This is an impartial review based on my experience of the iPod Touch 2nd Generation, and other Personal Media Players.
+ WiFi and Safari Browser. Superb mobile browsing experience. For example, you can stream BBC iPlayer to the Touch perfectly. A real joy.
+ Youtube widget for playback of youtube videos.
+ Integrated Nike + Support, so that you can use the device as a training tool for exercise.
+ App Store. You can download from thousands of Apps on iTunes, including games, and stream internet radio, for instance.
+ Superb capacitive glass touch screen. Older touch screens use `resistive' technology. These work on a different principle, and are less responsive. (The Archos 5 uses a resistive screen. The Cowon S9, however, uses a capacitive one like the iPod Touch).
+ Incredible User Interface. Beautifully conceived and implemented. Music and Videos are organised with an astonishing attention to the user's goals, and you regularly feel that Apple designers have read your mind when you go about tasks.
Here's an example: you wish to download a podcast. You go to an internet address in Safari. Safari automatically grabs the address, boots you into iTunes (on the device itself), and takes you to the podcast listing within the iTunes store. Two more clicks and you're downloading your content. That's the way things should be done.
+ Advantages over the previous generation include a dedicated volume rocker, slightly more curvaceous design, slightly improved battery life, integrated Nike + support and mini speaker.
- Very, very average sound quality. Now it is a mystery to me why so many users and reviewers overlook this issue. Having owned the Touch, I have come to the conclusion that it is stylish Swiss Army Knife whose MAIN BLADE is blunt.
It is true that many people will have no issue with the sound quality probably because their only reference point to the world of personal media players is the iPod brand. This is useful ignorance, because I would challenge anyone not to be thoroughly crestfallen with the sound of this device compared to something as cheap yet beautiful sounding as the Sansa Clip.
- Video playback. If you are happy to be locked into the iTunes universe, then you will love this device. You will endlessly pay for movies and will enjoy them on this device. If like me, however, you like to play your own physical DVDs in DivX format,in addition to a range of movie files in various formats and codecs, then the Touch is simply not your friend. It only supports a few video codecs, which means as a device for video playback, it is somewhat paralysed.
- Terrible battery life. Three hours of mixed use, and the Touch is wheezing for a recharge. It's great being a Jack of all trades, but Jack gets tired rather too quickly sometimes!
- Being `locked in' to iTunes. There are some Apple hating brand lunatics who simply disparage anything Apple for the sake of it. For me, I feel that iTunes is an excellent software (especially on a Mac) but it is also limiting. With iTunes organising my device, I can't just drag and drop files onto the Touch, and this is a bit of a pain. But you may feel different, so this one is up in the air...
Conclusion and buying advice:
Having owned it, the Touch is either superb or mediocre depending on whether you wish to buy it as 1) your mini WiFi web browser with an App Store, or as 2) your multimedia player.
1) As a mini browser, it is excellent. Browse the web, download podcasts, stream iPlayer, etc. (But remember, when you're not near a WiFi signal, none of these capabilities count for anything).
2) But as a genuine media playback device, it just does not cut the mustard. Think of it as a second rank device in a field of stellar performers. The sound quality for music playback is just average, and in some cases, embarrassing when listened to devices made by Cowon, Sansa, iRiver and Sony. And its Video playback is equally crippled by its lack of codec support.
So what is the bottom line?
Well, I owned this device but decided to sell it when I bought a £20 Sansa Clip and stopped listening to music on it because the sound quality was so much superior on the Sansa. This is not hyperbole, and I do not hate Apple. In fact, I love Apple, so do take this as objective advice.
I simply realised that my priority was sound and video quality, and that I would get all of the extra features of the Touch most important to me (namely WiFi and a stunning User Interface) when I buy a Macbook in the future.
I have since purchased a Cowon O2, which is a stellar sounding device (admittedly without the Touch's `extra' features) but in a league of its own in terms of sound quality for music playback, and movie playback. (It supports a cornucopia of music and video files and in this regard is a much more accomplished device).
So then, what are you after?
A mini WiFi enabled device with music/video as an extra? Well then buy the Touch! Go for it. You'll love it and enjoy its brilliance.
But if the answer is an audiophile experience of sound and video, do not buy this device. Start investigating a Cowon O2 or S9, or an iRiver Spinn.
Hope this helps.
- Written by a non-partisan audiophile.