We are pretty sure that you do not want us to say you that the iPod Touch is awesome. Lot of people, lots of them, are darned enthused; about 25 million consumers just cannot be wrong. This is the third edition of the iPod Touch and it is actually not an easy task to review something that is ostensibly identical to another that we have looked at before, but that is pretty much what we are faced by the third generation Apple iPod Touch. There is no drastic change in the hardware in comparison to the second gen model and neither has its status changed as the world’s best portable player that is packed with features. The touch has developed with a lot of features beyond MP3 playback that we can no longer call it just as a music player. Some choose Touch for its wonderful mobile browser and email support, whereas others see it mainly as a handy gaming tool and only some flock towards the Touch for good old school video playback and music.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation

Design:

Virtually the same:
For good or bad, the first ever thing that you will notice after unpacking the iPod Touch packing is that, the design remains unchanged from the 2nd generation model. We bet that you will not be able to make out any difference between both the models in just a couple of looks. Apart from the very negligible distinctions in the print at the rear of the device, the second gen model and the latest one are just the same as the other. If you have a look inside the casing, you will find that there had been a place for camera, which despite the photographic evidence to the contrary never made it to the final product, mainly as the last minute technical problems. There is no change in shape and dimensions either, between both the models and it remains to be (H x W x D) 4.3” x 2.4” x 0.33”. The glass display on the front of the model is flat with a curved steel backing, which feels natural and comfortable in hands, but is wobbly when placed in a flat surface.

That being said, the Touch is truly a delight to be held, debatably better than the iPhone itself particularly with its lithe form and amazingly delicious weight. It just has the right size to slip into the pocket of your jeans and almost forget that it is even there; a breathtaking feat of engineering.

Display and ports:

Just as in the case of its phone sibling, Apple iPhone, iTouch also has a glass covered crisp, pixel dense 3.5″ touch sensitive display of resolution 480 x 320 pixels and 3:2 aspect. Though the device sports a touch interface, few physical controls are inevitable and they include the hold switch on top of the device, a thin volume rocker on the left edge and a home button just below the display. On the part of the ports, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack as in the case of the previous models and also a universal dock port piercing through the otherwise seamless stretch of chrome steel that surrounds the rear and edges of the device.

Apple iPod Touch 3rd Gen Black

Features:

The feature list of the iPod Touch goes on forever, and at the end of it, you will be confused if you are looking at a media player or a pocket PC. The feature list includes an awesome media player, video support that includes iTunes rentals and You Tube player, podcast support, a safari web browser, an integrated iTunes store for music and video downloads, an email reader that is attuned with Outlook, MobileMe, Exchange, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL or any of the POP e-mail services, an email reader and a swarm of miscellaneous applications which include clock, contacts, calculator, calendar, weather, maps, notes, stocks and voice memos. If you become efficient with the keyboard on the device, you will chuck out your pocket pc, if you own any.

Heart of the Touch:
Coming to the heart of the device, the CPU and the RAM have been designed to be on par with the iPhone 3GS, which is exactly why it packs a 833MHz ARM-Cortex 8 Processor that is under-clocked to 600MHz, in an effort to enhance the battery life.

A landmark in the Touch interface:
The touch screen interfaces are really a big challenge for the visually impaired consumers. But Apple has been kind enough to find a way out of this for these differently able personalities. By digging deep into the menus of the Touch, the users will be able to enable some special features like white and black reversal, home button triple click, screen zooming and mono audio together with the automatic text reader, which reads just about everything right from mails to a whole webpage. Let us not forget the voice over feature, which provides spoken feedback relating to menus or for that matter any item selected by touch with apps getting launched with a double click while in this mode. This is a great move forward on part of Apple and for the users who feel kind of left out of the apps and Touch experience. But the bad news here is that, the above discussed set of features is available only in the 32GB and 64GB versions of the Touch.

Capacities are all not the same:
The Apple iPod Touch 3rd generation is available in three capacities of 8GB, 32GB and 64GB. But all the members of this family are not treated equally as the 8GB model still runs on the 2nd  generation hardware and has a slower processor than what is employed in the 32GB and 64GB models. In addition to this, the 8GB model also lacks support for some of the new features introduced for the 3rd gen models like, Voice Control, OpenGL graphics support and even the advanced accessibility features. This is going to be a major disappointment for those who are planning on investing on an 8GB model of the iPod Touch owing to the fact that as already witnessed with the 1st Gen Touch any future updates in the firmware brings about features that is only supported by the latest hardware. The budget price tags of the 8GB model makes the device attractive to the prospective consumers, but keep in mind that the lower cost comes at the cost of performance and some attractive features. The common features in all the models are akin to the iPhone 3.1 features namely Genius mixes, Bluetooth audio and Voice memo recording.

