Product Type: Apple MP3 players
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Touch me baby!
Apple iPod touch (2G) 8 GB
Member Name: icetsunami
Apple iPod touch (2G) 8 GB
Advantages: Excellent screen, Wi-Fi, lush design, app store, gorgeous
Disadvantages: External speaker is rubbish
So what is to hate? Well I have been slightly misleading you here because my real object of vitriol is the awful accompanying software that is iTunes. You either love it or you hate it. I'm the latter. It never seems to be able to adequately manage my music, it makes duplicates, doesn't always synch properly and makes mistakes when using multiple players. Aaarrgghhhh!!
Well even so this is a review of the iPod Touch 2nd Gen 8GB. Funnily enough it's my fourth ipod variant I've owned despite my iTunes based fury. What on earth possessed me to buy yet another one? Well in truth despite my misgivings it is the only product to consider when buying a portable media player.
Firstly, Apple have a long established pedigree of making objects of beauty within a technological world were performance is number one. Apple combine both power and aesthetics easily.
Secondly, Apple make things that tend to revolutionize the market place. Sure mp3 players were already around but it took Apple to show how the technology should really be applied.
Onto the Touch then. The second generation was from autumn 2008 and available in three capacities, namely 8GB, 16GB and 32GB. The native Apple OS was version 2.1.1 and was powered by a ARM processor and 128MB DRAM. Curiously the CPU was underclocked by 87MHZ from it's original 620MHZ. Not sure why you would reduce a components performance? Possibly to do with thermal output and/or battery life. Speaking of which the touch manages a respectable 36 hours of audio playback and 6 hours when playing video which is obviously much more demanding.
The screen is where it is at with the Touch. A 3.5in 320*480 capacitive touch sensitive display gives lovely crisp definition to graphics and video and the colours are both rich and vibrant. Save for a home button almost everything is accessed via the touchscreen. The basic OS is icon driven and runs across four virtual desktops with a lower bar for quick launch of the most used features such music and videos. Each desktop can display 16 different icons and they provide one touch access to the appropriate application.
The slimline body has a glass scratch resistant cover and the rear panel is stainless steel. On the left is a rocker button for adjust the volume though you can also do this via the touch interface. The bottom of the iPod had a docking connector and a 3.5mm headphone socket. Dimensions are a svelte 110*61*8.4mm meaning that even when using a protective case the player is still comfortably slimline. The unit weighs in at 115g and so won't be sagging your pocket or being cumbersome in a handbag.
The inclusion of Wi-Fi is a no brainer and we are treated to 802.11 b/g giving a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 54Mbps making web browsing and downloads easy and fast. Bluetooth is available as is a docking port which supports USB 2.0 which has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 480Mbps which is industry standard until USB 3.0 is more widely used. USB 3.0 is stupidly fast at between 3.2 and 5GBps and is more suited to files of large capacities on PC's.
You will have heard the word 'Apps' mentioned quite a lot recently and many platforms support various applications. Nokia's Symbian is probably the most recognisable but Android has boosted it presence on high handsets and now has an app store with in excess of 50,000 applications. These range from mindless games to analytical business tools to augmented reality. Apple steps in here though and crushes the opposition with a massive library of over 100,000 and counting apps. And since the iPhone has been such a massive success the numbers are ever increasing. The killer blow here is that the iPhone OS that is native to the touch means that most of these apps are available to iPod owners too! There are so many to choose that it becomes a problem deciding which is best for your particular needs. Handily there are many thousands that are completely free to download and some of the paid apps are a matter of pence.
Apple includes it's own web Browser Safari by default and as on desktop Mac's it's one of the fastest around. Via my wireless router I can browse at speeds in the region of 5Mbps due to my proximity to my exchange and the Touch's consistent wireless quality. During this review I have just tested it using speedtest.net and got a figure of 4.867Mbps for download and a figure of 369Kbps to upload. One touch access via the Safari icon takes me to my home page which in my case is Google though there is also a shortcut free app available should you wish to use a different site. Various features are available in Safari but most commonly the option to bookmark a page or create a desktop link and both these work well.
Swipe away from your desktop to reveal a QWERTY virtual keyboard. Put simply this is the best touchscreen keyboard I have ever used and no stylus is required. The keys are large and the software auto corrects and makes suggestions also based on the content of your iPod. This makes it a joy to use and very quick to access specific files and apps.
If you want to get the best out of your iPod you will want to delve into here. This is where you find the most important option to configure your iPod to your router and get access to online services. The usual phone type configurations are accessible here also including adjusting the brightness of your screen, Bluetooth and sounds. Whilst on the subject you really should play with the screens brightness settings because you can find a real sweet spot where everything looks absolutely lush.
You can register through your iPod when connected to the net and create an account with iTunes. It is free to do so but you must register card details to complete the registration process. Apps are then searchable by category, top 25 or most featured. You can also search for a particular app by name and apply any updates. As said this is the crowning glory of the Touch due to the sheer amount of applications available.
Let's not forget that the iPod plays music too! Much has been made about the varying sound quality between different iPods but I can say that even with the supplied headphones the quality is excellent. There is a broad range but some may prefer a little more in the low frequency range. Most purists would ditch the supplied ones immediately and splash out on some nice Sennheiser or Beats 'phones but for the average listener I say give them a try. The external speaker however is a different matter. It is shockingly poor quality and therefore redundant. You need to place this into a dock for full room sounds of any quality, the B&W Zeppelin being the one of choice it seems at the minute. The external speaker does however suffice for watching crazy YouTube clips or videos of your mates on social networking sites.
If you remember way back at the beginning of this review I vented my intense dislike for iTunes. Upon plugging in the Touch to the latest version I was gobsmacked at the ease of which I was able to update my firmware and synch my media. Maybe it's the latest Touch firmware or maybe it's iTunes itself, I don't know but it worked fine. I have not forgotten the pain I have experienced previously with this most vengeful of mistresses and I should point out also that there are alternative applications for managing your media. But for now I am very happy.
Pretty much the benchmark for todays smartphone even though some features need addressing. You probably have one or want one. Here is a cheap solution-keep your old phone and buy a Touch. No high monthly tariff and no immense PAYG price tag. You get most of the features (and so fun) of the iPhone for half the price.
Typically but not unexpectedly Apple have made a beautiful and functional product better and pushed it to the forefront of consumer aspiration. There is nothing better on the market for what it does. Absolutely nothing. It starts at around £149 for the 8GB model and represents good value for money. They may be the most common mp3 player of choice but it is for a good reason!
Remember seeing those weird Channel 4 documentaries where people fall in love with inanimate objects? Yes it's true a man had sex with a car and a woman married the Eiffel Tower. Now I am not saying you will go down that route but hey when a product is this good...........
Summary: Sensational and without peers
|Ease of use:|
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