Apple has announced a partnership with Starbucks that enables iPhone and touch owners to purchase songs they hear in Starbucks stores via Wi-Fi. It would be nice if the Wi-Fi store offered video purchases—currently its music only. And, yes, the earbuds still suck. But these are my only complaints, and they’re minor. The relatively hefty prices don’t bug me either. Why? Because this is probably the best portable media player ever made.
On the iPod touch and iPhone, navigation of the music, video, and photo menus is identical, as is the excellent combo of the multitouch screen and the Safari Web browser. Both players load and sync with iTunes and can be managed much the same way manually. The touch is much skinnier than the iPhone, however, and that pesky recessed headphone jack is gone—as is the ability to send e-mail (unless you use a Web-based program like Gmail). The YouTube features are nearly identical, except that the iPod touch does not allow users to send clip links to friends.
The excellent Cover Flow, part of iTunes and featured on the iPhone, arranges albums alphabetically in a horizontal array using the albums’ cover art. Double-click for music controls Drag your fi nger across the display to slide the covers, as if thumbing through a virtual vinyl collection. Clicking on the central album cover fl ips the graphic over and reveals a music tracklist. From here you can click on a song and start playing.
The real hero is the new iTunes Wi-Fi Music store. Searching for artists can be done with the virtual keyboard or via tabs such as Featured and Top Tens. Provided that your Wi-Fi signal strength is decent, downloading a song takes only seconds, and the track is immediately put into your player’s library.
Next time you plug into your PC, the songs will transfer to your computer’s library. I wish Apple would include user-adjustable EQ settings such as the ones competitors like Samsung, Sansa, and Sony build into their players. With crappy earbuds and settings like Jazz and Dance, your best bet is to leave the EQ off and upgrade your earphones. I also had hoped you could turn the Starbucks feature off—you might not want to see a corporate logo pop up whenever you walk by a store, and you’re even less likely to share Starbucks’ musical tastes. Again, these are fairly minor complaints. More signifi cant gripes? Podcast users will be disappointed that they can’t get their ’casts via the Wi-Fi store, and the store doesn’t sell video, either. . . yet.
Whenever Apple releases a new product, “fanboys” proclaim it the greatest ever, while “haters” lambaste the product and the fanboys as well. This time the fanboys are right: The iPod touch is amazing.PriceApple iPod touch: 8GB, $299; 16GB, $399Check This Out:Apple iMac (20-inch Aluminum): Sleeker and ThinnerHacker Free the iPhoneAPPLE MAC MINI (1.83-GHZ CORE DUO): THIS APPLE PC NEEDS POLISHING