Applications:
The Stocks application is just a starting point of the loads of applications that the Touch can offer you with version 3.1 of Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch software. The iTunes App store that is accessible from either your system or the device itself allows you to install and download heaps of applications with games, social networking tools, internet video players and voice recorders. If you feel that you need some extras than what the Touch already has, its capabilities can be enhanced using the third party iPod hardware frills such as the AV docks, speaker system and exterior battery packs.

iTunes:
If you own an Apple iPod or iPhone of any type, you must be well aware of the iTunes and its features. You will be able to preview, browse, purchase and download stuff from the new iTunes WiFi store and to take advantage of these facilities; you have to step on to an available WiFi internet connection. The store allows you to search by songs, albums or artists in iTunes music catalogue. Along with music, you also get TV shows, movies, music videos, audio books, iTunes U edifying content and podcasts. In order to do store purchases, you have to enter the password as a safety measure. As soon as the download is done, the content will be immediately available for your use and will get transferred to your system the next time you sync. The feature works without the slightest kinks and even episodic downloads comes back into action once the WiFi connection is re-established.

Genius playlist:
The Genius playlist is a feature that Apple first bought about in the second gen Touch; and this is the feature allows you to create an instant playlist of 25 songs that have their base on the musical features of one song. The Genius feature is available in this 3rd gen model too, entertaining you with a very simple and interesting manner of generating playlist if you have a good collection of songs to make fascinating connections. The Genius playlists can be created and saved in the Touch itself and this can also be done by regular syncing enabled in iTunes and just relocate them to your PC. So, you might be wondering if there were any improvements made with this feature, considering that it is in the latest model too. Well, yes! Apple has widened the capacity of the Genius selections by including App Store suggestions and comprehensive genre based playlists called as Genius mixes.

iPod Touch 3rd Generation Multiple Views

Genius in App store:
The Genius Apps will be available separately in the Genius tab of the App store and it has recommendations that are based on the earlier app purchases that you had made. The Genius mixes have a very intuitive location in the lower sub menu strip of the bottom of the iPod’s music menu, along with the selections for artists, songs, playlists, videos and more. If you like the shuffle feature of the Apple iPod and use it often, then you are going to like the Genius feature too and would enjoy the way the Genius Mixes feature a more surprising and genre specific selection of tunes with minimal effort. But if you are more intentional about the mood you are in and the kind of music that you would like to listen too, then there is always the “More” option where you can pick the menu items like podcasts, audio items and lots more.

However, an odd fact about the Genius and Mixes feature is that, it would refuse to work if the feature is not enabled in the iTunes software in the system. If you feel that this feature is too demanding of the resources of your system or even that it is too insidious of your privacy.

Voice Commands:
As if the touchscreen control of the iPod Touch is not futuristic enough, Apple has also included the ability to control playback with voice instructions. Activating this feature is easy with a simple press and hold of the headphone remote control button which pops out a voice control screen. Use the incorporated microphone from the included ear buds if you want to call out an album, song, playlist or artist and watch the iPod wonderfully interpreting your commands and play the track. The playback features like Shuffle, play, skip and pause can also be inhibited using voice commands. But we feel that this feature is simply unnecessary and just a gimmick. The earbud remote control is always available for you to perform these operations and performing these functions with voice control would make you look like a crazy person. However, one cool feature that we did love about the voice control is that, you will be able to steer in the Genius feature by calling out “Play more songs like this”, imagine the reaction of the person sitting next to you, who has no idea about the feature!

Voice command performance:
As far as the performance of the voice control, it was surprisingly precise when it comes to the basic commands like “Play”, “Shuffle”, “Next song” and so on. But as you must have expected, you will not get the same response when you try to call out artists names with funky spellings, for instance, you will never be able to call out P!NK to hear her smash hit “So what, I m still a rock star”. Overall, the Voice Control is just a fun feature to have around and a great one to show off to your friends. This feature could have been a great hit if Apple had devised it in such a way that it can be controlled while it is plugged into a car stereo aux input. Who knows? You might find it in the fourth generation Touch.

