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Review iPod Touch 4G

Stunning Retina Screen, Large Capacity, Endless Apps, Camera, Facetime...

iPod Touch 4G Review
iPod Touch 4G - Kitsound Bookdock

Review iPod Touch 4G - Hands on Review of the Latest iPod

"Shall I compare thee to an Apple iPhone 4?" Naaa!

So, why would a photography website review what is predominantly (although sometimes forgotten about) a music playing device? Well, as I figured many years ago, all media applications are starting to come together as one multimedia package. They are also being used in many genres of photography.

iPod Touch 4G - Great for Photographers

Wedding photographers like myself, are starting to use video in their slideshows as well as music. I know of a few wedding photographers that are already offering iPads and iPods to the couples instead of the traditional albums or photobooks.

These devices are also a great way of showing your portfolio of images and slideshows to prospective clients. You can do so without the hassle and bulk of carrying around a laptop. The retina screen on the iPod Touch 4G is something to behold and will clearly do your work justice.

There are already a ton of reviews out there that compare this iPod to the older or similar models as well as the iPhone 4. For someone like me that can be a little misleading or off-putting.

I mean, some of the people posting comments give a lot of negative feedback regarding some of the features when compared to completely different devices. Devices that are designed to do a different job and you never know who these people bashing the reviews are.

Is it an iPhone?

The camera is less powerful than the iPhone (its thinner)

  • It doesn't have 3G
  • Or GPS for navigation (although there are attachments for this)
  • The iPod Touch 4G CAN do "video out" to a TV whereas the iPhone can't
  • No a phone...duh! It's an MP3 player first and foremost (although more about this later ; ) but it does have Facetime like the iPhone 4
  • ...and so on.

So, from someone who has only ever owned an iPod shuffle in the past, who also owns very expensive camera and video equipment. Someone who also has a ton of music on his computer, here are my thoughts on the new iPod Touch 4G. If you are looking to upgrade from a very old model or are looking to buy your first multimedia device, I hope you find this useful.

Ok, as I wrote that last sentence, my iPod Touch 4G arrived through the post. I have just spent half an hour playing…wow! From someone who has never owned one of these before, I am immediately impressed!

iPod Touch 4G Review -1
iPod Touch 4G Review 2
iPod Touch 4G Review 3

…long pause…

Oops…two hours later and I have finally put it down and switched it off.

Before I bought the iPod Touch 4G, I did a lot of research. Reviews were read (of the 3G version as well as the rumour mill websites) and fought long and hard to decide whether or not to buy the iPhone 4G instead.

I made the right decision seeing as I don’t use my mobile that much and texting is a waste of time for me.

3 hours later and I have just put it down again. I have been testing the video on my son's football training and converting Animoto videos to MP4’s. Then I load them into iTunes and sync to the iPod...all very quick and simple.

I have played poker for an hour which I love and I have also downloaded a couple of Apps. Admittedly, a lot of the apps don't appeal but some of them are very useful for a lot of things I am interested in.

Yawn. Off to bed

It is now the next day. I woke up to a slowly increasing-in-loudness "Morning has broken" by Cat Stevens using the alarm clock app (0.59p) which is pretty cool.

So, here are my first impressions after some serious hands-on experience.

Build Quality

Dimensions are 111 x 58.9 x 7.2mm and weight is 101g

It is heavier than I thought it would be and feels solid to the touch. After just a couple of hours handling, the rear stainless steel casing was completely stained with grease from my palms. No matter how clean your hands are, this will always happen. It is quite annoying as it is a bi**h to clean. Even using lint free cloths all I seem to do is smear grease everywhere.

The same goes for the front screen which is why a screen protector is a must.

Layout and functions

Very simple, minimalistic and intuitive interface. Within minutes I felt as though I had been using this for months.

On the top of the iPod Touch 4G you have a single button for standby. Then on the left hand side you have volume up and volume down (two separate buttons) and on the base, you have the 3.5mm headphone jack, the docking port and the tiny (should that be tinny) speaker output.

At the front you have the 640 x 480 pixel resolution camera above the screen for face time calls. You also have the main screen and of course the home button. On the rear is the main camera on the top left with a tiny mic right next to it. You can also have an engraving made on the rear when buying through the Apple store. I chose "May you live all the days of your life"...I intend to!

The Screen

As you may have already read, the most significant difference and upgrade from the last iPod touch is the retina display. Even though the previous model had a stunning screen by all accounts, this is a big step up from a resolution of 380 x 320 to an eye popping 960 x 640 pixels.

A lot has been written about the display on the iPhone 4 on the web. You still get all the benefits of this high pixel density on the iPod 4G. Lovely and super clear with no pixels showing whatsoever.

Reading eBooks and PDF's is a breeze even with the smallest of text. The screen is so sensitive to the touch that all it takes is the lightest of swipes and the pages are turning. A pinch in or out zooms maps, images and web pages super fast thanks to the iOS4.1 operating system and A4 processor. Both of which are found in the iPhone 4 and iPad…lightning quick and quite therapeutic!

