Product Type: Apple MP3 players
Newest Review: ... but on lower settings it was good. The overall design of the iPod was amazing. Apples build quality is always great and the screen size on ... more
Apple iPod touch (4G) 32 GB
Member Name: ReviewKing05
Apple iPod touch (4G) 32 GB
Advantages: + Play music, read books, play games, take HD videos, surf the 'net and revel in Apps + Slick device
Disadvantages: - None, really
*Why the iPod?*
What attracted me to the iPod touch was the sheer amount of features in one place. Not only did it offer the games aspect of the PSP but it also offered a sizeable 32GB of solid state memory, the ability to use apps and the simplicity and (relative) reliability of Apple products. Add to this the incredibly sleek unit and you have a very attractive prospect indeed. At barely a third of the PSP's width and with a huge responsive touch screen it eclipsed the PSP in just about every way. What's more, with just four physical buttons (hold, volume up/down and home button) the problems which plagued the ageing, overused PSP control buttons are avoided altogether.
The unit itself is very sleek indeed, finished in smart black on the front and with Apple's trademark mirror-like rear. At merely two inches wide and with a high-resolution (960 x 640 pixels) 3.5 inch multi-touch display, the unit is compact but elegant. It fits perfectly in your pocket and is light too, art barely a hundred grams. Given its slight build, to protect your investment I strongly advise doing what I did if you purchase it: buy a rear cover and screen-protector before you fire it up, allowing you to keep it in tip-top condition from day one.
The first thing that hits you about the iPod when you switch it on is the sheer simplicity and elegant design of the iOS 4.0 interface. On the Retina screen on the 4G Touch, the home screen offers eye popping icons which form a simple but visually impressive grid which simply extends horizontally onto other 'screens' which are accessed by a simple swipe left or right from the home screen. Tap the physical hold button sitting atop the device to lock it and to unlock, tap it again and swipe the screen to open up the device.
The home screen itself is infinitely customisable; tap and hold an icon and it wiggles, allowing you to move it to a more easy-to-reach position or relegate it to a later screen. You can arrange every app and tool so that the ones you use most are easily accessible and to facilitate this navigation, four icons sit permanently at the bottom of the home screen - the Internet browser Safari, Music, Mail and Videos (which can also be changed). The simple locate and tap functions have you up and away in no time and after you become used to the device you can speed up your navigation to no end.
*The iPod part of the Touch*
Of course, the primary reason to buy an iPod is for the music and, as an mp3 player alone, the device is nothing short of stunning. It incorporates the extensive iTunes PC software but condenses it into a user-friendly interface which is as easy to use at it is intuitive. Start up a song and the album art rests slap bang in the middle of the details sitting atop it and the play/pause/skip 'buttons' nestled below. You can fast forward with a simple swipe or set to shuffle or repeat with a simple tap. Tap the album art and the lyrics to your favourite tunes are revealed (added to songs via PC iTunes). Tap the top-right corner and you can view the track-listing and tap any song you like to bring it up on-screen.
Outside of the now playing screen, four shortcut buttons sit along the bottom of the menus allowing you to navigate your library via artists, albums or whatever you choose from the available shortcuts. The lists have an A-Z to their right allowing for quicker navigation and the quality touch-screen means you can scroll up and down with summary ease. And, as for the sound quality, the inbuilt speakers are surprisingly good for sharing music with others though you won't receive the rich sound you do from headphones. Put simply, the iPod part of the iPod Touch is nothing short of brilliant. Easy to use and a joy to navigate, it ticks every box.
As an Internet device, the iPod left me stunned once again. Of course, without 3G, the touch has to rely on Wi-Fi alone, but this is no problem when it works so well. Connecting to a hotspot is painless and loading times with a reasonable connection are excellent. The Retina screen once again makes for incredibly crisp web pages while the touch screen allows for great manipulation of the sites. Pinch to zoom out and move your fingertips away from each other to zoom in, while rotating the device to a horizontal position adapts the site you're on to a widescreen format, using the inbuilt accelerometer.
The safari browser is intuitive, with a crucial centred address bar and a Google search bar to the top right of the page. The touch screen navigation makes surfing a breeze and basically any website is accessible. Sadly, Flash sites don't work on the touch (due to legal disputes) but given the popularity of the device, popular Flash sites like YouTube have simply created a compatible app instead. You can surf up to five pages at once and a button at the bottom of the page allows you to simply swipe left and right between them. The interface is intuitive, accessibility brilliant and connection simple. Coming from the PSP, this was the biggest shock as it blew Sony's admirable attempts at portable web-surfing out of the water.
