As most geeks in my circle of friends, I am known to buy hardware slightly more often than the average Joe. I have 3 Wifi routers at home (just gave away my 4th one), I have more than 2TB of hard disk storage, split out over half a dozen of PCs and devices, and I have more USB cables than teeth. But hardware that makes me *really* happy, that is uncommon. Don’t get me started on failing hard disks and non-functioning printers. So let me tell you about this new piece of hardware that I bought: the iPod Touch.
No iPhone, thanks
This is not my first iPod, I think I’m at n° 5. And before you start telling me “the iPod Touch is an iPhone, that can’t be used for calling. Why not buy an iPhone?”. Well, I don’t need a new phone yet, I’m probably gonna buy an iPhone in a year or so, when the GSM providers have reasonable data transfer prices, and there’s the price too: the 8GB iPod is slightly over 200 euro. The iPhone is 525 euro.
But this baby is really neat. It does music, sure, and video, like the previous one. But it’s got Wifi, a big, smart touch-screen, games, applications, and … From day one I’m using Google Mail (via IMAP), the Weather application, Google Maps. Then I started looking through the free applications on the App Store. So what am I using now:
- Games: Dactyl, Cube Runner, BlueSkiesLite, Sudoku, TapTap
- Stuff: iDoodle2Lite, WhiteNoise, Remote
- Network: AirSharing, Speedtest, IM+, Palringo
- Social networking: Facebook, AroundShare, GooSync, ShoZu, reQall
- Info: BuienRadar
I’ve just started using reQall, a kind of task list + shopping list, which allows you to add via the iPod/iPhone, via the web and via a IM (Gtalk) account. This looks promising.
The games are not bad. Dactyl is strangely addictive, the movement sensors work really well with BlueSkiesLite, … I expect to see some killer iPod/iPhone games in the future.
The only thing I miss now is a good sync with my Google Calendar. iTunes can sync my iPod contacts with Google Mail, but not my calendar. GooSync is supposed to be able to do that, but I can’t get it to work. Of course Apple wants me to use (paid) MobileMe, but I want to see if I can find a free way first.
In any case, I discover a new use every day. It’s … exciting, actually.
I had Wifi on my Nokia N91, but I haven’t seen it so well integrated as on this iPod. It saves connection credentials and connects to known networks without asking. Well, the fact that I find this remarkable says more about the user-unfriendliness of the (Nokia) Symbian OS than anything else. But the feeling that you have a small Internet-ready device, that allows you to check email and read web pages comfortably everywhere, is awesome.
People who know me, know I’m not the biggest fan of Mac OSX. Don’t try to convince me it’s easy and intuitive, because for me it isn’t. But this iPod Touch is another story. This is the best user interface ever.
You switch it on and it’s there immediately (not when it has to boot, of course, but when it’s just inactive) The screen is sharp and large. Text is easy to read. Images look great. You intuitively tap on a web page when it’s too small, and it zooms in until the paragraph is as wide as your screen. And then you turn the device 90°, your application switches from portrait to landscape and browsing becomes even easier.
The multi-touch screen feels totally intuitive. You flip through your photos by sliding them left and right, you scroll down by just dragging, you zoom in and out with two fingers and it feels like it’s the way things should have been all along. I even catch myself trying the two-finger zoom-in on my TomTom GPS, where it -obviously- does NOT work.
I took the iPod, did not read any manual (duh!) and I figured everything out in, what, 30 seconds? It’s better than the TomTom, and that one was already very good.
Hardware top 3
Apple makes great hardware. The MacBook looks slick and classy, the MacPro looks strong and professional, and this iPod Touch is not only beautiful, it acts likes it’s an extension of your brain, through your fingers.
It just entered my personal top 3 of hardware devices that make my life better. It jumped over the TomTom GPS and sits next to my Canon 350D. If some more killer apps come out, it’s totally gonna take #1.