Wednesday, August 13, 2008

iPod Touch Review, Part 1

I meant to write this a long time ago, and I had planned to write a massive, massive post about my experience with my new toy, but I haven't mustered up the will to do such great planning and thinking, so I've decided to take a more piecemeal approach.

Where to start? Well, a while back, I wrote a post about the iPhone 3G unveiling. Since then, I've had a lot of time to play with what feels like a new toy: my ten-month old, 16GB iPod Touch.

First, the basics. If you've ever seen the iPhone, you can sort of imagine what the Touch looks like: exactly the same, except thinner and without the receiver (since it's not a phone). It has a mobile version of the Safari internet browser, called, not-so-surprisingly, Safari. You connect to the internet via wi-fi, much like your laptop computer. The music player is similar to the other iPods out there.

And of course, you use a touch screen to control it. Web pages and lists of songs alike are scrolled by swiping your finger up or down on the screen. The interface is very smooth and elegant, and very different from other digital music players today. It plays anything that iTunes can play, which means you can put your MP3s, AACs, WAVs, AIFFs, Apple Lossless audio, and a few other audio formats, as well as MOV and MP4 video encoded in h.264, the codec used to produce high-def video. As for the screen, they say it's "widescreen" but it's actually a 1.5:1 ratio, meaning it's not quite the relative width of real widescreen displays (16:9), but not the width of standard displays either (4:3). There is an option when viewing videos to see the full width and have thin black bars on the top and bottom, or cut off just a tiny bit on the right and left. I've found that either option is acceptable.

Originally, the iPod Touch included the basics: a music player, a video player, Safari, a calculator, a world clock, an address book, and a photo viewing app. The address book was none too useful without phone capabilities or an e-mail program. In January, Apple released a $20 update containing applications for Stocks, Weather, Notes, Maps, and E-mail. I skipped that update but I was able to get those apps recently, as they came as part of the new 2.0 software.

What else came with the 2.0 software? Again, the ability to get the App Store apps.

That was an overview. We'll get into the details next time.