The fourth generation of the iPod Touch is, in a word, brilliant. It’s almost everything you love about the iPhone 4, but thinner, half the price and contract-free.
FaceTime video calls
The iPod Touch used to be the iPhone without a phone. Well, now it’s got one – kind of – thanks to a front-facing VGA camera and Apple’s FaceTime app for video calling. Fourth-gen Touch users can call each other, and iPhone 4 users, for free providing they have a Wi-Fi connection. Add a Mi-Fi portable hotspot and Skype app, and the Touch really does provide a cheap alternative to the iPhone 4. And one that’s not troubled by reception issues.
High definition heaven
With pixels so small you can't see them, the Touch’s Retina display looks incredible, although its worth noting that without IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology the viewing angle is noticeably poorer than the iPhone 4’s.
The flashless, VGA stills camera is no match for the iPhone’s, either, but the Touch’s HD video recording is fantastic. Add the iMovie app (£3) and you’ll be editing, titling and uploading hi-def movies in a matter of minutes. With competition like this, the Flip’s days could be numbered.
Must be the music
Of course, the music capabilities of the Touch are peerless, too – and you’ll get an impressive 40 hours of audio playback from a single charge (or 7 hours of video). As usual, we’d advise replacing Apple’s poor quality bundled earphones – or ditching them altogether and going wireless. Because we now have the mouthwatering prospect of streaming music, movies and photos over Wi-Fi from iPod Touch to AirPlay-compatible kit such as the new Apple TV (£100, due November 2010).
We’re expecting third-party speaker systems and hi-fis to include AirPlay, which means the iPod Touch could become the centre of your home entertainment system, with lossless Wi-Fi music streaming making lossy Bluetooth Stereo a thing of the past. We’ll let you know how the Touch and iPad deliver on this promise once we get our hands on some AirPlay kit.
Less thrilling is Apple's new social network, Ping. It’s built into the iPod Touch, and has massive potential – but at present it only allows you to share 30 second clips from the iTunes Music Store. We predict you’ll spend more time communicating with friends using Facebook, Foursquare and any of the other hundreds of thousands of apps available for iPod.
Convergence that works
When launching the new Touch, Steve Jobs pointed out that it already outsold the Nintendo DS and PSP combined. New features make it even more compelling for gamers. A three-axis gyro makes motion gaming more sensitive, while Games Centre provides an Xbox-live style online service for games.
All these new features make the iPod Touch that rarest of things: a convergence device without compromise. You’d be a fool to buy anything else.