Apple's iPod touch has had a radical makeover, with the fourth-generation Touch coming in the wake of the widely praised iPhone 4 and offering some of the same features. It is Apple's best iPod to date and can be considered a triple threat: a gaming console, multimedia player and internet device.
The Apple iPod touch retains a similar design to previous models, including the curved, stainless steel back and a sleek glass front. At just 7.2mm and weighing 101 grams, the Touch is very light and extremely thin. It is considerably slimmer and shorter than the iPhone 4 and the curved design means it fits in your hand comfortably while still retaining a 3.5in multitouch display.
The sleep/power button has been moved to the right-hand side on the top of the iPod touch (just like on the iPhone) and there are volume buttons on the left. The curved back means the sleep/power button sits at a slight angle. At the base of the iPod touch is a speaker on the left and 3.5mm headphone jack on the right, with the standard Apple dock connector sandwiched between them.
Like its predecessor, the new iPod touch has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, an accelerometer and ambient light sensor. The most noticeable upgrade is the addition of both front and rear cameras. Unfortunately, the rear camera only takes 0.7 megapixel photos and lacks an LED flash, so the pictures it produces are noticeably inferior to those shot with the iPhone 4.
A built-in microphone is located directly alongside the rear camera, and the iPod touch can run Apple's FaceTime video conferencing application. Unlike with the Apple iPhone 4, iPod touch owners can only make FaceTime calls using a valid e-mail address and recipients must have iOS 4.1 installed (the iPhone 4 can make FaceTime calls to phone numbers as well). Skype calls can also be made using the camera, and during testing this worked without any issues. The quality of calls is surprisingly good but this will ultimately depend on your Wi-Fi connection. Apple says FaceTime is an open standard and therefore other manufacturers can integrate the feature into their devices, but at this stage it will only work with the iPod touch and iPhone 4.
Although the iPod touch only takes 0.7 megapixel photos, it can record 720p high-definition video. You can also focus using the tap-to-focus method (the same used when taking still photos). It was hard to eliminate shaking from footage, even when holding the iPod as still as possible. A real advantage of video recording on the iPod touch is that you can download Apple's iMovie app ($5.99), which enables you edit videos shot on the phone by adding themes, transitions, music and photos.
Like the iPhone 4, the iPod touch incorporates a 'Retina' display, albeit without IPS (In-Plane Switching). Although there is not a big difference, viewing angles on the iPod touch are slightly diminished compared to the iPhone 4's display. However, with a resolution of 960x640 at 326 pixels per inch, the screen remains crystal clear.
The new iPod touch is also equipped with Apple's A4 processor which makes multitasking and general use of the device a breeze. We didn't experience any lag or applications crashing during testing and Apple's interface remains effortless to use. 3D graphics in games from the App Store (such as Sandstorm and N.O.V.A) look superb, and the iPod touch is equipped with the same three-axis gyroscope used in the iPhone 4. Apple iOS 4 also comes with Apple's Game Center, allowing multiplayer gaming.
It is easy to forget that the iPod used to be a music playing device first and foremost, but the iPod touch remains one of the best MP3 players on the market. An excellent interface, good sound quality and impressive battery life — Apple claims the touch will provide 40 hours of music and seven hours of video playback — all contribute to this, though the included earbuds could use an upgrade (and their lack of in-line microphone is a downside).
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