The iPod Touch, revamped

(Tumblr appears to have lost this e-mail post sometime over the past few hours, so I’m sending it in again. I wish they sorted out their back-ends.)

As regular readers may recall, I have a reasonably strict gadget budget, and although I’ve amassed a fair amount of hardware, my purchases are picky, deliberate and planned for months in advance.

Getting an iPhone 4 doesn’t make any sense to me (the 3GS runs all the apps I need and should last until the next product cycle), but my original iPod Touch was getting a bit long in the tooth. Being the first gadget I reach for in the mornings for years now and the one thing I carry with me all day when I’m at home (for I refuse to carry a phone around all the time), having it stuck on iOS 3 was becoming rather more than a nuisance.

It’s not that it was becoming completely useless (I’ve tapped out hundreds of posts and thousands of status updates on it, as well as read hundreds of thousands of Google Reader items), but it was getting slow and pokey – admittedly a good match for me over breakfast, but annoying and inconsistent with the smooth experience I have on the iPad and the 3GS.

So I decided to get myself a belated birthday and early Xmas present and ordered a 4G iPod Touch on Black Friday.

The screen is indeed awesome, with the immediate benefit of flawless typography. It makes every other backlit display look fuzzy by comparison, and that isn’t the half of it.

The downside for me is that having nearly microscopic fonts made barely legible, I tend to strain my eyesight rather than zooming in… But the overall result is very, very good, and almost as if text were finely etched on the glass.

It is, however, still not as pleasant as e-ink for reading – at least for my taste, although truth be told that I also read a few books on the original Touch, and that a few tests with Stanza were remarkably successful.

Short form material such as RSS items and the morning news is easy and pleasant to read (which is, together with it’s tiny size, why I have doggedly stuck to it even given the recent arrival of a Kindle), but ergonomically you need something bigger (and, ideally, with less potential for fooling around) to read a book at length.

Finally, FaceTime is useless to me, but the camera isn’t – it’s perfectly fine for capturing occasional stills and surprisingly good video of kids and other notable aspects of domestic fauna, eliminating the sole reason I would occasionally go and fetch my phone.

It’s a great upgrade, and I expect Apple to sell millions of the things – even more so considering that it is a perfectly good pocket computer and a very nice game console, two interesting selling points for this season.

Music is (at least to me, with Apple’s stupid policy of only allowing syncing to a single Mac) a wholly secondary reason to grab one at this point.