Gadgets: Getting Smaller

Christmas stockings, beware: you are about to undergo an invasion of small metallic devices. Apple's revamp of the iPod line includes a redesigned nano that features a more smudge-resistant aluminum skin (reminiscent of the covering on the ultrasleek mini-iPod) that comes in five colors, including a luminescent blue and a shocking pink. And the battery life is now 24 hours. Depending on how many songs it can hold (up to 2,000), the new nano costs from $149 to $249. Apple has also shrunk its screenless, 240-song iPod shuffle from a white plastic stick to a $79 half-ounce metallic clip-on that's barely bigger than a postage stamp. (For those with huge song libraries and a hankering to squint at TV shows, the standard high-storage, video-enabled iPod looks the same, but the screen is 60 percent brighter and it cost $50 less.)

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced details of its new iPod rival, Zune (though not the price). It's got an FM radio, a bigger screen and Wi-Fi connectivity. It comes in white, black and ... brown ? Clearly, the Softies haven't mastered that fashion thing yet.