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Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (5th Generation) NEWEST MODEL
Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (5th Generation) NEWEST MODEL
Offered by Vanns
Price: $299.99
63 used & new from $187.99

623 of 714 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sleek and Highly-Refined New iPod Touch Simply Cannot Be Touched, December 3, 2012
It's been nearly two years since the release of the last truly new iPod touch, but has that two years been worth the wait? The answer is a resounding YES! The iPod touch is still not perfect though. Where it could see some improvement is in Apple's native camera and photo apps. (See section titled "Camera and Photography" for details.)

I'm no Apple fanboy, just a gadget fan in general. I retain fandom of a wide range of mobile devices, not just Apple's, but I have to admit, when it comes to non-phone touchscreen media devices, Apple still takes the cake ...and the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). The handful of iPod touch competition simply cannot compare, even after a two-year hiatus prior to a newer, even more spectacular model.

I'll take you hands-on with the new iPod touch, plus I'll share from my past four years of iPod touch ownership altogether, especially for those who haven't yet owned (or been slave to) this 'vice.

My review tends to run long, so I've organized information by section, with headings, to make it more helpful for those just looking for specific info. I've tried to cater my review towards both those familiar with technology like this, as well as those not too technically savvy, but sometimes tech-speak is unavoidable. If there's anything you don't quite understand, or if there's something you want to know about that I haven't covered, I encourage you to participate in a discussion by asking any questions in the comments for this review.

Finally, in hopes of making this the most helpful iPod touch review on Amazon, I'll also reveal a treasure trove of info on how you can legitimately download tons of quality apps and games for free! (See "Downloading Apps and Games" for details.)

Now, let's quickly cover what's new, and what each means for you.

===== What's New =====

+ Faster dual-core A5 processor (1GHz) - twice as fast; 7x faster graphics processing for gaming
+ 512MB memory - double the memory for maximum fun and multitasking
+ Taller 4" Retina display - 1136 x 640 resolution packed into a 326ppi pixel density for near-widescreen viewing (in landscape orientation)
+ 15% larger battery - 3.44 Whr/930 mAh plays 7 hrs of video & 40 hrs of audio
+ 5MP iSight camera (rear) - take 20x higher-res photos, or 1080p video, now with LED flash & image stabilization
+ 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera (front) - 4x higher-res photos or 720p video
+ Wireless N (dual band) - connect faster to a wider variety of routers with 802.11n support
+ Lightning dock cable - smaller, more versatile connector to charge your iPod and transfer data with
+ Siri included - now speak your iPod touch to life with this beloved virtual assistant (over WiFi)
+ 5 New Colors - personalize your iPod more than ever with new color options
+ Thinner, lighter than ever - barely noticeable in any pocket, but especially shirt pockets
+ New 'EarPods' - hear your tunes, videos and other audio in unmatched comfort and quality

Apple has once-again revolutionized the iPod we have grown to love. In exchange for these new features, you do sacrifice the option of a smaller 16GB capacity (and associated smaller price), but what's new is well worth the cost, in both price and sacrifice.

If you're new to the iPod touch, and are debating whether to buy old or new, the previous model is certainly a viable lower-cost alternative, but not by much (if comparing by capacity). If you want a 16GB model, you'll have to stick with the prior model. However, the new 32GB model is well worth the couple extra presidents you'll spend, plus 32GB is really the minimum iPod touch capacity I can comfortably recommend.

===== The Lines are Still Blurry =====

Two years ago, the lines began to blur between the iPhone and the iPod touch (frequently called an iPhone without the phone), when a new iPod touch was introduced with a Retina display, two cameras (rear and front-facing), 3-axis gyroscope, wireless-N and a faster processor to boot. Two years later, Apple is confirming their dedication to keeping the iPod touch relevant and in step with its iPhone counterpart, by giving the new iPod the same 4" retina display and 512MB of memory, along with a higher quality iSight camera and native support for panoramic photos. Just a few iPhone features remain missing in the iPod touch, besides the obvious phone: true GPS hardware, a magnetometer (compass) and matching processor and rear-camera quality (8MP instead of 5MP, though 5MP is far superior than the prior model's 0.5MP!).

===== iOS vs Android =====

Apple has held the top spot for non-phone multitouch mobile media devices since the iPod touch first arrived with iOS, the iPhone's operating system (OS). Other non-phone mobile devices do exist running other operating systems like Google's Android OS, but you don't often hear about them.

Apple's iOS is popular because it was first to revolutionize smartphones with its streamlined interface and multitouch display that you could navigate and interact with by simply using your finger, rather than a stylus that most smartphones before it had required. Plus, iOS has garnered support from leagues of app developers who remain firmly grounded on their decision to stand behind Apple's mobile platform, though a handful are slowly starting to port their apps over to Android as well.

The iPod touch has really made iOS what it is today. It does a lot of what the iPhone does, without a contract, as is the case with the iPhone and the iPad (3G models). 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 carrier exclusivity, because you could only get an iPhone through AT&T for several years.

Meanwhile, Google's Android platform has seen en explosion of growth in the past couple years, mainly because Android 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. People who couldn't have an iPhone have also taken a liking to it. Now, tons of Android devices have been released, and there's no end in sight. Furthermore, manufacturers want a piece of the iPad pie, too. So, there is now a glut of Android tablets.

Yet, to my surprise, one thing remains the same as it was two years ago: the competition remains quite lukewarm in the arena of non-phone mobile devices. These so-called 'Android Players' are really few and far between. The fact remains: there are plenty of reasons why the iPod touch is still untouchable.

===== Look and Feel =====

The new iPod touch has certainly improved aesthetically over the prior model. It's resoundingly thinner, lighter and sexier--smaller in every way but one: screen size. The new taller, yet equal-width iPod touch gives you more room to surf the web, read emails, watch videos, play games, you name it!

Did it need to be any lighter? Indeed! Ever try to stick one in your shirt pocket? Until now, its weight was noticeable. Now it feels barely there, but the truly remarkable thing is how they crammed all that technology into a thinner, lighter form factor.

The previous iPod touch model came in just black or white fronts, both with an easily-scratched chrome back. The prior lack of color customization goes against that of non-touch iPods. The iPod nano and other iPod lines have offered a variety of colors for years. Apple now extends that generosity to the iPod touch with 5 rear colors. The only color featuring a black front is Slate. The remaining colors all feature a white front: Silver, Pink, Yellow and Blue. Unfortunately, no Orange.

The sleek and refined new iPod touch has a truly refreshing new feel to it, yet it's tough enough to withstand the brunt of all that mobile devices have to deal with. Each new iPod touch model is crafted out of a single piece of silky-smooth anodized aluminum that feels phenomenal in the palm of your hand. It's the same peculiarly soft, yet durable metal used in Apple's MacBook line. Genius!

===== 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 can't 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 now 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!

Note: 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 can't honestly say the same thing about Android, though I do still tote my EVO 3D around with me. Admittedly, the EVO's mobile hotspot comes in handy for providing the iPod touch with a WiFi connection when on the go.

===== 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. Enter your password once per App Store session, and voila! You've 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!

Now for the juicy money-saving secrets of the App Store! With the proper resources, you can legitimately download thousands of high quality apps for free. I do it all the time and it's perfectly legal. You see, Apple allows developers to temporarily put their apps on sale (and even drop the price to free). Usually they do this in hopes that you'll write a rave review for the temporarily-free app. The secret to your success here is having the resources to help you spot these special app sales--so you know when and where to get them during these often 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 and temporarily-free apps for yourself!

There are several resources you can use, both on the Web and on the iPod touch itself. I prefer to use an app called "AppShopper" which lists all apps that recently went on sale or dropped to free. You can filter out "iPad" apps (which don't work on the touch) and show just "iPhone" apps instead, which are the ones that work on the iPod touch, and you can also filter just the free apps, just the sale apps or show all price-dropped apps. But so many apps go on sale, making it hard to cut through the clutter, which is where AppShopper truly shines: the "popular" tab shows only the most popularly downloaded free/sale apps. If several other people aren't downloading an app, you won't see it listed there!

AppShopper is a phenomenal little gem, and it has gotten me tons of apps FREE! It also has a companion website that lists the same apps. You can even create an account and track the apps you own, so you don't end up accidentally trying to redownload an app if it goes on sale again. It also supports "watch lists" via an AppShopper account you create, and the app can send you an alert whenever an app you're interested in goes on sale. It's a thing of beauty! There are other apps such as Free App a Day, AppZappPush, AppSniper, AppAdvice, Apps Gone Free, and more, but none of them leverage the power of the masses to help you filter out the unwanted apps by letting you optionally hone in on just the popular ones. Feel free to check them out if you like, though!

===== Web Browsing =====

Alongside spending lots of money on 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 few years, 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 still 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 at least 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 tabs). Also yet to be seen is support for 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's buggy because Flash doesn't play well with touch interfaces. Flash based video players don't work right, and I even run Android 4, 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, which is poised to take on a lot of Flash's most popular abilities.

===== Media =====

Despite all the things the iPod touch can do, audio and video are still one of the its greatest strengths. And with the near-widescreen resolution of the new iPod touch's 4" retina display, black bars are less pronounced when watching widescreen videos.

For those interested in watching live TV (even cable channels) on the go, Sling Media's SlingPlayer app, paired with one of their Slingbox devices (http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?keywords=slingbox&tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) is a phenomenal and freeing experience, especially considering your alternate choices for watching live TV on the go were pretty much nil up to this point.

On top of that, Netflix's 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.

===== Camera and Photography =====

Apple continues to bring the iPod touch close to the realm of iPhone-quality photography. The thought of photography with a media player was once laughable. Along came the Instagram app, and now everyone thinks they're photographers! I'll admit, I'm no photographer, but I'm no less obsessed with taking perfect photos. My wife tells me I take too many, but I'm just trying to make sure I've got at least one good shot, you know? With that in mind, I really wish the iOS camera had a BURST MODE--the ability to snap full-res photos continuously in rapid-fire succession. The thumb is simply not fast enough! More on that and other shortcomings in a minute though.

The new 5 megapixel camera on the iPod touch is something we were all hoping for two years ago, with the initial introduction of a camera to the iPod. However, when what we got wasn't even a full megapixel (rather, just half), it was a little disheartening. Nevertheless, the quality of the photos were still half way decent, so I tried not to complain. Now, we've got a camera that is on par with the iPhone 4 resolution-wise, yet sporting some improvements in the actual technology behind said camera. If that weren't enough, users can now shoot panoramic photos natively. Awesome!

With the more powerful dual-core processor and double the memory, I'm holding out hope that the speed of photography will not be affected by other bottlenecks in the hardware (such as the flash storage). It was pretty fast when I thoroughly inspected the review model, pretty much taking new pictures as fast as you could tap. However, realistically speaking, the camera is always fast on any device when it's brand new. Just like how computers are always fastest when they're new. Everyone knows, things begin to slow down after you install apps and fill your storage space with media several times over, but I wasn't given enough time to thrash it like that, as is expected once a user gets it into their hands for keeps.

For me though, there are some honest downsides to photography with the iPod touch, but these same issues plague just about every other camera-toting smartphone and portable media device out there, even the mighty iPhone and the popular Android. Still, that's no excuse for the best mobile OS to slack off. Pick up that slack, Apple!

As I said, the first gap that needs filled is the lack of burst-mode. This gap can be filled to a certain degree by apps from the App Store, most notably Camera+. However, the quality and resolution of photos taken with non-native apps like Camera+ shot with burst mode all pale in comparison to those shot with the native camera app. The reason? In order for a non-native app to take photos fast enough, they have to take smaller-sized low-res photos. Those kinds of low quality photos are undesirable.

All Apple needs to do is allow their camera app to buffer full-res photos shot with that burst-mode to memory while each is waiting to be saved to the slower flash storage. This would overcome the flash-storage bottleneck that is the cause of any camera app slowness. Apple can tout having the fastest camera around, but let's see them put their money where their mouth is when users start cluttering their device with 20,000 photos, all sorts of media and apps, and their storage space gets filled and fragmented. The camera will undoubtedly slow down, especially if you transfer photos to your computer without iPhoto, leaving those thousands of thumbnails and photo data to clog your camera roll. I don't like iPhoto, so I use software called iExplorer that lets me browse the device as if it were a USB drive.

The second area where Apple absolutely must improve is with the poor state of media organization in the Photos app. Screenshots get saved to the 'Camera Roll' album when they have nothing to do with the camera at all. Videos should also be excluded from the 'Camera Roll' album, so they'll be easier to find and easier to separate from the millions of photos an obsessive point-and-shooter like myself takes. Instead, screenshots and videos should all be saved to their own separate albums called 'Screenshots' and 'Videos' respectively. Screenshots should also use a filename different from those used for photos, preferably something that identifies the date, time and app that they were taken in, especially since the resulting PNG files have no date metadata in them. Videos might also benefit from separate filename patterns too.

Furthermore, we need to have the ability to actually *move* photos out of the 'Camera Roll' album and into their own albums, instead of the current ability to only *copy* photos into their own album, while leaving the original back in the 'Camera Roll' album too. Being able to move instead of simply copy photos between albums would greatly declutter the 'Camera Roll' where all freshly-shot photos are stored. Additionally, when photos are transferred off the iPod touch via a file explorer rather than iPhoto, their thumbnails should also be removed from the iPod's 'Camera Roll' album.

===== Videography =====

Shooting video or making FaceTime calls, on the other hand, remain on the up-and-up. Video quality on the back side improves from 720p to true-widescreen 1080p, and looks phenomenal on the new 4" screen which is nearly 16:9 ratio when watching videos in landscape orientation.

The ability to also connect with friends face-to-face via FaceTime has been a futuristic dream come true, and now the iPod touch can make those FaceTime calls in 720p high-definition, and you can still switch to the rear camera during a FaceTime call. FaceTime also handily rotates along with the iPod when flipped between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) orientations. Still, you'll have to be on WiFi to make those FaceTime calls, even though the iPhone can now make said calls over a cellular connection. Regardless, video calling is a long-time dream come true. We're living the future!

After shooting your videos, the Photos app (ironically, where you view your videos, not via the video app) offers basic video editing support. Apple also has an "iMovie" app: an advanced video editing studio right on your iPod touch. It's just five bucks on the App Store. Apple makes it hard NOT to make great videos. Why not shoot a whole movie on the thing?

===== E-Reading =====

Unless any of us have been living under a rock, we're all well-aware that the iPad has been Apple's heavy hitter when it comes to reading eBooks and the sort for a couple years, 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 regardless, there are some really great apps out there for reading media on iPods, so there's no reason not to use it for that? With the Retina display, all text and content appears extremely clear, even when zoomed out (so long as you don't mind reading tiny text, else feel free to zoom in as much as you like).

The only downside to using it for reading is if you like to read outside. Granted, backlit screens have never really been that clear outside, unless on full battery-gulping brightness. However, the new in-cell technology behind the new 4" retina display has better visibility and reduced glare outside. Between that and having more real estate on the new display, you can read more with less effort. It's a beautiful thing!

===== Gaming =====

If you're like me, you probably don't have much time for games. Well, quit spoiling your fun! There's a child within us all, just waiting for the opportunity to be set free. The iPod touch makes it so easy, there's no excuse not to enjoy yourself. I most enjoy racing games (like Need for Speed) and strategy games (like Tower Defense style games, including the stunningly-designed Carrot Fantasy), but I do play Angry Birds on occasion. Solipskier is quite addictive as well. However, if you like games that take serious advantage of the 3-axis gyroscope, check out the not-so-angry Bird Strike as well as Dark Nebula, a phenomenally-themed labyrinth-style game series on steroids!

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 when it first came out, it goes without saying that the iPod touch is, and will continue to be, one of the best platforms for mobile gaming. It's simple, convenient, and pretty much instant. Whenever you have a few moments of free time, wherever you are, just turn it on, find your game, and bam! You're gaming. Simple as that.

===== Productivity =====

It's so hard to get things done when there are so many distractions afoot, and the iPod touch offers plenty of those, so how can it possible be any effective at boosting productivity? The answer is simple: focus! While iOS offers the ability to multitask, and is known to offer the occasional 'Squirrel!' moment* with its hard-to-ignore notifications, the nature of the one-app-visible-at-a-time paradigm still makes the iPod touch a concentration powerhouse. Since the screen is small, that tends to force you to focus on the task at hand.
* (See Pixar's movie 'Up!')

With iOS 6, it can be made even more effective at times by employing the Do Not Disturb feature that disables audible alerts when active, or during a daily scheduled block of time if desired. Nice! Though, more advanced scheduling would be ideal for silencing the device automatically at different times on different days, especially Sunday mornings.

