Apple 4th Generation iPod touch Review (June 1, 2011)

Posted: April 2, 2011 by Mike Hubbartt in Academia, Hardware Reviews
Tags: , , ,

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Apple iPod touch 32 GB 4th generation iPod
Price: $299.00
From: Apple (www.apple.com)

I’ve been an early adapter for several of Apple’s products. I bought (and still have) Apple’s 1st generation Shuffle, Mac Mini (G4 CPU), and AppleTV. I like them even though better versions of the products followed a relatively short time after the initial units were released, but I am still cautious about buying other 1.x or 2.x released. I did get a 3rd generation iPod Nano and love it but the next one has recording features I could have used, but it still functions well and I have no intention of getting rid of it.

We recently bought a new AppleTV (the 2.0 release) and love it, but I have been wanting either an Android or iPad tablet or something similar in function but costing less money. I decided to get a 4th generation iTouch and after using it for a week, I love it. I bought a 32GB iPod touch from the bookstore at my school (University of St. Thomas) for the same price that it is sold at stores or from Apple.

After class I took it home plugged it in to charge over night while I looked at the rest of the goodies in the package. The box for the touch is barely larger than the unit itself. There is a tiny manual, the usual Mac earphones, a cord to connect it to your computer, and a tiny manual that directs you to Apple’s site to get a larger (and far more useful) manual. The touch is thin. it appears to be 20% the thickness and weight of my archaic PalmPilot LifeDrive.

I waited overnight for the unit to charge and then began by getting the user manual and some free goodies from iTunes. Almost immediately I was notified there was a newer version of iOS 4.3, so I downloaded and installed it without a problem. The first thing app I got from iTunes was the remote control app to control our new AppleTV. I used the remote control app to go through the AppleTV options and it worked as well as the remote included with the AppleTV. I also grabbed the NASA app and a few astronomy-related free apps, then downloaded the new commercial Astronomy Course Assistant app from Wolfram ($4.99 at the iTunes store). What can I say? I’m into astronomy and Ted (few contributor on our site) always touts how the iPhone and iPad are great tools for astronomy. You know what? He’s right.

I decided to test streaming movies, so I selected several digit downloads from my iTunes library and synced them to the touch, then streamed the content to the AppleTV. It worked flawlessly. We saw the 2.5 hr Robin Hood movie (the Russell Crowe version, not the dreaded Kevin Costner version) and it was as smooth at play and fast forward as our 1st generation AppleTV when playing and fast forwarding locally stored content (on the internal drive).

Something I didn’t know (should have read more of the manual, I know) was that, when streaming, the touch will send an entire playlist to the AppleTV. To take advantage of that, I went into iTunes and added some new playlists to show the movies I wanted by category.

I used the camera indoors – this generation of the touch has forward and rear-facing cameras and both looked good in the situations when I used them. I took a few pictures but did not do any HD recording, but I will this Spring. I should mention that the 4th generation has what Apple calls Retina Display – it just means they put more pixels of images per area of the scree, so it the content is clear and sharp. Very nice.

I tested FaceTime to call a friend with an iPhone. Dave-Bob and I worked together years ago at a company called BORN, and Dave-Bob has a 4th generation iPhone, so I added him to my contacts list. With my touch accessing the internet with wifi, I called and chatted with Dave-Bob for 15 minutes. We both were really impressed, as it worked so well. The images were clear and updated at a decent (although not flawless) rate. We both were able to switch between the front-facing and read-facing cameras during the call. This feature requires that the receiver has a current version iPod or iPad, so it won’t work with cell phones or landlines, but it is very cool and one of the best reasons to have a new touch/iPhone.

I have some work to do before I’m fully over to the touch. I need to get some music loaded, plus I need to export my PalmPilot data and import it into the touch.

June 1, 2011 Update

I installed a few more apps recently and they are decent:

  • Solitaire – free, but it runs ads before the start of every game and they are a pain to deal with
  • Tetris – old school, but addictive
  • BurgerTime – one of my wife’s favorites and the reason she hijacks my iPod Touch every night
  • Madden NFL – free; the eval version which lets you play a quarter (probably much better on an iPad)
  • Pandora – free; streaming music organized by genre

Email and Tweet alerts continue to be an excellent reason to have the touch nearby while working on code or writing articles. I rarely use the headset at home but have used it several times while on campus.

May 23, 2011 Update

I’ve installed a number of apps since this review was posted on April 2. The ones I liked best are:

  • Angry Birds – $1.99; as easy and addictive as Tetris, and I enjoy playing it a few minutes a day
  • Skype – free; it works as well as the version on my laptop
  • Twitter – free; it also works as well as the version on my laptop
  • WordPress – free; and the Stats section provides a nice way to monitor traffic at my blogs
  • Food Network – $1.99; it has a lot of easy yet tasty recipes

Alerts are an excellent reason for having a new iPod touch. While in sleep mode, my iPod uses WiFi to notify me when I have new email or a new Tweet. I don’t have to stop working on a program or website to see if I need to respond to someone, which is very handy.

CONCLUSION

The new touch is not only good for music and movies, it should be invaluable in college classrooms. My school (UST) does provide support for the touch/iPhone and I expect I’ll test that out when I take it to class next week. I could have used the HD video recording capability last semester in my web design class, but also think it will come in useful this summer when I’m outside on the biking trails. Overall, I really like it and feel it is as good (and useful) of a purchase as my Macbook. Now I have no reason to put off learning how to develop for the touch, and maybe I can create something that will help fund future Apple product purchases. Now that would be nice indeed.

POSITIVES

  • Thin, light, powerful, and a bargain for the features.
  • Auto-reorientation: switches between portrait and landscape easily.
  • Easy to navigate between screens and applications by gesture.
  • Absolutely gorgeous display – small or not, it is easy to read.
  • Video calls over wi-fi connections with another 4th generation touch/iPhone rocks.
  • Good quality video – HD quality recording according to Apple.
  • Streaming content to our AppleTV was flawless – I particularly like having the Touch connected to my Macbook to recharge it and to have the Touch stream a movie at the same time (saving valuable battery life).
  • Use the Remote App to to add Playlists to organize iTunes movies – we put series together in each playlist, so we can watch as few or many of the series without needing to manually select them.

NEGATIVES

  • When watching a movie on the touch, the screen was dark. I know that was due to the low light level in the room, but it wasn’t a simple matter to easily adjust the brightness and I’d like to see Apple include that in a future update of the video player.
  • My fingers are a bit large for doing a lot of typing on the on screen keyboard – I’d love it if they’d let me use a stylus or external keyboard the way I do with my PalmPilot. I’d really like being able to use my Apple wireless keyboard with the touch, and hope Apple does provide that functionality in a later update to iOS.

RECOMMENDATION

5 Stars. Buy it. If you have a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation iPod, this version is far and away the best I’ve seen. I like my 3rd generation Nano, but it will strictly serve as a backup from now on. I know Apple will release another update, probably this Fall, but I don’t see what they can add besides more memory or a faster processor to make an improvement over this release. My wife also likes it and she let me know this touch will become hers when we get an iPad later this year. She loves playing games on it, and is interested in being able to use it to stream movies to other AppleTVs in our house.

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Comments
  1. dfasdf says:

    The only thing wrong with it is it doesn’t have a sharp edge to fend off the assilents,

  2. Tim says:

    How did you transfer the info from your Palm to the I Touch. I need to do the same for my wife?

    Tim

  3. andre says:

    I like this review,i is explane clearly what i needed to know about the 4th generation .
    Thanks.

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