4th-Generation Apple iPod touch

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With its front- and back-firing cameras, improved Retina display, A4 processor and new OS, the new Apple iPod touch is like a futuristic science-fiction gadget that traveled back in time to the year 2010. It's got all of the desirable improvements found on the iPhone 4, without the commitment of a contract or the annoyance of a telephone.


Well, sort of. Your friends and family could potentially interrupt you with an impromptu live video chat.

The iPod touch used to be described as an iPhone without a phone, but thanks to the new FaceTime feature, that description doesn't really fit anymore. You can now have video chats with other 4th-generation iPod touch and iPhone 4 users; however, both parties need to be on a WiFi network for it to work. It's like that videophone scene in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, just a bit more advanced because this device fits in the palm of your hand.

The announcement of the new iPod touch continues what's become somewhat of a tradition at Apple: to abruptly discontinue one of the most popular products in the world. The "old" iPod touch was the most popular portable video game device, vastly outselling competing Sony and Nintendo products combined. Such a business move may seem foolish, but the more foolish move would be to not advance their products with the latest technology.

The new 3.5" Retina display on the iPod touch has four times as many pixels as the previous model. It's the same display people have been raving about on the new iPhone 4. An improved display will enhance everything that you do on the device. The color on all of the 250,000 available apps will really pop on the new display, the movies and TV shows that you watch will look much better, the HD video that you capture and stills that you take will look fantastic.

Still photography is a popular topic over here at B&H, and it's worth noting that the new operating system in the iPod touch adds some additional photo-oriented power. With Apple's iOS 4.1 operating system, the back camera on the iPod touch will be capable of taking 960 x 720 High Dynamic Range photographs. This is a feature we're used to seeing on professional and consumer cameras, but it's a bit unexpected to find it in a portable entertainment device.

When you take an HDR photo, three stills are taken in rapid succession. One shot is overexposed, one is underexposed, and the third is a normal exposure. The three images are combined into one and complex algorithms piece together the image so you get the best looking picture possible. The only complaint  I ever heard from people who owned earlier versions of the iPod touch was that it didn't have a camera. Well, those days are over. Now it's got two cameras and HDR technology to boot.

Shooting high-definition video is also a popular subject around B&H. Like the iPhone 4, the new iPod touch enables you to shoot 720p video at 30 frames per second with audio. You can easily edit the video with onboard editing functions, or download the $4.99 iMovie app from the App Store if you want even more control over the final product. If you're connected to a WiFi network, you can upload your videos easily to YouTube and Facebook and share them with the universe at large.

And speaking of apps, you can also download the free iBook app which transforms the iPod touch into a mini eReader. As somewhat of an Apple fan, I was kind of hoping Steve Jobs would unveil a new nano version of the iPad. The new iPod touch pretty much fits that bill.  It just has a different name.   

These products were designed to be your constant companions. If you're going out for a run, you can utilize the Nike+iPod functionality in the new iPod touch. Just pop the separately available Nike+iPod sensor into your sneaker, and it will wirelessly communicate your time, distance, and calories burned with a robotic voice over your music. You can unwind after your workout with some fun video games, and the new GameCenter in iOS4.1 will let you share the fun. You can play games with old buddies anywhere on the planet, and compete against new friends.

Like all iPods, the new 4th generation iPod touch is compatible with Mac and PC computers. It comes with ear buds with a built-in microphone (to record voice memos and to have a more private FaceTime chat with Uncle Fred). This also makes it compatible with the new IK Multimedia iRig, which enables you to plug an electric guitar into your iPod touch and rock out with virtual amplifiers and effects (check out our review of the iRig in this B&H Insight post).

You have your choice of an 8GB model, a 32GB model and a beefy 64GB model. Perhaps it's time you got one of these gadgets that seem to have fallen out of the screen from a science fiction movie. You'll have so much fun, you'll forget that you're playing with the world's most popular portable music device.

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Awesome article Sam - love the " like a futuristic science-fiction gadget that traveled back in time to the year 2010" you have to watch old 70's and 80's sci-fi movies to see how literally "far off, futuristic" these handheld video phone displays were supposed to be. Laughable "not in our lifetimes" stuff.

Is TBWA/Chiat/Day still Apple's ad agency? I'm suprised they did not come up with the obvious slogan for iPod Touch with Facetime..

"2010. The year you make contact." 

Nice write-up. The only thing you might want to add is that the still camera in this gadget, unlike the iPhone's, only captures 0.7MP images--a far cry from the phone version's 5MP. So no matter how cool the HDR function may be, it's still only playing with grains of sand, not precious gems. As differences between the two devices go, that's probably No. 1 after the phone function, and something most prospective buyers should realize.

 nice, BUT why is thare no camra which is found by the iPhone4??? VERY VERY disapointing

So there's a built in microphone in this new generation then, correct?

Magdalena wrote:

So there's a built in microphone in this new generation then, correct?

