Firstly, this is my first review in about a year, so I might be a bit rusty, but here goes!
If you have read some of my other reviews, you might already be aware that I'm a big fan of Apple's iPods. Over the years I've had iPod Nanos', Classics', Shuffles'...but never an iPod Touch. My favourite iPod was an iPod Classic 80GB 5th Gen, and I was so sure that I would remain faithful to the click-wheel trademark of the older iPods', and would never convert myself to an iPod Touch. The main reason was this: I had had a bad experience with a touch operated mobile phone (BlackBerry Storm), where the touch-pad was useless, and typing out a text message was so labouriously slow that I ended up wanting to throw it at the wall (I didn't - instead I replaced it with a BlackBerry Bold which I have nothing but praise for!). Thanks to my less than pleasing experience with the BlackBerry Storm, I didn't trust anything touch operated, and stuck with my faithful iPod Classic, although at two years old, it was starting to show its decline after heavy usage.
My cousin has had an iPod Touch for a while and one afternoon curiousity got the better of me and I decided to have a little play on it. I was so impressed with the iPod Touch that I immediately went out and bought one myself - and I hope this review will explain why I was won over so quickly and easily by Apple's iPod Touch 8GB.
BEFORE I EVEN BEGIN...iTUNES WARNING!
If you are not comfortable with using iTunes, and prefer simple 'drag and drop' methods to transfer music from your computer to an MP3 player, an iPod may not be for you. iTunes can be quite complicated to get to grips with at first but it does become easier to use. It is important to note before anything else that iTunes is ESSENTIAL when using an iPod. You cannot use an iPod without downloading iTunes, as it is the only way you can put music and anything else onto your iPod. iTunes is free and can be downloaded from Apple's official website. iTunes allows you to purchase music, apps, movies, music videos - or if you already have your own music collection, it allows you to transfer your music collection to your iPod. A lot of people think iTunes is a 'choice', but it is mandatory. For some easy instructions on how to use iTunes in order to get music on your iPod and get it up and running, this wikihow page contains some helpful instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-iTunes . Other useful instructions can be found by following this link: http://www.ehow.com/how_2065881_use-itunes.html . Worth having a look at if this is your first time with an iPod or you have no idea where to even begin.
WHAT IS THE iPOD TOUCH?
Briefly, the iPod Touch not only stores all of your music collection, music videos and photos (like other iPods), but it also introduces you into the world of 'Apps' and wi-fi. You can browse the Internet, read send and receive emails, watch videos on YouTube, and download 'Apps' from the iTunes Store (more on those later!). The iPod Touch comes in different memory options, ranging from around £150 - £299 (Argos.co.uk current prices). An 8GB iPod Touch will generally set you back around £150, whereas an iPod Touch with 64GB worth of storage will cost around the £299 mark. Websites such as eBay often have cheaper, second-hand iPod Touches available. Obviously there's always a risk when buying second-hand electronic items but I've done it in the past and it's worth looking at if you aren't bothered about owning a player which has scratches etc.
USING THE iPOD TOUCH
The interface of the iPod Touch is incredibly intuitive - it works smoothly, quickly, and honestly works like a dream. Slide your finger across the screen to browse through your iPod's contents, and slide your finger vertically down the screen to browse through your songs. I used to think the click-wheel was fast, but it would occassionally 'stick'. This is faster and a lot smoother. I have found that when typing on the screen on the QWERTY keyboard, my fingers hit the right keys 99% of the time; even if you have thick, chunky fingers, the iPod seems to know which letter you are pressing, and it is unlikely you will mispell a word after a bit of practice. Sliding your finger across the screen to unlock it and tapping your finger on an icon to open it is all you need to do to get started. The iPod Touch automatically locks after a period of being unlocked which can be helpful if you have forgotten to switch the iPod off, as it helps to conserve battery life. Generally, the iPod Touch is simple to use, even if you have never used an iPod or mp3 player previously. The touch screen makes it easy to navigate around, and it is also very quick, so you are not kept waiting for pages to load.
