iPod Touch Review

I have amazon kindle envy, I'm not going to lie. I've written about the kindle before, and I don't think my opinion has changed that much: it's a great idea, and with some changes it could be really amazing. I'm not going to get one of course: between the ugly, the price tag, the price scheme for the books, and the DRM there doesn't seem to be much reason. I still have envy.

This abated this past week when I figured out the iPod Touch. When I got my new computer lo these many weeks ago, I got an ipod touch, because apple was/is running a promotion for student types (which I still qualify as). 100 Bucks for 16 gbs of flash memory, is a pretty good deal, all things considered. But I had no clue how to use it. *This is a common problem with new technology/devices, it looks great and we can feel that it's going to be useful but until it we fit it into our workflow, it's virtually useless.

Basically when I got this ipod, [1] I fooled around with it for a while, set it up to sync a bunch of stuff included my "oft listening/hits" playlists, a bunch of podcasts and videos, and sort of left it at that.

Now I have an older 80gb ipod, that I typically use constantly. It has all my music that I care to listen to, enough podcasts to keep me busy for months, and I really like it. I didn't and still don't really need another iPod, so this thing didn't do me a lot of good.

And then I got the 2.0 firmware, and a program called stanza, and evernote (though to be fair, I mostly just look at evernote) I took almost all of the music off, and suddenly I have a really amazing device that serves a pretty useful niche, and now I don't have kindle envy any more.

Here's what I love about the touch:

  • It's incredibly tiny. The screen is big, but it's in a super thin package. Back in the day I had PDAs which were bulky and huge and just as hard to get data into, but they weren't "slip into the back pocket" kind of things. I could have a stack of five ipod touches for the size of one Palm 3.
  • It's incredibly sturdy. PDAs of old were plastic affairs, with finicky touch screens. This thing has a metal back and it feels sturdy, which means a lot.
  • The software is robust. I think users can really respect and enjoy the fact that the software that runs on this platform is basically the same as the software that runs on Mac desktop. The developers know how to write the programs already, and the programs work and feel like the best desktop apps from the get go.
  • All the best apps have syncing built in, and are focused around moving your data from ipod to the cloud to your computer. This is cool because it's not the kind of thing where you sync the whole system and hope for the best, a la windows mobile and active sync, but you have a lot of control over what syncs and when. With the built in WiFi, it's fast and independent. Can't argue with that.
  • The ebook reading program has great library support a good (mac only) converter, and the interface is nearly perfect (if a bit slow).

What I don't like:

  • It doesn't have bluetooth. I'd love to be able to do away with the sync cable, and be able to selectively sync things over the air. This also opens up the possibility for more sophisticated input methods.

  • The ebook reader seems to have to recomplie/reflow the entire book every time you change the orientation of the device, or load a new book. This is painfully slow, and pretty unnecessary.

  • Cut and Paste.

  • I want there to be a text editor that uses a git repo as a file system. This is a pipe dream, I suppose.

    I guess the biggest thing that I learned is that as an ipod this thing kind of sucks. Most of the time when I'm using an ipod I want the ability to change the volume/track without looking, which is damn hard with the touch. The solution? Don't put music on this device. Also, I think having more music on an ipod makes the "random" work better. The end result is that I sync the touch every day or two and I almost never sync the big ipod, and it all works great. I can imagine, if I had an iphone and a live connection all the time, that I would never really sync it to a computer.

Thoughts? Does anyone else have one of these? I realize that stanza makes a pretty weird killer app, so does anyone else have something better?

Onward and Upward!

[1]I should point out that I got the ipod touch before the 2.0 firmware was available so that might have hindered my process a bit.
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