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 iPod touch and its new 4" display. Because of the aforementioned "focus factor" of the iPod touch, I have found myself to be surprisingly productive when working on documents with it. iWork has 3 apps: Pages lets you edit word processing documents. Numbers lets you edit spreadsheets. Keynote lets you edit slideshow presentations (including PowerPoint files).

These apps are useful if you have work to do, but don't feel like being at the computer to do it. Another great app for that is "iTeleport" which lets you access a computer remotely. LogMeIn Ignition and TeamViewer are similar apps that are 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 (such as from another room in your home or office).

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 is makes staying in touch convenient. Whether it's reading or composing email, instant messenging, or social networking, you've got plenty of options here.

Instant messaging is easy with channels such as AIM, Yahoo, Gtalk, MSN, Skype. Some apps handle multiple channels: IM+, Fring, Nimbuzz, BeejiveIM and Fuse Messenger. There are plenty of apps to help you interact with social networks like Facebook & Twitter, too.

However, with the new iOS 6, posting content to Facebook and Twitter has become native (no need to open an app). Just open Notification Center by swiping your finger down from the top edge of the screen, then tap either the Facebook or Twitter button. Voila! Off you go, posting a status update, albeit natively. And now, since Siri is included in the new iPod touch, you can ask for her help in posting those status updates too. Muah!

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. Other email accounts that support POP3 or IMAP connection types will work with the Mail app too.

===== Location Services =====

Location services such as the built-in Maps app can help you find your way around, but only to a certain extent, at least in the case of the iPod touch. This is one of the areas where the iPod and iPhone significantly differ.

The iPhone has true GPS hardware that uses satellites in the sky to accurately provide your location to apps that need it. When the sky isn't visible (e.g. indoors), it falls back on cellular triangulation which measures the signal from three nearby cellular towers to locate you.

The iPod touch can only use WiFi-based location, which uses your internet connection's IP address to roughly approximate your location. This works fine some of the time, but WiFi-based location is often inaccurate and can't be always be used on the go, rendering the iPod touch useless as a mobile atlas/GPS device. True GPS hardware has no fee to use but is admittedly a bit costly, but tons of high cost GPS apps are in the App Store now to offset that cost a bit for Apple.

===== Praise =====

+ Apple continues its trend of creating the best multi-touch experience around. Android doesn't even come close.
+ 4" Retina Display - more room to get your gaming and media multitasking on
+ Dual-core 1GHz A5 processor - the high performance of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, a win for gaming and multitasking.
+ 512MB memory - finally we can enjoy more of the multitasking love that iOS now grants us!
+ Multitasks like a dream with iOS 6 and the powerful processor, and double the memory. Someone pinch me!
+ 20x more megapixels - I'm not going to complain here, as it's still on par with the iPhone 4.
+ Thinner design - This is the more-squared design I've been waiting for! It's easier to grip, handle and press the power button.

===== Disappointments =====

+ No GPS - Location service in the new iPod touch are still WiFi-based, which is often inaccurate. Especially with Apple's new Maps app and the iPod's higher price, at least give us REAL GPS.
+ Still no 120GB model - Useful for higher-res videos that look great on the new 4" Retina display.
+ No burst mode for camera - despite the faster processor, and faster snapping of photos, the speed of photo capture still slows way down after you tend to load up the device with all kinds of software and other media, including the photos and videos you've taken with the device.
+ Poor photo organization - Apple needs to stop saving screenshots and downloads to the camera roll, and instead put them in their own folder, with a better filename than IMG_XXXX.
+ Still no vibrate capability
+ No orange color - now I'm just being nit-picky, but seriously... why tease us with only 3 real colors, but not orange? Pink, but not purple?Yellow, but not green or lime? A special Red version is slated to arrive though.

===== The Bottom Line =====

It's absolutely clear: the sleek and highly-refined new iPod touch simply cannot be touched... by its competition! It's in a league of its own when it comes to mobile entertainment and gaming for non-phone multitouch devices. Can you live without it? Good luck with that, unless you have an iPhone, which has a few undeniable perks beyond the iPod touch. If you don't need the phone or location features, the iPod touch is more than sufficient, and will continue to fill most gaps where the iPhone remains unavailable.

Could you still benefit from having an iPad too? Perhaps. After all, it does have unique qualities that sets it apart from the iPod touch. But unless you specifically see the need for one of those unique qualities, then no, you don't necessarily *need* both.

Given all my tips, I think you'll find the iPod touch extraordinarily useful, even addictive, with a price tag that is well worth it, especially the 32GB model. With all the things that the iPod touch can do, it'll undoubtedly enhance your life and change the way you interact with the Web. It might even make a mobile gamer out of you if it hasn't already, it sure did for me!

I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. Feel free to join the discussion via the comments link below. :)
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2014 7:56 PM PDT


Apple iPad mini MD531LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, White / Silver)
Apple iPad mini MD531LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, White / Silver)
Offered by Blizzard LLC
Price: $286.99
249 used & new from $225.00

2,173 of 2,314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A phenomenally portable twist on the iPad that finally breaks the mold of 7" tablets., December 2, 2012
Conceived from its sleek, glossy 10" counterpart, the new iPad Mini boasts one gigantic new trait over the full-sized iPad: the ability to hold it in one hand. This almost revolutionary twist on the device that sparked a frenzy in the tablet world has finally brought joy to those that have held out hope of such higher portability in an iPad for so long. But does the iPad Mini live up to the hype? Absolutely.

Turns out, the iPad mini is indeed more than simply a shrunk-down iPad, though there may be an argument for it actually resembling something more along the lines of a blown-up iPod touch. In any case, the big question: is the iPad mini right for you? I'll endeavor to answer that for you here by taking you hands-on with the new model, plus I'll share from my past few years of iPad ownership experience altogether, especially for those who haven't yet had an iPad to call their own.

Plus, in hopes of making this the most helpful iPad mini review on Amazon, I'll also reveal a treasure trove of info on how you can legitimately download tons of quality apps and games for free!

For those interested, I've also compiled two iPad listmania lists:

Must-Have iPad Accessories: http://www.amazon.com/lm/R1M3AJDBR2BCA7?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8
iPad vs. Other Tablets: http://www.amazon.com/lm/R3QLZ307253XU6?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8

My reviews tend to run long, so I've organized information by section, with headings, to help you quickly locate any specific info you're after. For example, see the heading "Downloading Apps and Games" for the info on obtaining free apps and games!

First, let's compare hardware specs between iPad mini and iPad, and what each means for you:
+ Device: iPad mini vs. iPad (4th gen)
+ Weight: 0.68 lbs vs. 1.44 lbs -- over twice as light as the iPad
+ Thickness: 0.28" (7.2mm) vs. 0.37" (9.4mm) -- thin as an iPod touch
+ Display: 163 vs. 264 pixels per inch -- less-crisp text, but equally long life for a smaller battery
+ Resolution: 1024 x 768 vs. 2048 x 1536 -- half as many pixels as the current iPad, but still sharper than an iPad 2
+ Battery: 10 hours (16.3 Wh) vs. 10 hours (45 Wh) -- smaller, lighter battery lasts just as long as the iPad
+ Processor: A5 (dual core) vs. A6X (dual core with quad core graphics) -- same as the new iPod touch, but not quite as powerful as the latest iPad, yet it doesn't need to be because the iPad mini display totes a quarter as many pixels!
+ Price: The iPad mini has a price tag that is indeed much more attractive than the 10" iPad. It's actually closer to that of the iPod touch.

===== First Impression =====

At first sight, there's a feeling of novelty to the iPad Mini, especially if you've used a 10" iPad or tablet. The more you use it, however, the more you realize that this is the size an iPad was meant to be: perfectly portable. The 10" iPad is so bulky and heavy in comparison, and I felt uncomfortable, embarrassed and awkward taking it with me and using it places, especially waiting in line. Not so with the iPad mini! It's super light, more than half the weight of the 10" iPad, and its sleek rounded edges are much more comfortable for carrying than the sharply-tapered edges of the iPad.

My initial reaction to the unveiling of the iPad mini was one of slight disappointment, mainly because it was closer to 8" than to the desired 7" of other tablets in its class. Why would Apple bother bringing a smaller iPad to market that's still not quite as small as some of the other 7" tablets floating around? Ah, but I was wrong.

Until I held it in my own hand, I failed to realize that Apple had made better use of the iPad mini's size than most 7" tablets do. What matters in a 7" tablet class isn't the screen size but the actual device size. The iPad mini is 3mm shorter and 7mm wider than the 7" Kindle Fire HD, yet it touts nearly an inch more of physical screen size.

===== Interaction Experience =====

Naturally, the iPad mini shares the iPad's same phenomenal multi-touch interface that is undisputedly second to none. Android tablets and other devices may tout "multi-touch" support, but usually this just means they support 2-finger gestures like pinch-style zooming. Apple, on the other hand, gives a whole new meaning to the term, supporting up to ten simultaneous touches, and app developers have certainly leveraged that capacity. For example, one popular app supporting ten simultaneous touches is the Piano app.

===== So What Can the iPad mini Actually Do? =====

Naturally, there are things you can do with the iPad mini right out of the box. You can browse the Web with Safari, set up your email, download your photos and videos from your computer via iTunes, as well as shoot new photos and videos using either of the two built in cameras. You can also surf YouTube via Apple's built-in YouTube app. There's also an iPod built in, so you can listen to your favorite tunes via the Music app, or download new music, movies and media via the iTunes app. Another popular app is iBooks, which lets you download and read e-books on your iPad mini. You can also jot notes, manage your calendar and contacts. You can even chat face-to-face with other Apple-device users via FaceTime.

Of course, the fun and usefulness of the iPad mini doesn't stop there. The App Store app is your portal to unending games and utilities. One thing Apple has been really good at is showing off just what you can do with an iPad, and the same goes for the iPad mini. All iPad apps work on the iPad mini. After all, the iPad mini is still an iPad. App developers have undoubtedly been busy creating unique experiences through their iPad apps, most of which have yet to be rivaled by (or ported to) Android and other tablets.

When Apple first announced the iPad they didn't tout it so much as an ebook reader as they did a "netbook killer" (due to its ability to surf the web, check email, watch videos, listen to music, and do a lot of the simpler tasks that netbooks were originally designed to do. But along its path to success, it sparked a revolution in the publication and delivery of full-color magazines, news and now even ebooks via Apple's iBooks app. Now, it's quite clear that Apple had the goal of a much more comfortable ebook reading experience in mind when they set out to create the iPad mini. You can easily hold it in one hand, just like a real book, and it's as light as a real book, two traits many users have been hoping to see come to fruition soon.

On the other hand, to use the iPad mini for more productive purposes, such as editing office documents, you'll need to download Apple's productivity suite iWork, a trilogy of apps including: Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets) and Keynote (slideshows). Each of the three apps can be downloaded separately for $9.99 each. Completely reworked for the iPad, the complete iWork suite will set you back a whole thirty bucks. So be aware of that before you go ahead and grab the iPad mini for use with work-related document editing, and so forth.

Also note that if you do intend to use the iPad for heavy writing or word-processing purposes, you'll find that your ability to type quickly will be greatly inhibited by the virtual keyboard. Thus, you should snag the external keyboard as well (Note: I'll also explain some typing techniques below). Either way, be prepared to pay more than merely the price for the iPad mini alone. There's clearly more than meets the eye if you intend to transform the iPad mini into something a little more productive than it might be for you out of the box.

===== Downloading Apps and Games =====

Downloading apps on your iPad mini couldn't be easier. Once you set up your iTunes account with a password and credit card (or iTunes gift card), all you need to do is launch the 'App Store' app, browse or search to find the app you want, tap the download button (usually it says the price rather than 'download', which then changes to 'install app' after you tap it), then tap again to confirm. Enter your password, and voila, you just bought an app. Behind the scenes, Apple then charges your card (or deducts from your gift card balance) 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!

Now for the juicy money-saving secrets of the App Store! With the proper resources, you can legitimately download thousands of high quality apps for free. I do it all the time and it's perfectly legal. You see, Apple allows developers to temporarily put their apps on sale (and even drop the price to free). Usually they do this in hopes that you'll write a rave review for the temporarily-free app. The secret to your success here is having the resources to help you spot these special app sales--so you know when and where to get them during these often extremely-limited-time promotions.

In hopes of making this the most helpful review on Amazon for the iPad mini, here's how to obtain these special promotional-sale and temporarily-free apps for yourself!

There are several resources you can use, both on the Web and on the iPad mini itself. I prefer to use an app called "AppShopper" which lists all apps that recently went on sale or dropped to free. You can filter just iPad apps, or show iPhone apps as well, and you can also filter just the free products or just the sale apps. But so many apps go on sale, making it hard to cut through the clutter, which is where AppShopper truly shines: the "popular" tab shows only the most popularly downloaded sale apps. If several other people aren't downloading an app, you won't see it listed there! AppShopper is a phenomenal little gem, and it has gotten me tons of apps FREE! It also has a companion website that lists the same apps. You can even create an account and track the apps you own, so you don't end up trying to redownload them if they go on sale again! It also supports watch lists (via your account) with push notifications, and can alert you whenever an app you're interested in goes on sale. It's a real thing of beauty! There are other apps such as AppZappPush, AppSniper, AppAdvice, Apps Gone Free, and more, but none of them leverage the power of the masses to help you filter out the unwanted apps. Feel free to check them out if you like, though!

===== Typing on the iPad mini =====

Typing on the iPad mini has certainly become a bit less burdensome than with its 10" iPad counterpart, especially in the way of thumb-typing. However, typing lengthy messages can still be a concern. Obviously, the iPad mini is no laptop--you won't be speed-typing, so it may not be conducive for heavy usage like typing lengthy emails or blogging, let alone writing this review. With that in mind, there are a couple approaches you can try to determine what typing method is right for you. The ideal method might also change depending on where you are and how the iPad is oriented when using it.

Typing Method #1: Thumbs
The most flexible approach is to type with your thumbs, which can be done whether sitting or standing. In portrait mode: grasp the bottom of your iPad with your palms facing each other, and your pinky fingers towards you for the iPad to rest on. To stabilize the iPad and prevent it from flopping over and falling out of your hands, stretch both of your index fingers upwards towards the top of the iPad as much as is comfortable. Using your thumbs, hunt & peck the keys on the virtual keyboard to your heart's content.

Alternately, if you press and hold the show/hide button on the bottom right corner of the keyboard, you can choose to split the keyboard, which makes it easier for your thumbs to reach all keys. You can also choose to undock the keyboard, which centers it vertically on the screen, instead of at the bottom. Undocked keyboard can be split or merged, per your preferences.

Typing Method #2: Two Fingers
If thumb-typing isn't your style, try holding the iPad mini in one hand, like a book, and use your index and middle fingers to go back and forth across the virtual keyboard. Alternately, if the iPad mini is resting on a surface and is in landscape orientation, you could try using two fingers from each hand, but I don't think the iPad mini is big enough to type with your full range of fingers like the 10" iPad is.

Typing Method #3: Speech to Text
With iOS 5 and Siri, Apple has brought us an even more convenient way to type, thanks to Siri! Just hit the microphone icon on the lower-left side of the keyboard, and start speaking. In most cases, your words will be transcribed into the currently active text field, with potentially mis-interpreted words underlined in blue. Just select any such word, and a list of possible alternates will pop up for your choosing.

You can also speak most punctuation, such as 'period', 'question mark', 'exclamation mark', 'open-paren', 'close-paren', 'hyphen', 'single quote', 'double quote', 'ellipsis' and more. Siri is built into the iOS software and is a free service, but one caveat of using Siri for speech transcription is that you must be connected to the Web at the time of transcription, because Siri is a primarily Web-based service (albeit a free one). At times, network congestion has been known to hinder the ability for this feature to work properly, but that happens much less frequently now and usually only occurs if your device is connected to a poor cellular signal instead of WiFi.

Other methods of typing on the iPad include the external keyboard, as well as third party speech-to-text transcription apps like Dragon, but with Siri's voice transcription feature built in, the latter is no longer necessary.

===== Web Browsing =====

Alongside email, and spending money in the app store, Web browsing is one of Apple's biggest suggestions for using the device. The iPad mini's small stature is no less capable, and its screen resolution of 1024x768 tends to concur, especially in landscape mode. Most websites are around 800-1000 pixels wide, so when the iPad mini is in landscape orientation, Apple's built-in Safari Web browser or Google's downloadable Chrome app will render any sites that are less than 1024 pixels wide at their intended original size, meaning you see them at their true size, rather than seeing a smaller, more compressed version of the site. Chrome lets you keep an unlimited number of browser tabs in the background, while Safari limits you to 9 tabs (at least until iOS 6 is released).

