There's no getting around the fact: Apple's iPod line - last updated a year ago - was in dire need of a refresh heading into this week's press event in San Francisco. And Apple provided that refresh in spades, updating all its existing iPod offerings and adding a new music player to the mix.

That newcomer, the iPod touch, is the subject of its own profile elsewhere on this site. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the changes and enhancements to the existing iPod video, which has been renamed the iPod classic.

If previous versions of the full-size and nano iPods were defined largely by how they differed, the new iPod nano and iPod classic - Apple's official new name for the full-size iPod line - are perhaps most notable for the ways in which they are similar.

The new iPod classic gains the nano's black or silver anodised-metal casing - at least on the front; the back is still shiny metal. This should make the classic's face less scratch-prone, although the combination of anodized metal on the front and shiny metal on the back looks a bit odd at first. (The classic's headphone jack remains on the top edge. However, it appears that you can no longer output composite video through this jack using Apple's iPod AV cable; you need to go through the dock-connector port using Apple's new Component AV Cable or Composite AV Cable, or a dock cradle that supports video.)

The iPod classic gets a smidge thinner than its predecessors, despite featuring considerably more storage capacity: the new 80GB model is 11mm thick and the ginormous 160GB version is just 14mm thick. On the other hand, the new iPod classic models are imperceptibly heavier.

The iPod classic’s screen is the same 2.5in, 320x240-pixel version found on the previous model, but battery life is improved significantly. The smaller model’s battery life jumps from 14 hours of music playback or 3.5 hours of video to 30 hours of audio or 5 hours of video; the cavernous 160GB model gets 40 hours of audio playback or 7 hours of video (compared to 20 or 6 respectively for the previous 80GB iPod).


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