I just got our hands on the new iPod touch and while at first glance it has some incredible features there are some things that are still lacking. While the perfect device is a subjective judgment there are some obvious things that would disqualify any device from achieving this title. Apple in our opinion has some of the best designers in the industry and I believe that they are only limited by the corporate lawyers and "Digital Rights Management" DRM.
As for the new iPod touch it features the same functionality as the iPhone minus the phone. Many of us are either unable to get out of our cell phone contracts or unwilling to switch to a different network to get an iPhone so for us the iPod touch is the next best thing. This new device is not in the same classification as the traditional iPod entertainment device as it WIFI capable. What that translates into is you have access to the internet anywhere you can find a hot spot. For those of you who have not had a chance to try out Safari (Apples Browser) on the iPhone or iTouch let me tell you is miles ahead of any other micro screen interface. It is very useful and almost limitless in what you can do and navigate. I have only found a few aps that will not work, a shortcoming I am sure will be addressed in the near future. What makes the internet browsing stand out on this device as in comparison to smart-phones is the integration of the multi touch interface. This allows you to zoom in on the section of the web page you are interested and quickly move the screen around by simply dragging your finger across the screen in the desired direction. You can quickly zoom back out by simply double taping with your finger and zoom in on another part of the page.
This new iPod touch is not a hard drive based player hence the limitation on the "Hard Drive" size. This is the first time that we are seeing the 16 gig flash drive in any consumer device. Lenovo and Dell are now offering top shelf laptops that are flash based. While currently limited to 32 gigs it will not be long before we see a much larger flash based “Hard Drive” computer and that progression will quickly find its way into the iPod touch. I expect that we will see 32 gig touches before mid 2008. Our survey of iPod users had found that most people only have about 10 gigs of music but with the new wide screen format and ever expanding availability of video content we are sure to see an exponential growth in library size. I am currently using 120 gigs on my 160 gig iPod classic. Most of this space is taken up by my movie and TV shows. While you can move content on and off of the new touch with relative ease, I want to have all of my content with me at all times but I will just have to suffer with 2 iPods for the time being.
One of the things that keep the iPod touch from consideration as the “Perfect Device” is its inability to share content as the Zune can. The Zune uses a temporary file sharing system where I can transmit a file to a friend as we are sitting in the airport or at lunch, the file can be played for the next 3 days or 3 times before it expires. This is a great solution that has kept content providers happy and allows you to share your media experience with your friends. We are looking forward to a day when authoring tools will be released to publishers so that we can create content that does not expire. I am not sure why Apple has not integrated this into the touch but I think that it’s a major flaw and hope that they will release a firmware patch to allow for it.
Overall the iPod touch is a major progression in personal media devices category. It’s a great way to carry your family photo album with you and people don’t get bored in 5 seconds as they get to watch you zoom in a pan over or go from portrait to landscape view just by tilting the device in your hand. This would make a great Christmas Gift for almost anyone.
By Mark Bright
International Press Association.