Apple has launched a new variant of the iPod today, days before the iPod Mini is due to start shipping in the UK.

The new variant is thinner than previous models, sports the iPod Mini's click wheel and will come in two versions - a 40Gb model and 20Gb model. The 15Gb and 30Gb version have been dropped from the range.

New features to the players include a 12 hour battery life and the ability to adjust playback speeds for audiobooks.

Even better for UK customers, the new models seem competitively priced against the American prices with the 20Gb costing £219 and the 40Gb £299.

It seems a strange move from Apple considering the Mini is due out next week, especially as you will be able to get 16Gb more for a mere £50

HP who has partnered with Apple and will be including iTunes on all its new PCs has said that it will be launching its variant of the iPod in September. It has waited until then to use the new design.

It also seems the rumours of wireless connectivity and video have been unfounded.