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The Lines Between iPod Touch and iPhone Have Started to Blur
on September 7, 2010
Having had a chance to spend a little time with a review model gives me a chance to share the experience with you a bit early (before my own arrives). I'll take you hands-on with the new model, plus I'll share from my past two years of iPod touch ownership altogether, especially for those who haven't yet owned (or been owned by) one of these mobile gems.
I've also hidden a treasure trove of info on how you can legitimately download tons of quality apps for free. First though, let's quickly cover what's new.
+ Faster 1GHz A4 Processor - to keep up with the high demands of multitasking
+ Ultra high resolution "Retina display" - packs a 960 x 640 resolution at 326 pixels per inch
+ 15% larger battery - 3.44 Whr/930 mAh plays 7 hrs of video & 40 hrs of audio
+ Rear-facing camera - supports 960 x 720 sized photos (0.6 megapixels), plus 720p HD videos
+ Front-facing VGA-quality camera - VGA-quality is a resolution of 640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
+ 3-Axis Gyroscope - allows for higher precision and more motion gestures
+ Wireless N - Connect faster and go farther than ever, with this WiFi device (requires a router with 802.11n)
+ Built in microphone - but Apple reverted back to using the remote- and mic-less earphones
+ Game Center - Apple's own social gaming platform
+ Sleep/Power Button - it's been moved to the right, but not improved beyond that
+ Thinner, lighter than ever
* Note - Memory remains at the same 256MB despite several unconfirmed sources touting 512MB. There's also no vibrate module.
Unlike last year's iPod touch update, this one's a complete overhaul to the entire line. Last year, the new models didn't change in appearance. On the inside, faster processors and double-memory were added to the 32GB & 64GB models, but the 8GB got left out. Not this time. Buying the new 8GB iPod touch indeed gets you all the new goodies. You'll also pay thirty bucks more than before, so consider buying the 32GB model instead. You'll get 400% of the storage capacity for only 23% more coin!
===== Background =====
I'm a mobile app developer who's created a few apps and games for the iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad. I was initially drawn to the iPod touch because of the popularity and capabilities of its mobile Web browsing--I was primarily a Web developer at the time and no other device could surf the Web so well. After I got one, I was hooked. I racked up over a hundred bucks in app purchases within the first month, and before long, I found myself learning how do develop native apps for the device.
Indeed, if you have never had an iPod touch before, you're in for a real treat. Of course, if you have, then you know first hand: it's is worth its weight in gold--no, in platinum. And now, with the latest generation, it may even be worth its weight rare gem stones! I digress.
===== Out With the Old =====
The iPod touch is frequently called an iPhone without the phone. However, until now there have been several other features also missing in the iPod touch besides the phone: a camera, GPS, magnetometer (compass), and some newer amenities from the iPhone 4: front-facing camera, high resolution "Retina display" as it has been dubbed, and the powerful 1GHz A4 processor--indeed a necessity to keep up with multitasking.
That all changes, now. The 4th gen iPod touch brings with it some new features and amenities, some of which have been anticipated by iPod touch fans and developers alike, including myself, for several generations of the device. From a developer's perspective, the more hardware features we can get our hands on, the better and more innovative apps we can create, and the more users that can download, use and enjoy them.
===== In With the New =====
The striking new design of the latest iPod touch is definitely a looker. Apple has made it even thinner (and I thought it was already too thin before) complete with a beautiful chrome back. While the super thin design is certainly attractive, I've found it slightly difficult to keep it well-gripped in your hands. The usual chrome back looks great too, but it's scratch-insistent. Yes, it's incredibly easy to scratch it all up, even after the first few days. For these two reasons, definitely get yourself a silicone skin (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042GVG5G?tag=1pod-20&ie=UTF8) alongside your new touch!
For ages, the feature topping everyone's wishlist for the iPod touch has been a camera. Check! It handles HD video too--bonus! Granted, its not the 5 megapixel camera that the iPhone 4 sports, but again, the new iPod touch is thinner than ever, making it a miracle that we even got a camera in the first place, let alone two! Yes, Apple went the extra mile so we could make video calls with our iPhone toting friends, via their FaceTime app. Brilliant! So, having not had any camera on the iPod touch before, and now having TWO cameras on it, we can't really complain can we? Nah.