THE LOOK OF THE iPOD
This is, by far, the best looking iPod to date. There are no buttons (except the 'home screen' button, which, when pressed, takes you back to the menu, and the volume buttons located on the side of the iPod), and the screen is quite large and exceptionally clear. I am a big fan of big, clear screens, and this is the best I have seen yet. The colours look so bright and vibrant, but beware that to keep the screen at its brightest will zap the iPod of its battery life (more on that later). I have turned the brightness of my screen down quite a lot, and it's still easy to see and use. As soon as you turn your iPod on, all of your Apps and other icons on the menu are displayed straight away, so are ready to use as soon as you're ready. Look at my photos to see how the iPod Touch's menu looks.
Apple have decided to keep the mirror backing, which stays looking nice for about five minutes. It attracts finger prints and scratches within seconds, but as I have already witnessed this with my iPod Classic which also has the mirrored backing and is scratched to within an inch of its life, I thought ahead and bought a hard case, which I put onto the back of the iPod. I then slipped the iPod into a leather case which keeps the screen protected whilst carrying it around. I would advise anyone who cares about the way their iPod Touch looks to buy it a case to protect the mirrored back, and one that preferably covers the screen when it's not in use and being chucked about in your bag. I really don't understand why Apple have kept the mirrored backing; no reviews that I have seen have regarded the mirrored backs as anything less than annoying. The screen attracts fingerprints but that is inevitable and I don't think Apple could possibly prevent fingerprints from appearing on the screen. I did consider buying some sort of stylus to use instead of my finger, but to be perfectly honest, it takes away the fun of being able to use your finger to be in control of it. I give my iPod's screen a quick wipe with my sleeve or a tissue and finger marks are removed quickly. As I've already mentioned, the case I keep my iPod Touch in protects its screen from getting scratched. Would advise one of these to any potential iPod Touch owners!
MUSIC & SOUND QUALITY
Listening to music is easy - simply click the icon which says "Music", and your iPod will take you into your music library. I would much prefer to be able to slide my finger to the left to be able to change tracks whilst a song is playing, the same way as when you browse through album artwork. It would make it much easier to change tracks, although pressing on the 'forward' arrow doesn't take up too much time! It is just a slight annoyance, however, which has built up over time, as it would be a lot easier to be able to change tracks by the sliding of a finger. You can do the usual things on the iPod Touch, such as making playlists (i.e. a list of songs to listen to whilst at the gym, or whilst relaxing), and you can browse through artists, albums and genres. What I like about the iPod Touch is the alphabet is displayed down the right-hand side of the screen, so when you are browsing artists or songs, for example, you can tap the letter 'D' and it will bring up all the songs beginning with D, or all the artists. Turn the iPod on its side, and you can browse through albums by flicking your finger across the screen, which displays album artwork. When you see the cover of an album you wish to listen to, you tap the screen, the album cover flips over, and the songs are displayed on the back, just like when you turn an album over in 'real life'. The album artwork feature is a good feature which is featured on the newer iPods, but I don't particularly use it. I only use the songs list, as I find it much easier to browse for songs by their title. It's quite time-consuming to flick through album artwork when you can browse albums' by tapping on the letter it begins with on the right-hand side of the screen. Still, it looks impressive, and I think it's a good addition. I also love how, thanks to the large and clear screen of the iPod Touch, the album artwork displays when you are playing a track. It looks much better than the little square that appears on other iPods, and makes use of the gorgeous screen quality. The sound quality of the music on the iPod is great, but I would suggest buying different earphones. I actually think Apple iPod earphones are clear when listening to music, but all of the Apple earphones I have owned have ended up breaking. Probably would just be best to have a pair of earphones spare for if, or when, the Apple earphones break!
I would say that personally this is the best feature on the iPod Touch. I have apps for everything - I have an AA carpark locator which tells me where the nearest carpark is, its opening and closing times, and even the ticket rates. I have several restaurant finders for when I'm in a place I don't know and am feeling hungry! I have an app which tells me local cinema times, an app which sorts out timetables, an app which works as a to-do list/checklist...there is an app for just about anything! I have many, many gaming apps to keep me entertained on long journeys or when waiting for someone, audiobook apps to listen to again when on long journeys, and several education apps. I have an app which schedules classes, exams, assignment hand-in dates, and an app resembling sticky-notes to help me remember meetings and appointments. Some apps are free, such as the app for Google and Wikipedia. If you're looking to buy/rent a new home, there are apps such as RightMove who offer free apps to help you find your dream place. I've downloaded an Argos app (free) where I can reserve items by just one click, and a Tesco app (again free) which will find what groceries I wish to buy and take me to the shopping aisle AND the shelf the particular items are on! Most gaming apps and other apps are around £0.59p which is cheap compared to music tracks which are £0.99p. Audiobooks are also quite cheap and there are apps containing thousands of audiobooks for as little as £2. Purchase and download apps such as Microsoft Office to edit, read and create documents whilst on the go. Honestly, the possibilities are endless - I'm fascinated by the kind of Apps you can download. I'm tempted to get rid of my TomTom sat-nav in favour of my iPod Touch which has a sat-nav App downloaded onto it which works perfectly which was around £5! My brother has also sold his PSP in favour of the iPod Touch as there are so many addictive games out there for kids of all ages.