The good thing about Web browsing on the iPad and iPad mini is that you can rotate the orientation. Content on the Web was born to be viewed vertically (in portrait orientation), not horizontally (landscape orientation) as most laptops and desktop computers use. In general, I tend to prefer browsing the Web in portrait mode, since web pages are almost always taller than they are wide. Still, even in portrait mode, the iPad mini allows you to see more content at a still-decent size. Of course, even in portrait orientation, the compressed pages rendered are still easily readable without squinting your eyes, which isn't often the case for Web browsing on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Plus, you can always zoom into any section by quickly double tapping any region of the active page. Even zoomed-in regions are displayed with crisp clarity, and the browser's interface is swift and responsive.

However, not all your sites will work desirably on the iPad. Apple closed-mindedly refuses to support Adobe Flash on the iPad (as it has with the iPhone/iPod Touch). Flash content is now being used less and less, in favor of newer content technologies like HTML5's canvas and JavaScript effects, which can emulate some of Flash's most familiar capabilities, but sites using Flash do still exist. Flash is often used for advertising, video playback, browser-based online gaming, and for many other interactive site components, from graphs to product demos. However, the Flash experience on tablets that do support it is still quite poor in the interactivity department, especially considering that Adobe never intended for it to be used on touch screens. Thus, certain Flash content may expect a mouse hover and you can't emulate that with a finger on a touch screen.

While I found browsing the Web with a 10" iPad to be a literal pain in the neck, the lightweight and small stature of the iPad mini has certainly improved the experience. It's easier to handle, to hold upright with a single hand while browsing the web with the other, and it's more comfortable to hold. Since I didn't surf much with my 10" iPad, I have no qualms about the lack of a retina display. I'd rather have this iPad mini with the same resolution as the iPad 2 and a 10-hour battery life with a much smaller batter, than to have an iPad mini with a retina display and either a 4-hour battery life, or a battery as heavy as that of the 10" iPad!

===== Email, IM and Social Networking =====

Email on the iPad mini's Mail app is best viewed in landscape mode, as it allows you to see both your list of messages on the left as well as the selected message itself on the right. It also makes managing emails easier, such as moving messages to other folders (or to the trash). Another reason for landscape mode is to make typing those lengthy emails easier (using typing-method #2 mentioned above).

You can have multiple email accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, MobileMe, Microsoft Exchange and other custom POP3 and IMAP accounts.

Important Note: With the growing number of portable web connecting devices, there is one concern I want to express on your behalf. When you close the Mail app, it continues running in the background, even after disconnecting from one WiFi hotspot and reconnecting to another. My concern with this is that if haven't set up your e-mail with a secure connection, and you connect to a public WiFi hotspot that a malicious user is monitoring, then the instant your mail app connects to the hotspot to check your e-mail, your e-mail credentials may be suddenly compromised. To avoid this you definitely want to be using some kind of secure connection for your e-mail if at all possible. Web-based email such as Gmail typically support this out of the box, and Gmail accounts are the easiest to setup on the iPad mini.

===== Media =====

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, it's comforting to know that you audio/video experience will be similar on the iPad mini. You can watch videos via the YouTube app, which has been updated for the iPad mini to show YouTube HD videos beautifully. While the 1024x768 resolution of the iPad mini is a standard 4:3 ratio, not a widescreen 16:9 ratio, the HD videos as well as other video (including downloads from the iTunes store) display just fine, albeit with black bars. Some may not like that though, but I don't see a wide-screen iPad mini coming to market for a while.

The Netflix and Hulu+ apps are great for members of those online video streaming services. Netflix videos stream quickly and even moving the play position back and forth in the timeline, the movie starts playing very quick without much time rebuffering the video. For those who want to watch live TV, I also recommend getting yourself a Slingbox and snagging the SlingPlayer app to stream live TV to your iPad mini. I do that, and it works quite well!

===== Photos and Video =====

The new iPad mini brings a phenomenal new high-quality 5MP camera to market that picks up where the iPad 2's half-megapixel camera left off. 5 lenses inside the aperture, and the more powerful processor, combine to create the sharpest iPad image yet. Even low-light pictures are better than ever, though there's still room for improvement there. There's also a new iPhoto app from Apple that lets you organize, edit and share your photos right on the iPad mini!

Plus, you can now record full-HD (1080p) videos, instead of just the previous 720p videos. Though I must warn you, if you plan to shoot a lot of video with the iPad mini, you'll want to go with a 32GB or 64GB model! These incredibly high-quality videos take up an incredibly large amount of storage space!

===== E-Reading =====

Whether it's books, magazines or news, the iPad is making an impact on the future of media reading on a whole new level. Apple has been under-emphasizing the e-book and e-publication reading capabilities of the iPad to date, but I feel it's one of the iPad mini's greatest strengths, especially with it being about the size of a book. Magazine, newspaper and now book publishers have been jumping onboard the iPad bandwagon by creating their own iBooks and iPad apps, taking their publications to a whole new level, interactively and financially too.

My experiences interacting with some of these digital representations of magazines and newspapers have been a breath of fresh air. Being able to read them on a screen simply isn't enough. The ability to still touch them, combined with a rich interactivity on a level that can't be matched by their printed counterparts has really given new life to what I feared was becoming a dying trade. Of course, another big perk for me has been the ability to save space because now I can keep all my magazines around without ever taking up more than the size of a single book.

As far as Amazon ebooks go, you're not losing out by passing up on their Kindle line of tablets, because you have full access to Kindle books on the iPad mini via Amazon's Kindle app. If you read a lot outdoors and don't mind reading in shades of gray rather than in full-color, then perhaps the Kindle Paperwhite (not Kindle Fire) is more your style. Kindle uses e-ink which is much easier to read in the sunlight.

All in all, the iPad mini is an great e-reader on a whole new level. Had it touted a retina display, text would be slightly more crisp, albeit at the cost of long battery life. I'll take longer battery life over slightly more crisp text any day. Text on the iPad mini looks fine, unless it's really small, and that's usually only the case for an occasional website, but not ebooks.

===== 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 iPad mini's strengths because of its single-app-at-a-time multitasking approach.

In the context of software though, applications that allow you to edit office documents are commonly referred to as productivity software. Apple's own suite of productivity apps, collectively called "iWork", lets you do just that. For work-minded individuals, it will probably one of the most popular uses of the iPad mini. There are three apps in all: Pages is a word processing app that allows you to create and edit word processing documents, Numbers allows you to create and edit spreadsheets, and Keynote, which lets you create or edit presentations and slideshows (including PowerPoint files). Keynote has been pretty invaluable in giving personal presentations within small groups or one-on-one meetings with an iPad, but I'm not sure the iPad mini would be as comfortable using for presentations.

There's also a productivity category in the App Store dedicated to additional apps geared towards helping you be more productive. Remember, any app that works for the iPhone and iPad will run on the iPad mini, but do note that there are some exceptional productivity apps specifically made or updated for the iPad and iPad mini. Some notable iPad-specific productivity apps include Bento (personal organization/information management), Things (project management), iTeleport (remote desktop/VNC), Layers (drawing/painting), and GoodReader (best PDF+ reader around).

===== Gaming =====

If you're like me, you probably don't have time for games. Ultimately, I still see the iPad as a productivity device more than as a gaming console. Regardless, the iPhone and iPad changed the game on that. Millions of people use their computers for gaming, and 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 iPad mini is, and will continue to be, a decent platform for playing games. Most Android games look terrible on tablet-sized screens, but iPad game developers have taken care of iPad users with good quality iPad versions of most iPhone games. Board games and lap-friendly games are better for the 10" iPad than the iPad mini. Meanwhile, games heavily dependent on device-rotation and other accelerometer-based interaction are much conducive for use on the iPad mini than the 10" iPad.

===== Printing =====

Printing with the iPad mini is really hit-or-miss. Apple's iOS 4 brought the ability to print documents from their devices, but there are some caveats. Your printer must support "AirPrint" or, if yours doesn't, you might have success using Printopia software, so long as you have a Mac with a shared printer. Search Google for 'AirPrint' or 'Printopia' for more info and printer compatibility. From there, printing is easy, for apps that support it. The first time you attempt to print something, the iPad mini will walk you through the process of locating the printer and setting up the printing options. For more information about printing with your iPad mini, I'll link to some informative off-site pages in the first comment for this review.

===== Security =====

With portable devices, there should always be some level of concern regarding the safety and protection of your data. The iPad mini delivers surprisingly well in the area--it provides several layers of security to protect your data. You can require complex passcodes to securely access important information, encrypt data whether stored or transferred over WiFi, and even remotely wipe everything from your iPad instantly in the event of theft or loss (with subscription to Apple's MobileMe service). Apple even provides a free device-location service.

===== Praise =====

+ Clever use of space to cram an 8" screen into a 7" class of device that can be held with one hand!
+ Apple continues its trend of creating the best multi-touch experience around. Android doesn't even come close.
+ High performance 1GHz A5X processor - provides performance power for cutting-edge gaming and multitasking.
+ Multitasks like a dream with iOS 5 and the dual-core A5 processor, despite the same 256MB of memory as the third generation touch.
+ Rear camera - 5 megapixel photography goodness, plus it can do HD video.
+ 4G LTE - It's clearly the next big thing for improving connection speed when away from WiFi
+ Supported on Sprint - previous iPads only supported Verizon and AT&T
+ Lower iPad entry price point

===== Caveats =====
+ No Retina Display - But at the added benefit of a lighter battery that holds its charge just as long.

===== Disappointments =====

+ No GPS (or assisted GPS with 4G model) - IP based location just doesn't cut it at times. GPS has no subscription fee or contract to use
+ No NFC - Near Field Communications is what powers PayPass in credit cards, and there are certainly uses for it in devices, especially for data transfer, if not for making payments or redeeming passes with the Passbook app.
+ No 128GB model - would have been useful for high-res videos, or hold more of those 1080p videos you can shoot
+ No USB or SD card slot - for storage expansion, or more importantly, for importing pics from your external camera for use with the new iPhoto app
+ No numeric character row in keyboard, despite plenty of space on the iPad and iPad mini's screen.

===== The Bottom Line =====

There's really not much to complain about in an iPad now. Sure, retina display would be nice, but if we'd been given that, we'd be complaining about battery life, heavy weight or performance issues. Meanwhile, the 10" iPad has its uses, but portability isn't one of its strong suits. The iPad mini now fills that gap, and it's really been a dream to use. If 10" is comfortable for you, go with an iPad. As for me, the iPad mini has mostly lived up to my tablet desires.

Do you really 'need' the retina display? The honest truth is, no. See, Apple has certainly come to spoil us with its latest and greatest hardware, including the retina display, but I really don't see the iPad mini's less phenomenal display as a real deal breaker. I also a believer that the original iPad or iPad 2 are still great devices if you like the 10" class of tablet, and they don't have the retina display. So, really, why wait around another year for something better to come along? Then again, there's no absolute guarantee that the next iPad mini will even have that retina display.

The bottom line is, don't wait around and waste these precious cycles of your life hoping and betting on something better to come around, when you can always buy the current iPad Mini now, enjoy it now, and resell it down the road. Apple products always hold most of their value for a long time, because they're in such high demand.

I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. Feel free to keep the discussion going via the comments! :)
Comment Comments (112) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2014 7:36 PM PDT


Apple iPad MC705LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black) 3rd Generation
Apple iPad MC705LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black) 3rd Generation
Offered by Adria, LLC
Price: $499.95
175 used & new from $248.00

2,687 of 2,797 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Predictably Remarkable. The best tablet in its 10" class., March 16, 2012
I was able to secure the new iPad at our local Apple store, but I also got to spend some time with a review model beforehand. In any case, I'll take you hands-on with the new model, plus I'll share my experience from my past two years of iPad ownership altogether, especially for those who haven't yet had an iPad to call their own. I'll also reveal a treasure trove of info on how you can legitimately download tons of quality apps and games for free, in hopes of making this the most helpful iPad review on Amazon!

For those interested, I've also compiled two iPad listmania lists:

Must-Have iPad Accessories: http://www.amazon.com/lm/R1M3AJDBR2BCA7?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8
iPad vs. Other Tablets: http://www.amazon.com/lm/R3QLZ307253XU6?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8

My review tends to run long, so I've organized information by section, with headings, to make it more helpful for those just looking for specific info. For example, see the heading "Downloading Apps and Games" for the info on obtaining free apps and games!

First, let's quickly cover what's new, and what each means for you:
+ Retina Display - twice the resolution of the iPad 2, at 2048 x 1536 pixels (264px/in)
+ 5 megapixel rear-facing camera - take photos with over 8x higher resolution and quality than the iPad 2 (but still no flash)
+ Dual-core 1GHz A5X processor with quad-core graphics - better multitasking and flawless high-res graphics performance
+ 4G LTE capable - faster mobile connections on AT&T and Verizon when in 4G-LTE-covered network area

If you're considering the now-cheaper iPad 2, here's a quick recap of what was new last year:
+ Dual-core 1GHz A5 Processor - better multitasking, 9-times faster graphics
+ 3-Axis Gyroscope - allows for higher precision and more motion gestures
+ Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through with Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately)
+ 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)
+ Verizon 3G model now available - no longer limited to just AT&T for the WiFi+3G model
+ Thinner, lighter and smoother with contoured back - feels more comfortable in your hands

The iPad 2 brought a lot more new features to the iPad lineup, but the 3rd generation iPad still brings us some welcome new features. First, it sports the new A5X processor. Don't be confused though, it's not really that much better than the iPad 2's, and it's not technically a quad-core processor. The CPU itself remains dual-core, but the graphics processor built-into the CPU chip can compute 4 streams of graphics information, thus making the graphics aspect of the A5X processor quad-core. It's confusing, I know. To be honest, there was no noticeable improvement in performance over the iPad 2, except maybe behind the scenes where it handles 4x more pixels. In general, everything on the new iPad runs just as smooth as it always has, which is as to be expected from Apple! But I imagine the new processor has particularly been used to speed up image processing for the new 5 megapixel camera, making photography just about as snappy as it is on the iPhone 4S, which I own as well. 4G support was also a nice surprise that had been rumored.

On the other hand, other rumors didn't exactly pan-out, including an SD card slot for photos and file storage, nor the possibility of a smaller, more manageable 7" iPad model, but I'm still holding out hope for one in the future (UPDATE: a 7.9" iPad Mini has now been released, and you can now read my review of it too: http://www.amazon.com/review/R18KRNCDSS963I?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8). Thankfully, the price stays the same for these new models, but that is as to be expected. As a boon for those who don't really plan to use the new high-res camera nor need the Retina display or 4G speed, the iPad 2 is going to stick around for a while longer, with a new lower price for those in the market!

===== My Background =====

I'm a website and mobile app developer who's created a few apps and games for iOS devices, including the iPad. I also develop websites, so I like to ensure that those sites look and perform well on the device too, since it's continually growing in popularity for surfing the Web with over the past two years. I've spent lots of time with both the iPad and various Android-based tablets, and I have to be honest... apps are what make the iPad (and other iDevices) so great. Android tablets have the benefit of price and size, but Android apps available for tablets are terribly mediocre! They're also not as responsive as the iPad, at least not after you load them up with apps, games and other junk.

I'm no Apple fanboy, but I can recognize quality hardware and software when I see it, and as far as 10" tablets are concerned, the new iPad simply can't be beat, but that's mostly due to Apple's knack for high-end hardware, plus the ridiculously huge following of quality app developers that Apple can boast about. With over 200,000 apps just for the iPad alone, there's more than enough to keep you busy!

===== First Impression =====

Unboxing any new device certainly has its appeal, but the iPad has an allure all its own, and the new model is just as touch-worthy as its older siblings, especially when it's fresh out of the box and accompanied by that scent synonymous with new electronics. But when you turn it on for the first time it becomes clear: there's something different about this new model, especially if you've been using the iPad 2 for a while. There's a rich, vibrant crispness to the image that wasn't there before. It's almost like the screen isn't there at all, as if the silky-smooth graphics are just floating there.

===== Interaction Experience =====

Thanks to the powerful processor, animations and transitions remain smooth on the new iPad, even on a Retina screen with 4-times more pixels! Plus, text on the new model is crisper than ever, even in apps that haven't been retweeked for the new Retina display. Meanwhile, where the iPad really shines is with its continuation of a phenomenal multi-touch interface that is second to none, seriously. Android tablets and other devices may tout "multi-touch" support, but usually this just means they support 2-finger gestures like pinch-style zooming. The iPad touch-screen, on the other hand, supports up to ten simultaneous touches. Nothing new here, but still worth mentioning, especially for tablet newcomers. So if an iPad app ever needs to support that many touches, the iPad is ready. For example, the most common app supporting ten simultaneous touches is the piano app.

