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55,000 songs in your pocket — the future iPod classic?

The iPod classic could see capacity climb 60GB to 220GB following Toshiba’s introduction this week of a new 1.8-inch drive capable of offering that much capacity. That’s enough for 55,000 songs, 275 hours of video or over 34,000 photos.

Certainly, the classic is a little long in the tooth now and is no longer the center of the iPod empire it once was. However, the product still sells, particularly to hardcore music fans with large collections and those who like to rip their music into Apple Lossless format, for better playback quality.

Toshiba’s new MKxx39GSL series of 1.8-inch hard drives will be available in capacity of 160 GB, 200 GB and 220 GB. The MKxx39GSL series drives run at 4200 rpm. These are single platter drives — you need these to be single platter in order that they fit the iPod form factor — this is why higher capacity drives using dual disks have not been used in the past. The new drives also use a new connector and offer a higher 16MB memory buffer. The latter enhancement could mean your music will be less likely to skip when you’re moving about.

What else? The new drive uses less power, so you can expect even more impressive battery life. Today’s iPod classic offers 36-hours. All this could be coming in September’s iPod refresh…assuming Apple continues to offer the product. Many naysayers expected the classic to quietly disappear last year, after all.

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