Thursday, September 2, 2010

My take on the new Apple iPod Touch (iTouch) range just announced

I don't have an Apple iPod Touch (iTouch), but I did come close to buying one. As a result of reviewing the now older Apple iPod Touch models, I still have an interest in the iTouch and seeing how the new range stacks up.

Here are the things which caught my attention with a new range just released.

The old range consisted of the 8GB model which had the old processor ($268), a 32GB ($399) and 64GB ($549). The 32GB and 64GB units both had the new processor.

The new range now appears to all contain the A4 processor meaning we no longer having to make a choice between the slow processor (which potentially couldn't take advantage of all the features iOS4 such as multi-tasking when it was released) and this consistency makes the decision much easier.

The new models are 8GB ($289), 32GB ($378) and 64GB ($499). It is good to see the entry level price is still around the same as it was before.

This is where my requirements and interest may differ from others. My interest is in using the Apple iPod Touch (I call it the iTouch) as a portable computer so I can check the internet and my email whilst at home, or when out our near a free wireless hotspot. I'm not really interested in games, music or videos in general. I don't think the iTouch is the right device for taking pictures or videos, as without optical zoom it is very limited. However I have found many times a quick shot on the iPhone has been very useful, so whilst it isn't good enough as a camera/video replacement to me, it is still a very handy feature to have.

One additional feature of the iTouch which interests me is the ability to use Skype whilst in a wireless location such as home or when travelling. Whilst standing in the main centre of Athens (Greece) and being able to call the family at home for about three cents a minute (Skype charges as the internet access was free) was priceless for us and a fellow traveller.

Now what I'd really like is the iTouch with 3G data. I believe the parts only cost about $20-$30 more so one day it may happen.

For me the new retina display isn't a biggie. I find the current screen is good and I suspect the new screen will be better. But it isn't something that would compel me to buy the iTouch.

The addition of the cameras however now makes the iTouch a very useful device even though I have said it isn't a replacement for digital cameras or video cameras (yet).

Facetime to me is one of those "gee that's interesting, but do I really want to sit there looking at someone else whilst chatting". I'd much rather go and see them. But I can see the appeal of being able to see family and friends who are far away. In general there's something about video phones that doesn't appeal to me. One thought that came to mind is the iTouch would make a good mirror. How many times when eating at a restaurant have you thought I hope I don't have something caught between my teeth, or you are about to go to that meeting and wonder how your hair is sitting? Now to me that's handy.

HD recording is probably going to be one of those reasons to buy a unit with more memory rather than the entry level iTouch. However to me, HD recording is a little bit of an exaggeration. If I understand it correctly, it is HD recording in standard definition. To me it should be called SD recording. I think some people will be disappointed with the term HD being used. Again however having HD recording for those moments you wish to record will be very handy. I recorded a few things I wanted to capture whilst away recently and the videos were great to show others. Showing everyone how the Eiffel tower now sparkles of a night can really only be done with video.

The built-in speaker and microphone will undoubtedly work with Facetime, but I'm more interested to see if the iTouch will work with Skype as that opens up the possibility of using the iTouch as a wireless phone around the home and work. With iOS4 providing multi-tasking, I am interested in seeing how Skype performs on the iTouch.

The new iTouch now supports wireless N as well as B and G. That was expected and good to see.

One thing I am curious about is I've read, but can't confirm, the iPhone and possibly the iTouch might be able to use an external Bluetooth keyboard. This makes me curious. Carrying around a full size keyboard doesn't appeal to me, but neither does trying to type something of any length on the iTouch screen. I can see if an external keyboard does work, some form of portable external keyboard may become available.

Seven hours of video and 40 hours of audio means the iTouch can now be a good companion whilst travelling on discount airlines, or passing away some of those less exciting times on buses and trains. Perhaps even keeping the children entertained on a long trip. I could have really done with that in the past.

Another feature I'm interested in testing out is the external video connection options. I have an iPhone 3GS and have tried the external video cable, but I found the iPhone really heats up and that makes me worry it could cause damage to the battery. I'm interested in finding out what the "Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter" does. I almost get the feeling this is getting close to turning the iTouch into a very portable computer and I think that would be very interesting if it did happen. With a high resolution screen and an external wireless keyboard, the iTouch could easily go from portable device to desktop computer (albeit with less power, but still very usable). Unfortunately when I last tested the iPhone 3GS video output was only for playing videos and pictures. I would prefer to be able to display whatever is showing on the screen and that would enable me to read the internet on a large screen. I must go and see if iOS4 has improved this. I see Steve Jobs displaying what he has on his screen via the big screen and can't help wonder why it isn't available to everyone.

I am certainly looking forward to visiting my local Apple store in Doncaster to check out the new iTouch range. I wonder when they will actually have stock. I'll check that out next time I'm in the store.

Kelvin Eldridge

NOTES:

1. It appears photos can only be taken with the front camera which is VGA. The front and rear cameras can both take video. I always find it interesting the features that aren't included, so as not to take sales away from the dearer iPhone 4, or that then can later be included as part of the next release. I really don't know Apple's reasons. For many not being able to take a photo from the rear camera will leave them disappointed in the iTouch range. For me this means the 8GB looks more attractive because since it can't do photos from the rear camera, I wouldn't be using it for photos. I actually think this is very disappointing that Apple would do this.

1 comment:

JustLocal said...

I've since had a chance recently to test the iPod Touch and found the rear camera does work for taking photographs. I don't know why Apple don't state this as a feature.

The posts by others I read were also wrong.

If the resolution of the rear camera is as good as the new iPhone 4 this negates the notes I made in the post. I hope to check out the camera resolution in the near future.

Kelvin Eldridge