The iPod Touch: the Poor Man’s iPad

Let’s say you really, really want an iPad, but you don’t have $500 to spend. Well, if you have $200, you can get a way-cool iPad Touch

As handheld electronic gizmos go, Apple’s 3G iPod Touch is a great little find. In fact, I like to think of it as a poor man’s iPad.

Now, let me immediately point out that the iPod Touch can’t do everything its bigger brother can do–but it’s also a lot cheaper, on the order of $200 to the iPad’s $500+, and frankly, it does do many of the same things. That makes it a sweet little alternative.

Features

From its name, it’s obvious that the Touch is an mp3 player that uses Apple’s proprietary iTunes platform. Like most top-end mp3 players, you can also use it to download and watch TV shows and movies. It has 3G Wi-Fi capability, too, so you can shop for entertainment online wherever there’s a connection.

Gee, the iPad has all that, too. And like the iPad, the Touch is light, thin, and very easy to use.

Plus, it offers excellent graphics capabilities, which makes it ideal for both displaying your photos and playing games (alone, or and head-to-head across the ‘Net).

You can access Maps and YouTube. You can record voice memos. You can take notes on a handy virtual keyboard. You can keep track of contacts, stocks, and the weather. Any of this sound familiar yet?

Interface

Just like the iPad, the iPod touch uses the touch screen interface pioneered on the Apple iPhone.

You can move between groups of icons by swiping your finger across the screen, open apps with a single touch, and change screen orientation from portrait to landscape by simply turning the unit. It’s all here, including the single Home button at the bottom of the unit. Easy-peasy.

Few drawbacks? Yes…

Of course, there are things that the Touch lacks that come standard with the iPad. To this reviewer, the most obvious lack is the nifty iBook feature, which is simply the best e-reader I’ve seen. That’s probably on the way for the Touch–though the truth is, its screen is probably too small for that to work very well.

In fact, that’s probably the Touch’s biggest drawback. The screen is fine for setting up music, taking dictation, and the like, but otherwise the size limits its utility for those of us with fingers bigger than a pixie’s. You can type on the screen, but it’s liable to give you a bad case of Blackberry Thumb.

All in all, though, this product is a winner. It can do an incredible amount for a device its size. If the iPad is out of your price range, we nominate the iPod Touch as an excellent alternative.