2008-02-12

If the iPod touch can be a tool, so can you: 20 Dollar iPod touch Upgrade is Totally Worth it

Alternative title: Ipod touch with Mail. Best Product Ever, Now More So.
 
Mail software in iPod touch upgrade is a winner.
As regular readers know, I'm a huge fan of the Ipod touch (aka, itouch and phoneless iPhone). The $20 software upgrade, to my surprise, is totally worth it.
 
Here is why: you can now store and view files offline (.doc Word, .xls Excel and .pdf Acrobat). Offline is the key word here as Gmail would let you do it while connected. But Wi-Fi is hardly ubiquitous. So before the upgrade, it was impossible to view files while offline with the iPod touch. Now you can e-mail them to yourself, download your e-mail while connected, walk out of range and open and read files offline later. As many email providers such as Gmail allow emails of 20MB, this allows sufficient flexibility.
 
The e-mail program also surprises by making swapping from one account (online, POP or Exchange) to an other incredibly easy.
 
Be warned
Now you can't edit these documents. And forget about Power Point and even .rtf Rich Text Format. Only .doc, .xls and .pdf will work. Emails in HTML work as well. So you can read all that picture rich spam when you are on the elevator (I doubt anybody else sends their email in html, but I could be wrong). Also, setting up a Hotmail account is nowhere as easy as Gmail, Yahoo or AOL.
 
Flash, not that quick
Interestingly, accessing the saved files on the flash memory of the iPod touch is slower than Gmail via Wi-Fi.
 
Widgets
The other features of the upgrade include a weather widget and a stock market widget. Both are cool, but the whole point of the touch is to access the World Wide Web in html, as God intended. So those widgets are almost sacrilegious. But they do work quite well and heretics will like them.
 
Shortcuts
You can also add web page shortcuts to your front page and have more than one front page. Some people may like this feature.
 
Google Maps
Map pages, such as Yahoo, worked quite well with the Wi-Fi iPod touch. Now Google Maps does as well and you can zoom by pinching. Of dubious value if you ask me as you are unlikely to get lost in a neighborhood with free Wi-Fi. But if you are downtown Fredericton...
 
Lyrics
I've yet to experiment the viewing of song lyrics, but apparently that is a feature that already existed on other iPods.
 
Best multitasking tool/entertainment device
No product out there is as portable (easily fits in a tight jeens pocket), complete (full html World Wide Web (but no Shockwave or Adobe Flash) , email, video, pictures, mp3, Youtube, mobile iTunes, easy podcast updates and iTunes synching) on as large a screen (3.5 inches), as the $300 iPod touch.  
 
If the iPod touch can be a tool, so can you
Macworld blames strict accounting rules for Apple charging $20 for the software upgrade (as if), but early adopters like myself (the upgrade is included on iPod touchs sold in 2008) will definitely want to fork over a $20 bill for the ability to view files ofline. The iPod touch definitely becomes more of a business tool with offline email reading and writing capacity. Reading off a 3.5 inch screen isn't ideal (although you can turn it to view in landscape, pinch to zoom), but the incredible portability of the tool (yes, I said tool) compensates greatly.
 
Alternatives
The Archos 605 Wifi (4.3 inch screen) is an alternative product (parts are sold separately!) but with the Archos, you can not read email, Word or Excel files offline (but you can read .pdf). An other alternative, The HTC Touch is smaller at 2.5 inches (and more expensive, but it is a phone).
 
Needless to add, but the iPhone is also an alternative to the iPod touch if you live in one of the few countries where it is available. However, when you factor in the required cell (aka wireless or mobile) service contrat, the iPhone is about twice as expensive as the iPod touch.
 
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