Apple’s relentless cycle of annual upgrades means that the latest version of the Apple iPod Touch is the fourth generation of this all-conquering handheld device. Blimey, time flies.
From day one the iPod Touch has offered a list of features that are completely over the top for a music and video player and the 4G model continues that approach. You’ll pay a street price of £165 for the 8GB version, £219 for 32GB and a princely £300 for 64GB of storage. By any standards we’re talking about a stack of cash, but Apple has covered all its options by offering the less exotic iPod Classic with a 160GB hard drive for £175 or you can take a step down to the Nano or Shuffle.
If you’re interested in an iPod Touch then it’s safe to say that you love shiny gadgets for their own sake. The bad news is that Apple has packed enough new features into the 4G that you will find it very difficult to keep your credit card in your wallet. The most compelling new feature is the 3.5-inch screen with its 960 x 640 Retina display. The screen gets its name from the stated fact that if you hold it at a distance of 10-12 inches the human retina cannot differentiate the individual pixels.
That’s a huge increase in the number of pixels and delivers 326 pixels per inch compared to earlier models with a resolution of 480×320 and 163 pixels per inch. Unfortunately the screen isn’t quite up to the standard of the iPhone 4 as it lacks In Plane Switching and as a result the viewing angle is rather narrow.
It’s a similar story with the new dual cameras which support Apple’s FaceTime video calling app. FaceTime only works with 4G iPhone and iPod Touch and at present it is limited to a Wi-Fi connection as the mobile phone networks don’t seem to be keen to fill their airwaves with video traffic. That’s something of a pain if you have an iPhone 4 but perfectly OK for anyone considering an iPod Touch. FaceTime requires you to use an Apple ID email address as an alternative to a phone number but you probably already have one of those for accessing the iTunes store.
Although the iPod Touch has dual cameras and the main camera can shoot 720P video at 960×720 resolution, the rating is a mere 0.7-megapixels compared to the 5-megapixel camera you get with an iPhone 4. If you plan on taking photos with your new Apple gadget, the iPhone 4 is considerably more adept.
Under the bonnet we know that the iPod Touch uses the new A4 CPU that is used in the iPhone 4 and iPad, however we are not clear whether the clock speed is the same.
What is clear is the cosmetic makeover that the iPod Touch has received. The metal back of the casing is flat, so it doesn’t rock around on a table top like earlier models, and the edges are tapered and make the iPod appear even thinner than its 7.2mm dimension suggests. The external antennae that have been reported as causing ‘grip of death’ problems with the iPhone 4 are not included in the iPod Touch and as a result the two pieces of hardware look subtly different. In our opinion the iPod Touch looks superb while the iPhone 4 is a bit of a slab.
We love the 4G iPod Touch deeply but have reservations about the iTunes software that lies at the heart of the Apple experience. You have to use iTunes with your PC or Mac and Apple is determined to use iTunes to sell you music, video and TV. The result is that the software acts in a Big Brother way and restricts which media you can sync with your iPod. You can add MPEG movie files to iTunes but it won’t let you add AVI or MKV files, and that is rather annoying.
Contact: 0800 048 0408