Yes, there is a built-in microphone and a speaker on the device itself. It comes with earbuds with a built-in microphone, and a button that allows you to Play, Stop, and Skip to the next song, so you don't have to fish the gadget out of your pocket to control it when you're on the move.

Regarding the camera, I agree. I'd rather have more megapixels too. But, I'd much rather have this new iPod touch with its limited resolution camera, over the older models which had no camera at all. I'd even rather have this new iPod touch over the cameraless iPad. To me, the ability to snap photos in the moment is critically important, and the moment is more important than the megapixel *****.

And if it's megapixels you're looking for, you came to the right place! B&H sells all kinds of cameras that have way more than 0.7MP. 

;)

So unlike the iPhone's 5MP camera, this gadget's only captures 0.7MP images? That is really just a toy camera :-(

So in fact the only changement is the retina display, I think that I will keep the 3rd generation one I have, at least it has no bugs and it is not as fragile.

very,very good  

                           Thanks!!!!

I will be up-grading from my first gen touch, its still very useful.  It only had 16 gigs and I needed more space.  I must admit that find myself using it for morethan I originaly purchase it for.(Music)  You hardly see any post or reviews about the music quality or how many songs they can hold.  Now its about how good the photo quality is compared to the iPhone and really i'm ok with that given what we pay for these gadgets.   I hope that I enjoy this one as much as I have the first one.

Great Job you guys.

Guys, let me reiterate what someone else posted.

Who CARES about HDR when you are talking about camera resolution from 1998? You know this, I know this, almost everyone except those few people who read your article for actual insights knows this. So why are you pretending and spewing Apple marketing verbiage?

Camera. Ha!!!!! What a waste! I was waiting to get one so that I could give my wife the 3Gs. Looks like Apple will not be seeing my $399 until they fix this very stupid mistake. 0.7 MP. OMFG!

 Can anyone please confirm exactly what size (MP) the iPod camera is? I can't get this info. from the Apple website - even if you look under the tech specs. - http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/specs.html

Wow, this sounds pretty cool.  Now, if it only had the FM radio with the pause function of the new Nano, I'd be out trying to buy one today!

If you want FM, you could download the FM application and play it over wifi. But if you're out of the wifi zone you're SOL.

The Ipod would be even greater if it could convert hand wrihten mail that could later

be dounloaded to my Mac or PC

Just to be clear: I still think this is an amazing device--and frankly I don't really care about the photo quality (that's what I have, you know, cameras for). But I do think it's important to point out how meager the resolution is, especially given all the hoopla over HDR. Seems that Apple could have been a tad more generous with this spec (why not a rounded 1MP?), and B&H a tad more circumspect.

Oh, and a quick and easy way to figure out the resolution: multiply 960 X 720, which equals 691,200, or just under 0.7MP.

Does it get the GPS function?  Some of my i-Touch apps continually bug me for my location which only GPS will do automatically, my home WiFi firewall and router prevent exact location via the net..

I agree with the folk who think 0.7 MP is a toy, both my cell phones do way better than that and video too.

I have a very good Powershot G5 which I no longer routinely use because the quality irritates me. So 0.7 MP is not for me thanks.

But well done to Apple for the upgrade, now in a year or two when the battery on my i-Touch may be ready to depart, I will have another look at Apple's latest at that time and decide.

I think if anyone wants more than 0.7 MP, they should get a camera. This nifty little gadget is still an iPod. iPods are meant for music so you can't blame it for not having a very good camera. Anyway, Apple ***** something to upgrade to for the next generation. A camera from no-camera is already such a big step, and theres actually two. They need something for the 5th generation and this iPod almost has everything you can ask for. I've so far only had an iPod Shuffle and I'm saving up to buy one of these now. I definitely want to buy it:)  And by the way, Right now, this is probarbly the best iPod you can get in the market. In my opinion, the latest nano is bad. I hate the fact they made it smaller with the clip. That was the reason people bought the Shuffle over the Nano, it was small and handy. Plus, the nano took a step down from the older one because the old one had a video camera !

Thumbs up to the iPod Touch 4G:)

Thumbs down to the latest Nano.

Is there a time limit to clips shot with the HD video camera?  What is the *** time allowed per video file?

Should be limited to the space you have available on the device.  I don't believe there are any size limitations due to format the way there are with video-enabled still cameras.  As long as you have free space, you should be able to shoot til the touch is full.

Michael Klein wrote:

Is there a time limit to clips shot with the HD video camera?  What is the *** time allowed per video file?

Michael Klein wrote:

Is there a time limit to clips shot with the HD video camera?  What is the *** time allowed per video file?

*****,

I believe that Apple has set the limit to 4GB for a video file size. This would result in about 50-60mins of non-stop recording and is what is currently being done on the iPhone 4. Whether it was changed or not on the new Touch is unknown at this point as it has not shipped. I would speculate the iOS system will restrict the size of a single recording to this 4GB limit as well.I found other users discussing this time frame on Apple Support forum.

discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa

Hope this helps.