===== So What Can the iPad Actually Do? =====

Naturally, there are things you can do with the iPad right out of the box. You can browse the Web with Safari, set up your email, download your photos and videos to your iPad via iTunes, as well as shoot new photos and videos using either of the two built in cameras. You can also surf YouTube and watch your favorite videos via Apple's built-in YouTube app. There's also an iPod built in, so you can listen to your favorite tunes via the Music app, or download new music via the iTunes app. Another popular iPad app is iBooks, which lets you download and read e-books on your iPad. You can also jot notes, manage your calendar and contacts. You can even chat with other Apple-device users via FaceTime (over WiFi only). Of course, the fun and usefulness of the iPad doesn't stop there. The App Store app is your portal to unending games and utilities. One thing Apple has been really good at is showing off just what you can do with the iPad. App developers have undoubtedly been busy creating unique experiences through their iPad apps, most of which have yet to be rivaled by (or ported to) Android and other tablets.

You can also download two additional Apple-made apps: iBooks, which lets you download and read ebooks easily on your device, and iWork, Apple's office-document editing suite, a trilogy of apps which consists of: Pages (for editing word processing documents), Numbers (for editing spreadsheets) and Keynote (for editing PowerPoint-like slideshows); Each of the three apps can be downloaded separately for $9.99 each. Completely reworked for the iPad, the complete iWork suite will set you back a whole thirty bucks. So be aware of that before you go ahead and grab the iPad for use with work-related document editing, and so forth.

Also note that if you do intend to use the iPad for heavy writing or word-processing purposes, you'll find that your ability to type quickly will be greatly inhibited by the virtual keyboard. Thus, you should snag the external keyboard as well, but I'll explain a few typing techniques below. Either way, be prepared to pay more than merely the price for the iPad alone if you intend to transform the iPad into something a little more productive than it might be for you out of the box.

===== Downloading Apps and Games =====

Downloading apps on your iPad couldn't be easier. Once you set up your iTunes account with a password and credit card, all you need to do is find the app you want from the App Store, tap the button at the top with the app's price, then tap again to confirm. Enter your password (once per session), and voila, you just bought an app. Behind the scenes, Apple charges your card for the amount of the app plus tax, while you're already off enjoying your new app. 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!

Now for the juicy money-saving secrets of the App Store! 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. You 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 these often extremely-limited-time promotions.

There are several resources you can use, both on the Web and on the iPad itself. I prefer to use an app called "AppShopper" that lists all apps that recently went on sale or dropped to free. You can filter just iPad apps, or show iPhone apps as well, and you can also filter just the free products or just the sale apps. But so many apps go on sale, making it hard to cut through the clutter, which is where AppShopper truly shines: the "popular" tab shows only the most popularly downloaded sale apps. If several other people aren't downloading an app, you won't see it listed there! AppShopper is a phenomenal little gem, and it has gotten me tons of apps FREE! It also has a companion website that lists the same apps. You can even create an account and track the apps you own, so you don't end up trying to redownload them if they go on sale again! It also supports watch lists (via your account) with push notifications, and can alert you whenever an app you're interested in goes on sale. It's a real thing of beauty! There are other apps such as AppZappPush, AppSniper, AppAdvice, Apps Gone Free, and more, but none of them leverage the power of the masses to help you filter out the unwanted apps. Feel free to check them out if you like, though!

===== Typing on the iPad =====

Typing on the iPad can be annoying at times, but I mostly chalk that up to it being 10-inches. Being touted more as a Web browser and email device than an e-book reader, with the added potential that you'll be using it to edit office documents, typing on the device can quickly become a concern. First, realize that the iPad's no laptop--you won't be speed-typing, so it may not be conducive for heavy usage like typing lengthy emails or blogging, let alone writing this review. With that in mind, there are a couple approaches you can try to determine what typing method is right for you. The ideal method might also change depending on where you are and how the iPad is oriented when using it.

Typing Method #1: Thumbs
The most flexible approach is to type with your thumbs, which can be done whether sitting or standing. In portrait mode: grasp the bottom of your iPad with your palms facing each other, and your pinky fingers towards you for the iPad to rest on. To stabilize the iPad and prevent it from flopping over and falling out of your hands, stretch both of your index fingers upwards towards the top of the iPad as much as is comfortable. Using your thumbs, hunt & peck the keys on the virtual keyboard to your heart's content. Alternately, thanks to iOS 5, thumb-typing in landscape mode has now become painless. Normally, the keyboard is still docked to the bottom of the screen, and can be hard to reach the center of the keyboard with thumbs. However, if you press and hold the show/hide button on the bottom right corner of the keyboard. You can then choose to split the keyboard, with makes it easier for your thumbs to reach all keys, when the iPad is in landscape mode. You can also choose to undock the keyboard, which centers it vertically on the screen, instead of at the bottom.

Typing Method #2: Full Fingers
I've found this next method to be even more useful, though it requires you to be is best used while seated, with the iPad in resting in your lap, or on something soft, preferably with the iPad in landscape mode. With the iPad situated securely on your legs, you'll find it becomes easier to type with your full range of digits (fingers), like you would on a full sized physical keyboard. I find it slightly awkward, though, to hit the spacebar frequently with the side of my thumbs as you typically would on a physical keyboard. Still, whether you use your thumbs for the spacebar, or decide to use your fingers instead, you'll still find yourself typing slightly faster than with the thumbs-only hunt-and-peck method. Also, this typing method doesn't work well with the iPad resting any anything hard and flat like a desk or table, as the rounded backside of the iPad causes it to wobble uncontrollably while trying to type. However, if placement on a hard surface is a must, you might try putting something soft under the iPad to stabilize it.

Typing Method #3: Speech to Text
Now, Apple has brought us an even more convenient way to type, thanks to Siri! Just hit the microphone icon on the lower-left side of the keyboard, and start speaking. In most cases, your words will be transcribed into the currently active text field, with potentially mis-interpreted words underlined in blue. Just select any such word, and a list of possible alternates will pop up for your choosing. You can also speak most punctuation, such as 'period', 'open-paren', 'close-paren', 'hyphen' and more. At times though, network congestion does hinder the ability for this feature to work properly, so hopefully that will improve over time.

Other methods of typing on the iPad include the external keyboard, as well as third party speech-to-text transcription apps, but with Siri's voice transcription feature built in, the latter is no longer necessary.

===== Web Browsing =====

Alongside email, and spending money in the app store, Web browsing is one of Apple's biggest suggestions for using the device. The iPad was born to surf the Web, but content on the Web is often best viewed vertically, and the new Retina display's 2048x1536 resolution renders that content more crisply than ever, especially in portrait orientation (vertical). Working within the Safari Web-browsing app, the interface is swift and responsive.

However, not all your sites will work desirably on the iPad. Apple closed-mindedly refuses to support Adobe Flash on the iPad (as it has with the iPhone/iPod Touch). However, regardless of whether Apple likes it or not, Flash is being used around the Web, not only for advertising and video but for many other uses from graphs to product comparisons, but they don't seem to care anyway. The same lack of support is true of Java, AIR, Silverlight and others though. So expect some of your sites to only be supported to a certain degree, if not entirely in some cases. This can be a bit of a bummer until Flash starts being replaced with other technologies like HTML5's canvas technology, which is poised to take on some of Flash's most familiar capabilities. Alternately, you can jailbreak your iPad (when a jailbreak is released for the new model), which would allow you to circumvent the Flash limitation.

Granted, I don't often actually find myself surfing the web with the iPad for a few reasons. First of all, I prefer the display to be parallel with my face, but for the iPad that means craning my neck downwards and after a while that gets tiring. I also tend to do a lot of typing on the sites I use, and typing a lot on the iPad isn't really an enjoyable experience. There are however some keyboard alternatives if you decide that on-screen typing isn't for you. I just find it easier to work from a laptop when I'm on the go, and the 11" MacBook Air fits that bill simply enough for me. Finally, when I browse the Web (on my computer), I typically have more than 9 tabs open at any given time. I say that because the iPad's browser limits you to 9 tabs. If you rarely use more than 9 tabs when browsing the Web though, the iPad may be right for you.

===== Email, IM and Social Networking =====

Email on the iPad's Mail app is best viewed in landscape mode, as it allows you to see both your list of messages on the left as well as the selected message itself on the right. It also makes managing emails easier, such as moving messages to other folders (or to the trash). Another reason for landscape mode is to make typing those lengthy emails easier (using typing-method #2 mentioned above).

You can have multiple email accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, MobileMe, Microsoft Exchange and other custom POP3 and IMAP accounts.

Important Note: With the growing number of portable web connecting devices, there is one concern I want to express on your behalf. When you close the Mail app, it continues running in the background, even after disconnecting from one WiFi hotspot and reconnecting to another. My concern with this is that if haven't set up your e-mail with a secure connection, and you connect to a public WiFi hotspot that a malicious user is monitoring, then the instant your mail app connects to the hotspot to check your e-mail, your e-mail credentials may be suddenly compromised. To avoid this you definitely want to be using some kind of secure connection for your e-mail if at all possible. Web-based email such as Gmail typically support this out of the box, and Gmail accounts are the easiest to setup on the iPad.

===== Media =====

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, it's comforting to know that you audio/video experience will be similar on the iPad. You can watch videos via the YouTube app, which has been updated for the iPad to show YouTube HD videos beautifully. While the 2048x1536 resolution of the iPad is a standard 4:3 aspect ratio, not a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, the HD videos as well as other video (including downloads from the iTunes store) display just fine, albeit with black bars. Some may not like that though, but I don't see a wide-screen iPad coming to market for a while.

The Netflix and Hulu+ apps are great for members of those online video streaming services. Netflix videos stream quickly and even moving the play position back and forth in the timeline, the movie starts playing very quick without much time rebuffering the video. For those who want to watch live TV, I also recommend getting yourself a Slingbox and snagging the SlingPlayer app to stream live TV to your iPad. I do that, and it works quite well!

===== Photography and Video =====

The new iPad brings a phenomenal new high-quality 5MP camera to market that picks up where the iPad 2's half-megapixel camera left off. 5 lenses inside the aperture, and the more powerful processor, combine to create the sharpest iPad image yet. Even low-light pictures are better than ever, though there's still room for improvement there. There's also a new iPhoto app from Apple (for five bucks) that lets you organize, edit and share your photos right on the iPad!

As if that's not enough, there's built-in Picture Frame mode that lets you use the iPad's gorgeous Retina display to showcase your favorite photos, using clever transition effects like "Dissolve" with "Zoom in on Faces", or the nifty multi-photo "Origami" effect. In this review's comments, I'll include a helpful link to an article that shows you how to set up and use this mode.

Plus, you can now record full-HD (1080p) videos, instead of just the previous 720p videos. Though I must warn you, in you plan to shoot a lot of video with the iPad (or even the iPhone 4S), you'll want to go with a 32GB or 64GB model! These incredibly high-quality videos take up an incredibly large amount of storage space!

===== 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 iPad's strengths because of its one-app-seen-at-a-time multitasking approach.

In the context of software though, applications that allow you to edit office documents are commonly referred to as productivity software. Apple's own suite of productivity apps, collectively called "iWork", has been re-created from the ground up just for the iPad. (Previously it was only available for Macs.) For work-minded individuals, it will probably one of the most popular uses of the iPad. There are three apps in all: Pages is a word processing app that allows you to create and edit word processing documents. Then there's Numbers, which allows you to create and edit spreadsheets. Finally there's Keynote, which lets you create or edit presentations and slideshows (including PowerPoint files). So far, I've found the latter to be pretty invaluable in giving personal presentations within small groups or one-on-one meetings.

However, there is a whole category of iPhone and iPad-specific apps dedicated to productivity, and they're naturally located under the category titled "productivity" in the categories section of the app store. Remember, any app that works for the iPhone will run on the iPad, but do note that there are some exceptional productivity apps made or updated for the iPad specifically. Some notable iPad-specific productivity apps include Bento (personal organization/information management), Things (project management), iTeleport (remote desktop/VNC), Layers (drawing/painting), and GoodReader (best PDF+ reader around).

===== Gaming =====

If you're like me, you probably don't have time for games. Ultimately, I still see the iPad as a productivity device more than as a gaming console. Regardless, the iPhone and iPad changed the game on that. Millions of people use their computers for gaming, and 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 iPad is, and will continue to be, a decent platform for playing games. Most Android games look terrible on tablet-sized screens, but iPad game developers have taken care of us with good quality iPad versions of most iPhone games. Board games and lap-friendly games are also perfect for the iPad. Meanwhile, I suspect that games heavily dependent on device-rotation and other accelerometer-based interaction may quickly wear you out do to the weight of the iPad. I got tired of playing EA's Need For Speed: Shift after about 5 minutes. Resting the iPad on my knee didn't help much.

===== Printing =====

Printing with the iPad is really hit-or-miss. The ability to print documents right from your iPad came along last year, with the iOS 4 update, but there are some caveats. Your printer must support "AirPrint" or, if yours doesn't, you might have some success working with some software called Printopia (if you have a Mac with a shared printer). Google AirPrint or Printopia for more info and device compatibility. From there, printing is easy. The iPad will walk you through the process of locating the printer and setting up the printing options the first time around. For more information about printing with your iPad, I'll linked to some informative off-site pages in the first comment for this review.

===== Security =====

With portable devices, there should always be some level of concern regarding the safety and protection of your data. The iPad deliver surprisingly well in the area, providing several layers of security to protect your data. You can require complex passcodes to securely access important information, encrypt data whether stored or transferred over WiFi, and even remotely wipe everything from your iPad instantly in the event of theft or loss (with subscription to Apple's MobileMe service).

===== 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 iPad as well as the iPhone and iPod touch
+ High performance 1GHz A5X processor - provides performance power for cutting-edge gaming and multitasking
+ Multitasks like a dream with iOS 5 and the powerful dual-core central processor
+ Rear camera - 5 megapixel photography goodness, plus it can do 1080p HD video (up from 720p)
+ 4G LTE option - It's clearly the next big thing for improving connection speed when away from WiFi

===== Dissappointments =====

+ The 10" model is not very portable, it's often just too bulky and heavy to tote around or hold up for long durations
» UPDATE: a 7.9" iPad Mini has now been released, see my in-depth review of it here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R18KRNCDSS963I?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8
+ No true GPS - IP-based location just doesn't cut it, and GPS has no subscription fee or contract to use like assisted (cellular) GPS does
+ No 128GB model - would have been useful for high-res videos that look great on the Retina display, or hold more of those huge 1080p videos
+ No USB or SD card slot - for storage expansion, or more importantly, importing pics from your external camera to the new iPhoto app
+ Front facing camera - great for FaceTime communication, but it only works over WiFi, Apple isn't even letting it work over 4G!

===== The Bottom Line =====

If you already have an iPad 2, perhaps there isn't enough new to warrant purchasing the new model, unless you really want the Retina display. If you have the original iPad, it's probably worth getting though, seeing all the new additions that have carried over from the iPad 2.

Overall, the iPad still sets the pace for most other tablets in its 10" class, but I personally find all 10" tablets to be a bit bulky and somewhat unwieldy. Particularly, I find it awkward to use the iPad where I want to use it most: lying in bed, or sitting on the couch with it in my lap. On the couch, where a laptop is comfortable resting on your lap, with the screen parallel to your face, whereas the iPad needs to be angled up, and your head angled downward. This can be tiring after a while. In bed, it's just too heavy and bulky, and I've dropped the thing square on my face several times.

The solution? I started bugging Apple for a 7" model since the iPad was first released in 2010. Jobs said no, but, with all due respect, he's no longer calling the shots. UPDATE: Thankfully, Tim Cook saw the light and cooked up the iPad mini! The iPad mini is on par with other 7" tablets in size, but uses screen real estate more efficiently and thus sports a screen that's closer to 8" than 7". If 10" is comfortable for you, then the 3rd-gen iPad is definitely worth 5 stars. Personally though, I've found the iPad mini more to my liking. I've posted a more in-depth review of the iPad mini: http://www.amazon.com/review/R18KRNCDSS963I?tag=1pad-20&ie=UTF8 so feel free to browse on over to it and have a read. Some content from this review applies to the other, and vice versa, but there are plenty of differences.

In all honesty, the iPad really is the best 10" tablet around, and I would give no other tablet more than 3 stars. I'll continue to keep mine around simply because it does have it's uses, especially for Web and app development, and when not in use, it still makes a great digital picture frame with the aforementioned Picture Frame mode! (See the Photography and Video section)

However, for reading, surfing and all other entertainment and gaming uses, I've now transitioned over to using the iPad mini most of the time.

I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. Feel free to keep the discussion going via the comments! :)
Comment Comments (165) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2013 2:03 PM PST


Lexar Echo ZX 32GB USB Backup Flash Drive LEHZX32GBSBNA
Lexar Echo ZX 32GB USB Backup Flash Drive LEHZX32GBSBNA
Offered by sdgoam
Price: $32.99
17 used & new from $22.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Died After 3 Days!, December 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've NEVER had a flash drive fail on me until now. This one lasted THREE days!

