB iPod Touch then the new version will cost you a little bit extra at $229 versus the previous price tag of $199. Pricing for the other Touch versions remains the same at $299 (32GB) and $399 (64GB).

iPod Nano vs. iPod Nano

*Advertised Battery Life (Click to Zoom)
The iPod Touch may have some new internal hardware components, but the new iPod Nano is hands down Apple's most radical design change this year. The sixth-generation iPod Nano has lost the rear-facing camera introduced in 2009. The new Nano has also lost more than half of the previous generation's size shrinking down to 1.48 inches tall versus the old Nano's 3.6-inches. (Click here to view the comparison chart)

But what the new iPod Nano loses in camera functionality and size it gains in the Nano's first multitouch screen with 240 x 240 px resolution. The new display is much smaller than generation five at 1.54-inches (diagonal) versus 2.2-inches. But the new Nano makes up for the smaller screen with improved 220-ppi density over the previous Nano's 204 ppi. Pricing remains the same.

iPod Shuffle vs. iPod Shuffle

*Advertised Battery Life (Click to Zoom)
Apple's third-generation Shuffle released in early 2009 was somewhat controversial since Apple removed virtually every physical control off the device. Instead of the Shuffle's familiar playback button, controls were integrated into the headphones. For 2010, however, Apple has returned to the more familiar look of the Shuffle returning the large physical playback button to the front of the device.

As for size, the new Shuffle has shrunk down in height from 1.8 inches in generation three to 1.14 inches in generation four. But the new Shuffle is a little bit heavier at nearly half an ounce, while the lightest version of the previous Shuffle weighed in at 0.38 of an ounce. The new Shuffle also gets a bump in battery life claims up from 10 hours in generation three to 15 hours in generation four. (Click here to view the comparison chart)

Pricing for the previous Shuffle was $59 for 2GB and $79 for 4GB. Apple has dropped the 4GB version, and is now offering only the 2GB Shuffle at $49.

You may have noticed that Apple left the iPod Classic out of its iPod revamp, but don't worry Classic fans Apple is still selling the device. The Classic may be an old design, but it is still king when it comes to storage offering 160GB over the iPod Touch's maximum of 64GB.

So Classic lives on to fight another day, and has avoided the discontinued bin once again. Nevertheless, it may be only a matter of time before the iPod Touch can match the Classic's storage capacity. When that happens it could mean the end of the Classic and its aging clickwheel interface.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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