Review by bover_87

"A little pricey, but well worth it if you don't have a smartphone. [iPod touch 4th Gen]"

The iPod touch 4th Gen model is generally good, although a little pricey. It does practically everything you could do with other electronic devices except call cellphones; between the included apps and the 3rd party apps that can be downloaded from the App Store, the options are limitless, especially if you're willing to dish out a little extra cash. That said, it generally isn't worth buying if you already have a smartphone, since they can do many of the things iPod touch can.

As a gaming platform, the iPod touch is decent. It certainly is not bad in terms of gaming, but many of the gaming apps available are relatively simple compared to other modern portable gaming platforms (for example, the DS or PSP). On the other hand, games for the iPod touch are significantly cheaper than games for dedicated video game platforms (many popular iPod touch games cost less than $5). If you only want a gaming platform, you should look elsewhere, but the iPod touch adds enough features in other areas that it is overall worth the cost.

As a music player, iPod touch is excellent. However, because of the cost, if you only intend to use it as a music player you should consider other options that are much more cost effective (for example, iPod Classic models hold quite a bit more music than the iPod touch and are significantly cheaper). Nevertheless, iPod touch has excellent sound quality so long as you use headphones or external speakers (the internal speaker is very quiet and has relatively poor sound quality, similar to a laptop's internal speaker). Also, the included music player is very intuitive and generally acts like a simplified iTunes.

A noteworthy feature of the iPod touch is that it can play (and record) video. While not unique to iPod touch, most portable audio players are incapable of playing videos. Videos can be downloaded from iTunes or synced from your computer to the iPod just like audio.

iPod touch's interface is very intuitive and easy to learn. In most cases the action performed by a specific finger movement is as if you were using a physical version of something. For example, flicking the screen will scroll in that direction; the faster you move your finger, the faster the screen moves. Tapping something will usually open or load whatever is represented by what you tapped; put two fingers on the screen and move them to zoom in and and out, and so on. The only difficulties come in aiming your finger, as in some cases the area you have to press is very small. Generally, though, one can simply pick up an iPod touch and just start using it.

The fourth generation iPod touch includes some nice upgrades over previous iPod touch models. Perhaps the most notable is that it includes Apple's Retina display, the same display used by the iPhone 4.This display gives the iPod touch superb image quality which is noticeably better than previous models' screens.

Another noteworthy improvement in the 4th generation model is that the processor has been upgraded to the A4, giving the iPod touch 4th Generation model more processing power compared to its predecessors. Previous iPod touch models use the Samsung ARM processor, which is significantly slower than the A4. While many apps will run just fine on the slower processor, some apps, games in particular, need the more powerful processor to function at the intended speed.

Another addition to the 4th generation iPod touch is the two cameras, one on either side. The camera on the back of the iPod touch allows you to take pictures, while the camera on the front is meant for use with Apple's FaceTime video conferencing app. The quality of the front camera is quite low (960x720 resolution for still images and 1280x720 and 720p for videos, with 0.7 megapixels--ouch!), but you can still use it as a backup camera in a pinch (it IS smaller than most dedicated cameras, after all).

One of the most advertised features of the iPod touch 4th Generation model, like with the iPhone 4, is FaceTime video conferencing support; however, in reality this probably doesn't mean that much for most people. For one thing, the only people who can make use of this feature as of the date of this review are other iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th Generation owners. As both the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4th Generation are both relatively new, it is very likely that the person you wish to call can't use FaceTime at all. Also, in order for FaceTime, both parties must have WiFi access; it will not work for iPhone 4 owners on 3G networks. That being said, if you can get past all of these hurdles FaceTime is a very cool feature, considering it lets you do video conferencing on a mobile device.

Also nice is the battery life of the iPod touch 4th generation. It is higher than in the older iPod touch models, and in fact other iPod models in general, in large part due to having a better processor. The difference is actually quite subsantial; you can get about 40 hours of audio playback on a 4th Generation iPod touch as compared to only 30 on the 3rd Generation model, or 36 on the iPod classic models currently in production.

The primary reason to buy an iPod touch, however, lies not so much in the included hardware and software functionality as in outside applications, or "apps." You can download apps to the iPod touch using the included App Store, which gives you access to a broad range of apps in many different areas. Want games? Numerous options await you, ranging from classic puzzle games to RPGs to brand-new first-person shooters and beyond. Want to leave notes on your iPod simply by talking to it? There's an app for that. Your favorite website is difficult to use on your iPod touch because its format is meant for a regular computer? Chances are there's an app to make browsing it easier. (On the other hand, as of the writing of this review GameFAQs has no such official app.) Need to figure out how how much the money in your wallet is worth in euros? You can do that with apps, too. Want to receive Facebook notifications directly on your iPod touch? The App Store has a solution yet again. The App Store has answers for practically every need imaginable, and is available with the touch of an icon on the screen from anywhere there's WiFi access. One caveat with the App Store: many apps cost extra money to download. While this is normally no more than two or three dollars for most non-free apps, it is enough to make you stop and think whether an app is really needed. Between the included hardware and software of the iPod touch and the App Store, the iPod touch does practically everything except be your cellphone (and it can even do that under the right circumstances with FaceTime).

Be aware that the iPod touch, like other iPod models, requires a computer with iTunes in order to function. The first time you turn it on, the iPod touch will do nothing until you connect it to a computer with iTunes. You also need iTunes in order to put music and videos on your iPod touch from your computer. This is not a huge problem, however; iTunes itself is a very solid media player.

The only real drawback of the iPod touch is the cost. As of the writing of this review, the cheapest iPod touch model (an 8 GB 4th Generation model) costs $229, with the higher-capacity versions costing more still. Compare this to the iPod classic, where a model holding 160 GB costs only $20 more than the 8 GB iPod touch (and this is to say nothing of the Zune or other competing music players), and one will quickly see that the iPod touch is rather expensive.

Overall, while the iPod touch is rather expensive and merely "okay" as a gaming platform, its primary selling point is its extreme versatility--you can play music, go on the internet, and do any number of other tasks, all on the same portable device. If you are only looking for a music player or portable gaming device, there are better options out there, but few devices pull off the "jack of all trades" idea as well as the iPod touch.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/07/10

Game Release: iPod Touch (4th Gen) (US, 09/08/10)

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