I'll have details on the quality both cameras later, but what excites me even moreso is the new much-higher resolution screen--dubbed "Retina display". You may not think much of it if you haven't used an iPhone or iPod touch before, nor have an older model nearby to compare it to, but for those that have and/or do, the difference is clear! (pun intended)
Where this really comes in handy is in browsing the Web and reading non-mobile-formatted PDF e-books. Now, I can see things so much clearer at the default zoom level (which shows the full width of a Web page or document). My vision isn't spectacular by any means, I just don't mind seeing things smaller on the screen. It allows me to see more content without having to scroll. Indeed, the Retina display was the #1 feature I never knew I wanted (until I saw it in the iPhone 4 that is).
Other newness includes: 15% larger battery, HD video recording and editing, built-in mic, wireless-n for nearly double the WiFi connection speed and distance, Game Center: Apple's new social gaming platform (which seems to be Apple's attempt to kill-off third party social gaming platforms like OpenFeint and Plus+), 3-axis gyroscope sensor, which complements the existing accelerometer sensor, both of which handle the rotating, swinging and other motion gestures of the device (previously, rotation were roughly calculated from accelerometer data), and new placement of the sleep/power button on the right (but still as difficult as ever to press).
Features still missing include: 512MB of memory, vibration, 5 MP quality camera + flash (iPhone apps now support using LED flash as a flashlight, like Android does), magnetometer (compass), and the GPS. I'd happily trade the thinness of the latest iPod touch to have the GPS. WiFi based location is often inaccurate, and the GPS doesn't need a WiFi or cellular connection, it just needs to see the satellites in the sky.
===== iOS vs Android =====
So far, Apple has cornered the market of multitouch mobile devices that aren't phones, but things are slowly changing. Currently, the two hottest mobile and smartphone operating systems out there right now are Apple's iOS (formerly: iPhone OS) and Google's Android. Of course, iOS is popular because it runs on not only the iPhone, but also on the iPod touch and now on the ipad as well. Plus, it has garnered support from scores of app developers who've gotten behind Apple's slew of high-demand devices.
The iPod touch has really made iOS what it is today. It does a lot of what the iPhone does, without a contract, or carrier exclusivity, as is the case with the iPhone and the iPad (WiFi+3G models). So if it weren't for the iPod touch, a lot of the market share Apple now has in the industry would have been stifled by their carrier exclusivity. I think Apple will see the light soon, but that's another discussion.
Enter Android. Google has held a different stance on their mobile OS. It isn't tied to a select few devices, and it's open source, so it can be further developed by manufacturers who use it. Indeed, several mobile device manufacturers have now latched onto Android as a foundation for numerous devices. Wireless carriers that have been unable to carry the iPhone have also taken a liking to it. Now, tons of Android devices have been released, and there's no end in sight. Manufacturers have also seen the iPad's potential and now they want a piece of that pie, too. So, expect to see a lot more Android tablets and media-centric non-phone devices soon. The competition is heating up.
But not everything with Android, nor with iOS, is perfect. I own an EVO 4G, one of the most popular Android devices currently available. I've also used an iPod touch almost every day for nearly two years, so I'm pretty qualified to share my experience with each platform. Both certainly have their share of unique offerings, and neither of them are without flaws. For this reason, and because of the increasing competition between the two, I plan to dispel some of their key differences for you at various points in this review.
===== So What Can the iPod Touch Actually Do? =====
Well, what can't it do?
The iPod touch is like a magical little box, only it's flat. While it cannot cook your breakfast, yet (I'm sure someone is already working on that), it can indeed do some pretty extraordinary things. It's an amazing catch-all device that can provide hours of entertainment, give you the power of the Web in your hand, and it can even replicate the functionality of countless one-off products. Developers have been creating apps that take advantage of special hardware of the iPod touch to emulate some other product for less, and sometimes even for free.
Even expensive products have seen cheap iOS based clone apps. For just 99 cents, you can snag a special alarm clock app that monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up when you're in an ideal state of wakefulness. I spent 350 bucks on an aXbo
(http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0014RDSSY?tag=1pod-20&ie=UTF8) a few years ago, who's functionality is easily replicated by several "sleep phase" alarm clock apps in the app store. When you do the math there, you see that it's easily a no brainer: buy yourself an iPod touch now!
I've listed more apps like this in the comments!
