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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The iPod touch fills a unique niche in the digital world. It is not a cell phone or a smart phone, but it is a small device that performs many of the other functions of a smart phone. In fact, it is like having a mini-computer in your pocket. The iPod touch has been around since 2007, so we decided to take a look at the 3rd generation iPod touch to see how it has improved.

The iPod Touch comes in a typical minimalistic Apple box. As shown in Figure 1, the iPod touch can be seen through the plastic cover on the box. The box itself is simply labeled with the Apple logo and the words “iPod touch.”

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 1: The iPod touch in the box

Inside the box you will find the black iPod touch, a small “Start Here” Guide, a dock adapter, and the customary hard earbud headphones. Also included, but not shown, is a white USB charging cable. If you are not a fan of the cheap earbuds that come with iPods, you may want to replace them with something more comfortable. Be sure, however, to keep the dock adapter. It will be useful for any speakers or charging systems that you may acquire in the future.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 2: What’s in the box

Measuring 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33 inches (110 x 61.8 x 8.5 mm) and weighing 4.05 ounces (115 grams), the look and feel of the 3G iPod touch is very similar to the 2G model. However, this model is quite a move forward in terms of capacity and operating system. This iPod touch comes in 8, 32, and 64 GB capacities. We reviewed the 8 GB model which has an MSRP of USD 199 and can store up to 1,750 songs, 10 hours of video, and 10,000 photos. The 32 GB model, which has an MSRP of USD 299, holds up to 7,000 songs, 40 hours of video, and 40,000 photos. The 64 GB version holds up to 14,000 songs, 80 hours of video, and 90,000 photos, and has an MSRP of USD 399.

The iPod touch is also similar to the iPhone in shape and size. Figure 3 shows the iPod touch on the left and the iPhone 3G on the right. The iPhone is somewhat thicker, but only slightly larger than the iPod touch.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 3: The iPod touch (left) and the iPhone 3G (right)

[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]

As shown in Figure 4, the iPod Touch comes with a crisp and clear 3.5" multi-touch display at a resolution of 480×320 pixels. Like the iPhone, you simply put your finger on the arrow and slide your finger across the gadget to unlock the device.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 4: The unlock screen

Like the iPhone, the iPod touch has only a few buttons and ports. The side of the iPod touch, shown in Figure 5, has only an up/down volume rocker. In this figure you can also see the slender chrome-finish casing, which is typical of Apple’s great design.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 5: The side of the iPod touch

The bottom of the iPod touch, shown in Figure 6, has the Apple proprietary USB charging port and a standard 3.5 mm stereo earphone jack.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 6: The bottom of the iPod touch

In Figure 7, you can see the back of the iPod touch is shiny silver. There is a speaker port on the left near the top. The sound quality of this iPod touch is as good as any other iPod and the speaker, although not great, is loud enough to be useable for games, alarms, and the like.

Figure 7 also shows the slightly raised sleep/wake button on the top of the iPod touch.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 7: The back of the iPod touch

Although Apple is pretty close-mouthed about the type of processors that it puts in its devices, we can tell you that the 8 GB 3rd generation model has a similar response time to the 2nd generation touch while the 32 and 64 GB 3rd generation models have a much faster response time and better graphic rendering.

[nextpage title=”The Operating System”]

The iPod touch comes with OS 3.1 preinstalled, but it can very easily be upgraded to iOS 4. Just attach your touch to the computer, start iTunes, and perform the update. The caveat here is that only the 32 GB and 64 GB iPod touches will get the full benefit of iOS 4. The full benefits of iOS 4 include multi-tasking, some great accessibility options, Bluetooth keyboard support, and home screen wallpaper. We especially like the zoom feature that lets you magnify the entire screen of any application.

All of the iPod touch 3rd generation models, including the 8 GB model, get the ability to create folders to store your apps. With the iTunes store offering over 100,000 apps, this is a very welcome organizational tool.

All models also get iBooks, which lets you download and organize Apple’s book selections on your iPod touch.

iOS4 also has a unified inbox which lets you organize your email messages by threads and allows you to see messages from various accounts in one place.

Built-in apps include a calendar, contacts, notes, stocks, weather, and a calculator. Of course, if you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can download additional apps directly from the iTunes store or you can download them to iTunes on your PC or Mac and then sync the touch with the computer.

As with the iPhone and previous iPod touch models, the built-in accelerometer allows the on-screen keyboard to easily change between horizontal and vertical orientations when you turn the device. The keyboard in vertical orientation is shown in Figure 8. The keyboard in horizontal orientation is shown in Figure 9. As you can see the horizontal orientation gives you a little more finger room. In either orientation, however, the on-screen keyboard is very responsive.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 8: The on-screen keyboard in vertical position

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 9: The on-screen keyboard in horizontal position

[nextpage title=”Entertainment”]

The iPod touch is first and foremost an iPod. It uses iTunes to sync your music. Whether you love or hate iTunes, it is a fairly easy way to sync your music. It supports playlists and album covers. Supported audio formats are: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV.