I got this particular unit from Amazon about a week ago, for use with my 11" MacBook Air, that I'm always running out of space with on its limited 64GB SSD. I bought it for the size, because I was planning on keeping it plugged in all the time. When it died, I hadn't realized it. I just saw the popup stating that the flash drive had been removed unexpectedly. The next day, when I want to transfer tons of development work to it, I noticed it was not working. It hasn't worked since. Tried accessing it from Windows and Linux, and was still unsuccessful. The machine recognizes it as a flash drive, but it can find no partitions to mount.

Thankfully I only lost a few screencasts that I didn't have backed up to another drive on the network, but had it lived to see a few more days, I might have lost ALL my iPhone development work!!

Moral of the story: don't trust a single device to be your data backup. Backup, backup and backup again... to 3 devices! And only then, should you move stuff to this drive. You can never be too prepared!

This was just the first of potentially many replacements I might have to get, until I finally get one that's reliable. There just simply isn't another flash drive of such a conveniently small size with such amazing speed and capacity! I'll keep this review up to date with the details of my replacements.

*** UPDATES! ***

February 4th, 2012: There's nothing exciting to report. I've had four different Lexar 32GB Echo ZX drives in my possession. The first replacement was dead on arrival, and the last two replacements came from Lexar themselves and worked for a short period of time, but they themselves also died after just a few days. Not fun! Still trying till I get one that works though. Let's just see exactly how long it takes!

April 28th, 2012: I've given up on this drive. Instead, I've gone with a 16GB SanDisk Cruzer Fit (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FYNSZA?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8). Hopefully SanDisk will come out with a 32GB soon.

June 2nd, 2012: It looks like SanDisk finally released a 32GB version of their Cruzer Fit (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00812F7O8?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8)! I like my 16GB. Have had no problems with it. It's even a bit smaller than Lexar's ZX! It's a thing of beauty!


HTC EVO 3D 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint)
HTC EVO 3D 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint)

320 of 336 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EVO 3D vs EVO 4G: Flagship Faceoff, June 25, 2011
Off the bat, the EVO 3D has been getting a lot of mixed reviews. People either love it or hate it, but many reviews floating around have tended to direct the focus of their positive or negative feedback towards one of two things: the 3D features, or everything else. I hope the dispel the mass hysteria of other reviews by giving you a realistic account of my ongoing experience with this undoubtedly groundbreaking new phone. I'll also be heavily comparing it side by side with its predecessor, the EVO 4G, which I've owned for a year now. And for those of you who will be replacing another Android phone, I'll include an overview of how to transfer apps and data from your other phone to the EVO 3D.

Note: Be aware that I will also be mentioning the EVO 4G frequently throughout this review, so be sure to pay attention and not confuse the two.

Let's quickly look at what's new. Here are my pros (+) and cons (-). More in-depth coverage follows:

+ 3D glasses-free display - simply reciting the obvious here!
+ Dual 5 megapixel rear cameras - photos and videos shot in 3D can also be viewed in 2D!
+ Dedicated physical camera button - with two pressure levels, like a real camera
+ qHD display - ultrafine, high quality graphics at 540x960 screen resolution
+ Dual core Snapdragon processor - hasn't freezed up on me once!
+ Numerous software improvements - details noted further below
+ Super fast boot up/restart - purportedly hinders some Market apps, can be disabled via Settings > Power
+ Larger 1730 mAh battery - yet seems physically smaller than EVO 4G's battery
- Battery still doesn't tend to last a full day - 3D drains it at 1% per minute, display also a power leach
- Camera takes too long to snap photos, especially 3D photos - a good 1-2 seconds!
- Camera glass easy to smudge when holding the EVO 3D in your hand, can ruin some 3D shots
- Camera's aluminum bezel easy to damage, doesn't fit evenly flush against the glass
- No kickstand - keep your eyes peeled for a kickstand case accessory

===== Look and Feel =====

The EVO 3D looks strikingly similar to its predecessor, the EVO 4G. Since the original 4G phone has been so successful, I guess they figured why fix what isn't broken. Sadly though, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. HTC decided to trade up the kickstand, supposedly for a bigger battery although the EVO 3D battery is physically smaller than its EVO 4G counterpart. I'll miss the kickstand, though it was awkward to use at times, most notably on soft or unlevel surfaces. Otherwise, we've got the same capacitive touch buttons along the bottom (home, menu, back & search... the perfect order), the same 4.3" screen, with a slightly taller, equal width body, and the same soft touch back side, this time with a bit of added texture, which I don't really care for personally, but I digress. Naturally, with the dual cameras spread across half the back, holding the EVO 3D is a bit awkward. The glass covering those rear cameras is definitely not oleophobic, so it smudges easily, and I find myself constantly cleaning it up so my photos turn out clearly. Also, the bezel around those rear cameras was also easily susceptible to damage (had some dents fresh out of the box!) and also won't stay flush with the glass and can get caught on loose threads, or scrape the palm occasionally, an awkward sensation much like that of a razor blade shaving across your skin. Undoubtedly, you'll also notice an unsightly huge silver button gracing the right side of the EVO 3D. This new camera button is a stragely welcome addition, more on that in a sec, but you should be aware that it can also greet your palm with a harsh scrape every now and then, as well. Otherwise, the EVO 3D has a generally comfortable feel for its form factor.

===== Camera =====

Aside from the dual rear facing cameras, one of the most unmistakable new features of the EVO 3D has to be the huge silver button that at first seems to marr the landscape. Upon further use, however, I began to realize that this may have been one of the best new features. Perhaps you're like me... when I got my EVO 4G, it all but replaced my point and shoot camera. However, having to touch a specific, small circular area of the screen to capture the image proved unhelpful at times, provoking blurred shots or requiring me to contort my wrist and hand in an odd way when taking self portraits and such with the 8mp rear camera. Not any more!

Also note: Engadget reviewer claimed the phone had to "spot" setting to control light metering like the EVO 4G has, whereby you can touch a subject on your screen, and the brightness automatically adjusts to that object. However, the reviewer failed to realize that there is indeed spot metering, it's just built into the phone now as a default. I like that, because this wasn't the default on the EVO 4G and I suffered some ill fated, over exposed shots before I found the setting. So now you just have to tap to focus and adjust brightness. Simple enough! Works in video mode too, even WHILE recording!

===== Camera in 3D =====

Taking pictures in 3D is novel, but getting the perfect shot can be hopelessly difficult. There's a 2 second delay. Your subject has to stay still, period. I tried taking pictures of my pets, and not one came out perfectly because they inevitably move in the 2 second wait after pressing the button till it actually takes the shot. Images captured in 3D can also be viewed in 2D, but there's a little trick involved. You have to use the pinch gesture to zoom into the photo slightly. Alternately, you can touch and drag the photo, as if moving between photos, although this doesn't technically disable the autostereoscopic display like pinching to zoom does, meaning you can still notice the subtle vertical lines of the autostereoscopic screen effect (much like those promotional lenticular "3D" holograms you may have seen on cereal boxes, or other places). Perhaps the device is capturing two shots, which explains why the 3D mode takes 2 seconds to fully capture the shot.

===== Video =====

This is where EVO 3D's dual core processor shines. On my EVO 4G, capturing smooth video was often an utter disappointment. Video would often be choppy, pixelated and unsynched with the audio, that is, when the video would even record at all. Sometimes it completely cut out after a few seconds, or decided to capture sound but no video. It seemed to get worse as time went on. What was causing the issues was beyond me, but it had to be some other app's processes getting in the way. Email? Tasker? Sprint's own ridiculous and lousy built in apps? Not sure, but I had a class 4 SD card, so that shouldn't have been the bottleneck. Nevertheless, the EVO 3D records flawless video, even after transferring all my apps and settings to the new device. Perfect! Now I don't have to worry about whether I will capture flawed video of the kids, and in 3D to boot! Another great new addition is that you can now zoom in and refocus (by touching the screen on the subject you'd like to refocus on) DURING video capture! Phenomenal! Videos are also saved in MP4 format instead of that useless 3GP that the EVO 4G uses. This includes 3D videos, which when opened on a normal computer show the left and right channels side by side, though each channel appears stretched.

===== Video in 3D =====

Now, do beware of high battery usage with 3D capture--I calculated around 1% per minute. 3D video capture ate through the battery like it was a piece of pumpkin pie with an extra large dollop of whipped cream! Nevertheless, shooting video in 3D seems much easier than shooting photos in 3D because you don't really have to worry about your subject staying still. It's great for those shots of the kids, or pets, or a high-speed train coming right at you!

To my great relief, video shot in 3D can indeed be viewed in either 2D or 3D, on demand. When viewing a 3D video, it will default to 3D, but if you tap the screen, you'll see a 3D/2D box icon in the top right corner of the screen. Tap it to toggle between 3D and 2D. I'll add more info in the comments about converting between various 2D and 3D formats for viewing on other 2D and 3D devices, including 3D televisions and such, so stay tuned! Also, 3D videos as well as

BUG NOTICE: Within my first few days of using the 3D camera and camcorder, I noticed a fair number of my videos and pictures were only getting shot in 2D instead of 3D, and the 3D was definitely switched on. I think it may have something to do with powering the device on with the 3D already set to 3D mode. So be sure to switch it off and on if you're taking photos outside, where you won't necessarily see the 3D effects clearly.

===== Movies in 3D =====

HTC has included The Green Hornet in 3D, as a psuedo "app", so you can find it under the same name, on the apps screen in the T's. It seems like the "app" is merely just a link to HTC's "Watch" app. I also had to agreen to a mile-long terms of service agreement, install the software update, and create an HTC Watch account, before it would let me watch the included movie. For all the effort, they could have at least included a better 3D movie like Avatar or Tron! Something I'd not mind watching over and over. The Green Hornet wasn't that great of a movie, but I digress.

===== Other Thoughts on 3D =====

The 3D features of the EVO 3D may feel a bit gimicky to some, but that's likely only because of the small viewing "sweet spot" due to it being glasses-free technology. It's not likely that any glasses-free 3D device will be able to improve on that limitation without tracking your eyes, plus it will likely remain single-viewer. But, that's what you get without having to wear those nerdy specs/goggles! The 3D effect is definitely disorienting the first time you see it, but that fades quickly the more you get used to it. After a few days, I still find the 3D effects quite novel! Will it wear off? I'll keep you posted.

Thankfully, you can view 3D pictures and videos in either of the two landscape orientations. You aren't locked to just landscape-left such as you were limited to in the early days of Android. The EVO 3D is smart enough to flip the left & right eyes when you rotate the device. And to my surprise, you CAN view 3D media in portrait mode as well. I didn't think that'd be the case, but 3D does go in all 3 orientation directions. However, you cannot capture 3D photos and videos in portrait orientation like you can in 2D mode, and the 3D-viewing "sweet spot" is a lot more finicky to get right in portrait orientation. Some people have been reporting having headaches induced by the 3D effects, I've been messing with it almost all day with no ill effects. If you don't get headaches from 3D movies in the theater or on 3D TVs, you'll probably be fine.

===== qHD Display =====

The EVO 3D features a new display, which has a higher resolution of 540x960, as opposed to the EVO 4G's 480x800. This means the images are crisper, albeit slightly smaller, but I really like that. It makes the notification bar notably thinner than the EVO 4G, with smaller icons, meaning the EVO 3D can fit more icons on the notification bar than its predecessor. Beautiful! I'm also thankful that the display is not AMOLED, because its RGBG PenTile arrangement of pixels generates an annoying checkerboard effect. Look it up on Wikipedia to see what I mean. However, Super AMOLED is perfectly fine, as it uses the normal RGB pixel arrangement, so that's desirable. Also, for those of you interested in using a stylus, especially on those cold winter-glove days, you'll need a capacitive stylus like this Targus ([...]) which I used on my EVO 4G, and it works just as great now on my EVO 3D. It's especially handy on apps & games that require a lot of finger swipes, because the longer your skin touches against a surface, the more it perspires, thus making it stickier.

===== Battery Life =====

Speaking of battery life, there's nothing that's irked me about the EVO 4G more than the daily 2pm low-battery automatic power down! It used to last at least a good day, but lately it just tanks way too quickly. I was holding out hope that wouldn't be the case with the EVO 3D, but so far, after using it with the same apps and settings transferred from the EVO 4G, it lasts about a day if I don't use the 3D features. If I do use the 3D features, it tanks after just half a day. Thankfully, there's a handy feature called Power Save mode that disables backgrounded apps once the battery dips below a certain percentage, customizable via Settings > Power. In any case, the culprit reported by the Battery Use utility was the display, taking 70% of battery (likely due to the 3D effects), followed closely by "phone idle" at 9% and "wifi" at 5%. So either I need to not use this thing so much, or HTC needs to improve their display technology, and preferably not by going the AMOLED route! Super AMOLED is fine though, because it doesn't have the pixel-checkerboard effect like regular AMOLED does.

On that note, if you're looking for a Sprint smartphone with awesome battery life, check out my review of the Windows Phone 7 powered HTC Arrive ([...]), which lasts over two days on one charge, even with ridiculous settings, tons of email accounts and all that jazz.

===== Call Quality =====

I've never reported on call quality in a review before, never needed to. Besides, I make so few calls. But so many of the early reviews had complaints that I had to at least account for this myself, and I'm happy to report that it's been a non issue, on my device anyway. I've made plenty of test calls to confirm this in the first week of use.

===== Email =====

HTC's built in email app has always been subpar. Thankfully HTC updated their email app, and while it still isn't without flaws (such as defaulting to POP instead of IMAP, not keeping messages on the POP server by default, lack of selecting all messages for deleting or marking all as read), you can now select multiple messages to mark as read or delete, so that's great. There's also some UI improvements to get used to, words are now purely icons on the reply/action buttons. I have also noticed some bugs where I'll not get notified for new emails from one of my accounts, for several hours. Then, when it finally does work it wants to notify my every 5 minutes, even when new emails have not come in since the last notification. Annoying!

===== Dual Core Performance and Plentiful App Storage =====

Installing apps on the EVO 4G was often a pain in the neck, for two reasons. Thankfully the EVO 3D takes care of both those issues. The first issue is terrible download and installation performance, causing the EVO 4G to slow down or freeze up constantly throughout the process, and good luck trying to install multiple apps simultaneously (or even back to back). It often doesn't work! That could also partly be due to the second issue though, which is low disk space. On my EVO 4G, I have a bundle of apps that aren't capable of being moved to the SD card, and the built in app storage space is limited to less than 512MB. Still, you'd think that would be plenty for mobile apps, but some apps are surprisingly large, or get large quickly because of excessive data storage or caching... the biggest culprit being HTC's own email app which is currently consuming 90MB! Other offenders include Facebook, Google Reader, Google Docs and Google Voice. Wow, Google! Seriously?! In case you weren't aware, when your app storage reaches 90%, you can no longer install new apps (unless those apps default to installing to the SD card). This limitation issue is an outrageous annoyance.

Thankfully, the EVO 3D takes care of both the performance and the limitation issues. Naturally, the dual core processor has allowed me to install new apps without hindering my ability to do other things simultaneously. As for limits? Nope! It's got a whole 1GB of internal app storage! I'm not sure why so many sites are reporting 4GB of internal memory for app storage, but it's simply not true! My file browsing app noted just over 1100 MB of app storage. Nevertheless, even the apps I had on the SD card on my EVO 4G fit within the 1GB of internal app storage on the EVO 3D, so I'm not complaining! There was also a generous 8GB class 4 (fast) micro SD card included, and you're gonna need it with those 3D videos. They're absolutely huge! So, I decided to just pop in my 16GB SD card that I'd been using with my EVO 4G. (I got the Topram on Amazon for cheap: [...]). If you're going to be taking a lot of video (even 2D video), I do suggest getting the higher capacity card, no question!

===== Software Improvements =====

The EVO 3D has a task manager app which I'm assuming is provided by HTC and NOT built into Gingerbread, because it's not on the EVO 4G that I updated to Gingerbread. In any case, it's a simple app that lets you see other running apps, how much memory they're taking and freely kill one or all of them at will. We also gain the Mirror app, which is handy for checking your teeth via the front facing camera, but it seems to have come at a cost, as we've now lost the Flashlight app that was available on the EVO 4G. A good replacement for the Flashlight app is TeslaLED which also features an incredibly handy flashlight widget for the home screen! HTC also seems to have changed the functionality of the app listing screen, and I don't like what they've done to the scrollability of it. You cannot flick to scroll continuously through the entire selection of apps like you could before. Instead, the scrolling snaps to each set of 5 rows. This will be hugely annoying when looking for an app that starts with Z. There's no quick scroll feature on the side, either, such as the quick scroll bar you can drag when scrolling through the contacts. On the bright side, however, there are now two new tabs in the app screen. One lets you see the most used apps. The other lets you As for Gingerbread itself, there's now a RESTART option when you hold the power button down. I've been waiting for a restart feature for ages! It takes so long to turn off the phone, that sometimes I'd forget to turn it back on. So a restart feature is extremely handy!

