Apple iPod touch (4th generation)

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Reviewed by caramelpolice (Currently owns)

The iPod touch has always been Apple's red-headed step child - the original lacked many of the iPhone's included apps; software updates until iOS 4 had to be purchased; Steve Jobs once referred to the device as "training wheels" for the iPhone; this year, for the first time, the iPod touch was not updated to bring the hardware in line with the latest iPhone. But does the device stand on its own merits when not compared to its thicker, carrier-subsidized sibling? In short, yes.

The iPod touch packs the same A4 package used in the original iPad and the iPhone 4, but unlike the iPhone 4, the iPod packs only 256MB of RAM. While most software performs admirably, multitasking abilities are slightly limited, and newer games like Infinity Blade II do not perform or look their best.

The screen is the same 960x640 display as the latest iPhone models, with one caveat - it does not utilize IPS, resulting in slightly poorer color reproduction and significantly lower viewing angles. Black levels are particularly poor, but for most purposes the screen looks quite nice when viewed head-on, particularly video.

The design is a mixed bag - the device is impressively thin and stylish, but the back of the device still stubbornly uses the same easily-scratched glossy metal as every iPod of the last ten years. The screen fares better for scratches, but a case is recommended if you mind such blemishes.

The cameras are extremely poor; the front is usable for nothing more than FaceTime or Skype video calling, while the back is passable for video but absolutely cannot replace a dedicated camera or even compete with any model of the iPhone.

For music, the Music app continues to be best-in-class; it's quick to load, there's a variety of sorting options including Cover Flow, and iOS is as pleasing to the eye as ever. The internal speaker is passable for playing a song or video to a friend, but for personal listening headphones are a must. If listening to music is your primary use case, you'll be happy to hear you can last more than a day on a full charge, as well.

Of course, the iPod touch has access to the same App Store as other iOS devices, so there is a tremendous variety of games and productivity software available. Some software is limited by the iPod touch's lack of 3G and poorer cameras, but if you have fairly consistent access to Wi-Fi this should not be a dealbreaker.

All in all, while it can't totally replace an iPhone, there's hardly better options for a dedicated media player than an iPod touch. With its high-resolution display, quality music playback, lengthy battery life, and wide list of software and features shared with its big brother, the iPod touch is probably the best portable computer money can buy for $200 off-contract.

The Breakdown

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  • Design 8
  • Display 9
  • Software 9
  • Speakers 6
  • Performance 9
  • Battery life 9
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