From the Music area of the touch, you can select music, videos, podcasts, and audio books. The on-screen choices are shown in Figure 10. The 32 GB and 64 GB versions also give you voice controls. This allows you to press the home button and tell the iPod touch which song or playlist to play. You can also ask which song is playing and the touch will answer you. Although we found this a bit gimmicky, it could be useful if you listen to music on the iPod touch while driving.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 10: The music area

The touch uses Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) to connect to the Internet, where you can purchase music, movies, and TV shows. If you tire of listening and/or viewing digital media, you can turn to the Apple App store where you can choose from over 100,000 applications. The App store has a wide selection of games that are sure to keep you entertained.

[nextpage title=”PC in Your Pocket”]

The iPod Touch is a little PC in your pocket. You can use it for email as well as surfing the web. Everything is easy to set up. Just press the Settings icon and you will be taken to a screen similar to the one shown in Figure 11. From there you can turn on the Wi-Fi and the iPod touch will automatically connect to the network of your choice. You can also change the brightness and other general settings in this area.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation ReviewFigure 11: The Settings area

As mentioned earlier, there is now a unified in-box, which makes it easier to use more than one email address. Email is easy to set up and easy to use.

The built-in Safari web browser along with the multi-touch screen makes it easy to surf the web although, as with other Apple products, there is no support for Flash.

The touch has Google maps and navigation, but there is no GPS support. It will, however, use Wi-Fi triangulation to trace your location. While this is far from perfect, it certainly is better than nothing.

While there are plenty of apps for game-playing, there are also productivity apps that allow you to get some work done on the iPod touch.

The iPod touch uses the typical sealed-in rechargeable lithium ion battery. Apple claims up to 30 hours audio or 6 hours video playback. We found that we could easily use the touch heavily for an entire day without recharging. It has a fast-charge, which lets it get up to 80% charge in about 2 hours.

Apple continues its commitment to our environment with the iPod touch. It is made of Arsenic-free display glass. It is BFR and PVC-free. The LED-backlit display is mercury-free, and the stainless steel enclosure is highly recyclable.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]The main specifications for the iPod touch 3rd generation are as follows:

  • Dimensions: 4.3" x 2.4" x 0.33" (110 x 61.8 x 8.5 mm)
  • Weight: 4.05 ounces (115 grams)
  • Available Capacities: 8 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB 
  • Display: 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
  • Resolution: 480 x 320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • Audio impedance: 32 ohms
  • Wireless connections: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Video: Support for 480p and 576p component TV out
  • Video codecs: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels at 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps at 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • Language support:  English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, and Croatian
  • Keyboard language support:  English (U.S.), English (UK), French (France), French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German, Traditional Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, and Zhuyin), Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (QWERTY), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Estonian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Flemish, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Serbian
  • Dictionary support (enables predictive text and autocorrect): English (U.S.), English (UK), French, German, Traditional Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin, and Zhuyin), Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese (QWERTY), Japanese (Kana), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Arabic, Thai, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Slovak, and Croatian
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Playback time: up to 30 hours when fully charged (music) or up to 6 hours when fully charged (video)
  • Full-charge time: about 4 hours
  • More Information: https://www.apple.com
  • MSRP in the US: USD 199 (8 GB), USD 299 (32 GB), or USD 399 (64 GB)

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The iPod touch is more than just a music player. It is truly a PC in your pocket. Use it to listen to music, watch movies, play games, check email, or surf the web. Except for making phone calls, it can do just about everything a smart phone can do, but with no monthly charges.

At a suggested price of USD 199, the 8 GB model hits a good price point and is adequate for most things. Although more costly, 32 GB and 64 GB versions have added speed as well as increased storage and improved capabilities that will make them very appealing for heavy use and gaming. Apple has done a great job of providing a pocketable device that is very capable. Even with the introduction of the iPad, which has a larger screen, the iPod touch still has plenty of functionality. We look forward to future versions of the iPod touch.

Pros:

  • Excellent thin desig
    n
  • Very good audio quality
  • Good touch screen
  • Adequate speaker
  • Support for a wide variety of audio and video formats
  • Good battery life
  • Support for podcasts, audio books, and iBooks

Cons:

  • Battery not user-replaceable
  • Hard, uncomfortable earbuds
  • No flash
  • 8 GB model does not take full advantage of iOS4 features