Plus, with the support of such a strong community of app and game developers, there's never a drought of fresh new apps and games. There's always something to do with the iPod touch, and I guarantee you'll never be bored with it. I honestly cannot say the same thing about Android, though I also tote my EVO 4G around with me. I do admit that the EVO's mobile hotspot comes in incredibly handy for providing the iPod touch with a WiFi connection while I'm on the go).
Now, with the proper resources, you can legitimately download thousands of high quality apps for free. I do it all the time and it is perfectly legal. See, Apple allows developers to temporarily put their apps on sale (and even drop the price to free). Usually they do this to get you to write some rave reviews for their apps. The secret to success is having the resources to help you spot these special app sales--so you know when and where to get them during their sometimes extremely-limited-time promotions.
In hopes of making this the most helpful review on Amazon for the iPod touch, here's how to obtain these special promotional-sale apps:
There are several resources you can use, both on the Web and on the iPod touch itself. I prefer to use the app called BargainBin that lists all apps that recently went on sale or dropped to free. It also supports watch lists with push notifications, and can alert you whenever an app you're interested in goes on sale. It's a phenomenal little gem, and it has gotten me a ton of apps and saved me a fortune! It also has a companion website that lists the same apps (Google: App Advice). There's also a website called AppShopper (Google it) that lists apps with recent price drops and new apps as well, and you can filter just the free products or just the sale products. The two sites don't always list the same apps. Sometimes one will miss something that the other will catch, so it's good to keep track of them both. Check them daily if possible. Several apps are duds, but you'll come across some really great ones from time to time. They'll all add up!
===== Web Browsing =====
Alongside spending lots of money on all those wonderful apps in the App Store, Web browsing is one of the most popular uses for the iPod touch. Browsing the Web with mobile Safari was my original attraction to the device. The experience hasn't changed too drastically in the past two years (since the days of iOS 2), and while it's still very powerful, there are some definite flaws. And no, I'm not talking about Flash. Just minor usability issues I'd like to see overcome, but first let's look at the positives.
Mobile Safari has a smart approach to zooming in on content. Double-tap on a paragraph of text or an image to cinch that content right up to the edges of the screen. The downside: some sites aren't mobile-friendly, so zooming in on a really wide block of text can leave you with tiny text. You can zoom further manually, by using the "unpinch" multi-touch gesture, but because the browser doesn't have an option to reflow the text to the screen width, you have to scroll left and right, as well as up and down, just to read the text. Android's browser doesn't feature smart zoom, but it does reflow the text to fit the screen when zoomed in. It's a nice feature, and Apple should add it as a preference for Safari.
Browser history can also vanish after a few days, and browser windows get overwritten by links from other pages sometimes (usually when I've hit the maximum of eight windows). Also yet to be seen is support for doing common things like searching for text on a page, or bookmarking a link by tapping and holding. That would be invaluable for adding bookmarklets--bookmark based scripts that help overcome browser shortcomings.
Flash is also a great debate, one I won't get into. I will just say that all is not as it seems with the Flash-support-touting Android platform. Flash does work, but it is buggy because Flash doesn't play well with touch interfaces. Flash based video players don't work right, and I even run Android 2.2, which is supposed to have the "full Flash experience". It doesn't, trust me. So you're not missing much by not having Flash on the iPod touch!
Indeed, we can just hope and pray that Web developers and Flash-fiends see the light and start replacing Flash content with technologies like HTML5's canvas element, which is poised to take on a lot of Flash's most popular abilities.
===== Media =====
Despite all the incredible things the iPod touch can do, audio and video are still one of the iPod touch's greatest strengths. And with the incredible resolution of the new iPod touch's retina display, to say that videos now appear much sharper, more vivid and highly-defined is definitely an understatement. Yes, videos were great before, but now they frickin' rock!
Just make sure your videos are at least 960 x 640. If you've owned an older iPod touch and used video conversion software to scale down your media to fit the old 320 x 480 screen resolution, definitely change your conversion settings, or look for a software update to support the new higher-resolution display.
For those interested in watching live TV on the go (over WiFi), Sling Media's SlingPlayer app, paired with one of their Slingbox devices is a phenomenal and freeing experience, especially considering your alternate choices for watching live TV on the go are pretty much nil up to this point.