As for HTC Sense, I've always been a fan of it. The new lock screen is fantastic, customizable via Settings > Personalize > Lock Screen. From there you can choose one of six lock screen formats, which determines which large widget will appear on the lock screen: wallpaper, photo album, friend stream, weather, stocks or clock. The default is weather. For no large widget, simply change it to wallpaper. However, I do wish the weather on the lock screen showed the 3-5 day forecast, or at least allowed for adding custom widgets to the lock screen rather than having to choose from HTC's standard choices.

My biggest complaint with Sense is that it only provides 7 home screens when it should offer 9. If you trigger Sense's expose feature (see Hot Tips in comments) you'll see all 7 home screens at once, but clearly there's room for two more! Also be careful not to flick too hard on the home screen, or it'll spin through all the screens and you'll end up right back where you were! Pointless in my opinion, really.

===== Transferring Apps and Data =====

You'll probably be tempted to use the built in bluetooth transfer feature when it prompts you the first time you turn it on, which works great to transfer contacts if you don't have another Android phone, but if you DO have an Android phone I highly suggest using MyBackup (available in the Android marketplace for $5). I purchased it the day before I got my EVO 3D, and ran the backup which I saved to the SD card. You can save contacts, calendars, home screens, settings, and apps (but not app data, unless both phones are rooted). When I got the EVO 3D, I replaced the SD card, setup my Google account and redownloaded MyBackup (reinstalls of previously purchased apps are free), and restored my apps. The process went smoothly, and took about an hour both ways.

===== Bottom Line =====

All in all, the 3D aspect of the phone has huge potential, especially if planning to view 3D photos and videos from the EVO 3D on other devices, like 3D TVs and such, where the viewing experience doesn't require such a restricted viewing area. Thus it seems pretty future compatible in that sense. The camera could stand to benefit from some speed improvements more so than megapixel improvements, in my opinion. The picture quality of the EVO 3D is at least on par with the higher res camera on the EVO 4G, so I don't mind. Other than 3D, this device is still worth it just for the other improvements made over its predecessor. Thankfully being a Premier Gold member, I was able to upgrade after only a year, but I'm no doubt glad to be an early adopter. It was a worthy risk, especially since Sprint doesn't have an iPhone yet, but the EVO 3D is definitely much more comfortable than the iPhone in the hands. Now all we need is a breakthrough in battery technology, and we'll be all set! All in all, I decided to give the EVO 3D a healthy 4.5 stars. I rounded up for the Amazon rating though. :)

I hope you found this review informative and helpful so far. I'll keep the conversation going in the comments, including my favorite apps and some hot tips. Feel free to check them out and respond with any questions or comments!
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2011 5:41 PM PST


HTC Arrive Windows Phone (Sprint)
HTC Arrive Windows Phone (Sprint)

12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Arrive and Windows Phone 7 have ample room for improvement, but it's a commendable start!, April 6, 2011
After nearly four years since the last Microsoft device was released on Sprint, the first Windows Phone 7 device has finally arrived: yes, the HTC Arrive. I still feel awkward saying the name, but I guess "HTC 7 Pro" wasn't relevant enough. The big question: is the Arrive itself relevant enough to successfully compete in this increasingly chaotic smartphone market?

In this review, I'll take you hands on sharing my experience using the Arrive, which I picked up on March 21st. I'll also compare the device and its Windows Phone 7 operating system to other popular smartphone devices and their OS's so you can make a decent decision whether or not the Arrive is right for you.

Warning: My reviews tend to run up against the maximum length allowed, because they're more in-depth than others. Most people tend to like that, but if you don't, I have organized it into various sections with headings to help you skip right to the juicy bits. In any case, I hope you find my review helpful in at least some way! :)

===== My Windows Mobile Background & Sprint Background =====

I've been with Sprint for 10 years--no reason to switch now. The only drawback in sticking around has been their limited selection of phones. Decent Sprint phones tend to only come along every few years. Lately though, Sprint has stepped up their game, adding some trendsetting phones to their lineup. Unfortunately, the HTC Arrive is NOT one of those phones. Being one of the last carriers to add Windows Phone 7 to their lineup didn't exactly help that cause. Still, it's a decent start to what I hope will be a great future for Microsoft devices on Sprint.

I've owned two Windows Mobile based phones from Sprint: HTC Mogul and its predecessor. Each had a good run, but both degraded over time due to buggy software updates from HTC, which leaves me leery of encountering that with Windows Phone 7, but I'm crossing my fingers. The Mogul eventually met its demise after its release in 2007, as it encountered growing competition from the new iPhone that Apple had launched that same year (plus Android in 2008). Compared to the iPhone, Windows Mobile was staler than a potato chip trapped behind the furnace!

Since 2007, there's been nigh from Sprint/Microsoft. Windows Mobile 6.5 was to be a precursor to a huge revamp of the OS, but it hardly saw fruition before all its concepts were tossed out the window. They needed to completely rework the OS to compete with the iPhone and now Android, WebOS and even BlackBerry 6, which all beat Windows Phone 7 to market. So now, being one of the last modern smartphone OS's to be released, the big question is: can it finally compete with the others?

Windows Mobile took a lot of flack for being behind the times, especially since mobile Web browsing was on the rise, thanks to the iPhone. Even after 6 iterations of Windows Mobile, it took an entirely different company (Apple) to see and do something about the sad, sorry state of mobile Web browsing back then. Microsoft's grossly-outdated Internet Explorer (IE) Mobile could barely keep up with modern websites. I could go on forever about how much better the iPhone browser was in comparison, but I'll spare you.

Being with Sprint limited my choice of phones though. The iPhone couldn't be had, so I was stuck with the Mogul until something better came along. Eventually Sprint launched the WebOS-based Palm Pre whose innovative features included multitouch and multitasking capabilities, clean UI, modern Web browser, comfortable form factor, physical keyboard... you name it! I highly considered getting one, but by the time I had become eligible for an upgrade later that fall, the Palm Pre buzz had faded. (Sprint exclusivity to blame?)

Google's Android OS was the hot new thing. Sprint launched the Android-based HTC Hero and Samsung Moment that fall. Being rather fond of Google Voice and other Google services, I knew Android was for me, but there were several rumors brewing in the technosphere that more powerful Android devices were forthcoming. So I made the risky gamble to wait. It was excruciating, but my patience finally paid off a few months later when all those rumors finally culminated into a stunning new flagship Sprint phone: the HTC EVO 4G. Despite having no 4G coverage, I still bit. I've now owned the EVO for over 9 months and it has satisfied my smartphone appetite fairly decently.

Thankfully I didn't have to give up the EVO to get the Arrive, as I have two lines (personal & business). It's admittedly nice to own two smartphones (especially when one's battery dies). However, I imagine that if you're in the market for a new Sprint phone, you may very well have to make a choice between one or the other, so I hope to help you make a good comparison between them so you can make the best decision for yourself.

===== Arrive vs iPhone and iOS =====

Apple's inception of the App Store and its serious backing of mobile app developers has been the key to the success of the iPhone and iOS, but mobile apps are nothing new. Windows Mobile has always had apps, but the reason it couldn't compete on the same level as iOS is because Windows Mobile was a clunky OS, trying hard to be a portable version of its desktop counterpart. Its apps had windows, title bars, and little X's you usually had to tap with a stylus to close the app. That workflow isn't conducive to these grander days of our on-the-go lifestyle.

Thankfully, Microsoft cought on quickly--polishing a turd was going to be counterproductive to their goal of improving the underlying foundation of their mobile platform, and consequently the image of said platform. They knew they had to start from scratch, and it was clear that apps had to be a part of that strategy. Not just windowless, touchable apps, either. They knew it was the quality of apps available for the iPhone that made it so great, not the quantity. So Microsoft set out to lure developers over from iOS by putting up a bounty for developers of popular apps, and naturally it worked. Developers have flocked to the platform and now they've got quite a selection of apps to help make that aspect of their phones more on par with the iPhone.

===== Arrive vs EVO 4G and Android =====

I've been using the EVO 4G since June of last year, and I really like it. Android is decent, especially with its tight integration with Google services, and its ability to have widgets on the home screens (something iOS can't do, ha!). It's not complete, though. The Android Market is one of its weaknesses. I always see the same stale, poor quality apps on the Android Market. Some apps are fantastic, but most are terrible. In contrast, Apple's App Store is much stronger in iOS and yes, even the Marketplace on Windows Phone 7 seems to have a constant stream of fresh new, noticeably higher quality apps flowing in. More apps have been ported from iPhone to Windows Phone 7 than to Android, even though it's been around longer (partly due to that app-dev bounty Microsoft put out).

I never had an iPhone, but I've used an iPod touch for a couple years, so I can undoubtedly say that the quality of Android apps is much lower than iOS apps. It's improving, but very slowly. Apparently developers have implied that developing Android apps is more complicated than developing iPhone apps. Android has most of the staples though: Pandora, Facebook, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Flight Control, although Netflix remains to be seen, dishearteningly. In contrast, app development for Windows Phone 7 has reportedly been far easier, which may explain why Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is growing faster than Android's market did when it had first launched. They even have Netflix already! Maybe there is a market for the Arrive after all!

===== Arrive and Windows Phone 7 =====

Windows Phone 7 is clean, responsive and intuitive. It didn't take long to figure out how the interface was organized, how it worked, and how to move between various parts of it. Some people consider Microsoft to be a has-been contender in the mobile space, because they're late to the "modern smartphone OS" game. On the contrary though, facing that already-stiff competition from iOS and Android has put Microsoft in a unique position to further refine and improve on that modern smartphone experience. To do so, Microsoft decided to build a completely new mobile OS from scratch, and with it they've brought some interesting elements to their phones.

One of the main concepts behind Windows Phone 7 is the ability to look at your phone, and see key information at a glance: emails, text messages, missed calls, etc. Content is arranged in dynamically-updated boxes called Live Tiles on a grid, and you can rearrange various tiles so that your priority info is more easily accessible near the top of the grid. Alongside that feature is a concept called Hubs, which congregate relevant content together. The primary hubs are: People (contacts & social networking), Music + Videos, Pictures, Games, Search (web, news & local), and Office (notes, documents, and the mobile Office apps).
According to their marketing campaign, the new OS was "designed to get you in and out, and back to life" though frankly I haven't necessarily found it to be any quicker than using my EVO to access various info.

The interface is smooth and I have yet to experience any jitters or slowness when it comes to native OEM apps. Third-party apps, however, are a different story. Some run just fine, while others do encounter occasional hiccups.

The native apps and the OS interface transitions themselves are smooth and hiccup-free though. That being said, the flipping/sliding effects are interesting at first, but after their novelty wears off. They've become rather annoying now, but it could just be me. I feel like there's a lot of finger work to move around in the OS because text and other elements are so large, so they take up more space and require more scrolling to get at all the content because scrollable regions are limited to a specific area of the screen.

The Windows Phone 7 user interface is also rather clean. Yet, despite its cleanliness, I feel as if the user interface is still very poorly optimized, often not taking advantage of all the available screen real-estate throughout the OS, and sometimes simply taking up too much space in other areas, most notably the obscenely colossal text headings (which don't scroll out of view when scrolling the underlying content, I might add).

It's nice to see Microsoft do away with the concept of windowed applications in lieu of something simpler, but in spite of that they just weren't very mindful of the limited screen real-estate that so ungraciously adorns mobile devices. Despite freeing up that extra bit of space by nixing the title bar and left/right context menus that accompanied Windows Mobile for 6 versions, they've gone and squandered that space by giving the UI obscenely gigantic text headings, and excessive empty space.

===== Arrive's Hardware =====

The Arrive feels like a solid piece of work in your hands. It's display is on par with the now-standard scratch-resistant glass most other smartphones are sporting, and its brushed metal backside nicely accented with soft rubber to ensure it doesn't slip out of your hands, although the thickness of it aught to help with that too. I've heard about other Windows Phone devices feeling cheap and clunky. Even my old HTC Mogul felt cheap, especially where the slide-out keyboard was concerned. The Arrive is definitely sturdy, though a bit on the thick side, but that is usually the case for phones with slide-out keyboards.

I grew quite fond of having a physical keyboard with my past devices. Back then, the only on-screen "virtual" keyboard technology was terrible, and had to be pecked at using a stylus because the screens used resistive display technology instead of capacitive (touch) technology. Interacting with the screen in general required pressure instead of the light touch that most smartphones use now. But admittedly, having used the iPod touch and now the EVO 4G (whose screen is nice and roomy), I've grown fond of virtual keyboards, and have become efficient at using them. Special 3rd party virtual keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey on the EVO have further streamlined my virtual typing experience.

Coming back to a device with a physical keyboard after a two year hiatus is a bit awkward. Typing on a virtual keyboard and a physical keyboard must be two separate skill-sets because I clearly lost my knack for typing on a physical keyboard in that span of time. Initially, I found it easy to accidentally hit multiple keys when trying to type too quickly (to match my speed of virtual typing). However, I found that being able to once again "touch-type" on the physical keyboard, I've already quickly regained those skills after using the device a while. Depressing the physical keys gives a nice, tactile click as expected on a good quality physical keyboard. There are also two LEDs that give you feedback about when the Shift and FN keys have been depressed. The nice thing about physical typing on Windows Phone 7 is that you still get word completion suggestions, and plenty of them. They appear in a black strip across the bottom of the screen.

The tilted angle of the screen when the keyboard is exposed doesn't improve on the experience though. At that angle, I feel like I'm looking down at the screen, rather than straight at it. This is a phone, not a laptop! Fortunately, the screen can be fudged into a parallel orientation, but it's not necessarily meant to stay in that position, and usually it's a little cockeyed. It's tolerable though.

I'm also thankful the screen isn't an AMOLED screen. Why? Everyone goes goo-goo over AMOLED because of its purported brilliance, but have those people actually SEEN an AMOLED screen? They're horrible! What bugs me most about AMOLED screens is that there's a subtle checkerboard pattern with the pixels--every other pixel is darker. This is because every other pixel is missing either the red or blue part of the pixel, thus giving AMOLED the checkerboard pattern. I first became aware of this pattern on the Epic 4G, and it was obvious to me right away. I thought it must've been a cheap alternative screen used for a demo I'd seen at Best Buy, but after a little research I found that it was indeed AMOLED. Supposedly the odd pixel pattern improves the battery life without sacrificing brightness--at least the illusion of brightness, as that's all it really is. Engadget has a good overview of this perceived illusion, along with a better alternative from Samsung called "Super AMOLED Plus" which you can google for the article link.

So again, thankfully the Arrive does NOT have an AMOLED screen (nor does the EVO). Good call HTC. Nonetheless, the Arrive's display is still quite vibrant and fantastic.

===== Web Browsing =====

Internet Explorer's mobile counterpart has come a really long way since the days of Windows Mobile, though for as long as Microsoft toiled with their new OS, it hasn't come quite far enough. It's still very much behind the times since it doesn't yet support technologies like HTML5, Flash or even Silverlight--Microsoft's own Flash-counterpart. What's that mean for you? Well, you probably won't get very far media-wise when surfing the Web, because sites that offer HTML5-based videos and content in place of Flash won't even be available for you to view. So not only is IE mobile behind iOS's browser in this respect, it's also behind Android's browser. I hope they fix this soon.

===== Email, Messaging and Social Networking =====

Arrive and Windows Phone 7 pride themselves on delivering a unique and usable experience when it comes to messaging. This is partly due to the tiled interface that displays at-a-glance info where it can quickly be seen, but only to a certain degree. An undoubtedly clever marketing campaign for Windows Phone shows tons of smartphone addicts portrayed in various life scenarios ignoring everyone around them, mulling about in a zombie-like fashion with their eyes incessantly glued to the screen of their non-Microsoft phone, with the narrator exclaiming "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones." This might lead you to believe you might be able to read all your emails, text messages and so forth from this tiled interface, but you can't.

As I previously mentioned, it's not necessarily that much faster than accessing the same kind of information I access on my EVO. You still have to open up your email account, then tap through to the email you want to read in order to view it. The dynamic tiles really only give you the number of emails, messages, etc. That misnomer doesn't make the experience any less unique.

If you add a contact to the tiled interface however, it does show you their Facebook status. Tapping their Live Tile allows you to browse their Facebook feed in another "hub" style view as well. Twitter hub integration is also purportedly coming in the future.

