Santa gave me a great gift this year. Its slim, fits into my shirt pocket, plays music, downloads movies, gets my mail and tracks my flight. No, its not a computer. Its the iPod Touch. Most people believe that the Touch is just for music and movies. But its much, much more than that. Its the iPhone without the phone functionality, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a computer — a Mac actually — in your pocket.
Let me first explain the difference between a video iPod and the iPod Touch. The fifth generation video iPod was fantastic. You could download movies, songs and transfer them to the iPod video through Apple's iTunes. The earbuds sucked but with a little extra money, you could get a proper headset fitted to it. You could listen to your songs either through the earbuds or, by fitting a small gadget, on your music system as an FM channel. Watching movies on the video iPod was, of course, not as good as watching them on television. But the sound was very clear. By spending around Rs 300, you could buy a cable and connect it to your TV. You could get DVD quality movies on your TV through your video iPod.
The video iPod allowed you to store all your camera pictures too. You could transfer them from your computer through iTunes. You could do the same with music videos, podcasts and videocasts.
Then this year Apple stunned everyone by bringing out the iPhone. This breakthrough product was like an iPod with a phone. The revolutionary new mobile phone allowed you to make a call by simply tapping a name or number in your address book, a favourites list or a call log. It also automatically synced all your contacts from a Windows PC, Mac or Internet service. And it let you select and listen to voicemail messages in whatever order you wanted. It came with a web browser, a mail client, Google Maps and a YouTube player. It even had widgets. These are small applications that give you helpful information like stock reports, weather reports and more.
Then around October Apple pulled out another surprise. Out came the iPod Touch, and wonder of wonders, with WiFi broadband. This one is a widescreen iPod. The 3.5-inch display allows you to control everything using only your fingers. You can flick through pictures and enlarge them by stretching your fingers on the screen. You can glide through your albums using only your fingers again. Tap on an album and it turns and you can tap again to play the song you want to.
The iPod Touch has Apples Safari browser. You can go to any site you like and zoom in to a section of the page with the touch of your fingers. When you rotate the iPod touch from portrait to landscape, the contents of the display are automatically changed. So you immediately see the entire width of a web page, your music in Cover Flow, or a photo in its proper aspect ratio.
Apart from the usual music, videos and pictures, the iPod Touch comes with a built-in YouTube video player. You can watch featured videos, check the most viewed, search for something specific and even bookmark your favourites.
Apple took out the iPod Touch so that it could sell more music from the iTunes music store. From India you cannot buy anything from that store. You cannot load third-party applications. So why buy the iPod Touch? I will tell you why.
Apple never bargained on the hacks. Just go to www.jailbreakme.com and free yourself from Apples shackles. Load the installer into your iPod Touch and break free. Like magic, your iPod Touch becomes just like an iPhone. You can load any number of third-party applications, all the features of iPhone, including widgets. In fact, An App a Day will give you interesting programs everyday. You download an application that will change your desktop picture everyday too.
The iPod Touch is on display at the Apple store, Imagine, at City Centre in Salt Lake, Calcutta. The 8 GB model costs around Rs 17,000 and the 16 GB one comes for around Rs 23,000. Thats quite a bargain for a gadget that is exactly like the iPhone but without the phone function!
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