On top of that, Netflix's recently released iPod touch version of their media streaming app has also been a much-welcomed addition to my ever-growing collection of apps. Netflix videos stream quickly, and even moving the play position back and forth in the timeline, the movie starts playing very quickly without much time rebuffering the video.
===== Photos =====
The latest iPod touch is also a game-changer for photography and video recording on an iPod touch. It's not mind-blowing by any means, but we went from having no camera right to having two cameras on the device. I probably would not be so thrilled with just a new back camera. I merely would have sighed, mumbling "finally" under my my breath (unless it were 5 megapixels). But despite the less-than-one megapixel quality of the rear-facing camera, I was taken aback by the rather decent quality, especially in low-light environments. Check the comments for links to sample photos!
Between that and the ability to connect with other iPhone and iPod touch toting friends via Apple's FaceTime app, yes... it's a game changer. Granted, I have been wanting front facing cameras on mobile devices ever since mobile devices started having cameras period. I got the first of such devices when my EVO 4G arrived in June, but as they say: the more the merrier. Friends, welcome to the future we've been dreaming of. Video killed the audio call!
The quality of my test calls were pretty good. Of course, it was over WiFi, but it proves the cameras are decent. You can switch from using the front camera to using the rear camera, too, in case something was going on in front of you that you wanted to share. Just tap the "camera swap" button in the bottom right corner of the screen. FaceTime also rotates along with the iPod when flipped on its side, nice.
HD video recording is the other half of the aforementioned game-changing equation. I didn't expect to see ANY video recording, considering the original iPhone camera was originally just a camera. But it's here, complete with HD quality (yes, the quality is indeed desirable), plus basic video editing support, as well as support for Apple's brilliant "iMovie" app: an advanced video editing studio right on your iPod touch. It's just five bucks on the App Store.
===== E-Reading =====
The iPad has been making waves in the genre of media reading for several months now, but that hasn't exactly been the same story for any generation of the iPod touch so far. Granted, it's not exactly marketed as an eReader like its iPad counterpart, but there are some really great apps out there for media reading on it, so there's no reason not to use it to read digital media. The obstacle to doing that, for me at least, has been the limited screen resolution, and so that may all potentially start to change, now that Apple has brought the Retina display to the iPod touch.
The 163 pixels per inch screens of past iPod touches were still pretty great, just not ideal for tiny text. For comparison, LCD monitors typically only have 96 pixels per inch, and CRT monitors only have 72 pixels per inch. TV's are even worse than that. What this means for you is that the iPod touch display has always been sharper than your own computer monitor.
However, despite being able to display content at a higher quality, I still found that in a lot of eBooks, especially PDFs that weren't mobile-formatted, the text was just not clear enough to be readable when zoomed out. However, zooming in meant having to constantly scroll side-to-side while reading. The app "Good Reader" helped ease that pain by doing the left-right & vertical scrolling for you with just a tap of the screen, as well as offering an additional view that re-flows the text to fit on the screen at a large enough size.
However, with the Retina display, all text and content in the aforementioned "zoomed out" state now appears extremely clear. That is a wonderful thing, so long as you don't mind reading tiny text.
Could you still benefit from having an iPad too? Perhaps. After all, it does have unique qualities that set it apart from the iPod touch, as my in depth iPad review portrays (http://www.amazon.com/review/R16U71KO7POLA2?tag=1pod-20&ie=UTF8). But unless you specifically see the need for one of those unique qualities, then no, you probably don't need both.
===== Gaming =====
If you're like me, you probably don't have time for games. Regardless, it may still be high-time to let the kid within you roam free from time to time, as I do. The iPod touch has made it possible. In fact, it is so easy, there's no excuse not to enjoy yourself. My favorite games are the racing games and, when I have a bit more time, strategy games.
With the iPhone and iPod Touch having taken on a clear role as a gaming console that has been as revolutionary for mobile gaming as the Wii was for living-room gaming, it goes without saying that the iPod touch is, and will continue to be, one of the best platforms for gaming. It's simple, convenient, and pretty much instant. Whenever you have a few moments of free time, wherever you're, just turn it on, find your game, and bam! You're gaming. Simple as that.
===== Productivity =====
Productivity carries numerous definitions. Usually its "getting something done" though some people tend to believe that it's the ability to focus without being distracted, which I see as one of the iPod touch's strengths, at least for me, primarily because the screen is small enough to force you to focus on the task at hand.
