Apple Press Conference: iPods, iTunes, HD–Oh, My!

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely plan on shelling out $400+ I don’t have on a product that I don’t need and is guaranteed to be aesthetically obsolete (aka uncool) this time next year. OK, better yet, this particular purchase is out of my control!

But enough about the newly updated, cheaper iPod Touch, which was just one big announcement made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday in San Francisco at his now-annual September press conference–er, blogger conference. (The kazillionaire started off with some morbid humor, addressing the rampant speculation on his poor health: “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” That’s funnier than the entire Jerry Seinfeld/Bill Gates Microsoft commercial!)

There were other bombshells dropped on Tuesday (although sadly nothing about the rumored updates to Apple’s laptop line; that announcement seems certain to come in time for the holidays, however): In addition to an update and price decrease for the entire line of iPods–except for the Shuffle–arguably the biggest buzz was over the release of iTunes 8, which kicked off the proceedings.

Nifty new features include the rather arrogantly named Genius, which automatically creates playlists based on your musical tastes, among loads of other functions. Jobs also announced that Apple and NBC had struck a deal and iTunes would once again be selling episodes from NBC and its network-affiliated shows (i.e., USA, Bravo and Sci-Fi Channel series). But the coolest, most future-foretelling part about the new and improved iTunes would have to be the availability of several shows in HD.

There are only a handful of shows and episodes ready for purchase right now, and it’s most practical for those people with Apple TV who can stream their iTunes downloads to their HD-capable TV–but still, a huge, albeit surprisingly late, step in the right direction.

Some of the shows now available to download in HD (at $2.99 per episode) are: Lost (season 4); Dexter (seasons 1 and 2); Ugly Betty (season 2); House (season 4); and The Office (seasons 1,2 and 3).

Many more are sure to come, but here are some that’d look especially great in HD: Chuck, Prison BreakTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesPushing Daisies and Friday Night Lights.

So, what do you make of the latest Apple revamps? Which TV shows would you like to see offered in HD? And be honest, which new iPod are you eyeing?!