WHICH CAPACITY SHOULD I GO FOR?
I chose the 8GB model, which is capable of holding around 1,750 songs. I chose this model solely because I only intend to put Apps on this iPod, and only have a few music tracks thus far. If you have a lot of music, or will be using this as your sole music player, I'd suggest going for the larger memory models, as the iPod Touch fills up quickly if you upload plenty of music. If you have money to burn, or currently have an iPod already, I would strongly suggest using an existing iPod or another MP3 player to use for storing music if you only intend on buying the 8GB version, as you will find it will fill up quite quickly (I have heard that despite Apple claiming the 8GB model can hold 1,750 songs, it actually holds a lot less). Also beware that the 8GB version actually only has around 7GB, due to other software preloaded onto the iPod (iTunes, Safari, etc). However, the 8GB model is absolutely perfect for me, as I have stored only my favourite tracks on it (around 100), and instead have loaded the machine full of apps, which is what persuaded me to get an iPod Touch in the first place. I have an iPod Classic 80GB and have well over a thousand songs on that and it is nowhere near 50% full; in fact, I wouldn't even say it has reached 25% capacity yet, so if you don't have thousands and thousands of songs to put on it, I wouldn't bother spending £300 on a 64GB version. If, like me, you're wanting to play games on your iPod Touch and fill it with useful Apps, I would say the 8GB capacity will do you just fine.
The battery life has been satisfactory, although I have found that to get the most out of my iPod Touch I have to dim the backlight as much as possible. This is fine when around the house, but I find it difficult to view the screen in direct sunlight when the screen is dimmed, and so have to turn the backlight up to get the best out of the iPod, which then drains the battery. I can happily play games on the iPod, listen to music and browse the Internet on it daily for a few days without having to charge it up, but with heavy usage it would need recharging daily. I bought an mains iPod charger to make it easier as plugging it into my PC takes too much time! Plugging it into the mains is much easier and I can also take the iPod abroad with me too. You can usually buy a mains charger for around £2 off play.com, it is a LOT easier and a lot less time-consuming than booting up your PC/laptop.
Wi - Fi
The iPod Touch is wi-fi enabled which essentially means it can connect to the Internet. I connected my iPod up to my home broadband, so it connects wirelessly to our broadband and allows me to surf the web anywhere in our home. It is EASY to set up your iPod to connect it to your broadband - you simply type in your 'key' (a number of digits usually found on the back of your modem) and it will connect without a problem! Wi-Fi also enables you to connect to the Internet whilst you're out and about, as long as you are in a wi-fi enabled area (there'll be more of these areas springing up in the future I'm sure, but right now you can usually find lots in major cities and in places such as McDonalds).
- You can download music and apps directly from the iPod Touch without having to plug the iPod into your PC/laptop via the USB cable first. I therefore don't have to power up my laptop every time I want to download a new track or new app.
- The battery life is satisfactory, but only when the backlight is dimmed substantially.
- The iPod's appearance. This is undoubtedly the best looking iPod on the market right now. The screen is incredibly clear, bright, and colourful, and I love the widescreen display. The lack of buttons means there is more screen space, so is great to watch films and videos on.
- It's intuitivity. The touch ability of the iPod is fantastic - it's incredibly sensitive and you can rarely go wrong.
- You can browse the Internet using wi-fi. This makes using Facebook, Twitter, google etc a lot quicker and easier.
- The App Store is amazing, with thousands and thousands of useful apps to download either for free or usually £0.59p. The Apps are my favourite feature of the iPod Touch; without them it wouldn't allow the iPod's intuitivity to be used so well.
