Apple opens movie store, launches new iPods

As expected, Apple has added movie downloads to its iTunes store today. The company is offering more than 75 movie titles to begin with, all of which are from Disney and Disney-owned studios including Pixar, Touchstone, and Miramax. Pricing for “library” titles is fixed at $9.99, while new releases will cost $12.99 for the first week and $14.99 thereafter. TV shows on iTunes have so far been available at a resolution of just 320×240, but Apple has now cranked the resolution up to 640×480 for both shows and the new movies. The iTunes movie store is launching in the U.S. today, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs says he hopes to have the service go international next year.

Apple didn’t accompany the movie store’s launch with the rumored wide-screen iPods, but the iPod line has nevertheless enjoyed a refresh. Full-sized iPods have had their prices cut to $249 and $349, and capacity for the pricier model is up from 60GB to 80GB. The new iPods feature gapless playback, instant search, new earphones, a 60% brighter screen, and longer battery life (up to 20 hours of audio, up to 6.5 hours of video) than their predecessors. Meanwhile, the iPod nano has received a retro makeover and now sports a multi-colored aluminium finish similar to the old iPod mini’s. Capacities for the new nanos have doubled to 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB, battery life is up 10 hours to 24 hours, and prices are still $149, $199, and $249.

Last, but not least, Jobs had a second “one more thing” after the movie store announcement: a sneak preview of the “iTV,” a set-top box that will allow users to stream movies and TV shows from their computer to their TV wirelessly. iTV is not the final product name, but the device is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2007 at $299. It will feature built-in Wi-Fi, USB2.0, Ethernet, both HDMI and component video outputs, and both analog and optical audio outputs.

Complete coverage Apple’s new product launches and announcements is available at MacWorld.

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