The iPod Touch 2G: 48 Hours Review

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Let me preface this review by stating that I have tried PDA's in the past, all of which have not kept my interest for very long.  I often quickly find a limitation that turns me off the platform, and generally it's something that is critical to the reason why I have purchased a PDA.  For this reason, I have primarily used sticky notes for my contacts and notes that I carry around.  But recently, with the growing number of books that I tend to carry around for teaching and the move to produce my own content, I found that I finally need a platform that can cater to my chosen platform and needs.  When the iPhone was first announced, I thought it would be perfect with several additions.  Those additions were slow in coming, but even with the arrival of the App Store, the cost of ownership was still too high for an iPhone.  Then the iPod Touch was released, and my heart began to race.  Yet again, the lack of VoIP on the first generation was a halting point. Then the iPod Touch 2G was released, with the capability of VoIP.  Recently, software was released that consolidated most chat platforms with VoIP, taking it a step further.  So I thought I would jump at the chance to try the platform and bought one.  My wife will be getting hers soon.  ^_^ 1.  The PlatformThe first reason why I have not liked most PDA's is the stylus.  I constantly misplace one, or my son tends to wander off with it, never to be seen again.  The first thing that attracted me to the platform is the fact that you use your finger, and don't have to worry about scratching the pressure film.  A big concern was the keyboard, as it is not physical and hard to touch-type.  But touch typing is all about knowing where to put your fingers when you type, not necessarily whether or not a key is actually pressed.  I find that I can actually type pretty fast with my thumbs on the thing. As such, I was sold on the touchscreen.  ^_^2.  The HardwareThe wireless works well with the 802.1x authentication setup at the University of Utah, so I have wireless at work and at home.  This makes VoIP very possible, with only the transit between them (and various other travels) taking me away from my VoIP phone.  More on that when I get to the apps.  I did want bluetooth in the platform, which is not available.  So much for my bluetooth headset that I have currently with my phone and iMac.  It also would be nice to have a tethered keyboard, essentially making the iPod Touch a Netbook.  3.  The AppsAll the great hardware in the world wouldn't make up for really bad applications.  Luckily, there are some really decent applications that are available for free in the App Store.  Here are the apps I have on my iPod Touch: Calendar:  I'm still not really happy with this.  You can tether your Calendar to a Microsoft Exchange calendar, but not to an iCal Server (or Google Calendar).  Google Apps resolve this as viewing, but it's still not the same.  I ended up having to sync the calendar with my iMac.  Unfortunately, the colors don't match, and it only works if you don't use Microsoft Exchange for a mail account.  So I had to set up my uMail account as an IMAP account.  Contacts:  Nice to have them, but the same problem as the Calendar.  It's either Microsoft Exchange, or you can use Google and sync from your desktop. Photos:  iPhoto for the iPod Touch, let's you use the photos as your "Wallpaper" on the device.  Go Figure Lite:  Quick figures for every day.  Nice because the formulas are created for you, you just plug in the numbers.TouchTerm:  SSH terminal for the iPod Touch.  Works very well, makes accessing my web server very simple. VNC Lite:  VNC Client for iPod Touch.  eBay:  Quick access to My eBay, search online, bid or buy it now.  You can't leave feedback, which is too bad. PayPal:  You can send money, but it's also a really quick and simple way to check your PayPal balance. Files Lite:  Transfer documents, presentations, and other files to your iPod Touch.  This one can display PowerPoint and Word docs without any additional plugins.  Very convenient.  The Lite version, while free, has a limit of 200 MB storage.  The transfer is done by turning your iPod into a WebDAV server.Bubbles;  A game primarily for my son.  You touch/drag your finger on the screen and create bubbles, then touch to pop them.  My son squealed each time, so it's a keeper.  ^_^Armado Lite:  Very well designed game, with a very simple and easy gameplay.  I highly recommend it, even though you can only go up to 3 levels in the free version.  Tap Tap Revenge:  Fun for a time-waster.  Pac-Man Lite:  Classic game.  ^_^S.Deadbeef:  I still am out on this one...  It's a side-scroll fly and fight game.  Seems pretty fun, but difficult to get used to the controls.  SQ Lite:  Same thing, but more like the Chopper game from the old 8088, just with better graphics.  ^_^The Scriptures:  Very convenient for reading, and better organized than the Microsoft Reader version I had with my previous Windows CE devices. Stanza:  This is the best eBook reader I have found in a long time.  Easily reads any non-DRM book in just about any eBook form, it's great!  I can read PDF versions of printed books and have them readily available without having to cart them around.  The only drawback is getting the books from your desktop to the iPod:  It has to be transferred across WiFi in order to get it on.  But you can also download directly from the Gutenberg project website.  That's convenient.  ^_^WordPress:  Manage my WordPress blog easily from the iPod.  I haven't posted anything yet from the iPod, if only because I don't feel comfortable enough with the keyboard yet to make a decent post.  Google Apps:  A quick access center to your Google apps online.  Very nice, except you can't write to a Google Doc.  Huge problem there, as it would be nice to have that functionality.  As there are other Notes apps available, I can live without for now. Last.FM:  Invaluable.  I have very targeted music tastes, so an internet radio is ideal.  Steampunk music is my stable for Last.FM.  ^_^LinkedIn:  Track my connections and their connections for LinkedIn.  PHD Comics:  I love this comic, as will anyone who is currently or has been in Graduate school.  Very liberal in it's political leanings, the stories are really funny, and frighteningly true.  If one is planning on becoming a Graduate student, sanity comes from this comic. I was so excited when I found they had created an app.  ^_^2Fat:  Track your BMI and body fat ratio with this application.  As I have started exercising in order to increase my health, this is something that has interested me greatly.  NaturalCures:  I love real cures that are simple, and this app gives you various options to have.  The only thing I would warn against is trusting this more than your doctor.  And don't ever take "natural" medicines without your doctor's knowledge, or at least your pharmacist's knowledge.  You don't want to have a severe reaction and end up faint, or worse. iStethoscope:  If you have the iPhone headphones for your iPod Touch 2G, you can use this app.  It uses the microphone in the headset, which is pressed against your pulse point in your neck, to let you hear your pulse and display your pulse rate.  I love this for checking my heart rate during exercise.  Fring:  This is the wonder app that clinched my purchase of the iPod Touch.  This app integrates Google Talk, Yahoo! Chat, AIM, MSN Messenger, Twitter, Skype, and an SIP phone together into one communications app.  And the VoIP works fine for the iPod Touch 2G!  Yes, I tested it, and I had no trouble talking and hearing what was going on.  All of a sudden the iPod Touch 2G becomes the ideal VoIP phone.  It's small, and the battery lasts all day and a good portion of the night. So, that's been my experience so far.  There were a number of apps that I ended up deleting because of duplicate performance or very poor performance.  While there are a number of other platforms out there other than the iPod Touch or iPhone that work well for many people, this one works for me.  ^_^