Apple Computer has introduced an updated version of the iPod mini, featuring a 6GB internal hard disk drive and costing £144 plus VAT.

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The new top of the range model increases storage capacity by 50 per cent and leapfrogs over many competitors

In a statement announcing the refreshed iPod mini lineup, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the 4GB model's new $199 price tag in the US "the magic price point".

The $199 price puts the iPod mini on a more competitive level with other companies' digital music players. Is Apple feeling the heat from competitors?

"If you look at the market data nobody has really gained traction," said Joswiak. "We certainly take the competition seriously, but we have the perfect solution. We turned up the heat significantly this year with the (iPod) Shuffle."

Other improvements to the iPod mini include greatly improved battery life -- up to 18 hours per charge, according to Apple. "This is a huge part of what we try to do," said Joswiak. "The longest flight in the world is from New York to Singapore -- we've got you covered."

The iPod mini's Click Wheel is now colour-coordinated to match the iPod mini. Apple has also introduced a new line of coloured armbands for iPod mini users matching the four available hues. Other than the Click Wheel, the iPod mini remains cosmetically unchanged, although Apple has trimmed the colour selection to four colours -- silver, blue, pink and green (gone is the gold model).

Apple has also eschewed a FireWire cable with this release, instead favouring the ubiquitous USB 2.0 interface, which has seen universal adoption on the Macintosh platform. Previously iPod minis shipped with both cables. Users who prefer to connect their iPods using FireWire can purchase a separate cable from Apple.

In addition to the USB 2.0 sync and charging cable, the iPod mini includes ear-bud headphones, a belt clip case and a CD containing iTunes 4.7.1 for Mac and Windows PCs.