Pros: useful Internet app, long battery life, large storage space
Cons: Lack of microphone, iTunes synching
I'll admit it, I'm a technophile. I love learning and playing with all sorts of digital goodies.
A recent week-long trip to Europe was reason enough for me to splurge and buy a used second generation 32GB iPod touch. Now I already have an iPod video 30GB that works great and hasn't complained with daily use in the years I've owned it, but the touch models came across as more of a computer than just a mp3 device.
After more than a week with the device, it turns out I was partially correct.
The iPod touch I bought was heavily used it and it showed. The silver back had many scratches, and I've heard that it marks easily. I purchased a leather case before leaving the States to prevent any further damage, so I can't testify too much about this.
Similarly, the screen on the device was very marked up and had a few deeper scratches. Considering you use a fingertip, I'm not really sure how the scratches got there, but I made it a moot point as the leather case had a screen flap. The existing smudges, scratches and other marks don't seem to clean off easily and are mildly noticeable when using the device.
There were minimal instructions included with my iPod, but mine came second hand. After a few Google searches and 15 minutes with the device, I had 90 percent of the controls figured out. Most of it's fairly intuitive, like tapping an icon or sweeping your finger to move a page. What I don't get is why there's a "sleep/wake" button and a "home" button. I didn't even notice the s/w button on top, just using the home button to turn it on. My other beef with the buttons is that using the home button can be a little tricky. Pushing and holding it different lengths seems to switch to a small music controller, go to the home screen or pull up spotlight. I've had the phone for nearly two weeks and even though I think I understand the system, I still pull up the wrong thing all the time.
The home screen seems functional enough, albeit boring. Apparently you can't change the background; not a dealbreaker for me but I'm sure there are some who don't just want black. The square application icons can be positioned across four screens, allowing for personal preferences. I personally moved all my utilities to one screen and games to another.
The basic apps - clock, notepad, calendar, etc. - it comes with are useful. I didn't play with the email app, but I'm sure it works fine. The Internet app did get plenty of use on my iPod touch, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to check my email, log in to Facebook, read news articles and check fantasy football settings without much of a problem. The only page that I couldn't get to load was a YouTube video, which I couldn't find in the YouTube app. I thought they were all the same file type, perhaps that's not the case.
As far as music goes, only mildly important since iPods are marketed as mp3 players, the storage space was impressive. I've got more than 1,000 songs on there, with plenty of room to go. The music can be seperated by album, genre, artist, alphabetically or playlist, much like any other iPod.
Facing at least eight hours on a plane each way over the Atlantic, I headed over to the app store in search of some cool free games and utilities. I found a couple, but was surprised by the lack of good quality, non-demos of games. It seems like the highest rated free games are simply watered down "lite" versions of their paid counterparts.
Skype, thankfully, was a free download and easily connected to my existing account. The application itself was easy to figure out, despite having a very different layout than the computer application. I can't imagine how much money that saved me on international calls.
Unfortunately, Apple decided to impair the iPhone's younger brother by including only an internal speaker, not a microphone. Why would you not put a microphone on a device the size of a phone that can be used as a phone? And to make it even more egegious, the 3.1 update, which I dropped $5 for, includes a voice notes application. Seriously Apple, what the hell? Thankfully, the third generation iPod touch began shipping with the new headphone/microphones just a few weeks before my trip, and Radio Shack carried at least one third party headphone adaptor for any old headphones. That seemed to work just fine, thankfully.
My other major beef with the second generation iPod touch is the interaction with iTunes. Maybe I'm just way behind the curve and a renegade, but I always manually added/deleted music and movies to my iPod video. There were never any problems accessing the files and I could do it on both my desktop and laptop. But when I hooked up the iPod touch, everything was grayed out. I restored the device to its original settings and only through lots of time playing with the device have learned that if you ever tell it to sync with one computer, you can never manually adjust the library again, even by choosing that option in iTunes, nor can you sync it with any other computers you own. I ended up syncing to my Powerbook on the train and in the hotel, but its not what I really want to do and I'm not sure how exactly to set it up like my iPod video.
One of the worries I had about purchasing a used device was the battery life. It's well known that battery lasts for hours, but many warn that it's an expensive replacement when it goes after a few years. Unless mine dies abruptly, it looks like it's got plenty of it's nine lives left. Playing games, using Skype and listening to music barely dented the battery, while watching movies on my iPod video ravages the battery.