The iPod touch: Feeling my way round
I borrowed an iPod touch for a week recently with an almost identical interface to the iPhone and several of its functions.
Activation is by a slim button at top left. Before the iPod can be used, however, a button is slid across the screen thus avoiding accidental activation. The screen is crisp and sharp. Indeed, browsing full pages of the Bangkok Post, I could distinguish individual characters.
The screen displays several applications in its main section with icons for Music, Videos, Podcasts and the iTunes shop in the bottom section. Applications currently installed are Safari, a YouTube direct link, Calendars, Contacts, Clock, Calculator and Settings.
Out of the box, the 8G touch was already charged. I plugged it into my Mac and copied the music across. This initial synchronisation took several minutes. Once complete, I added podcasts, photographs, contacts and calendar synchronisation.
As I was in reach of a network, the WiFi indicator was displayed. Settings identified the network details. When it came to typing in data such as DNS numbers, the touch keyboard appeared. I initially had some accuracy problems, but the erase key fixed things immediately. Over the course of the week my own skills improved no end.
Safari accessed web pages fairly easily despite this network's known sluggishness. Initially, I had to enter each URL, but as the week progressed, just typing the first letter accessed the browser history: "A" brought up the Apple URL, "B" Bangkok Post and the BBC, and "E" my own eXtensions site, as well as any pages accessed within those sites.
At Siam Centre, I tried the True WiFi network. As with any network, I first selected from those identified in Settings. True requires lengthy account names and passwords. With the tiny web page display, I tapped on the account name space. The page enlarged and the keyboard appeared. Once entered, I was able to access the Internet easily, but after five minutes the card expired (I had had this for a few weeks) so I went into the True shop in Siam Paragon.
Here the speeds were better so I tried the YouTube access: quick and easy. Once the site is reached the screen turns to landscape mode as it does with all video viewing. The video will play when downloaded and moving the finger across the screen brings up the controls. I also later went into the new iStudio in Central Pinklao but, as I have found with my own computers, the WiFi service there is so slow it is often impossible even to log in.
At a friend's house, the WiFi icon was immediately displayed. A check showed that the correct IP numbers were used. Access to web-pages via Safari and to videos through the YouTube icon was fairly quick, although getting a video to load took a minute or so.
I spent a lot of time playing with the Internet because of the novelty and saw that this did sap the battery slightly, although not to dangerously low levels. The touch, however, is really an iPod and that part of it works wonderfully well.
When "Music" is accessed, a list of types (Albums, Artists) appears at the bottom. The list can be changed to suit the owner by dropping another type (e.g. Podcasts) onto one of the icons. Selecting a type gives a list of items and tapping on one plays the music or the video (Podcasts).
Turning the iPod on its side shows all album covers imported in CoverFlow. This display can be moved by dragging a finger across the screen. Music playing is what one expects from an iPod. There are no external speakers (although there is a buzz when it is charged) and the touch comes with the standard white iPod soundbuds.
With iTunes, data from iCal and Address Book can be synchronised to iPods. On the touch, this is better displayed. Users can enter contact details into the touch, but, unlike the iPhone, not the calendar.
Photographs can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode and the accelerometer recognises when the iPod is turned. The screen rotates accordingly. With pictures (and web pages) the display can be enlarged with a two-finger movement -- separating thumb and forefinger.
The touch spent most of its time in my pocket, along with its normal contents which included some coins and a flash drive. I could see no evidence of scratching on the screen, the steel back did pick up one or two marks. Fingerprints were evident but were easily removed with a cloth or my t-shirt.
The 8G iPod is priced at 12,990 baht here. It had just enough room for my music and other information. Were I to download more podcasts, or take more photographs, I would have to cull some of the data, so for me the 16G version at 16,690 baht would be a better option.
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