In the context of software though, Apple's own suite of productivity apps for the office, collectively called "iWork", has been further refined for the iPhone and iPod touch. Because of the aforementioned "focus factor" of the iPod touch, I have found myself to be surprisingly productive when working on documents with it. There are three apps in all: Pages allows you to work on word processing documents. Numbers allows you to work on spreadsheets. Keynote lets you work on presentations and slideshows (including PowerPoint files).
So far, I've found these apps to be highly useful when I have work to do, but don't feel like being at the computer to do it. Another great app for that is "iTeleport" which let's me at my computer remotely, when iWork won't work (meaning I'm not working on office documents). Log Me In Ignition is another similar app that is slightly easier to set up, but a bit slower than iTeleport, when you're just working over the same WiFi connection as the remote computer.
Furthermore, there's a whole category of iPod touch apps in the App Store specifically dedicated to productivity. Some of my favorite productivity apps include: Bento (info management), Things (project management), iTeleport (remote computing), and GoodReader (best PDF reader around). Search for them in the App Store.
===== Email, IM and Social Networking =====
The iPod touch has been, and continues to be an exceptional communication-machine. Whether it's reading or composing email, keeping in touch via instant messenger, or managing your life via social networks, you've got plenty of options here.
Instant messaging is easy with platforms such as AIM, Yahoo, Gtalk, MSN, Skype and apps that handle multiple platforms: IM+, Fring, Nimbuzz, BeejiveIM and Fuse Messenger. Finally, multitasking means you can truly remain connected to your IM platforms of choice, instead of relying on apps to keep you signed remotely, then push new-message notifications to your device. This is a much welcome addition to the new iPod touch.
As well, there are plenty of apps to help you browse and update your status on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Within the iOS development community, Twitter apps have often been a laughing stock, simply because there are so many out there on the App Store. They're almost as rampant as "fart" apps. So to say you've got countless options as far as social networking apps are concerned is probably a pretty accurate statement.
For email, you need not look any further than Apple's native "Mail" app. Even if you're using Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or Apple's own MobileMe, setup is a snap. It even supports Microsoft Exchange, often useful for corporate email setups. As well, any other email accounts that support POP3 or IMAP connection types will work with the Mail app too. Plus, new to the iPod touch with iOS 4 is the option to use a unified inbox--handy for those already used to that behavior on Mac OS X.
===== Downloading Apps and Games =====
Downloading apps on your iPod touch couldn't be easier. Once you set up your iTunes account with a credit card, all you need to do is find the app you want, tap the download button (usually it says the price rather than "download", which then changes to "buy" after you tap it), then tap again to confirm. Voila, you just bought an app. Behind the scenes, Apple then charges your card the amount of the app plus tax, while you're already off enjoying your new purchase. This ease of access is a blessing and a curse, because you can easily empty your wallet if you're not carefully considering each purchase.
All apps in the App Store range in price from Free and 99 cents on up, always incrementing in whole dollar amounts (1.99, 2.99, 3.99, etc). The maximum price for an app is set to $999.99, of which there are only eight currently priced so outrageously. And don't even think of toying with them. Apple does not allow refunds on apps you have purchased--all sales are final!
Contrast that with Android's more complex Android Market, and you'll find several more steps, especially for paid apps. For one, there're no fixed pricing tiers, and secondly, they allow multiple currency pricing, which only confuses its users. The good developers do keep their pricing similar to iOS apps, with the 99 cent base plus $1 increments, but I often see apps priced at ¥0.55 or 0.79 or $1 or £2.95 ...it's quite disorienting and unstructured. They have also set their price cap at $200, so you can't accidentally run up a $1000 charge on just one app--you'll need at least 5 apps for that. ;)
Meanwhile, to actually buy an app on Android, you must tap the BUY button, confirm that you want to buy the app, then get redirected to a Google Checkout link, where you must setup your Google Checkout account or choose an existing payment method if you already have an account set up. Once you confirm the purchase yet again, THEN you can finally download the app.
Google also makes selling apps a bit more complicated for developers than Apple, but I won't get into that. I'm just stressing how absolutely simple Apple makes the app buying and selling process. Contrary to Apple however, Google does allow users to "return" purchased Android apps within 24 hours for a full refund. That's nice.
