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Apple iPod touch (5th Generation) review

by Brian Booher

After 2 years of selling with the 4th generation iPod touch, Apple has finally released the 5th generation (5th gen) iPod touch.  Compared to the older model, I can sum it up in one word…..WOW!!!  All right, that is my review.  Thank you for coming by.

Hmm? What?  You’re still here, reading this?  Wanting more about what the 5th gen iPod touch is like?  Oh I guess I could.  You sure you won’t just settle with “WOW”?  This is an Apple product, they say you’ll like it.

But since I must remain neutral with computer products, I will give my full report on the iPod touch (5th Generation).

The iPod touch is a giant leap in technology compared to the previous model.  The iPod touch is a lot closer to being the iPhone 5.  I could say that it is essentially an iPhone 5, but without the phone.

HARDWARE

This new iPod touch is a major improvement over the previous models.  While the width has been kept the same, the length has been extended by about an inch.

As you can see in the above photo, the 5th gen model has a 4 inch screen, therefore allowing the addition of a 5th row of icons and folders.

The new model does have a retina display, but since it has a bigger screen, there are more pixels added to the length.  The 4th generation model has a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels and the 5th gen model has a resolution of 1136 x 640.  Both has the same pixel density at 326 pixels/inch.

As compared to the back of both models, the 5th gen has moved away from the shiny stainless steel as the previous models have.  It is still a metal back, but this time it comes on different colors.  The colors come in black, silver, pink, green, and blue.  Apple does sell a red model that is sold exclusively at the Apple Stores or the website.

In the case of my model, I have the black version.  The black model is the only model that both sides are the same color.  The other models have the white face in the front and the different color on the back.

Camera

The 5th gen iPod touch comes with a huge update to the camera.  Whereas the previous model has a camera that took pictures at a resolution of less and 1MP (megapixel), the 5th gen model comes with a 5MP camera.  The added bonus is that it also has a flash.  There is a microphone in between the camera and flash so you can record videos with sound.

One other feature that has never been on any previous models of the iPod touch is the addition of a tab to attach a hand strap to.  While it is a nice thing to have, it is not a completely durable object.  It is a push button tab that extends up by about a millimeter, enough to attach the provided strap, which is color coordinated with the color of the iPod touch.

 

 

Lightning connector

Unless you have not heard, Apple has changed their proprietary connector for the newest models of iPod touch, iPhone 5, 4th gen iPad, and iPad mini.  It is called the “Lightning connector”.  It is smaller than the older dock connector and since it is reversible as for connecting the device.  Don’t expect thinking this connector will make things faster, as the other end is still USB.  Apple does sell an adapter to connect the old dock connector to the lightning port, but that is sold for $30.  Apple does sell a lightning to micro-USB connector, but that is primarily sold in Europe and coming to Australia.

If you live in the United States like I do, you don’t have the opportunity to get it at all since we have no laws that require devices to have universal connectors like the European Union has.

 

Internals

As for the internal specs of the 5th gen iPod touch, the only major feature is that it has the A5 processor, which can be found in the iPhone 4S.  Although it might not be as fast as the iPhone 5’s A6 processor, I doubt anyone would really care, especially when this is marketed towards kids.

As for storage, Apple only gives you two options: 32GB and 64GB.  The model I have is the 64GB version.

There is also a speaker at the bottom of the iPod touch as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The iPod touch also comes with antennas for Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

 

SOFTWARE

iOS 6

The 5th gen iPod touch comes with iOS 6, Apple’s latest mobile operating system.  As compared to iOS 5, there really is not a major difference between the old and new as for functionality.

One new feature is “Passbook” that is supposed to use your iPod touch or iPhone 5 as a way to use for boarding passes on a flight or coupons or tickets for events, games, and movies.  It shows a barcode that is meant to be scanned and allows you to get on your flight or get into an event or get a discount on items.

Another new feature is Facebook integration.  Now you can take pictures and videos and share them on your Facebook page, without having to go to another app to upload.  Now if only Apple would add Google+ integration, but I think Hell would have to freeze over before that happens.

The other major app in iOS 6 is “Maps”.  Apple decided to move away from using Google Maps and make their own.  While the fly-over feature of 3D buildings and voice directions are nice, it’s not perfect to the point that if Steve Jobs was still alive today, he would probably fire everyone at Apple.