Kick Starting

When first switching on the iPod Touch 4G, you are asked to connect it to your computer. Once you do this it automatically opens iTunes and starts to sync. As usual, I prefer to sync manually. In the settings menu, the time and date were already set so no need to do anything there. After setting the brightness of the screen, the volume, wallpaper and other general settings I was done!

Setting it up (Wi-Fi etc)

The next thing I did in the settings menu was to set up the internet. As soon as I clicked on "Wi-Fi" my home connection appeared and after entering the code I was online…simples! There are a lot more settings you can make but these are all personal preference so I will leave it for you to discover all of those.

Facetime

Apple Facetime is a new feature introduced in the iPod Touch 4G, the iPhone and the iPad at a point in time. If it isn't already at the time of reading this.

 With Facetime, you can make video calls between compatible devices using the front facing camera and a Wi-Fi connection. The benefits of this are that you can spin the unit around to show your chat companion what it is that you are seeing in the blink of an eye.

I have had video calling on my old Nokia for over 4 years but have never used it. Actually, I tell a lie, I used it once to test it and then never again. This makes me wonder if I would ever use Facetime other than with my kids or some special family occasion. Certainly not for important business calls. I think Skype is much more likely to be used.

Skype

If you already have a Skype account, this couldn't be simpler to set up on your iPod Touch 4G. You simply go to the Skype website where it invites you to open the download in iTunes. Click this button and iTunes pops open and starts downloading the App. Sync your iPod and it automatically loads and installs Skype.

Once loaded, hit the app icon and Skye opens. Put in your username and password and you are in. Plus the app loads all of your contacts in seconds meaning it matches Skype on your computer exactly.

The addition of a microphone on the iPod Touch 4G is an obvious benefit with no need for add on peripherals such as a new set of headphones with built in mic. I made a quick call to my wife's mobile phone and she said the call was as clear as a normal phone…bonus! Then, I used the headphones rather than the built in speaker and I recommend you do the same unless you want everyone hearing your conversation.

Is it a Phone?

Well, no it isn't. Facetime and Skype both need a Wi-Fi connection to work so you cannot use it for calling anywhere. However, during my research I came across a lot of talk regarding a new application and means to turn the iPod Touch 4G into an iPhone.

All you need to do is go to a site that will "jailbreak" your iPod Touch 4G and install a new app. Then, you buy (from somewhere in Japan at the moment) a casing that houses an extra battery giving you more power. It also has a slot for your Sim card…contract or pay-as-you-go.

This then turns your iPod Touch 4G into a fully functional mobile phone!

I am not going to post links or give any more details than that as for one I don't yet know if this is legal or not. Plus I cannot vouch for the safety of jail-breaking your brand new and expensive iPod Touch! If you hear anything, please post your comments below.

Sound Quality

Sound quality from the tiny built in speaker is as you would expect, quite poor but adequate for general use. The supplied headphones on the other hand are pretty good. However, they lack any inline remote which is pretty poor as you don't want to be pulling the iPod Touch 4G out of your pocket every time you want to change the track or volume.

To change tracks there is a feature you can switch on that will go to the next song at the shake of the unit.

I have the iPod shuffle and there is a noticeable difference for the better with the iPod Touch 4G headphones. This is despite their lacking in controls. You have to control the volume output via a slider on the screen or the volume controls on the side of the unit.

External Speakers

I went to my local electrical retailer this morning to try out some speaker docks. It came as no surprise that the sound quality from each (ranging from a portable £20 set to a £300 Bose beauty) increased with cost.

The cheaper units were tinny, barely any bass and for me, not worth spending money on. I also tried the Bose set which as you would expect for £300 were incredible but out of my league when all they do is play tunes from your iPod/iPhone. If they had a clock, radio or dishwasher attached I may be tempted.

I love good sounds but not that much!

Panasonic SP100 dock

Then I tried a mid range Logitech unit which was pretty good and came in at around £50. Next I tried the Panasonic SP100 dock for £79 and the difference was amazing!

Deep bass with great surround sound from such a small, strangely shaped unit. I think I will go for that one when the wife isn't looking.

18.10.10 - Scratch that! I just bought the amazing KitSound BoomDock from Amazon. The sound is incredible and quality all round is unbeatable. Ordered Friday, dispatched on Sunday, arrived Monday morning. No need to put a review here, read the vast amount of positive reviews at Amazon and buy it. Stunning piece of kit and well under-priced in my opinion!

iPod Touch 4G - Kitsound Bookdock

Image Quality (Stills)

All I can say is do not buy this device for its camera! The image quality is poor to say the least, even in near perfect conditions. Low resolution, grainy and lacking in detail. If the exposure looks dark, you can quickly tap the part of the screen you want to expose for and it quickly alters the exposure.

The camera is not autofocus however, it is fixed which adds more limitations.

Bear in mind that my usual camera is the Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 21 megapixels so I have been somewhat spoiled. Even so, you would think they would at least put in the same camera as the iPhone 4. I am told this would make the iPod Touch 4G much thicker (plus it may sway more people away from buying the iPhone 4).