*Watching and making videos*
As an mp4 player, the touch is also an admirable piece of kit. Once again, the Retina screen shines on videos, with films and video clips looking sharp and near HD quality, no mean feat on a portable device like this. What's more, the iPod also has two inbuilt cameras on the front and rear from which you can make free video calls via Wi-Fi to fellow iPod owners and take everyday snapshots. Don't expect miracles though, as still photos are rather poor quality and won't win any competitions given their VGA resolution.
Luckily, the video camera is amazing, shooting at up to 720p HD. From personal experience, the videos are great quality, remaining sharp even when transferred to a 19" PC screen, while the sound capture during filming is crystal clear. The fact that this device can shoot HD is an amazing plus, especially when at gigs or even at the footy, allowing you to capture the atmosphere well despite the lack of flash.
*Reading books on the move*
The device even acts as a fully fledged e-book reader, one of the most impressive (and understated) aspects of the device. Avoid the frankly pricy iBooks store and there is a plethora of free alternatives to get you up and running in no time, while you can download free classics from sites like Project Gutenburg to satisfy your novelistic needs. An array of free apps offer you the chance to read e-books and PDFs on the move and given the clarity of the Retina screen reading on the go is a pleasure. Books look nearly as crisp as the real thing, and you can customise the page colour (from white to sepia), the font you use and even the level of zoom you can give to your e-books to make them easier on the eye. The touch screen allows you to swipe across pages with ease, mimicking the real thing quite brilliantly. As a rival to Amazon's kindle and other e-readers, the ability to read books on the move goes some way to justify the exorbitant price-tag.
However, where the Touch really diverges from its rivals is the AppStore. After all, it is this key aspect which allows you to turn what is essentially a music and video device into something much more substantial. From personal experience, apps have made my iPod: a word processor (which I've written this review on), an e-book reader, a pocket dictionary, a digital camera and even a Dictaphone (with the smashing Recorder Pro Software - review forthcoming!). The AppStore is essentially what justifies the ridiculous price-tag of the device as it offers an enormous amount of possibilities to pimp your device and make it truly your own. With the most common price-tags ranging from 59p to £3 they are also great value and extend the life of the iPod touch much more than the PSP ever did. What's more, they are quick and easy to download and can be synced to your PC when your memory runs low. This means that you can purchase Apps in a sale and keep them on your PC 'til you have enough space to run them.
*A rival to the DS and PSP?*
When you factor in the device's growing strength as a portable gaming platform, the iPod touch just gets better and better. Games like Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 show that the iPod is capable of matching and even beating PSP games - and all for much, much less money. A key example: one of the priciest AppStore games is Football Manager at a high £7, yet the same game on PSP is £15+, over double for the same game!
Even though the iPod's gaming credentials take a distinct back seat to it's other features, as an avid gamer I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth, quality and value of AppStore games and as popularity in the device grows the games seem to be improving every month - unlike the PSP which constantly failed to deliver on its promises of compelling portable play. As a portable gaming device, the iPod touch is a dark horse which is gaining ground on the DS and PSP, and the added benefit of intuitive touch controls and the ability to listen to your own music in many games gives it an added edge.
*Battery life and memory*
As far as battery life goes, the longevity varies considerably according to how you use it. A full charge can take up to three hours and if you listen to music alone it could last for around three days. However, using Internet or games, the battery could last a mere matter of hours, understandable given the energy needs of such processes. From personal experience, I need to charge it at least once every two days, but, given that I often play my Xbox or use my PC, charging the iPod isn't too much of a chore; I simply connect it to any USB device I'm already using
With regard to the 32GB flash memory, I have found this more than enough space to dabble in all of the device's respective features. As of writing this review, I have thousands of songs, around 50 videos, 44 apps (mostly games) and over 100 photos, not to mention the wealth of e-books I've downloaded to it, and I've only just maxed out the memory. For those with an average to quite large music collection, there'll be enough space to use all the features to the max.
So is it worth £250?
If you're looking for a device which does everything and then more then this is the one for you. Acting as an mp3 and mp4 player, an e-book reader, a digital (video) camera, a portable internet device and a games console, the iPod is simply breathtaking. Factoring in the endless possibilities of the AppStore, it becomes clear that you get what you pay for in comparison to other devices.
If you literally want your world in your hands, the iPod touch is for you.
Summary: An expensive piece of kit, yes, but one which offers all the features you expect and then more.
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