Video playback capability in the iPod has been rumored for years, and now it's finally a reality. At the same price as the previous generation of iPods, the new models, available in black and white, arrive just a short while after the Nano so as to allow Nano enough time to sell a gazillion units. You can check it the latest iPod in its new television ad featuring U2. I can't imagine watching an entire television show on such a tiny screen, but music videos? Perhaps. If you put the iPod in the dock, you can control it via the new Apple remote control, and the dock allows you to output composite video and RCA audio to a television/receiver/monitor.
You can purchase television shows from iTunes to sync to your iPod, or you can use Quicktime 7 Pro to export your own video content to iTunes for transfer to the iPod. I can see carrying around some footage of my nephews.
More interesting to me was to see what the pricing for video content would be. iTunes is offering music videos and individual episodes of TV shows like Lost for $1.99. The Lost Season 1 DVD, which contains 24 episodes, costs $38.99 from Amazon.com, or about $1.60 an episode. So the Apple TV show pricing feels about right, with a slight premium to the volume pricing of the DVD. You can't burn the shows to DVD or CD. You have to watch them on your computer or an iPod.
The episodes of Lost being offered are the three most recent ones, and future episodes will appear in iTunes a day after they're aired. Is there a window after which these won't be for sale, or will they be available in perpetuity? Also, how much does ABC keep of every $1.99 sale?
Meanwhile, DVR manufacturers are talking about a day not so far in the future when hard drive space is so cheap that DVRs will just tape every hour of TV so you can watch any show on demand, without programming the device. Enterprising geeks already trade television shows through their computer using Bittorrent. Someday soon, all media, from music to movies to television shows, will be available on demand. If the networks and studios band together, they might be the ones collecting on this traffic, but as slow as they move, it seems unlikely. With just five television shows offered in this latest rev of iTunes (Desperate Housewives and Night Stalker are the other two ABC offerings), ABC/Disney is the only studio testing these waters, and they're just dipping their toes in with caution. This meager offering is most certainly the choice of the networks, not of Apple.