===== Multimedia Experience =====

Today's phones are expected to do more than ever, and media is a huge part of that. Media is what made the iPhone and iPod touch what they were originally. Wanting to compete for that market, Microsoft eventually brought their own "Zune" portable media player to market hoping to improve upon the interface and experience of media devices, but by then things had changed. Apps and games had become the new allure of the iOS devices. I thought the Zunes were nice, but I never bought one because they didn't have apps. So in that respect, Microsoft remained behind the curve, yet that didn't deter them.

Rumors of a "Zune Phone" began circulating. It would be like a Zune, but with apps and a phone to boot! Eventually those rumors came true, albeit under the name Windows Phone instead. The good news in all of this is that now you can have the quality multimedia experience that the Zune brings to the table, with the added benefits of apps and a phone. As expected, the multimedia integration in Windows Phone is superb.

Meanwhile, Apple having focused a bit too much on apps has caused the multimedia capabilities and interface of iOS to remained nearly unchanged pretty much since the iPhone first came out. So the thing that made the iPhone and iPod touch what it was initially has become stale and clunky, simply because it hasn't been improved upon in the last few years. Don't get me wrong, multimedia functionality of iOS has always been as clunky as it is today, it's just much more noticeable when you've used something that provides a much nicer experience.

Android's stock music and video capabilities are a little better than iOS, but they still seem like an "afterthought" of the Android OS. On the other hand, because Microsoft's Zune has deeply integrated into Windows Phone, that fresh audio/visual experience is a welcome breath of fresh air in the mobile multimedia space. Not only does the Arrive support Microsoft's standard WMA audio and MWV video formats and common formats such as MP3 audio, but it can also play AAC/M4A audio (iTunes podcasts), MP4 video (iOS's primary video format) as well as, MPEG-4 video, H.264 video, and yes... even AVI/DivX/Xvid video formats! Support for the latter format was completely unexpected--Android requires a special app to play such videos and iOS doesn't support them AT ALL, not even with an app! Kudos to you, Microsoft... simply outstanding!

If that isn't enough, apps like Pandora and Netflix also have you covered.

===== Arrive Photography and Video =====

Photography on the Arrive is a sketchy and controversial topic. You see, my HTC EVO 4G touts an 8 megapixel camera, and it's nearly a year old, so you'd think HTC would be using that same camera in all the phones now, especially at the price-point at which Sprint is offering the Arrive. Hang on just a sec! More megapixels doesn't always equal better quality photos! Consider the 1 megapixel camera of the iPod touch. While the resolution may not be much to look at, the photo quality itself is outstanding, which is especially notable in low-light situations.

I thought for sure that if HTC was still using a 5 megapixel camera, it must take a better quality picture than its EVO counterpart. Well, as it turns out, it's not any better than the EVO. In fact, it suffers the same problem as the EVO--photos taken indoors are often unacceptably blurry and even grainy, even when the sun is shining right through the windows. Of course, the lower the light, even when there are ample amounts of indoor lighting, the worse things get. And for some reason, lower light photos, which are grainier and poorer quality, are often bigger in file size! Explain that one HTC! I'm not sure what Apple is using for their iPhone and even iPod touch cameras, but it's way better in low-light situations. Perhaps HTC needs to consider all new camera hardware. We can't let the iDevices have all the photography fun!

That being said, the built-in 16GB storage is a definite boon because videos take up A LOT of space on the device very quickly. Not sure what it is about them, but it's the same story on the EVO though, so I can't really complain there.

===== E-Reading =====

I'm a huge fan of using mobile devices for reading eBooks, especially on the go. I don't want to lug a heavy, oversized tablet around everywhere I go, so having the ability to simply pull up a book on my smartphone is a definite plus. The high-resolution screen of the Arrive fares decently in this endeavor, but the quality of apps available for reading PDFs and such could stand to see some performance and usability improvements for sure. Adobe has ported their "Adobe Reader" app to Windows Phone 7, but just like their Android version of the app, it's very slow and its limited features and preferences (such as lack of decent zoom functionality and lack of vertical scroll lock) leaves a lot to be desired regarding its user experience. For now, I'll have to stick with reading any eBooks on my iPod touch's retina display and its exceptional "GoodReader" app.

===== Search =====

Web searching on a mobile device has become one of the primary uses of smartphone users on the go, but with so much information at our fingertips, it's no wonder. Furthermore, Microsoft is so fond of their Bing search engine that it's very deeply integrated into the phone, kinda like how Google search is so fundamentally ingrained into Android, only the Bing interface on Microsoft is new and intriguing.

Like Android devices, Microsoft has made it a requirement that all Windows Phones have a dedicated search button somewhere on the device. When an app is opened, pressing said button will typically resort to searching something within that app, depending on how that app's developers programmed the app to respond to the search button. Alternately, if there's no app open, then hitting the search button will let you search the Web, news or local (maps) using the default Bing mobile app. You can also do a voice search by holding the dedicated start button (the one with the Windows logo on it).

In general though, as a tech-oriented individual, I find Google to provide better searches for my tech-related queries than I've had luck with using Bing or Yahoo. However, Bing's news searches are pretty much on par with Google, and Bing's integrated local search segment with its sliver of a map view is interesting too. As I've mentioned above, however, Bing's search results suffer from Windows Phone 7's poor use of screen real-estate common in the other "hubs" due to excessive empty space on the left-hand side and the colossal "Bing" heading that doesn't move out of view when you scroll through the search results. I think to myself, "Yeah... I already know this is BING! Shut up about it and let me see my search results already!!"

That being said, I probably won't be using the Arrive much for searches.

===== Arrive Productivity =====

I don't know about you, but I find working from a mobile device to be fairly productive at times, because the small screen helps me focus more on one task at a time fewer distractions than its desktop/laptop counterpart. On a mobile device, you don't necessarily have all the other distractions on the screen vying for your attention. However, the quality of that productivity can be greatly affected by the smoothness of the workflow that the interface permits. Ideally, the fewer touches required to complete any given task, the greater the experience. One tap too many can tip the experience's scales from bliss to frustration... I know from experience.

Windows Mobile was generally reliable for productivity, and I was expecting the Arrive to bring that experience a whole new level, not just with Windows Phone's efficient new user interface, but also by bringing with it an updated version of its mobile Office suite--the "Office Hub". This is one of the main reasons I contemplated getting a Windows Phone to begin with. Other mobile OS's require 3rd party apps to edit Office documents.

However, the latest incantation of mobile Office on the Arrive is a bit clunky, requiring more work to make edits than should have been necessary, and a lot of functionality was buggy or missing altogether. It didn't seem to preserve as much of my original formatting from documents created on the desktop as I was hoping, especially .docx files saved in Word 2007, with pre-defined text style sets used in documents created on the desktop. It couldn't handle background colors on text, and some text even disappeared completely, though I later realized it was just white text where the background color had not been preserved. Images and tabular data also fared poorly in documents edited with Mobile Office. Mobile Office is really no better than the 3rd party apps available on other OS's. Disappointing.

Copy & Paste support is another important component of productivity to me, and the Arrive is the first Windows Phone 7 device to support it. The implementation is a bit flakey though. You can only copy/paste text of text fields but not actual text from the content of Web pages themselves in the browser, so you can't copy info from the Web or most 3rd party apps until developers of those apps change things around. It works for emails, text messages and Office docs in the meantime though. The Copy and Paste icons are also located in two separate spots on the screen which breaks up the perceived flow of the functionality. Instead, the icons should all be in the same general vicinity. Hey Microsoft: there's plenty of room to add each icon to the same menubar for continuity!

A "Cut" action would also be useful--extra steps are the antithesis of productivity.

===== Arrive Gaming =====

If you're like me, you probably don't have much time for games. Ultimately, I see the Arrive as a productivity device more than as a gaming console, but it's still healthy to have some fun now and then. Thus, mobile gaming has become a growing part of my life. I don't engage in console or PC gaming, but there's always time for a quick round of Angry Birds on my phone! Angry Birds is still being ported, but thanks to Microsoft offering a bounty to various game developers to port their apps to Windows Phone 7, there's plenty of other choices for your mobile gaming pleasure, including some of the most popular iOS games. Hit the comments for a list!

A lot more iPhone games have been ported to Windows Phone than have been ported to Android. That and the tight integration with XBox makes the Arrive a definite boon for gamers. The mobile gamer in me has enjoyed the wide variety of games available for iOS because of the iPod touch. So it's great to see Microsoft attracting a lot of good game-dev talent to their mobile platform.

However, not being much of a console gamer, Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 was a bit confusing to me at first. Apparently it's no Xbox in and of itself, it's just a different take on the concept of mobile gaming, similar to Game Center on iOS where you can track goals, stats, achievements, scores and leaderboards of the games you've got installed on your device, and apparently even from games on your Xbox console, if you have one. I don't, so I can't necessarily comment from a hardcore gamer's perspective, but I digress. It sounds nice nonetheless.

===== Praise =====

* Physical keyboard - complete with quality tactile feedback (nice keypress click)
* Vibrant screen without AMOLED - no awful checkerboard pixel pattern that AMOLED screens have
* Comfortable form factor - it feels good in your hands
* User interface - intuitive interaction experience with a very clean look and feel
* Outstanding multimedia support - including the popular H.264 and AVI/DivX/Xvid video formats... unbelievable!
* Decent quality apps and games on par with iOS, with some big-name apps having been ported over from iOS

===== Disappointments =====

* Camera hardware could stand to see significant quality improvements
* Tilt-screen should have a lockable orientation parallel with the keyboard
* User interface - oversized text and excessive waste of empty screen real-estate
* Poor copy/paste functionality - icons should be on the same bar for continuity, also needs a "Cut" action
* Mobile Office - I expected it to be able to handle more of the formatting its desktop counterpart handles
* The brand - "Windows" is not only stale, but has a negative connotation to it any more. Adding "phone" after it doesn't make it any better. Also, the "7" component is a designation of continuance... a continuation of what existed before, not a designation of fresh starts. Perhaps Xphone would have been a more ideal alternative, especially to coincide with both the Xbox integration and the concept of the new OS as being "anti-phone" as portrayed in the advertising campaign. Alas, maybe they can work that out by the time version "10" rolls around? Sounds good to me.

===== Bottom Line =====

The Arrive is a solid piece of hardware that unfortunately still has to suffer through some of Windows Phone 7's growing pains. The OS will improve though, so in the meantime HTC just needs to improve their camera quality to be on par with Apple's, especially in low-light situations, and possibly innovate a dual-position lock so users can more easily keep the screen parallel to the keyboard without sacrificing the angular screen orientation for those that prefer it. Otherwise, their Arrive is a nice package.

While the price may be a bit high for something without 4G built in, at least you won't have to pay Sprint's $10/month surcharge that they charge for the EVO 4G and other similar devices. So it all works out. I just hope that Sprint doesn't stop here with their Windows Phone 7 lineup. It'll be nice to see improvements made down the line.

In my mind, the Arrive has earned 3 stars, but the 4th is just a tad out of its grasp. Had the tilt-screen and camera hardware been more solid and higher quality, the Arrive would have earned a definite 4 stars, but until that happens, I am inclined to hold out on that extra star. Naturally, the 5th star is being withheld for my disappointments with the overall Windows Phone 7 software due to its various quirks, bugs and the habitual knack for its user interface to utterly waste so much screen real-estate with mere emptiness or uselessly colossal text headings that don't scroll out of view in the hub screens, especially on such a small display... after all it's no EVO 4G!

That being said, if it came down to either the HTC Arrive and the HTC EVO 4G (or upcoming EVO 3D), I would probably have to choose the EVO. While I like the physical keyboard of the Arrive, I simply prefer Google's search algorithm much better than Bing, and the Google services integration with Android is undoubtedly a bonus for me.

If you don't use Google much, or if you're a fan of gaming (XBox or otherwise) or multimedia, then Windows Phone 7 is absolutely meant for you, no question. Now, if Sprint ever gets the balls to get the iPhone for their loyal Sprint fan-base, I'd drop the Arrive in a heartbeat, but it's still no less of a decent phone, has Office integration built-in, and the more smartphones the merrier!

Well, that's my 3¢... I hope you've found it helpful in some way. Feel free to continue the discussion by interacting with me in the comments!
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2011 10:29 AM PST


HP Mini 110-3130NR 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black)
HP Mini 110-3130NR 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black)
3 used & new from $250.00

245 of 247 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Comfortable, Exceptional Life and Nicely Priced, but Found Lacking in Spots, November 16, 2010
I picked up the HP Mini at a local electronics retailer several weeks back, and thus far I've been quite pleased with this little machine for what it is and how much it cost. In most aspects, this netbook isn't unlike the slew of other netbooks swarming the market, like sharks in a frenzy (and you're the chum). I also can't say much for the style of this model, other than for its overall simplicity. Of course, it's slim and light weight, and it performs much like any other netbook, but where it really shines is in the comfort, power and price departments.

===== Comfort =====

If you're going to be spending a lot of time writing on it, this is certainly one of the most comfortable netbooks around, for exactly that purpose. If style is important to you though, I would recommend checking out a similar model from HP's Mini 210 series (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00400OSSG?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) which sports nearly the same specs as this model, but with a faster hard drive, and a sleek and stylish silver tone.

===== Performance =====

This HP Mini doesn't exactly scream, but it certainly has some potential when it comes to performance, if equipped properly. It sports an Intel Atom N455 processor, while most competitively priced netbooks are still using the older Atom N450 processor, but what does that mean for you? Support for faster memory. The Atom N455 is the first of the Atom line of processors to be compatible with DDR3 memory chips, potentially bringing double the memory speeds to HP's line of netbooks, had HP decided to indeed use DDR3.

The primary benefit of DDR3 memory is the ability to transfer at twice the data rate of DDR2. Another fantastic benefit of DDR3 memory, especially for us netbook and notebook users, is energy efficiency. Unfortunately, however, this particular model has only been equipped with DDR2 memory out of the box, so if you want that blazing memory speed, you'll have to upgrade the machine yourself or look to another model that comes equipped with DDR3 memory out of the box.

The improved processor isn't a be-all end-all for processing performance on a netbook though. The processor is still a single-core CPU, so multi-tasking capabilities will be limited, though the processor does support hyperthreading, which means you can run a couple apps at the same time and make due just fine. However, processors are hardly the bottleneck in performance these days.

The most important aspect of performance today is typically the hard drive, and this netbook uses a 5400 RPM hard drive, which is quite slow. In fact, it's the slowest type of hard drive you can get now, though it does benefit you a little in the energy efficiency department. Another hit on performance comes from the shared video/graphics memory (up to 256 MB), effectively cutting your 1GB of RAM down to 768MB of RAM. Yet another reason to keep your multi-tasking limited as much as possible.

===== Power =====

Battery life tends to run a little shorter than the advertised 9.5 hour duration. With normal usage and WiFi enabled, you can expect to get somewhere between 7-8 hours of usage. This is still pretty decent, especially for netbooks, where 5 hours is often the average battery life for so many of them. Turning off WiFi when you're not surfing the Web or aren't near a hotspot will certainly help push the battery to its maximum life span though.

===== Media =====

I have run into a couple minor issues with content playback, particularly with YouTube HD videos, which can get a little choppy, especially in FireFox. Google Chrome seems to handle them a bit better though. Windows Media Player also likes to choke, so I avoid it whenever possible. QuickTime also encountered some issues, but not as much as Windows Media Player. If you're not running any other apps or utilities in the background, you'll likely have better luck than if you're trying to multitask, or even if you leave your browser running while watching a non-web video. With everything else closed, you can certainly watch a full movie just fine. If you still run into any issues, simply rebooting will likely fix them, but otherwise you should be just fine.

I will say that the 9:16 ratio widescreen 10.1" display is great for watching widescreen movies on the go, with one very important exception: you must either have a digital copy of your movie, or you'll need an external DVD drive. I recommend this Samsung model (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002C1BBU8?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8), which sports a sexy look, on par with the HP Mini's own appeal, without sacrificing functionality.

===== Value =====

For what you get with this netbook though, I must admit the price is pretty much spot on for value. Having browsed all the black friday ads that have leaked out thus far, including all the electronics retailers, I can confidently say that you won't find such a decent netbook for the price this holiday season. You can take that to the bank.

===== Praise =====

* Keyboard design - nearly full-size makes typing incredibly comfortable and easy.
* Wireless N support for faster and farther-reaching WiFi reception.
* Battery life - 9 hours is top of the line for netbooks.
* 9:16 ratio display - great for movies (see above for DVD solution).
* Windows 7 - optimized for netbook performance.

===== Dissapointments =====

* 1024 x 600 display resolution - would prefer at least 1280 x 768 at a minimum.
* DDR2 memory used when DDR3 memory is compatible.
* 5400 RPM hard drive - would have liked a faster Solid State Disk (even if smaller), or at least a 7200 RPM disk.

