At a special music event featuring Bono and The Edge from U2, Apple yesterday unveiled the iPod Photo with a colour screen, available immediately in 40GB or 60GB versions.

The company also introduced the iPod U2 Special Edition, Apple's 20GB player clad in black, equipped with a red Click Wheel, due to ship in mid-November. Other announcements included iTunes Europe and an update to Quicktime offering security and codec improvements.

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The iPod Photo looks identical to a standard iPod, but it uses a 2-inch, 220-x-176-pixel screen capable of displaying 65,536 colours. It supports JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and PNG image files.
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The iPod Photo can display 25 colour photo thumbnails at a time, and lets users scroll through their photos the same way they scroll through their music playlists. An included AV cable enables the iPod to connect directly to a TV or video projector as well -- the iPod will even format the photos depending on whether your set uses the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio or the 16:9 format preferred by newer widescreen sets.

Apple also claims the iPod Photo sports longer battery life than previous models -- playing music for up to 15 hours continuously, showing photo slideshows for up to five hours.

Current iPods can import files from memory cards using memory card readers, available from Belkin and other manufacturers. Although the technology isn’t proven with the iPod Photo, this could be used to transfer files from a camera to the iPod photo for viewing without a PC. However the iPod Photo doesn’t support RAW files as used by many digital SLRs and top-end compacts.

The 40GB version costs £305.53 plus VAT (or $499/€549 in the US/Europe) and the 60GB model sells for £365.11 plus VAT (or $599/€659).