Resolutions are 640 x 480 pixels from the front camera and 960 x 720 for the rear.

As a snappy camera for recording silly events and goings on, this is just about adequate. However, I expect people to take along their camera phones or other, more suitable cameras to such events. I can't really see myself using the camera but that's not why I bought the iPod Touch 4G.

Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G
Review iPod Touch 4G

Picture Quality (Video)

Video quality on the other hand is more acceptable. Again, I am trying not to compare this to the 5D Mark II or Sony PMW EX1. Both of these are pretty much broadcast quality HD video cameras that I use.

I have read a lot of reports on the iPod Touch 4G video with many people complaining about how poor it is! Pleeeease! This is predominantly a music/entertainment device "weighing in" at just 7.2mm thick...what do you expect?

There is a general lack of sharpness and detail but overall, I am more likely to use the video feature than the camera. I was actually quite surprised at the quality of the sound pick up. Not bad at all and the fact you can shoot and upload straight to YouTube is a bonus (Wi-Fi connection permitting). There are video editing apps you can download to trim and edit clips too.

YouTube clips, iTunes movie trailers and general videos rendered from better quality cameras do look quite stunning on the Retina display. You still have to convert and run your videos through iTunes to add them to your iPod Touch 4G. It is not possible to simply drag and drop.

Format support is pretty weak so if you want to load a bunch of videos in different formats, you have some work to do to convert them. However, Apple have a bunch of apps and support service on hand.

Gaming

Along with iOS4.1 comes the Games Centre which is in early stages of its life and development. For the purposes of this review, I purchased WSOP (World Series of Poker)…wow! A great gaming experience and very addictive.

I played a couple of games against the computer and came 3rd out of 9 virtual players a few times. Then I played an online game against real people, multiplayer style, and won my first game. For 59 full English pence this is a great piece of software!

  • Long battery life
  • Incredibly fast and power-efficient A4 chip
  • Astounding Retina display
  • 3-axis gyro

All this makes games on the iPod Touch 4G possibly the best they've ever been on any mobile device.

Games

The choice of games is quite large with everything from brain training to Prince of Persia and all the old classics such as Scrabble. Add to that, Boggle, Monopoly, Blackjack, Pacman, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Battleships, Sim City, Final Fantasy, Need for Speed. Plus Football Manager, Fifa World Cup, Tiger Woods PGA…the list is endless! The Games categories are:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Arcade
  • Board
  • Card
  • Casino
  • Dice
  • Educational
  • Family
  • Kids
  • Music
  • Puzzle
  • Racing
  • Role Playing
  • Simulation
  • Sports
  • Strategy
  • Trivia
  • Word

...I think I need to put this iPod Touch 4G away somewhere dark and out of reach.

Music Player

One word...brilliant! This is what the iPod was originally made for and it is still an amazing music player. The album art make it a pleasure scrolling through the tracks and the sound quality and simplicity of use makes it all that much better.

When you get the Alarm Clock Pro app, you can set the music alarm to play any song or playlist with a timed volume increase to gently wake you from your slumber.

Loaded Apps

The iPod Touch 4G comes with a set of apps pre-installed including:

  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Facetime
  • Calendar
  • Photos
  • Camera
  • YouTube
  • Stock
  • Maps
  • Weather
  • Notes
  • Utilities
  • iTunes
  • App Store
  • Game Centre
  • Contacts

I recommend that you download the free eBook reader straight away (you get a free copy of Winnie the Pooh : )

Additional Apps

Where do I start? In fact I am not even going to go there but just to say the amount and diversity of apps now available is mind boggling and well into the thousands!

Well, this review has ended up being way longer than I expected, it is just that there is so much to this little gadget it will keep you occupied for hours!

Accessories

Here is a quick list of essential accessories I would greatly recommend you get along with the iPod Touch 4G:

…and here are some less essential but pretty handy add-ons:

With the absolute coolest iPhone/iPod/iPad gadget going being these funky new cinemizer glasses from Zeiss. Watch your music videos, films and home movies on a 45-Inch virtual big screen at a distance of two meters…even in 3D! They can also be used as field monitors for video (Canon EOS 7D, 5D Mark II etc).

Zeiss Cinematic for iPod Touch 4G

Review iPod Touch 4G - Update

Just a quick update a couple of weeks after writing this review due to something I found particularly useful. Today I had to visit a wedding client deep in the sticks (countryside) of North Dorset. Their house is nestled well off the beaten track and is a nightmare to find.

I spent a while using the map feature app (which comes pre-installed in the iPod Touch 4G) at home with our internet connection. To study the route from our house to theirs. Much to my surprise the map stayed in the iPod Touch 4G's internal memory when I was out on the road including all the directions much like a satnav and I didn't need any Wi-Fi hotspots. Excellent!

Take everything you read online and in reviews with a pinch of salt. If you are like me and you were around when the very first Binatone sports game was released for TV, you will be blown away by this.

Check out the video below and think about how far we have come in just over 30 years. I just hope I am still around in 2040 to see how far we have gone by then!

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