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Apple has launched its annual buy-a-Mac, get-an-iPod Back to School program in the US, and confirmed to The Reg that the same program will be available in the UK from Thursday, May 28.

The offer is open to college students and faculty and staff members at all grade levels. To get in on the giveway, qualifying folks will need to buy an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro (no Mac minis, sorry) and an iPod at the same time, then apply for a reimbursement of the iPod's purchase price. The full collection of fine print can be found here (PDF).

Last year the featured freebie was the iPod nano. This year the spotlighted item is the iPod touch. If you'd prefer a different 'Pod, though, you're covered - but only partly, in some cases. Here are the reimbursement amounts for the iPod family:

  • iPod touch: $229
  • iPod classic 120GB: $229
  • iPod nano 16GB: $199
  • iPod nano 8GB: $149
  • iPod shuffle 4GB: $79

Sharp-eyed 'Pod people will notice that the 120GB iPod classic retails for $249, and that the iPod touch rebate covers the full price of only the 8GB model - the 16GB touch comes in at $299, and the 32GB version a hefty $399.

In addition to Wednesday's Back-to-School announcement, Cupertino also added a tiny "new" sticker to its online store's listing of the $999 white polycarbonate MacBook. A quick comparison of the new MacBook with the specs of its January 2009 predecessor - don't have the spec-hound's favorite app, Mactracker? You should - shows the following upgrades:

  • Core 2 Duo: from 2.0GHz to 2.13GHz
  • Hard drive: from 120GB to 160GB
  • RAM speed: from 667MHz to 800MHz

Nothing earth-shaking, to be sure - but for $999, whitey now has a faster processor than the $1,299 aluminum "unibody" MacBook, which clocks in at 2.0GHz.

However, the polycarbonate MacBook has a SATA bus that's 1.5Gbps and not 3Gbps as in the aluminum MacBook, battery life is rated at 4.5 hours not 5 hours, SDRAM speed is 800MHz not 1066MHz, and has a traditionally lit display and not the LED-lit one on the unibody 'Book.

As they say, you pays your money and you makes your choice - and if you make that choice before September 8, you can also get yourself up to $229 worth of free iPod. ®

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