Amazing screen; Swift performance; Luxurious design with multiple color options; High-quality camera; iOS 6 with Facebook integration; Awesome game selection;
Pricey; Lackluster speaker quality; Apple's Maps App still needs work
A bigger and sharper screen, great camera, and slim and colorful design make the iPod touch the best portable entertainment device money can buy.
The iPod touch has been the best portable media champ for a long time, enabling people to access the same games, apps and iTunes content as iPhone owners without the monthly fee. And Apple isn't about to give up its wide lead. The 2012 version brings a super slim and light design available in multiple colors and iOS 6 to let you do things such as take panoramic photos and share all sorts of stuff via Facebook. But with the premium iPod touch experience comes a premium price tag: models start at $299 for 32GB model and go to $399 for 64GB. Is this touch worth the splurge?
Measuring only 0.24 inches thick and weighing 3.1 ounces, the new touch is amazingly portable, but it's by no means flimsy. The aluminum backing and glass front make this device a pleasure to handle. If the plastic Galaxy Player 4.2 was a Dodge Neon, the new iPod touch feels like a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The device measures 4.86 x 2.31 inches and the front houses a 4-inch display and a single home button. On the left are two buttons for volume up and down, and the top edge features the lock button. On the bottom of the device is a 3.5mm headphone jack, the new Lightning port and the speaker. Having the headphone jack on the bottom can get in the way whe
On the back of the touch is the camera, which sticks out slightly against the device's body. The lower left corner houses a pretty nifty surprise: A small chrome circle pops up with a push for connecting the included iPod touch loop. This handy color-matched wrist strap will keep the iPod touch by your side while you shoot photos or just keep it safe if you're not wearing pants with pockets.
Apple has fitted the iPod touch with the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5, which has remained the same width as previous generations, but has additional length. This screen is filled with 1136 x 640 pixels, providing Retina resolution and supporting a new row of app icons on the home screen. All of Apple's own apps have been redesigned to use this extra space, allowing, for example, more emails to be shown in Mail and more appointments in Calendar.
The pixel density on the iPod touch's display is gorgeous and easily outshines the Galaxy Player 5.0's 5-inch screen (800 x 480 pixels). The touch's screen isn't just bigger and sharper, but there has been a big boost in color saturation, making photos, games and apps look stunning. Apple has also make the display thinner, so the pixels are closer to the surface of the display, giving images the appearance of being painted on the glass.
The iPod touch's display measured 515 lux on our light meter, trumping both the Galaxy Player 4.2's 497 lux and the Galaxy Player 5.0's 333 lux.
We watched the first episode of "Elementary" and the video was the perfect aspect ratio to fill the entire screen, leaving no black areas. The images were crisp and clear, in both darker indoor scenes and bright outdoor shots.
iOS 6 and Interface
The iPod touch ships with the iOS 6, Apple's latest operating system. While the general user interface feels the same as iOS 5, iOS 6 brings some great new features such as Facebook integration, an updated App Store, and features like Shared Photo Streams and VIP Mail.
Overall, the Maps app still feels unfinished. You need to use third-party apps to get mass transit directions, and the 3D Flyover feature continues to show warped buildings and other landmarks.
For a more in-depth look at iOS 6, check out our complete Apple iOS 6 review.
Siri on the iPod touch, however, is more limited than on the iPhone 5, as she relies on Internet connectivity for answers. If Wi-Fi is disabled or you're out of range, you'll get a "Siri not available" alert.
Unfortunately, users who want to use older accessories with this new iPod touch will need to purchase a $30 adapter. This price is steep, especially for those who already have separate 30-pin chargers in key locations, like in a car, at work and at home.
The lightning cable still only transfers at rates matching USB 2.0, rather than matching speeds of the new USB 3.0 standard or the Thunderbolt ports on Apple's latest Macs.
Specs and Performance
The iPod touch scored 624 on the Geekbench benchmark test, which is almost as high as last year's iPhone 4S, which scored a 629, but not even close to the blazing speed of the 1590-scoring iPhone 5. On the Linpack Multithread, the iPod touch clocked 120.2, also falling just short of the 132 score of the iPhone 4S and well behind the iPhone 5, which scored 558.
