The new iPod touch is a worthy successor to the third gen. model. It is lighter and more responsive than its predecessor. It's highly recommended if you want a simple, intuitive touch based PMP, even if it comes with subpar headphones.
In the Personal Media Player arena, one company certainly has quite the enviable reputation: Apple. Whether or not you drink the Apple flavored (and branded and trademarked) Kool-aid or not, they do have a tendency to produce highly polished user experience; and wrap them in some of the prettiest packages going. Is the all new Apple iPod touch 4 a continuation on the venerable iPod name or is it nothing but hype? Let's find out!
I am not going to spend much time on the dimensions as everyone and their dog knows what the iconoclastic iPod touch looks like. Though for the sake of accuracy this is a 4.4" x 2.3" x 0.28" which weighs in at a mere 3.56 oz. The back of the iPod touch 4 is classic apple chrome though now it is much like new iPhone as it is flat and not curved; the bottom has the classic iPod 30-pin port and your headphone jack. On one side edge there is a dedicated up and down volume buttons with a "power" button on the top (though the power button as been relocated from the top right to the top left corner). There is also a small microphone and speaker integrated into the body of the gen 4. The actual front of the iPod touch 4 is obviously dedicated to the razor sharp capacitive touch screen and has a small "home" button towards the bottom.
The iPod touch 4 is slightly shorter than the gen 3; it is also noticeably lighter than the previous iteration. Hell is even slightly narrower than the previous svelte model and is now a perfect fit for your hands. The iPod touch 4 really is small and lightweight enough that it is not fatiguing to use all day long; yet it still has a visceral feel to it which belies its light weight and feels extremely robust. I am not sure how they did it but this lightweight iPod touch 4 feels a heck of a lot more sturdy than my Apple iPod classic does... even though the classic is a veritable brick in comparison. Hell even though it weighs less and is smaller the 4G feels better and sturdier than my last generation iPod touch.
That is the overall dimensions and look and feel and if Apple had left the hardware basically the same it would have been a nice, if a bit small, revision of the iPod touch gen. 3 design. It is not however a mere revision as while the iPod touch 4 may have a similar if smaller look and feel to the third generation and it may share the same name as the older version it is a totally new beast. Everything from the software to the hardware to the screen is new and improved in big ways.
iPod touch 4 (left) is slightly wider but thinner than the previous generation.
iPod touch 4 (right) with a whopping 640x960 pixels now has twice the resolution of the previous model.
Retina Display on touch
I've already mentioning its new svelte size so the next biggest thing, and heck you could argue the biggest new feature, is the screen. Apple calls this screen a Retina Display screen and god is it ever a great gift for your eyes. Let's face it, this is a personal media player and not just a mere "iPod" so you are going to be spending a lot of time looking at the screen. This 3.5" screen is gorgeous as it not only has a twice the resolution of the previous model at a whopping 640x960 but also has twice the DPI at 326. It is a bloody awesome screen which needs to be seen and used to truly be appreciated. With that being said it is not the same screen as the one on the new iPhone so its viewing angles while good are not quiet as good as the iPhone's. At a even more basic level, it still is a frickin' glossy screen which means it not only is still a finger print magnet but also reflects a lot of light in bright conditions (like when you are outside) so there is that minor caveat. These are par for the course with Apple and you either learn to work around the glossy aspect of the screen... or you don't buy an Apple iPod.
Dual Cameras for FaceTime
The next big new feature is the dual built in cameras. On the back, you have one which is capable of shooting 4:3 format 960 x 720 pictures and 720p video also with a resolution of 960 x 720. On the front, you have another lower resolution camera which can only shoot VGA quality video (640x480) and 640x480 quality still images. These cameras are not exactly high megapixel cameras and in testing I did notice that even though they have a F2.4 lens, they are't so good at indoor shots; though this is pretty much par for the course with these mini cameras. In other words, don't expect to get great (or even decent) shots from either under all lighting conditions, but they are better than nothing the generation 3 touch offered and for video calls they are more than good enough. To be fair, when you have good lighting conditions the end result is a very decent "camera phone" quality picture.
Hopefully, the next revision will come with two cameras which are at least capable of a measly 1-megapixel resolution and maybe even that "new" invention called a "flash". With that being said these cameras combined with the built in speaker, the built in microphone and the built in WIFI coupled with a simple little Skype app means you can easily convert your iPod touch 4 into a "poor man's iPhone"... sans contract. When looked at from this point of view the cameras are a nice feature. To be blunt these ARE a nice feature, just one that feels a little rushed and needs more time to be perfected. Hopefully, beefier cameras will lead the list of reasons why we should all rush and get the next iPod touch, like the screen and other features make this a "must buy" for Apple fans... and many other consumer groups too.
Better Wireless Connectivity Support
In addition to all those wonderful tweaks, Apple also took the time to upgrade the WiFi from 802.11g to 802.11n. This is a huge performance boost that should make downloading from YouTube the Internet and even your home network much, much faster. Also unlike the iPod Touch 3G, the new 4G also has Bluetooth AD2P support, so if you have a wireless stereo headset for your new iPhone, it will work on your new touch 4. I am not a fond lover of Bluetooth but this newer standard is certainly a great upgrade and can actually see it making Bluetooth a viable alternative to other short range wireless standards. In other words, it's another nice tweak in a growing list of amazing new features this new 4G Touch boasts. The other nice little tweak will put a smile on your gaming face and that is the new 3 axis gyro. This should make gaming even more precise and much more fun.
iPod touch 4 now has 2.4Ghz 802.11n radio to improve video streaming and web surfing performance.
If all the above wasn't enough to impress you, the next improvement should. Apple didn't just call it a day at upgrading the screen when it comes to hardware updates, they also upgraded the processor to their new "A4" chip. This is the same chip as they one which powers the iPhone and the iPad, though the amount of RAM the iPod touch 4 has is only half the iPhone has (256MB vs. 512MB) though it is the same amount as the iPad. It is a Apple custom chip fabbed by Samsung (45nm) which basically is a customized ARM processor (how much Apple customizes it is unknown). In other words is pretty fast, yet uses very little power while doing it.
The end result is even though the iPod touch has a better screen and a more powerful processor it actually gets better battery life. According to Apple, these power savings net the new touch a battery life of 40 hours for music and 7 while watching video. This is certainly better than the previous generations 30 and 6. In testing these official numbers are a little on the high side as I was "only" able to get about 38 hours of music and about 6 and half of video before the battery needed recharging. This certainly isn't bad as with the same music and video I was only able to get a little over 26.4 hours for music and 5.3 hours for video from my generation 3. Though to be fair and impartial, all the increased battery life is not solely due to power savings of the new components. Even though the body is smaller and the overall weight is lower, Apple somehow managed to cram in a bigger 930 mAh (3.44 watt hours) battery compared to the previous generations 789 mAh (2.92 watt hours). Honestly, the "why" once again doesn't matter as the end result is the same: longer play time.