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iPod Mini to 'drop hard drive, gain colour display'

Flash storage instead, and plenty of it

Apple's iPod Mini is to gain a colour display but lose its hard drive in a major, post-ROKR shake-up of the Mac maker's music player line-up.

So claims website Think Secret citing a variety of moles.

Like the iPod Shuffle, the Mini will gain Flash storage in place of the hard drive, though its capacity will not be reduced. Instead, it will be relaunched in 4GB, 6GB and 8GB versions. With no hard disk, battery life is likely to be significantly better than the Mini achieves today, though the move to a 1.5in colour display could counter that. The new release will also be smaller, but the general design - display above clickwheel - is expected to remain the same.

Interestingly, Think Secret's description of the Flash-based Mini is not unlike one received of a Flash-based iPod late last year, just before the Shuffle was announced. With the Shuffle presented to the public, we discounted the rumour. We were told the devices was essentially a credit card-sized Mini, complete with display and clickwheel.

The claim ties into recent reports that Apple has been buying significant quantities of Flash chips, thus far expected to form the basis for higher-capacity Shuffles.

According to Think Secret, the Shuffle line will expand to 2GB, but Apple will continue to offer the 512MB and 1GB versions, though at lower prices. The 2GB unit is said to be scheduled to ship for $129-149, with the 512MB Shuffle falling to $69 and the 1GB model dropping to $99.

The Flash Minis are said to be pegged at $199, $249 and $299, respectively.

The report comes just days after Hitachi, which has supplied iPod Mini hard disks to date, announced smaller sized, higher capacity 1in hard drives, due to ship in volume in the updated iPod Mini's anticipated shipment window. Seagate also supplies Apple with Mini hard drives, it is believed.

Think Secret's sources claim the 'ROKR' iTunes phone's two versions will contain 256MB of memory and 512MB, halfway between reports of 128MB of RAM, and 512MB and 1GB. ®

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