iPod Touch – a personal view

Having got an iPod touch in my Xmas stocking, I have to say I agree pretty much with Doug’s assessment. It’s a very neat package and the wifi access is exceptional. Up until now I’ve tended to use my PDA (IPAQ 6915) for casual internet browsing when wifi is available. It’s faster than a laptop and handily pocket/handbag-sized. However the iPod touch interface is amazing. The WOW factor is certainly there and I cannot imagine anybody complaining (as often happens with PDAs and Smartphones) about the problems of using the small screen. It is really convenient. For example, yesterday I looked up a recipe on the internet, switched the device off while making the dish, but was able to switch it on again to quickly check the oven temperature and cooking time as it returns to the last thing you were doing when you turn it back on again.

Internet access is very fast. After switching the thing on it takes only seconds to get online.

Setting wifi access up for the first time is also straightforward: Touch the settings icon, touch the wi-fi icon in the list and you are immediately presented with a screen listing all wifi hotspots within range of the device. Touch to select the one you want and, if necessary, tap in the password by touching a virtual keypad on the screen.

The virtual keypad is initially a little disconcerting. As you touch each letter with your finger, a little bubble with the letter in it appears above the letter to show which one you have selected. To start with it can be easy to inadvertently tap the wrong letter, but this is easily fixed and as you get used to the interface, you realise that you don’t need to touch the screen all that hard with your finger to select a letter. If you find the keypad too small, you can reorient the device by turning it 90degrees to use it in landscape mode and the display automatically rotates. I’d be interested to hear what people with large finger tips say about the keypad, but I don’t imagine it would be much of a problem.

I’ve also used it for sharing photos with others. The ability to enlarge a photo by touching the screen with two fingers and moving them apart feels really intuitive. You can also scroll quickly through pictures by sliding your finger across the page repeatedly, rather like turning the pages in a book. Gone are the days of ploughing through unwieldy photo albums – you just choose the set of photos you want to share and hand the device to your friend to flick through them as fast or as slowly as they want. I can see people actually looking foward to looking through my holiday snaps 🙂

Music and podcast access is, as with any iPod, very good. I’ll use that more next time I travel by train or plane.

The utube shortcut on the main page seems quite a quirky choice to me, but it does give you very quick access to videos and really shows off this functionality. I’m not a really heavy utube user, but I guess I might become one.

So far, the main downside I’ve encountered is the lack of protective slip cover. The iPod video comes with a very small protective cover that you slip it into and which protects it from getting scratched by keys etc in a handback. The iPod touch has no such cover but would really benefit from one. I’ve browsed the web but have only found stick-on screen protectors, chunky leather cases or rubberised silicon skins, all of which just seem to me to bulk out the device and detract from it’s essential style and grace. I may be forced to opt for a luminous ipod sock which feels like a shame, but at the moment I don’t dare put the thing in my handbag along with scratchy things like pens, entry badge and keys.

The other slight downside is the fact that it doesn’t support Flash for video display. This means that you can’t yet watch streaming media feeds from, say, the BBC website. However I’ve no doubt that this functionality is coming and I expect the software updates to be pain-free as with all Apple products, and unlike most other products.

In a word, I think I’d describe the iPod touch as seductive

About Gill

Having worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, I have now semi-retired but retained my association with the OU as an Honorary Associate.
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