Apple iPod Touch Review (2010) 
Home Theater Audio Sources MP3 Players
Written by Mike Flacy   
Thursday, 09 September 2010

The iPod Touch has been the staple of Apple’s iPod lineup for the past few years, specifically for those looking for all the functionality of the iPhone, just without the hefty AT&T contract.  Apple recently announced their new lineup of iPods, releasing revamped versions of the Shuffle, a much smaller iPod Nano and a version of the Touch that holds many similarities to the iPhone 4.  Much of the focus on upgrading this year’s version of the Touch came on the internal hardware side, which also allowed for new features to pop up on the Touch (heavily supported by new apps).

There’s a ton of new functionality in the iPod Touch, mostly due to the inclusion of the hardware from the iPhone 4.  You are going to find the speedy A4 CPU powering the Touch as well as 512MB of internal RAM.  The display has been upgraded to the same Retina quality of the iPhone 4, a 960 by 640 resolution with a 326 pixel density.  You can clearly see the difference in quality between the previous generation and the new Touch in the clarity of the text and detail of new applications with high resolution graphics.  The display is much brighter than the previous Touch as well.

Flat Design

The screen is the same size as the previous model (3.5 inches) and the design of the casing is identical.  The volume buttons are still on the side, headphone jack / power button up top and the dock connector port is at the bottom of the Touch.  The size is extremely thin, measuring in at 7.2 millimeters (or just under 0.3 inches).  It also weighs less than the previously models at just over 3.5 ounces.  The sleek design is ideal for carrying around in pockets, much like shifting from the 3G to the iPhone 4.  

It also comes with built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Nike+ functionality, Bluetooth 2.1 and 3-axis gyro (as well as the accelerometer).  The Touch comes with two cameras, one rear facing and one front facing for video Facetime calls.  The rear camera isn’t the same quality of the iPhone 4 camera and it’s rated barely a mega pixel.  There’s also no flash next to the rear camera.  Placement of the two cameras is identical to the iPhone, both at the top corners.  

Retina ViewPerformance:

Audio quality on the new iPod Touch seems much more on par with the iPhone 4 than the previous Touch, but the shift isn’t dramatically different.  The internal speaker still stinks, nothing like the quality increase that we heard in the iPad.  Obviously, the way to listen to the Touch is through a quality set of headphones or earbuds.  We tested out several pairs of headphones from Klipsch, Ultimate Ears, Monster, and Sennheiser.  For listening in the house, I preferred the HD 650’s from Sennheiser and while on the go the Ultimate Ears 700 did the trick.  The Ultimate Ears earbuds really wanted to make me spring for their custom built in-ear monitors.  I just need to find time to get a mold of my ear canals for the earpiece.

You are going to notice a dramatic difference in speed over the previous Touch, due to the upgraded internal hardware.  Zipping around from app to app is seamless and multitasking works perfectly.  Want to listen to Pandora over Wi-Fi while playing around on Facebook?  You can.  Apps launch much faster, specifically graphic heavy applications like games.  Touchscreen performance is excellent and I didn’t run into any problems with responsive controls.  I did miss GPS (from my iPhone 4) as it’s a predominant feature for an endless number of applications.

Picture quality from the iPod Touch rear camera is a lower quality than iPhone 4 pictures, namely due to a smaller lens, lack of zoom and the absence of the LED flash.  I’m sure Apple is excited to be bringing picture taking to the masses of iPod Touch owners, but I believe the iPhone 4 has spoiled me regarding picture quality.  Resolution of said photos is 920 by 720 and the quality (Rated at 1 Mega pixel) looks between the iPhone 2 and iPhone 3G rather than the iPhone 4.  Video recording quality is really smooth though.  It works best in high light situations outside.  I took it down to the very colorful Venice Beach over the weekend and took a few short clips of the people strolling down the boardwalk.  The audio is surprisingly good as well, likely due to the same omnidirectional microphone that’s found on the iPhone 4.
As stated earlier, the iPod Touch now comes with an internal microphone designed for FaceTime video calling (working between the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch).  I really love this idea, only because the people I would want to do FaceTime with don’t have an iPhone 4, but love their old Touch.  Video quality of Facetime is highly dependent on Wi-Fi network performance.  I tried a couple coast-to-coast calls and the video quality was moderately good.  The Touch also supports the use of phone-like applications like Skype, so feel free to make all the phone calls you want while in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Video View

I wasn’t able to test out GameCenter fully, only because the majority of the game developers have to update their applications to support the GameCenter API.  You can register your online name though and start to see how leader boards work.  There are also options in the menu for notifications, basically laying out if you want to be contacted about game challenges over your Touch.  I’m really curious to find out how notifications work between multiple Apple devices.  For instance, if you own an iPad, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch, do you get notifications on all devices?  Gaming notifications could turn annoying if not handled correctly.

While I would have preferred a higher quality camera on the iPod Touch, the iPhone 4 upgrades to the technology of the iPod Touch line are really quite phenomenal. Apple has created a device that works as Wi-Fi video phone, online mobile gaming machine, and portable camera in addition to remaining the best portable audio player on the market.  If you have a recent smart phone already, like a Droid or the iPhone 4, you are probably used to those features.  But if you currently have a previous generation of the iPod Touch, the speed, quality and new features of the new player is well worth the upgrade.   The new iPod Touch devices are priced at $229 for the 8GB, $299 for the 32GB and $399 for the 64GB. 

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