iPod touch (4th generation) review

The iPod touch is now even slimmer (7.2mm), comes with iOS 5, and supports iCloud – a neat way of accessing your music and photo stream from anywhere via the web. (See review overleaf.) The iMessage feature now lets you send messages over Wi-Fi too.

Not everything that runs on the iPhone 4 and 4S (which have superior video processors) will do so on the iPod touch, but most items, including GarageBand, will. Don’t expect the graphics-intensive iMovie with its real-time video capture. Similarly, you don’t get the Siri voice-recognition app on the iPod touch version of iOS 5.  

See also: New iPod touch rumours, release date, and leaked images

The 960x640-pixel widescreen display is ideal for gaming. With your Apple ID you can log in, create a gaming alias and do battle with friends. The Games Center allows you to play online and issue friend requests based on your contacts list. When a friend accepts your request , you get a triumphant “do-do-do-doo-do-doo”.  

Music is, of course, still central to the iPod touch. Album art is displayed by default. Fingertip control of the volume – Apple has sensibly stuck with a large blob on a slider for this – and playlist creation is a breeze. You can delete items from a playlist as well as editing them, making it easy to lose the filler tracks on an album, for example.

The usual white earbud earphones are included in the package, but you’ll want a better pair in order to enjoy the impressive audio that the touch can produce. We had to try very hard to introduce any note of distortion.

It may be just 7mm thick, but the iPod touch can withstand being turned up to the max without noticeable vibrations or other aural discomfort.

There’s a new Newsstand icon with subscriptions to magazines and newspapers. Click on the Newsstand icon on your iPod and browse the list of titles available. Note that while there are many titles listed as ‘free’, most initiate
a paid-for rolling subscription.

Contacts, reminders and email have been subtly improved, while Notes tapped out on other iOS devices are automatically synced to your email account once iCloud is set up. FaceTime works by calling a contact from your phone menu. When they pick up, a video call is initiated and the touch’s camera trains itself on you.

Quick pics

The touch’s camera is noticeably faster than before. You can’t quite take shots in burst mode, but we got suitable sharp shots of a highly detailed greyscale image that we quickly zoomed in and out of. Colour reproduction tends to saturate elements, but is well-balanced overall.

Photos, video and other visuals all look absolutely great on the iPod touch’s screen, of course: it has the sharpest pixel pitch of any portable entertainment device. The resolution is 960x640 pixels: the same as the iPhone 4 and 4S.  
Items in the Photo menu now become part of your Photostream. Non-Mac users will still have to import images manually once the iPod touch shows up in Windows as a portable device.

Essentially, the iPod touch continues to be a lightweight alternative to the iPhone. It weighs 102g compared with the 135g of the iPhone 3GS, 137g of the iPhone 4 and 140g of the 4S, and is even thinner than its previous incarnation. A by-product of this, however, seems to be an increased and irritating susceptibility to scratches.

OUR VERDICT

We’re smitten with the latest version of the iPod touch on almost every level. Additions such as Photo Stream and the editable playlists really enhance the player’s usability, while iCloud addresses some of the ‘tied to iTunes’ concerns we’ve raised in the past. If you’re happy to forgo the delights of the Siri talking assistant, the touch is an irresistible buy.

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