Not only is the iPod touch the confirmed king of portable media devices, topping out the sales charts (most of the time) at tech shops around the world, it’s also a great alternative to an iPhone 4, if for whatever reason you decide that buying an Apple smartphone just isn’t for you. With no monthly cellular fees attached to it, and nary a need for a contract, the iPod touch has become, for many people, the perfect mobile companion. With the release of the latest version of the iPod touch, this has never been more true: everything that makes it a great choice for handling all of your media needs has been vamped up to be just that much greater. For those of you that missed this week’s media event, the list of the new and improved media player’s abilities was pretty impressive: A retina display, front and rear facing cameras and the ability to engage in FaceTime calls over WiFi will no doubt put the device on more than a few people’s must-buy list for the upcoming holiday season. Consumers, however, should beware that while the iPod touch is indeed all that and a bag of potato chips, when compared to the iPhone 4 the diminutive obelisk will come up looking a little short.
Let’s start with the camera: Yep, it’s got two of them, but still, pictures on the iPod touch only boast an image resolution of 960×720. While those sorts of images will be just fine for posting to social media sites or sending to folks over the internet, you certainly won’t find the results worthy of printing out for framing. We have to say, it’s a strange matter of course for a device that can shoot some pretty respectable-looking high-definition video. Those planning to use the iPod touch as an in-car navigation device will also be left out in the cold. As with previous generations of the device, the iPod touch doesn’t have built-in GPS hardware. So, while you could use it near a hotspot to download route directions or plan a trip, updating those directions on-the-fly just isn’t in the cards. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to snag accurate location information: Unlike the iPhone, the touch is forced to guesstimate its general whereabouts based upon the orientation of nearby WiFi hotspots. That’s not an ideal navigation solution to say the least.
However, despite its shortcomings in the face of the device’s pricier cousin the iPhone 4, everything that makes the iPod touch awesome–some of the best mobile gaming on the planet, being a solid MP3 player, brilliant user interface and boasting a beautiful screen for watching and editing video–make the multimedia device a contender that warrants the attention of consumers once again. Just be sure, before you buy, that you understand it ain’t no iPhone. For more comprehensive coverage of the latest version of the iPod touch, be on the lookout for our full review of the device here, in print and of course in the MacLife App for iPhone and iPad!