Friday, November 9, 2007

An iPod touch review

People say that Apple is a drug, once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want more and more. I can’t help but agree that there’s a certain amount of truth to this statement, because I find myself keep wanting the latest products from Apple, especially iPods. What the heck, so I bought an iPod touch 16GB as my main iPod replacement a few days ago from the Orchard “flagship” Apple store. (8GB version is retailing for S$498, the larger 16GB version is going for S$698.) FYI, 6 months before this, I got a 1GB shuffle.

iPod madness
I hope that I’m not iPod mad, but for the record, I have 4 iPods around the house as of now. A 1st generation iPod nano 1GB (which used to be my main iPod), a 1st and 2nd generation iPod shuffle (both 1GB too), and today, the multi-touch 16GB device.

I donated the nano to my sister, the 1st generation shuffle to my mom, leaving me with 2 iPods.

I find it interesting that I’ve never purchased a hard drive based iPod before, and three of the four iPods are all 1GB of storage, which of course doesn’t hold my fast exploding music library. Thus the touch is the first iPod that, alas, holds my entire library (music, podcasts, videos), contacts and photos in a single location. Sweet. And not to mention that it doubles up as a sort of “mini” PDA. The internet feature is absolutely useful, allowing me to connect to most wireless networks, such as wireless@sg, so that I have internet access almost wherever I go. Furthermore, the multi-touch (pinching, tapping and flicking) is truly revolutionary and a joy to use. It makes navigating around easy-peasy!

It ain’t perfect...
BUT… the touch is not without drawbacks. Firstly, it can’t be used as a mass storage device where you can backup your data files. This is puzzling because most other iPods (like the shuffle) can be enabled for disk use. So don’t purchase this if you’re using this as a “thumbdrive”.

Secondly, the touch cannot display lyrics for music tracks, something which all other iPods with screens can do. I rely on this feature a lot for viewing podcast show notes, so it was infuriating initially, but the multi-touch more than makes up for it.

Thirdly, the metallic back is a fingerprint magnet, as with all other iPods except the shuffle. This was expected. Thankfully, a cleaning cloth was provided, but there was no carrying case. Argh. (The black squarish thingy at the top left is the 802.11b/g Wi-Fi antenna.)

Fourthly, the iTunes Wi-Fi store is an unusable feature since it's not available in Singapore, so you can’t buy tunes from the touch. Lastly, I would really appreciate a song search feature, because scrolling through 700+ songs in search of one can be a painful task at times.

Third-party apps will save the day
However, despite these small quirks here and there, the experience was nevertheless pleasant, even impressive. Setting it up was straightforward (assuming you have the latest version of iTunes and OS X 10.4.10/XP SP2/Vista), but the first sync was painfully long for a big library like mine. When unwrapped, you'll notice it's extremely delicate and fragile, so I would advice getting a carrying case/screen protector/iWrap.

One more thing, I guess the real benefits of the touch will only be evident when third-party apps are available on the touch/iPhone from the iTunes store late next year. For now the functionality may seem limited, and it is somewhat, but the third-party native applications will save the day eventually and justify the cost you paid, I believe. I hope to see a native instant-messaging app, a mail app, a word/spreadsheets apps, some games… and much more.

Busting myths
Contrary to the popular complain that the on-screen keyboard is difficult to type, my answer is that it isn’t, and with a bit of getting used to, practice and trusting the dictionary function, you can actually type acceptably accurately.

Also, the touch uses the standard headphone jack for earphones, unlike the iPhone which uses an unfriendly jack.

Summing it up
I'm very happy with my purchase and have no immediate regrets. In fact, I've never had any problems with iPods before, they are reliable and rock-solid players.

Get the iPod touch if…
- the iPhone is not supported in your country
- you hate AT&T but love the iPhone and will not jailbreak
- you need to be connected online on the go (to check webmail etc.) Oh there’s no built-in Mail app like in the iPhone and bluetooth is excluded too, what a pity!
- you need a player for videos/photos
- you want to enjoy multi-touch
- you want a superior multimedia player that “just works”

Don’t get the iPod touch if…
- you want a player to accompany you during jogging/exercise
- you want a player that’s value for money
- you want to use it as an external HDD
- you drop things easily
- you can’t live without lyrics
- you hate iTunes

And I’ll end off with more photos! (Click to enlarge)

What's in the box...

Gorgeous Cover Flow view when iPod is tilted horizontal...

It's safari!! The full, desktop-like web browsing experience that displays webpages just as it is on a computer!

Pre-installed calculator application with super huge buttons...

No comments: