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|Internet in your pocket - iPod Touch Review|
|Written by Peter|
Summary: Adding to the features of the iPods before it, the iPod Touch adds one critical feature that made the purchase a no-brainer: WiFi with a fully compliant internet browser. The ability to carry the internet with you everywhere at a price that's several hundred dollars cheaper than a full-fledged iPhone makes the iPod Touch seriously worth looking at.
It makes a great birthday gift, apparently. After hearing for weeks about how my wife would just love an iPod, and how she would play games and video and music on it if I got her one - I figured the hints couldn't get much more obvious. This, coupled with her birthday coming up in a week and myself without any other bright ideas led me to seek out one of the oh-so-trendy music players.
I started at the Apple site, checking out the spectrum from the iPod video, mini, nano and…wait, what was this – The new iPod Touch. First of all, the thing looks cool. It looks like an iPhone, all dark and with a distinct lack of buttons making the operation appear enigmatic – like a traveler from the future would carry with him (or her). The second thing I noticed, which pretty much immediately sealed the need to immediately own one: the built-in WiFi and full browser.
Never before have we been able to carry the internet in our pockets (ok, to be truthful I'd heard of products from Arcos which had this feature long before the touch, but it always seemed like owning one would immediately identify you as a hardcore geek, causing all around to either swarm or shun you depending on the crowd).
Many of you might be thinking "The iPhone had portable internet and the same form factor well before the iPod Touch came out" and you'd be right if you were living somewhere other than Canada, but up here it was the other way around – Actually, we still don’t have the iPhone, at least not on any sanctioned plan (July 11th the 3G iPhone comes out, marking the debut for Canada). There are several other reasons one might want to opt for the iPod Touch over the iPhone, including not wanting to switch phone providers to a GSM network (needed for the iPhone) and the several hundred dollar price difference, just to name a couple.
Fast-forward to the unwrapping – The box is all black and in typical Apple style the presentation as it was opened is stunning. Like a fine piece of jewelry the Touch sits atop a black raised cutout and inside is everything needed to get started, including headphones, USB cable and a wiping cloth. Connecting to the computer and downloading the necessary iTunes software was painless, even on Windows.
We allowed updates to iTunes, but we have been hesitant to apply any updates to the iPod itself as we're still on the fence about our desire to jailbreak it ('jailbreaking' the iPod/iPhone allows the use of third-party applications on the unit, something Apple has been working hard to prevent – Interesting note for the security geeks out there: The buffer overflow exploited for the jailbreak is the same TIFF overflow as used to crack the Sony PSP over a year ago) and any updates after version 1.12 fix the vulnerability that allow the jailbreak to occur. If all of that was jibberish, just know that the iPod Touch will do everything you want it to do in terms of playing videos, music, pictures and surfing the net right out of the box, and now with the current version including applications like Mail, Google maps, Notes, Weather and Stocks there’s not as much reason to worry about any of this anyway.
After about 9 months of ownership, the battery life is still strong, offering the ability to play music all day (10+ hours), surf the net for several hours or some combination therein. WiFi reception is similar to a notebook, though it is dramatically affected by certain covers (the gel cover we bought from a local merchant was particularly effective in reducing our signal to near zero, though we later found a leather case that allows the signal to get through) or by putting your finger across the antenna. Use of the internet can get tiring for extended use but is great for a quick check of your mail, looking up an address or settling an argument with a visit to WikiPedia.
The pinch and expand feature (using two fingers on the screen allows you to make a page or image smaller or bigger using an intuitive pinching motion) is very helpful and allows for easy page navigation. The other thing I was impressed at was the ability of the screen to know which links I was tapping the majority of the time, something that is a bit of a wonder considering the size of my finger (huge) compared to the links on the screen (small). Another neat aspect of the touch is the Cover Flow feature (shown right), which allows you to flip through all of your album covers in a very entertaining fashion (although movies of this feature don't do this justice, you really should try it) and it's surprisingly easy to find things this way as well.
All-in-all, I'm very happy with the purchase as I know my wife is as well. The ability to have the internet with us at all times is reassuring, which is sad in a way, but the wealth of information available and sheer integration with our daily tasks make it a key feature of the device for me. Combine this portable internet with the top-notch features of music, video and pictures that Apple is renowned for and you have a winner. Ebay has some really good prices on the Touch lately, so take a look there as well.