During everyday usage, flipping from screen to screen and scrolling through text felt natural and smooth. Graphics-intensive games, like "Infinity Blade" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," never skipped or dropped frames.
Our iPod touch came with 32GB of storage, but there is also a 64GB version available for $100 more at $399. 32GB is plenty of room if gaming is the main intent, but can quickly fill up with the addition of music, movies and TV shows.
Camera and Camcorder
[sc:video id="4ybzRqcTrp_buk6tzzrDSN5QUSpWXdq_" width="640" height="410"]
We stepped outside and took a picture of the Empire State Building in the distance. The touch captured very true colors and the building was crisp. Zooming in produced minimal noise. Closer buildings, shrouded in shade, were darker, but details could still be seen.
We then aimed the camera at our local hot dog vendor, and the brightness immediately adjusted to the new levels. Images were crisp and colors accurate.
The iPod touch records 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. We stood on our street corner and recorded passing traffic. The video looks sharp and smooth. Color, like the image captures, looked accurate.
The front-facing FaceTime camera has also been upgraded from VGA to a 1.2-MP capture resolution and 720p video recording. Video chat through FaceTime was simple to set up using our existing Apple ID, and the video quality was clear and smooth. Although the FaceTime camera is capable of HD video chatting, the quality is automatically adjusted based on signal strength.
Most of the games in the Apple App Store, however, don't require an Internet connection, making the iPod touch a great portable gaming device. You will need Wi-Fi, however, to access Game Center rankings and enjoy multiplayer action.
We played "The Amazing Spider-Man" and were impressed by the crisp, clear images and smooth gameplay that filled the entire 4-inch display. We could easily make out individual pebbles forming the sidewalk as we ran down the street to stop a bank robbery.
Separate from the App Store is the iTunes Store, bringing music and video purchases and movie rentals directly to the iPod touch. The Music landing page features new albums this week, recent singles, best sellers and sale items.
Apple also offers a vast section of television shows, with hit TV shows, season premieres, new and noteworthy shows, and kids programming. Most episodes cost $1.99 each, but there are a few series pilots that are free to download.
Music, movies and TV shows can be purchased with the click of a button and downloaded directly to the device, just like apps in the App Store. We loved being able to circumvent the desktop iTunes application and get content directly onto the touch.
Browsing the Web is better than ever on the new iPod touch and iOS 6. We particularly like the new full-screen browsing mode in
As with the iPhone 5, iOS 6 brings new sharing features to Safari, allowing direct Twitter and Facebook sharing as well as the options to email a link, add to home screen, print, copy, bookmark or add to Reading List for offline viewing.
Websites loaded quickly, with most displaying in less than 10 seconds. More intensive websites, such as NYTimes.com and CNN.com took a little longer, up to 20 or 25 seconds. Pinch-to-zoom and swiping gestures felt natural and worked smoothly.
Apple promises that the touch will last up to 40 hours of continuous music playback or up to 8 hours of video playback from a full change.
The results of our battery test are still pending, but our real-world testing supported the claim of long battery life. We spent most of the day using the iPod touch on and off, playing games, browsing the Web and watching videos, and the battery only dropped to around 60 percent.
The iPod touch also comes with Apple's new EarPods, a welcome replacement to the previous stock headphones bundled with previous Apple devices. The EarPods feature a new ergonomic shape designed to better fit in the ear and improve sound quality. For more details about Apple's EarPods, check out ourfull review.
Is all of this worth $299 when you can get a 7-inch tablet like the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 for $100 less? That's a harder question to answer. It depends on how much of a premium you place on pocketability. The touch's high up-front cost will cause some shoppers to pick up a $199 iPhone 5 instead--despite the added data fees. But if you want phonelike portability without the carrier commitment, there's simply no other portable entertainment device that approaches the design, app selection and performance offered by the new iPod touch.
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|Display||4-inch (1136 x 640 px)|
|PC Interface||3.5mm Headphone Jack|
|Audio Formats||AAC Protected|
|Audio Formats||MP3 VBR|
|Audio Formats||Apple Lossless|
|Size||4.86 x 2.31 x 0.24 inches|