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Apple colour-screen 'PhotoPod' said to be in production

60GB iPod with iPhoto support, apparently

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The iPod looks set to make a further step into PDA territory if claims that Apple is preparing a 60GB model equipped with a 2in colour display and iPhoto synchronisation prove correct.

"Highly reliable" sources cited by ThinkSecret claim that the new model is currently in production, presumably for a pre-Christmas introduction, and will make photo viewing a key feature.

The new machine is said to be based on Toshiba's recently announced 1.8in 60GB hard drive, but that was always a logical move given Apple's long-time partnership with Toshiba for iPod hard drives. The colour screen is more interesting, since it's somewhat contrary to one of the iPod's key selling points: its simplicity.

However, as PDA makers like PalmOne discovered, going colour may not be the best move, but if your competitors are doing it and the public wants it, what can you do but follow? Sony's soon-to-be-released Vaio VFG-AP1 player sports a colour display, as do upcoming products from iRiver, not to mention items like Creative's Portable Media Center.

And if you're going to do a colour screen, you need to do something with it. Apple's iPod chip partner, PortalPlayer, announced support for image formats almost a year ago, so the platform is ready for storing and browsing photos. Video is also a possibility, but Apple's oft-stated belief that the time isn't right for mobile video makes that less likely. Expect it to show album art.

The device will tie in to Apple's iPhoto software, which currently only runs on Mac OS X. Will the new machine, like the original iPod, remain a Mac-only product, or does Apple have iPhoto for Windows ready to launch?

A new version of Apple's iLife package is expected early next year, so there's certainly an updated version of iPhoto on the way. Mac OS X 10.4 is believed to be scheduled for shipment in the same timeframe. The new iPod may used 'Tiger's' integrated device synchronisation engine - what is today the standalone iSync - for iPhoto transfers.

ThinkSecret's sources claim the new iPod will sport audio/video out ports, but it's not clear whether that's in the player, its docking cradle or both. Together, the whole package will retail for a premium $499, the sources say - $100 more than the 40GB monochrome model. ®

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