Nike + iPod:
Despite the changes that the 5th Gen iPod Nano which had included an integrated pedometer that calculates the users footsteps together with supporting the Nike + accessory named the Heart Rate Monitor (that was an as-yet-unannounced accessory), the new iPod Touch is devoid of both these features. All it can do is to link to Nike+ Sensor that tracks users movement as they run and the gadget can also be used together with Nike’s wireless remote control watches to aide with music playback control. Though it is not clear if the Heart Rate Monitor support would appear in the software update of Apple, it is certainly a very likely possibility. Additionally, looks like the iPod Touch offers support for various fitness apps (non-Nike) that offers more out of the box stuff in comparison to what the Nano had on offer.

Performance:

The interface:
Let us move on to the performance factors. When it comes to touch screen performance and menu stability, there are very few devices that can even think of competing with the iPhone and iPod Touch. In fact when we reviewed the first couple of models of the Touch, there were literally none to compete, however, now we do have some potential competitors with the design of the interface and speed of the touchscreen and they include Microsoft, Samsung and Sony.  And in order to preserve its dominance in the feature, Apple has made some serious efforts to push the speed fence.

Speed:
The third generation Touch is equipped with a new OpenGL graphics processing system with about fifty percent increase in processor power, load time and even the responsiveness of the games on this third gen Touch has been given a dramatic makeover. The 3rd gen Touch is only the second Apple pocket device to include hardware support for the OpenGL ES 2.0 which is the latest graphics technology that debuted in the iPhone 3GS. TThis hardware endows developers with the ability to make use of shaders that are programmable in an attempt to create far-reaching realistic and impressive visual effects than its predecessors or for that matter what even the first few iPhone models failed to generate. For instance, a game of Spore that took about fourteen seconds to load in the 2nd gen Touch took just 8 seconds in the latest model. If you love gaming, then the improvised speed and graphics will certainly please you; but as we had mentioned earlier, these enhancements are enjoyed only by the 32GB and 64GB versions of the Touch.

The undisclosed improvements:
Additionally, there are a handful of undisclosed hardware modifications in the new Apple  iPod Touch 3rd Generation that can or cannot be unlocked by the future software updates. But there is hearsay that the 802.11 Wi-Fi chip ticking inside the Touch is not just capable of the presently unlocked 802.11b and g wireless yardstick, but also the faster 802.11n standard. For consumers with the 802.11n only home networks would appreciate to stop maintain the much slower 802.11g friendly networks for the slower WiFi devices like Touch and for now, the ability of Touch to use the 802.11n networks has been locked. Yet another capability that has been kept locked by the hardware is FM radio’s capabilities of transmitting and receiving, meaning that Touch could plausibly be used as an FM radio receiver too akin to 5th Gen iPod Nano along with its capacity to wirelessly broadcast its own content to other FM radios or the car stereos radios. As we had mentioned, unfortunately, both the 802.11n and the FM transmitting and receiving features are not supported by the current iPod Touch system software (3.1.1). So, they will start working if and only Apple releases a software update for its Touch.

Audio quality:
Unfortunately Apple has failed to step up the game of the audio quality of the player and has left it simply standstill. You would find an armoury of sound improvement settings filled into MP3 players of some of the leading manufacturers like Samsung, Cowon and Sony; while Apple leaves the audio quality unchanged with just a marginally useful EQ presets list that has been included. Having said that, the audio quality of Touch cannot be said as bad though and the balanced and smooth nature of the device will be certainly liked by a lot of listeners. The disappointment will be stuck only to those who like fiddling with the audio controls.

Formats supported:
As in the case of all the other Apple iPods, the Touch offers playback support for AAC, MP3, with the inclusion of protected files, Audible, AIFF, WAV and Apple Lossless. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that apple still doesn’t support WMA files, but then there is always the option of converting the WMA tracks to MP3 that is within ithe Tunes software of Apple.

Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming:
One of the most long awaited features of the iPod was the stereo Bluetooth A2DP streaming feature, which has been included in the OS3.0 upgrade. With the help of this, pairing up of the iPod with the Bluetooth accessories like speaker systems, stereo headsets or the car stereo is pretty simple and the iPod also maintains a record of the earlier paired devices in the Settings menu. Not only do the music files get transmitted with ease via the Bluetooth, the audio from the Video and apps are also done with a great deal of ease.  It is just a little bit disappointing that Apple has not fully implemented the Bluetooth AVRCP control standard that allows to control remotely audio playback via other devices that is AVRCP compatible. Something really curios about the feature is that Apple has offered support for controls of Play and Pause over the AVRCP but the other vital controls like skip and volume have not been included. You will not be able to play with this feature all day because keeping the Bluetooth on is going to put a strain on the battery life of the device.