- You can connect your iPod Touch to your wireless broadband at home. Therefore, no need to pay a higher mobile phone contract tariff which enables you to use the Internet on your mobile phone. If your kids use their mobile phones to use Facebook/Twitter/Bebo/YouTube etc, you can go on these for FREE on the iPod Touch. Just download the free Apps and connect your iPod up to your wireless broadband and go with it!
- It is wi-fi enabled, so you can surf the web on your iPod Touch whilst you're out and about, but only if you're in a wi-fi enabled area. Most cafes have wi-fi (McDonalds, for example), and major cities usually have wi-fi areas.
- The sound quality is perfect.
- The 8GB model has given me plenty enough storage.
- There are hundreds of accessories to buy which can make using your iPod Touch easier. I have several accessories, such as in-car kits, so I can get the best out of the iPod.
- The iPod Touch is extremely light, so you can barely feel it whilst holding it in your hand. It is also extremely slim, so can slip easily into your pocket.
- The mirrored backing of the iPod Touch is a nuisance and, as previously mentioned, collects fingerprints and scratches too easily. The iPod Touch therefore requires cases for it to remain looking attractive, which equals more expenditure.
- I'm still unsure about whether or not I like using iTunes. There are several iPods' in my household all linked up to different PCs and laptops which makes it difficult to keep apps on the iPods as they get wiped off if plugged into a different PC.
- It is wi-fi enabled but obviously you have to be in a wi-fi enabling area to be able to connect to the Internet. So far, I haven't encountered a problem with this, as I have generally using the Internet on the iPod Touch at home connected to my home broadband. It can be quite annoying, though, as most Apps require a wi-fi connection to work properly, especially if the apps are those designed to help you find stores i.e. locate a McDonalds branch, or find the nearest car park.
- The iPod earphones supplied always seem to break, despite the fact I am a careful owner. I therefore always have to purchase other earphones, which again is more expenditure. Apple should make longer-lasting earphones as the sound quality is actually very good; they just never seem to last very long!
- 8GB storage most probably won't be enough for someone who wants to store their entire music collection, video collection and thousands of Apps and games. But the price jump to the largest storage capacity is significant (about £150).
- You can't 'swipe' through songs - for example, you can't swipe your finger across the screen to change track, like you can swipe your finger to browse album artwork.
- The battery life isn't fantastic. To get the best out of your iPod Touch, you would want to be able to view the screen with 100% backlight. But doing so will mean you having to charge your iPod atleast every few hours!
- You can't view more than two things at once. For example, if I'm playing a game and I suddenly need to check my e-mails, if I close the game, I won't be able to minimise the game to check my e-mails and then return to my game afterwards. You have to completely close down the game and THEN check your e-mails. This is probably the worst part of the iPod Touch - I'm a woman and I CAN multi-task!! It infuriates me that I can only look at one thing at a time. I believe this has been a problem with iPod Touch's AND the iPhone's, but I'm quite sure the new iPhone 4 has rectified the problem and you can now multi-task and view different pages at one time. Maybe they'll develop this ability with newer iPod Touch's in the future, but it remains to be seen!
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with Apple's iPod Touch 8GB. I have been fully converted from using my trusty old iPod Classic 80GB (although I do still use that one to listen to music, but it is so much easier to use your finger to move around the iPod rather than a clickwheel!). The iPod Touch is the most intuitive touch-operated device I have used, and I am yet to discover a device that will better it. The iPod is attractive, fast, intuitive, smooth, and with the App world, it has endless usages. Now I've bought mine, I really couldn't live without it - it's like a mini-computer, I can browse Facebook and look something up on wikipedia without having to even turn my laptop on. But, as mentioned, it does have its bad points - the earphones, the mirrored backing, the battery life...but none of the bad points are serious enough to make me want to get rid of my iPod! I would recommend this product to anyone who already has an iPod but wants a model which is easier to use, for people who are interested in what the Apps have to offer (like me - and you won't be disappointed!), and to children who want to play addictive games (Angry Birds has to be the best game right now!). I can't think of anyone who I wouldn't recommend this iPod Touch to - I don't believe Apple will revert back to the traditional click-wheel devices now they have had success with the iPod Touch, and this truly is the way forward. If you're sceptical about touch-devices, give this one a try! You won't be disappointed!
Thanks for reading - Sonic4290.