MaCinJay’s Musings

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iPod touch

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Yesterday my mother returned from a two week trip to the UK and brought back an iPod touch for me. The touch is essentially of course an iPhone without the calling and emailing features although it is possible to use web mail via the touch’s Internet browser (providing you have wi-fi access). But I am jumping ahead of myself as I mean to recount my experience with the touch from the beginning.

First of all the supporting documentation is sparse to say the least, just a warranty and a very short quick start guide. The lack of documentation isn’t really an issue though, as the touch is really easy to use. Also there is no iTunes install disk so be prepared for a long wait if you don’t have version 7.4 loaded on your computer or a fast Internet connection; you have to use this version to set up the touch before you can start using it.

Once the iPod was registered on iTunes I was able to access the touch’s menu by pressing the Home button under the screen (this can also be done by a brief push of the Power key located at the top left-hand edge of the casing) and swiping the onscreen slider. The iPod’s applications and settings are activated by touching icons on the screen. Another set of icons provide access to music, photos and videos, as well as Apple’s new wi-fi iTunes feature. Regrettably though this last feature will not work in South Africa due to the lack of a local iTunes Store. The resolution of the screen is excellent – it’s ideal for viewing photos and video. (There was an problem when the touch was first released with the quality of video playback but this seems to have been resolved.)

The touch’s stripped-down Safari web browser provides a convenient way of surfing the Internet when you don’t feel like lugging your laptop around. Unlike the iPhone though the touch is not EDGE-enabled so you will need a wi-fi connection. It’s easy to zoom up web pages by “pinching” and “unpinching” the surface of the screen with thumb and fingers. However I found that occasionally my digits would inadvertently activate a hyperlink when trying to zoom in – it would be nice if there was a “Deactivate Links” feature. Also the browser doesn’t support Flash, although this is probably as much a blessing as a curse. Otherwise the touch delivers a surprisingly good web browsing experience given the limited dimensions of the screen. You can even use it for blogging and posting using the onscreen contextual keyboard. A caveat here though: it is easy to select incorrect characters on the keyboard due to the lack of tactile feedback.

I didn’t delve too much into the YouTube application due to my limited Internet bandwidth but video looked crisp and sharp.

The weakest application on the touch is the calendar, which is completely passive due to the lack of an event-creation feature. Hopefully this will be rectified in a future firmware update.

Contacts on the other hand is one of the strongest applications and for my money is more user-friendly than Address Book in Mac OSX. It’s going to be a lot easier to access my contacts’ information once I have loaded them onto the touch.

The Clock includes world times, alarms, a stopwatch and a timer. Curiously though the time and date is set via Settings. (In fact, all settings are adjusted here rather than in the applications themselves.) Also the touch’s external speaker isn’t all that loud, which hampers the effectiveness of the alarm.

The Calculator has limited features but is very effective for the basic maths functions.

When Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPhone at January’s Macworld in San Francisco I believe he called it “the best iPod ever” and he wasn’t wrong, at least until the touch came along. The iPhone and touch may not have the huge capacities of the Classic iPods but they present a massive step forward in terms of the user interface. To be honest I haven’t had a chance to listen to a lot of music on the touch yet but the sound quality is at least on a par with our nano.

As mentioned the touch’s hi-res screen is great for viewing photos. The Photo Library has a refreshingly simple look, with pics closely arranged in a grid. Individual photos are selected by a tap and can be zoomed up by spreading your thumb and finger apart over the screen’s surface. There is also a slideshow option.

And that in a nutshell is the iPod touch. It has a few minor flaws but these are far outweighed by the positives. I am looking forward to the promised software developers’ kit that should be available for the iPhone and the touch in the early part of next year. This will give developers the tools to produce some really exciting applications for these devices.


Written by macinjay

November 8, 2007 at 10:50 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] here for […]

  2. […] Yesterday my mother returned from a two week trip to the UK and brought back an iPod touch for me. The touch is essentially of course an iPhone without the calling and emailing features although it is possible to use web mail via the … Read More […]

  3. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  4. […] Original post by macinjay […]

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