Video quality:
The iPod Touch is a great device to take with you if you are ever considering about video on the go. The Touch can be loaded loads of video podcasts, TV shows, iTunes movie rentals and the best part is that, you will be able to watch unlimited videos using the incorporated You Tube widget or even the other third party video apps. We have to point out the fact that the viewing angles were not as good as they were on the second gen model; however, there is a significant improvement to the colour balance and contrast. Hence, we can say that it has been made up. The colour balance seemed to be much cooler and natural and also looked less washed out at the higher ends of brightness settings.

Battery performance:

The battery performance of the Apple iPod Touch Third Gen has reduced from what was the case in the second generation Touch. And the reason for this is quite obvious; it is mainly since there is an amplified demand for a faster processor and even the addition of some of the latest technologies like Bluetooth. The music playback has come down from 36 hours to thirty hours and the video playback is steady at ix hours.

iPod Touch 3rd Gen with Charger

One strange, but great pleasure of all the Apple iPods is that, they arrive charged and ready to go. We have to admit that nothing can be compared to the frustration of having to wait 8 long hours before you can turn it on the gadget, let alone operate; the device that you bought with all that enthusiasm.

Inside the box:

The accessories that come along with the 8GB iPod Touch includes an Apple universal dock connector USB cable, one pair white ear plugs with an incorporated microphone and remote control together with a molded universal dock insert that comes in handy with charging or be used with any speaker accessories. So the difference is that, the earphones with “Remote and Mic” is new and is similar to the one that is packed along with the iPhone 3GS. Also included is a headphone plug shell made of hard plastic, which is kind of slippery and thin in contrast to its predecessors that came with a thick, soft, rubbery coating. Otherwise, there is no much change as they look, sound and work the same way providing 2 volume buttons, a multi function play, pause and track skip central button.

Warranty:

Apple offers its third generation iPod Touch one year standard manufacturer’s warranty.

Verdict:

The iPod Touch Second generation was one of the finest iPods that has been ever made and the only thing that was holding us back was that this model had weak storage capacity for the dollar. Apple has certainly fixed this with the reduction in prices and if you are asking us if you can should upgrade to the 3rd gen model, then our answer will be no, unless you are really looking for some performance upgrades, voice controls and the convenience features of the 64GB and 32GB models are very persuasive. But if you do not have any of those touch sensitive models of Apple, then you have to get one of these. You must also be conscious of the fact that if you are upgrading your MP3 player to iPod Touch from an older Mp3 player that has only the basic capabilities; you might be in a technological overkill. If you have simple needs and complex features like internet, email, and games all appear to be like overload, the iPod Nano will be a better choice.

The lack of a camera on Apple’s third-generation iPod touch is disappointing and will rightly make many people wait until the next update before splashing out their cash. But, for those who do not want or need an on-board camera, this version’s much faster processor helps make sure that it remains far and away the best portable media player currently on the market.

Apple iPod Touch 3rd Gen - Technical Specification Table

Manufacturer Apple
Model Name iPod Touch Third generation
Device type Portable media player
Dimensions (H x W x D) 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33 inches
Weight 4.05 oz
Colour Black
Display 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
Display resolution 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch
Capacities available 8GB, 32GB and 64GB
Supported audio formats AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store),
MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4),
Apple Lossless,AIFF, and WAV
Supported video formats H.264, MPEG-4
Wireless Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
Nike + iPod support built in
Maps location-based service7
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
TV Support for 480p and 576p component TV out
Input and output Dock connector
3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
Battery Music playback time: Up to 30 hours when fully charged
Video playback time: Up to 6 hours when fully charged
Battery charge time Fast-charge time: about 2 hours (charges up to 80% of battery capacity)
Full-charge time: about 4 hours
iTunes version iTunes 9 or later
System Requirements Mac : Mac computer with USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later
Windows: PC with USB 2.0 port, Windows Vista or
Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
Box contents iPod touch

Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic – (only for 32GB and 64GB models)
Dock Connector to USB Cable
Quick Start guide

Warranty One year