Friday, August 08, 2008

iPod Touch - my least favorite iPod

OK, so I'm spoiled rotten ... I admit it. I have had digital music since I could play AIFF files on my Newton back in the 90's, and I bought the original iPod and have had one from every generation since. I have pretty much skipped the video-focused ones because, well, I have other gadgets to do that! I still have that first iPod, a 40GB one that had the short-lived touch-wheel and separate touch buttons, a 4GB 2nd-gen Nano, and my newest addition - a 32GB iPod Touch. And of all of those, the iPod Touch is my least favorite music player. Let me explain ...

The first thing I did when I got the Touch was to set up some email accounts and web browsing stuff. And of course fill it up with music and video and pictures and subscribe to podcasts. The Touch is always with me, and I have a load of games and useful apps from the app store. I use it for maps, weather, quick web browsing, and other stuff. When we were on vacation I hooked it up to the TV to watch some videos, and have a number of photos on it as well.

Yet when I got in my car this morning and wanted to listen to music for the commute, I reached for my 4GB Nano. And it is pretty obvious to me why that is - convenience. With the Nano, if I want to play or stop I just hit a single tactile button without even looking. With the Touch, when music is playing the screen switches off and locks after a minute, then I need to click the home button to activate the screen, slide the unlock section of the screen, then press pause. The last two are 'virtual' buttons and therefore require looking at the screen.

Another thing that bothers me about the Touch is instability - I have had issues with songs stopping or skipping over the years, but I have had more freezes and crashes playing music with the Touch in the few months I've had it than with all other iPods combined! What will typically happen is that I will start planing music, then set my Touch sideways next to the shifter. Then if I want to change songs or see what is playing I pick it up and activate the screen. When I do that 'Cover Flow' flips to the correct album cover and then orients it in vertical mode ... and sometimes just shows the generic 'notes' graphic - and freezes. I have no idea why this happens, as it is random - and almost all of the music is stuff I have played successfully for years on other systems (iPods, PDA's, PSP, etc).

I think that the Touch is just so focused on the massive screen that it has lost something in terms of simplicity. I can stop music to answer my cell phone with one touch in a fraction of a second on my Nano, but on my Touch it takes several swipes and looking at the device. It is just too much of a hassle, and while I still use the Touch for the massive capacity, I don't feel bad using the Nano anymore.

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