First Thoughts on iPod Touch

Yesterday I bought an iPod Touch. I got the 32 gig version from Costco, which actually has a better warrantee deal than the Apple store and sells the product for a little less. These are my initial thoughts on the purchase.

Overall, I’m quite pleased. Apple makes a remarkable product. (I’ve been sold on Apple since converting from the Amiga to the Mac in college.)

Mostly I got the Touch as an ereader. I’ve been contemplating ereaders for some time, and I realized I really want an additional feature to the ones recently described: portability. I can slip the Touch in my pocket and take it with me wherever I go.

The announcement of the iPad indicates that Amazon really screwed up, I think. Who would pay Kindle prices when the Touch and iPad are about the same price with phenomenally greater functionality? Plus I can read Kindle ebooks — and every other sort of file — on my Touch.

Instead of making an even bigger, even clunkier, even costlier Kindle, I think Amazon should have made a smaller, simpler, cheaper one. A Kindle the size of a Touch, sans the ridiculous touch pad and wireless, could have been sold in (I’m guessing) the hundred dollar range. It could have offered the simple, eye-friendly black-and-white screen with USB transfers.

But when I can pay the same price for a portable, elegant, multi-function Touch as what the lower-end Kindle costs, it’s simply no contest. Plus, all the other ereaders I’ve read about coming out this year follow the high-priced Kindle model. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but I predict massive failure for those products.

The iPad, on the other hand, is both two large and too expensive for my needs. I will be very interested to see how Apple handles ebooks. (This is particularly interesting in light of the spat between Amazon and Macmillan.) Will Apple’s ebooks read on standard epub readers, including Adobe’s Digital Solutions? Or will Apple ebooks read only on Apple software? Will the ebooks be available for desktops and iPhones, too, as I assume will be the case?

I was surprised that the Touch doesn’t come loaded with the ability to transfer and read all the files. Instead, I had to buy an app for that. I first tried using Stanza, but its pdf to epub conversion completely sucks. I ended up with formatting problems and words run together. I checked out FileMagnet and, after reading a positive review, purchased it. It allows the transfer of all sorts of files via my desktop’s Airport feature. I don’t why it doesn’t just use the USB cable, but at least it works, even if it uses a ten-dollar solution for a nickel-sized problem. I have already started a library of pdf and html books, and now I’ll be able to read them on my Touch, no problem. (I don’t even want to download DRM-free books directly to the Touch, as I want everything mirrored on my main hard drive.)

I also downloaded the Kindle app, so now there’s a good chance I’ll start buying ebooks through Amazon, which, at least so far, offers the best selection and prices of any service I’ve looked at.

The Touch will also make a great music and video player, calendar, and hot-spot internet browser. While I would have gladly paid (significantly) less for a portable, dedicated ereader, for the money I’m glad to have the extra functionality. Plus, I think I can get the Skype app and use the Touch as a phone in hot spots, so that may be very cool. (One of the reasons I got the larger-sized Touch is that it comes standard with a microphone, which is built in to the headphone assembly.) So, sweet! I love Apple.

I do have a couple of complaints. Why Apple didn’t make it easy to transfer text files (txt, html, pdf) via the USB baffles me. I mean, come on — that’s just ridiculous.

Also, while the Touch is set up for Bluetooth, from what I can tell that only works with headphones. Maybe there’s some technological complication I’m missing here, but why can’t I use a Bluetooth keyboard with the Touch? That single feature would make it phenomenally more useful. (I’ve read about adding a Bluetooth keyboard only to jailbroken Touches.) The cynic in me suspects that Apple is intentionally limiting the functionality of the Touch in order to bolster sales of the iPad. Assuming the touch is capable of using a Bluetooth keyboard hardware-wise, I sincerely hope that Apple provides the software to make that happen. (While the touch-screen keypad is surprisingly functional given its small size, it’s still not nearly as good as a real keyboard.)

Overall, so far I’m extremely pleased, and I look forward to getting my Touch lined out and integrated into my life.

One thought on “First Thoughts on iPod Touch”

  1. FileMagnet cannot transfer over USB because the API for that is private to Apple and they will reject an app that uses private APIs. (You just missed your chance with Stanza, unfortunately.)

    I don’t know the rationale for the restriction for certain but I suspect that opening up the Dock might potentially create a security loophole that they couldn’t fix in time for an exploit. (There’s also the issue of sandboxing apps so they can’t access system files or the files of other apps. If you can mount the iPhone, how could an app access that and how would you specify which apps could access which files? It gets complicated quickly.)

    One app that I use for reading PDFs–Air Sharing–has a wireless transfer capability and a reliable bookmarking capability. I can open up a PDF after a long time and go right back to where I was the previous session. I believe there’s a free, ad-supported version.

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