===== Bottom Line =====

While not the most stylish netbook around, if you need it primarily for writing or note taking purposes, the HP Mini should certainly fit the bill. If you desire something with a little more juice, especially for media playback, you might want to look for something with DDR3 memory, or get this model and upgrade it with a 2GB DDR3 memory chip.

I hope you've found this review to be helpful in some way! :)
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2011 10:12 AM PDT


Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (4th Generation) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (4th Generation) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Superior Trading
Price: $242.95
302 used & new from $100.00

5,969 of 6,308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lines Between iPod Touch and iPhone Have Started to Blur, 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
+ Earphones
+ 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)

Capacity
+ 8GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive/SSD

Wireless
+ 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
+ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
+ Maps-location based service
+ Nike + iPod support built in

Display
+ 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)

Audio
+ 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

Earphones
+ 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
+ Microphone
+ External buttons and controls

Sensors
+ Three-axis gyro
+ Accelerometer
+ 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

System requirements
+ 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. :)
Comment Comments (492) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 11, 2013 4:42 PM PST


Gateway LT2319u 10.1-Inch Netbook (Pearl Canvas)
Gateway LT2319u 10.1-Inch Netbook (Pearl Canvas)

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Stunning, Yet Surprisingly Useful Beyond its Looks, September 3, 2010
I got my first computer twelve years ago. It was a *Gateway* desktop running Windows 98, and it was plagued with audio and hard drive issues, not to mention terrible performance, and Gateway support would not cooperate in getting the unit fixed or replaced. From then on, I vowed never to get another Gateway computer again. Of course a lot has changed in that twelve years, and after coming across this little beauty, I decided to give them another shot.

Visually speaking, Gateway's LT23 series is truly a breath of fresh air in this increasingly congested genre of computers. While all three color options are decent, the Pearl Canvas really stands out as absolutely stunning, which is why I chose that one specifically. In any case, Gateway seems to have known what they were doing when they decided to impart a brilliant sense of style into their offering to help compete in these shark-infested waters of netbook marketing. I feel proud to carry around a netbook that looks great when I'm using in public.

Fortunately, those less concerned about netbook-fashion vanity will be happy to know that its characteristics go beyond the visual appearance and its quality permeates even the physical aspects of the machine. While in some respects, it's similar to the typical slew of other netbooks out there, there are a few specific points where this netbook really shines.

For reference, there are two different models of this netbook floating around (each available in the same three colors). The first has a 160GB hard drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N1912G?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) while the second has a bigger 250GB hard drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N19EDM?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) for those that need more space. That is the only difference between the two. Beyond that, they are both identical in their specs.

===== It's Comfortable =====

The Gateway is an absolute dream to use. Most netbooks are unusable to me. What stings me most with your average netbook is the keyboard. They tend to have tiny keyboards, or their keyboards just aren't typing-friendly. On the other hand, Gateway's keyboard on this model is smooth, comfortable and effective. At only 7% smaller than your typical full-sized keyboard, you really can't tell the difference unless you're actively trying to. Granted, I'm used to the low-profile, chiclet-style "scissor-switch" keyboards that used to be commonplace in laptops, but lately manufacturers have been deviating from that comfortable standard and I don't care for a lot of the keyboards I see on laptops these days.

===== It's Useful =====

Some laptops and netbooks have started to feature multi-touch touchpads, but from what I've seen so far, the implementation and capabilities of these touchpads have generally left a lot to be desired. Usually the multi-touch is limited to scrolling, and sometimes even vertical-only scrolling. Gateway's touchpad, on the other hand, supports not just scrolling (in 4 directions, no less), but has additional multi-touch gestures as well, such as pinching to zoom in and out of photos and Websites or quickly change font sizes in Word, swiping/flicking through photos in the photo gallery, and rotating/swirling which so far seems to act similarly to scrolling for me. In any case, I've found the additional gestures to be quite helpful at times, especially when I need to see things closer-up on the netbook's small screen size.

On the flipside of the coin, I didn't really care for the dedicated vertical scrolling bar on the right side of the touchpad. After all, with multi-touch gesture support there really is no need to have that on there. I'm also not much of fan of the rocker style mouse button. You have to hit in just the right spot for it to actually work, so that takes a little getting used to. Being that the Pearl Canvas model is lighter in color, it does tend to hide any smudges on the glossy, textured palm-rest, though I cannot vouch for the darker-colored models. However, because this glossy texture is extended into the touchpad, it tends to make your skin shear and resist dragging of your finger during swiping gestures (moving the mouse, scrolling, drag+drop, etc). Honestly, this tends to be a flaw on a lot of notebooks and netbooks I've used. To me, that "sticky finger" feeling is just about as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard! Instead of replicating the same glossy texture of the palm-rest into the touchpad, Gateway should have given the touchpad a matte finish, making it more conducive to swiping.

===== It's Brilliant =====

The display is crisp and bright, and it isn't too shabby outside either, though I recommend using full brightness when being used outdoors. My only complaint about the screen is its native resolution is a bit low for my tastes, which I hope isn't just a personal preference. I'd rather see more on the screen than to see things big and close up. However, this is par for netbooks anyway. You should look into this Sony (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001PII4HW?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) if you absolutely must have a higher definition display while maintaining the small form factor of a netbook.

===== It's More than Capable =====

This netbook does more than just writing and surfing the Web. (Sidenote: Do try to keep your browser tabs to a minimum and not install too many Firefox extensions.) Thanks to the Graphics Media Accelerator, media plays decently as well, including Web videos, Flash sites and Flash games. Just don't run several other programs at once, and you should be perfectly fine, as the processor is only a single-core, not so great for multi-tasking.

The 5-in-1 memory card reader is an added bonus, great for storing photos while on vacation--a life saver when traveling. The webcam quality is sub-par compared to most full-sized notebooks, but still a decent quality for netbook webcams I suppose. As far as Gateway's social networking key goes, I haven't used it since it doesn't support Twitter. That may be a shortcoming for you as well.

In the past, Gateway has been known for using Windows XP on their netbooks, but those days are over. The included Windows 7 Starter edition (not Home Premium) is a much more ideal operating system, as it is specially optimized for netbooks. It outperforms its XP-based predecessors in several areas, including usability, responsiveness, and of course look and feel. And to be quite honest, you won't even need to upgrade to anything beyond that. There's not much you're missing, since this netbook doesn't have a TV input card for the Media Center features included with Windows 7 Home Premium.

===== It's Media Friendly =====

The widescreen display has an odd resolution of 1024 x 600, making it nearly-but-not-quite 16:9 ratio, but it's still decent for watching widescreen movies on the go, with one very important exception: you must have an external DVD (or Blu-Ray) drive. I recommend this white Samsung drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HMCAR0?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) which sports a sexy look, on par with the Gateway's own appeal, without sacrificing functionality. Video playback is generally smooth and very few hiccups in playback have been experienced. Even over WiFi, via a connection to a Wireless N capable router, such as the one I've been using (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LIFB7S?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) streaming Netflix works like a charm.

===== Processor and Battery =====

This netbook features the Intel Atom N450, a 64-bit single-core processor supporting 2GB max of DDR2-667 RAM. It does support Hyper Threading though (2 simultaneous threads), meaning some minor multitasking is possible (you probably shouldn't do more than two things at once). Try not to run more than two apps simultaneously for best performance and battery life. Intel Speedstep Technology is also built in, helping you save battery life. I averaged about 7 hours (and some change) using the included 4400 mAh 6-cell battery. This is definitely a steady jump in battery life over most netbooks I've tested to date. Recharging took me to about 80% within about an hour, and from there just over an hour more for a full charge to register and switch from charge-mode to plugged-in-mode on the battery indicator.

===== Praise =====

* Keyboard design - 93% full-size!
* Wrist rest - comfortable, remains clean & streak-free
* 3 USB ports (2-left/1-right) - handy for using a USB mouse
* Nearly 16:9 ratio display - great for movies (see above for DVD solution)
* Wireless N support - for faster and farther-reaching WiFi reception
* Windows 7 Starter - optimized for netbook performance

===== Dissapointments =====

* 1024x600 resolution - would have preferred at least 1280x720
* 5400 RPM hard drive - would have liked a faster Solid State Disk (even if smaller)
* Touch pad design - sticky fingers and rocker style mouse buttons are a no-no
* Keyboard key spacing - don't eat and surf, else crumbs can fall between the keys

===== Bottom Line =====

All in all, my list of disappointments with netbooks has definitely decreased with this netbook model. Granted, I haven't had to deal with Gateway support for this model, but as far as hardward quality goes, they have certainly redeemed themselves from their lower-quality days of old. Gateway still has a few flaws to overcome with their aesthetically pleasing series of netbook models, and they should indeed continue to innovate beyond their savvy for trendy design, but if style is high on your list, I think you'll be more than pleased with what you'll get out of this netbook.

I certainly hope you've found this review to be helpful! :)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2010 8:51 AM PDT


Gateway LT2318u 10.1-Inch Netbook (Pearl Canvas)
Gateway LT2318u 10.1-Inch Netbook (Pearl Canvas)

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Stunning, Yet Surprisingly Useful Beyond its Looks, September 3, 2010
I got my first computer twelve years ago. It was a *Gateway* desktop running Windows 98, and it was plagued with audio and hard drive issues, not to mention terrible performance, and Gateway support would not cooperate in getting the unit fixed or replaced. From then on, I vowed never to get another Gateway computer again. Of course a lot has changed in that twelve years, and after coming across this little beauty, I decided to give them another shot.

Visually speaking, Gateway's LT23 series is truly a breath of fresh air in this increasingly congested genre of computers. While all three color options are decent, the Pearl Canvas really stands out as absolutely stunning, which is why I chose that specifically. In any case, Gateway seems to have known what they were doing when they decided to impart a brilliant sense of style into their offering to help compete in these shark-infested waters of netbook marketing. I feel proud to carry around a netbook that looks great when I'm using in public.

Fortunately, those less concerned about netbook-fashion vanity will be happy to know that its characteristics go beyond the visual appearance and its quality permeates even the physical aspects of the machine. While in some respects, it's similar to the typical slew of other netbooks out there, there are a few specific points where this netbook really shines.

For reference, there are two different models of this netbook floating around (each available in the same three colors). The first has a 160GB hard drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N1912G?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) while the second has a bigger 250GB hard drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N19EDM?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) for those that need more space. That is the only difference between the two. Beyond that, they are both identical in their specs.

===== It's Comfortable =====

The Gateway is an absolute dream to use. Most netbooks are unusable to me. What stings me most with your average netbook is the keyboard. They tend to have tiny keyboards, or their keyboards just aren't typing-friendly. On the other hand, Gateway's keyboard on this model is smooth, comfortable and effective. At only 7% smaller than your typical full-sized keyboard, you really can't tell the difference unless you're actively trying to. Granted, I'm used to the low-profile, chiclet-style "scissor-switch" keyboards that used to be commonplace in laptops, but lately manufacturers have been deviating from that comfortable standard and I don't care for a lot of the keyboards I see on laptops these days.

===== It's Useful =====

Some laptops and netbooks have started to feature multi-touch touchpads, but from what I've seen so far, the implementation and capabilities of these touchpads have generally left a lot to be desired. Usually the multi-touch is limited to scrolling, and sometimes even vertical-only scrolling. Gateway's touchpad, on the other hand, supports not just scrolling (in 4 directions, no less), but has additional multi-touch gestures as well, such as pinching to zoom in and out of photos and Websites or quickly change font sizes in Word, swiping/flicking through photos in the photo gallery, and rotating/swirling which so far seems to act similarly to scrolling for me. In any case, I've found the additional gestures to be quite helpful at times, especially when I need to see things closer-up on the netbook's small screen size.

On the flipside of the coin, I didn't really care for the dedicated vertical scrolling bar on the right side of the touchpad. After all, with multi-touch gesture support there really is no need to have that on there. I'm also not much of fan of the rocker style mouse button. You have to hit in just the right spot for it to actually work, so that takes a little getting used to. Being that the Pearl Canvas model is lighter in color, it does tend to hide any smudges on the glossy, textured palm-rest, though I cannot vouch for the darker-colored models. However, because this glossy texture is extended into the touchpad, it tends to make your skin shear and resist dragging of your finger during swiping gestures (moving the mouse, scrolling, drag+drop, etc). Honestly, this tends to be a flaw on a lot of notebooks and netbooks I've used. To me, that "sticky finger" feeling is just about as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard! Instead of replicating the same glossy texture of the palm-rest into the touchpad, Gateway should have given the touchpad a matte finish, making it more conducive to swiping.

===== It's Brilliant =====

The display is crisp and bright, and it isn't too shabby outside either, though I recommend using full brightness when being used outdoors. My only complaint about the screen is its native resolution is a bit low for my tastes, which I hope isn't just a personal preference. I'd rather see more on the screen than to see things big and close up. However, this is par for netbooks anyway. You should look into this Sony (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001PII4HW?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) if you absolutely must have a higher definition display while maintaining the small form factor of a netbook.

===== It's More than Capable =====

This netbook does more than just writing and surfing the Web. (Sidenote: Do try to keep your browser tabs to a minimum and not install too many Firefox extensions.) Thanks to the Graphics Media Accelerator, media plays decently as well, including Web videos, Flash sites and Flash games. Just don't run several other programs at once, and you should be perfectly fine, as the processor is only a single-core, not so great for multi-tasking.

The 5-in-1 memory card reader is an added bonus, great for storing photos while on vacation--a life saver when traveling. The webcam quality is sub-par compared to most full-sized notebooks, but still a decent quality for netbook webcams I suppose. As far as Gateway's social networking key goes, I haven't used it since it doesn't support Twitter. That may be a shortcoming for you as well.

In the past, Gateway has been known for using Windows XP on their netbooks, but those days are over. The included Windows 7 Starter edition (not Home Premium) is a much more ideal operating system, as it is specially optimized for netbooks. It outperforms its XP-based predecessors in several areas, including usability, responsiveness, and of course look and feel. And to be quite honest, you won't even need to upgrade to anything beyond that. There's not much you're missing, since this netbook doesn't have a TV input card for the Media Center features included with Windows 7 Home Premium.

===== It's Media Friendly =====

The widescreen display has an odd resolution of 1024 x 600, making it nearly-but-not-quite 16:9 ratio, but it's still decent for watching widescreen movies on the go, with one very important exception: you must have an external DVD (or Blu-Ray) drive. I recommend this white Samsung drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HMCAR0?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) which sports a sexy look, on par with the Gateway's own appeal, without sacrificing functionality. Video playback is generally smooth and very few hiccups in playback have been experienced. Even over WiFi, via a connection to a Wireless N capable router, such as the one I've been using (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LIFB7S?tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) streaming Netflix works like a charm.

===== Processor and Battery =====

This netbook features the Intel Atom N450, a 64-bit single-core processor supporting 2GB max of DDR2-667 RAM. It does support Hyper Threading though (2 simultaneous threads), meaning some minor multitasking is possible (you probably shouldn't do more than two things at once). Try not to run more than two apps simultaneously for best performance and battery life. Intel Speedstep Technology is also built in, helping you save battery life. I averaged about 7 hours (and some change) using the included 4400 mAh 6-cell battery. This is definitely a steady jump in battery life over most netbooks I've tested to date. Recharging took me to about 80% within about an hour, and from there just over an hour more for a full charge to register and switch from charge-mode to plugged-in-mode on the battery indicator.

===== Praise =====

* Keyboard design - 93% full-size!
* Wrist rest - comfortable, remains clean & streak-free
* 3 USB ports (2-left/1-right) - handy for using a USB mouse
* Nearly 16:9 ratio display - great for movies (see above for DVD solution)
* Wireless N support - for faster and farther-reaching WiFi reception
* Windows 7 Starter - optimized for netbook performance

===== Dissapointments =====

* 1024x600 resolution - would have preferred at least 1280x720
* 5400 RPM hard drive - would have liked a faster Solid State Disk (even if smaller)
* Touch pad design - sticky fingers and rocker style mouse buttons are a no-no
* Keyboard key spacing - don't eat and surf, else crumbs can fall between the keys

===== Bottom Line =====

All in all, my list of disappointments with netbooks has definitely decreased with this netbook model. Granted, I haven't had to deal with Gateway support for this model, but as far as hardward quality goes, they have certainly redeemed themselves from their lower-quality days of old. Gateway still has a few flaws to overcome with their aesthetically pleasing series of netbook models, and they should indeed continue to innovate beyond their savvy for trendy design, but if style is high on your list, I think you'll be more than pleased with what you'll get out of this netbook.

I certainly hope you've found this review to be helpful! :)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2010 2:45 PM PDT


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