Thursday, December 27, 2007

iPod Touch Review

So, I got an iPod Touch (is it officially an iTouch?) for Christmas.  8Gig.  Given that in my history of listening to podcasts on my 60gig video I never went above 10gig, I think I can safely live with 8.  I have to admit that while I am highly impressed with the technology and the innovative interface, I continue to be disappointed with the lipservice that Apple pays to podcasting.  This is still very much an MP3 music player that can do other things, instead of a true personal media device.

First, some positives:

* The WiFi works great.  I was able to connect both at home (WEP) and at work (WPA) without problem.  I am happy to discover that sites like GMail work just fine, so I can check mail from the thing.  The browser (Safari) is very good, even handling multiple tabs/pages.

* The touchscreen is amazingly intuitive in ways you can't even imagine.  My particular favorite is the "two finger spread", where you literally just stretch the screen out and watch it zoom under your fingers.  Very nice.

* You can delete videos.  I've always wanted a delete button.  After all, with podcasts you typically listen once and you're done, so why go through the hassle of continually syncing it? 

...and that's about it for the positives.  I mean, everything else is fine.  The widescreen form is nice, but I was living without it.  And it plays music the same way it always has.


And now, the negatives.

* No offline storage.  With iPods as far back as I can remember there was a Notes feature which you could hack into storing text files.  With the Touch having Safari and a PDF reader, I was really hoping to store some PDFs and have a nice little ebook reader.  No such luck.  If you're not connected, you're not reading.  No idea why they took this out, I want it back.  True, with only 8gig you don't have as much storage to work with, but I can live with that.  I hear rumors that they're putting it back in.  (There is a hack floating around that allows you to do offline reading, but it only works for HTML files less than 100k.  Many ebooks out of Project Gutenberg are bigger than that.)

* Treatment of video is surprisingly secondary to the music player.  For instance, no video playlists.  You can watch movies and tv shows that you bought from itunes, or you can go through your video podcasts one episode at a time, but you cannot create a video playlist. 

* Then, it will always switch the widescreen, regardless of how you are holding the device (something that it can detect).  Which would be fine, except that the menu stays in regular mode.  So if you watch many video podcasts of short length you are constantly turning the device back and forth for no real reason. 

* You can delete videos, yes, but you can't delete anything else.  What's the logic there, exactly - that videos are bigger?  Because I'd bet that a 10second YouTube video of some fratboy getting punched in the crotch takes up less space than an hour long IT Conversations lecture.

* What's the story with a big honkin YouTube button on my main screen?  Don't care don't care don't care.  There's a dozen different video sites I'd rather go to.  Having something like that hardwired so blatantly in this day and age is like buying a highdef television with a big button on the top that says "DEMO".  It's fine when you're trying to make the sale, but the second you get it home it's useless and taking up space.

* Podcasts continue to be secondary, regardless of what Apple says.  Where are they?  Under the "Music" button.  It even says so in the manual - "Press the Music button to hear Music, Podcasts and Audiobooks."  Does that sound stupid to anybody else?  Reminds me of how Microsoft put the Shutdown button underneath Start.

* You can go to iTunes directly from the device, but hey look, no podcasts.  Just stuff to buy.  That should be pretty telling, there.  That's not a convenience for you, it's a portable cash register for Apple.

* Unless I'm doing it wrong, the iTunes button actually only lets you get music, not TV or Movies.  That rules it right out for me, I was actually willing to pull down some movies or something to try it out.  Oh, well.

* Once again, smart playlists don't work.  I have a playlist for strictly new podcasts using the "playcount=0" rule.  But as I listen to those podcasts, do they go away?  Nope, they stay in the way until I delete them.  This was broken once in an earlier version of the traditional ipods, too, so maybe that's an easy fix.


Overall I like it as a piece of technology, but if it wasn't given to me as a gift I think I'd still be fine with my old one.  If they give me video playlists so I can at least get back to watching how I used to watch, and then add offline storage so I can read PDFs at will, I'll change my tune completely and recommend it strongly.  But without those things, for me, it's really little more than the same old video ipod with a new screen.  I don't care about cover flow.  I don't care about YouTube, or about whether I can go directly to iTunes if I can't get podcasts and video. 


Technorati tags: , , , , , ,


Alan said...

Amen to the Video Playlists and Podcasts!

These are oversites. Hope they are in a future release.

I really need the Video Playlist feature with coverart. We have this in iTunes. Why not on the iPod Touch or Apple TV?

Any comments are appreciated!


Anonymous said...

Good comments, I agree completely.

It's daft that I can't get my subscribed podcasts updated over wi-fi.

It's annoying that I can't easily store a set of HTML files (notes I often refer to at work for example) and view them in Safari whilst offline

It's also poor that a 16Gb device actually has 14.8Gb of space...

I still love it though - just hope Apple continue to develop it through firmware updates with the same gusto that Sony are improving my PS3.

smokinpope said...

well said, i wish i had bought a 80gb zune instead.

Anonymous said...

I love my iTouch, but i agree with the not being able to delete all the icons on the home screen being bad. I could live without iTunes (dumb that itunes doesn't have movies or podcasts) and stocks. Oh and i also think it's dumb that my 8 gig itouch only has 7.2 gigs in reality. Even though my old 1 gig nano could almost hold all my music i still don't like being lied to.