Monday, November 29, 2010

iPod Touch 4G Review

I bought a new iPod Touch about a week ago. I didn't necessarily want a new iPod Touch, but after my old one died, I was left with little choice. Just to be clear, every iPod I've ever owned has died after about three years or so, which maybe is a good lifespan for an MP3 player, but it's certainly a bad track record for Apple products. I bet I could find an original Sony Walkman on ebay and it would work perfectly. Every time one of my iPods die (and this will be my fourth), I tell myself I'm never going to get another one. Obviously, I got another one. Apple always lures me back, not only because over the years I've purchased so many songs and videos over the iTunes Music Store that can only be played on an iPod (unless you got to an insane amount of trouble to rig a work around), but also because their products are just so damn sexy, and as long as they last, they're a hell of a lot of fun to own.

I honestly thought about getting a regular iPod instead of a new Touch (to replace the first generation model I previously owned), but the new features won me over. It has a build in speaker, microphone, faster processor, better graphics, (almost) high def display, and even a video camera that takes HD videos at 720p. And, of course, it also does all the old stuff that the original Touch used to do, like connect to wi-fi and play music and videos. Of course, nobody needs an HD video camera in their music player, but it's pretty nice feature to have, all things considered.

I bought the 8GB version, since I'm fairly poor and even that was a bit hefty in price (but I got a 10% rebate by trading in my old iPod Touch. Nice). The 4G Touch also comes in 32GB and 64GB. If I had it all to do over again (and if I had had a little more money), I'd maybe consider the 32GB version, since these aps, songs, and videos really add up faster than you think. Also, even before loading anything on to my just-taken-out-of-the-box iPod, it actually only had about 6GB of free memory for my stuff, after the operating system and preloaded apps are accounted for. I understand that this stuff is going to take up some space, but using about a quarter of the entire hard drive is really excessive in my opinion. That's about 1200 songs I can't fit onto my iPod because Apple wanted to stick on a bunch of apps like Youtube and Voicerecorder that I'll never use and I can't delete.

Taken on my Touch
The 4G Touch feels about the same weight and dimensions as my old Touch, but I still had to buy a new case because of the added front and back cameras. It's just as thin and lightweight and easy to use as any iPod. The highly touted "Retina Display," looks nice, but it's still just an Apple buzzword to mean "nice screen." If I had the 4G and the original Touches side by side, maybe I'd notice a difference in the displays, but as it is now it doesn't seem to be all that much crisper or more defined. That isn't to say it isn't lovely, however, just that the screen on the original Touch was already fantastic. The only times I've really appreciated the "retina display" is when I'm reading text on a website. I can now read most pages without having to zoom in. But movies and graphics and photos looks about the same to my eyes.

The 46 Touch comes with two cameras, a low res one on the front and an HD one on the back, both of which also take still photos. The low res camera above the screen is mostly used for video chatting, but I haven't managed to get the Facetime ap to work yet. If any of my loyal readers have that ap installed, drop me and email and we'll hook up! The real camera is on the back, and the quality is absolutely fantastic. I mean, you're not going to be able to director Avatar Part II: Electric Bugaloo, but your home movies are going to look great. When Apple says HD, they mean HD. The videos are all recorded at a native resolution of 720p and they look fantastic. They look best in highly lit environments (namely, outside in direct sunlight), but even in low light levels the videos look pretty darn good.

The videos are also going to be shaky as hell, since the Touch makes for an awkwardly shaped camera that is hard to hold, and there is no image stabilizing feature so far. The side of the Touch is rounded, making it impossible to set it down in order to film things on a level surface. I'm sure you can buy some kind of stand, but it's probably 30 bucks. Also, taking photos is awkward as well, since you have to hit the shutter button on a very small, specific part of the touch screen. Holding the camera up to take your own picture is all but impossible since you can't see the button unless you are looking right at the screen. Apple could really solve this problem by having the volume buttons on the side of the Touch act as the shutter when you're in camera mode. Why has nobody thought of that yet? Get on that, Steve Jobs. You aren't going to take many photographs with this thing anyway, however, since the camera pretty much sucks. I'm not sure what the megapixel rate is, but the photos are only slightly better than what you'd get from a normal cell phone.

Taken on my Touch
Charging your iPod and syncing it is just as simple as plugging the cable into your computer. One thing that has always annoyed me about the iPod is how you have to charge it by plugging into a computer instead of the wall. Sure, you can buy a power adapter to work around this, but it's about 20 bucks or so. Why would I buy 20 bucks for something that should come packed in the box? Also, another nitpick is how both my computer and my iPod have Bluetooth capabilities, but I still have to plug them both together in order to sync my stuff. Even my cell phone lets me port music and applications via Bluetooth. Why do I still have to plug my iPod in? Not a dealbreaker by any means, but it is annoying and kind of weird.

But I like it. No wait, I love it. It's not perfect and there are lots of annoying little things that I would change, but it's still the best, most versatile, and fun MP3 player money can buy. I've had a Touch for maybe three years (whenever the original model came out), and with the exception of the month or so when my old model was broken, not a day has gone by that I haven't used my Touch for... something, be it checking my email, calculating a tip in a restaurant, watching a movie on a plane, reading a blog on the toilet (sorry), or playing a game on my couch. It's just incredibly useful and a lot of fun. But it.

Oh, and I didn't really mention this above, but it also plays music!

1 comment:

Justin Garrett Blum said...

I had a conversation a little while back with a guy at work who was showing me his Zune (or something), and he said the same thing you did: every iPod he ever owned broke within a couple of years. He won't buy them anymore.

I wonder what that's about.