===== Technical Specifications =====
Since Amazon's product descriptions tend to be lacking, I like to include all the technical jargon geeks have come to expect when researching new gadgets. Feel free to breeze on through!
In the box
+ iPod touch
+ Dock Connector to USB Cable (for sync and charging)
+ Quick Start guide
Size and weight
+ Height: 4.4 inches (111.0 mm)
+ Width: 2.3 inches (58.9 mm)
+ Depth: 0.28 inch (7.2 mm)
+ Weight: 3.56 ounces (101 grams)
+ 8GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive/SSD
+ 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
+ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
+ Maps-location based service
+ Nike + iPod support built in
+ Multi-Touch display
+ 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen
+ 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch
Cameras, photos, and video
+ Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still photos (960 x 720) with back camera
+ VGA-quality photos and video up to 30 frames per second with the front camera
+ Tap to control exposure for video or stills
+ Photo and video geo tagging over Wi-Fi
TV and video
+ H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
+ MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
+ Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
+ Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable (cables sold separately)
+ Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
+ Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
+ User-configurable maximum volume limit with parental lock
+ Earbud headphones included in box
+ Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
+ Impedance: 32 ohms
Input and output
+ 30-pin dock connector
+ 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack
+ Built-in speaker
+ External buttons and controls
+ Three-axis gyro
+ Ambient light sensor (for proximity detection)
Battery, power and playback time
+ Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
+ USB sync cable is also used for charging
+ Fast charge in about 2 hours (80% capacity)
+ Full charge in about 4 hours.
+ Music playback time: Up to 40 hours when fully charged
+ Video playback time: Up to 7 hours when fully charged
+ USB 2.0
+ iTunes 10 or later
+ Mac: Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
+ PC: Windows 7, Vista, or XP (SP3 or later)
===== Praise =====
+ Apple continues its trend of creating the best multi-touch experience around. Android doesn't even come close.
+ The Retina Display - Phenomenal! Kudos for bringing it to the iPod touch as well as the iPhone. Now try it with IPS technology Apple!
+ Wireless-N, finally! - Faster and farther-reaching WiFi connections (if your router supports 802.11n)
+ High performance 1GHz A4 processor - provides all the power of the iPhone 4, a win for gaming and multitasking.
+ Multitasks like a dream with iOS 4 and the powerful processor, despite the same 256MB of memory as the third generation touch.
+ Rear camera - It's not the 5 megapixel iPhone 4 camera, but I definitely can't complain here. It shoots great photos, especially in low-light without flash, plus it can do HD video.
+ Front facing camera - What a pleasant surprise! Now it just needs to work with Skype.
===== Dissappointments =====
+ No GPS - IP based location just doesn't cut it at times. GPS has no subscription fee or contract to use. GPS chips are costly, but tons of high cost GPS apps are in the App Store now to offset that cost for Apple.
+ 256MB memory - iFixit has confirmed this disappointing flaw, putting to rest all the rumors of 512MB still littering several reviews.
+ Still no 120GB model - Useful for higher res videos that look great on the Retina display.
+ No USB 3.0 or wireless sync - Sync'ing can be slow or inconvenient over the cable.
+ Thinner design - I was hoping for a more squared design, like the iPhone 4, as it is easier to grip, handle and press the power button.
+ Power button - Yes, it hasn't changed much. It's been moved to the right side on this model, but it's still the tiny, hard-to-press button it's has always been, and if you take lots of screenshots like I do (by pressing power+home simultaneously) half the time you end up closing your app because the power button didn't work right.
===== The Bottom Line =====
It is absolutely clear: Apple has definitely blurred the lines between iPhone and iPod touch with its 4th generation of both devices. Since it has no contract or carrier exclusivity, this phenomenal device will continue to shine its light in the otherwise dark voids of the smartphone market where the iPhone cannot go, even without the phone. That's just smart!
Given all my tips, I think you'll find the iPod touch to be an extraordinarily useful, possibly even highly addictive device, with a price tag that is well worth it, especially the 32GB model. With all the things that the iPod touch can do, it will undoubtedly enhance your life and change the way you interact with the Web. It might even make a gamer out of you if it hasn't already, it sure did for me!
I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. I do actively participate in any discussions via the comments, so feel free to drop me a line, or ask me any questions as well. :)