In case you didn’t hear, it turned into a disaster of sorts as many people were complaining of how the maps were not showing the correct buildings, streets, or directions.  It got to a point where CEO Tim Cook wrote an apology letter and said that they will work on improving it in a future update.  To give you a sense of how big of a problem this was, Scott Forstall, VP of iOS 6 and Maps would not sign his name to the apology letter, resulting in his position at Apple being terminated at the end of this year and broken up to other officers.

Siri

One of the cool features of the iPod touch is the ability to use Siri, which is Apple’s voice command app that can do almost anything.  As neat as it is, I have found Siri to not be as fun and knowledgeable as a similar app that I use on my Android phone.  Much like what Apple does with their products, Siri too is in the “walled garden”.  Siri makes sure to not offend anyone with the information provided.  This to me makes her kind of boring because then I can’t ask for crazy stuff, of which I will not tell in this review.  You get the picture.

Camera

The camera on the 5th gen iPod touch is a huge improvement over the previous model, as I stated earlier, but there is more improvements as for the software that runs the camera.

You can now take pictures using the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature.  The idea is that you take a picture and the software will created an over exposed and under exposed photo of the shot and then meld both with the original to make a picture that is supposed to have more detail than with without HDR.

Panorama

A new feature with iOS 6 is the ability to take panoramic photos right from the camera.  Whereas there were apps that did that, Apple did it themselves.  All you do is select “Panorama” in the options and press start and just move the phone from left to right or right to left.  It uses the gyroscope to help with making a steady shot by showing an arrow that you need to keep centered as you move along.

The iPod touch also can record video in 1080p resolution, making it perfect to show on a 1080p HDTV.  If you have an Apple TV, you can stream your videos and photos to your TV to share with others.

Apps

Now that the iPod touch has better features, you can enjoy more of the apps that Apple has to offer in The App Store.  Although you won’t be able to use all of them, since some apps use features only found in the iPhone, your selection is much broader especially when it comes to using camera apps.

IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED

Even though the 5th gen iPod touch is great, it is not as “perfect” as compared to the more powerful iPhone 5.  There are some features that just aren’t as great, though they do not take away the fun.

With the camera shots I have taken, I have noticed that the pictures are grainy, especially in low light situations.  You cannot use the flash to take a panorama photo.  You cannot change the resolution of the camera when taking a shot.  The menu of the features is quite limited.

Though things will change in the future, there are some apps that are not compatible with iOS 6.  I have “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and it will not open.  Though the first Sonic game was updated to be compatible, as of November 12, 2012, the second one has not yet been updated.

The speaker is on the bottom, therefore when playing a game in landscape mode, your hand will probably cover the speaker when playing.

There is no hardware that involves vibrating like in the iPhone 5.  I think this would have been great to add since it would make games a lot more fun to play.  If this was a feature that Apple intentionally left out to push people to buy an iPhone, I think it’s dumb because there are a lot of kids whose parents would never want to get them an iPhone since it’s so expensive.  Maybe they will add that feature to the next version.  Hey, they put in a flash for the camera, so anything is possible.

Siri is fun to talk to, but she just doesn’t seem to be as great as what Apple advertised her to be.  I say “her” since it has a female-like voice.

The Bluetooth feature also is not as great as you cannot connect to any non-Apple devices, like an Android device.  God forbid that something like that would ever happen.  The world would probably come to an end, especially for Apple fan-people, if Android and iOS could communicate through something like Bluetooth.

iMessage is only usable when communicating with other people via SMS or MMS only IF they have an Apple device.  You cannot send an message to a phone number that is not connected to an iPhone.  You would have to use something like Facebook Messenger or Google+ Messenger to get with those people.

The lightning dock connector is a nice feature, but I just wish Apple would have gone to micro-USB.  But since they make royalties from their proprietary ports, there’s no way to convince them to make it easy for people.  The Lightning connector is the same size as a micro-USB connector, as I show below.

 

I just feel that people will get confused between the two.  Remember that iOS devices are marketed to people who are not computer geeks like I am, so doing this can bring confusion.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The 5th gen iPod touch is a great device.  It is a major improvement over the previous iPod  touch in so many ways.  Apple has recognized that a lot people don’t want to buy the iPhone and have an expensive phone plan, like me.

I will say that the 5th generation iPod touch is basically an iPhone 5, but without the phone part.  There are some things that I wish were made better, but I am not going to make a big deal about it.

The one thing that puzzles me is that this model is a huge jump as compared to previous model.  I can’t help but wonder if Apple made this version what it is because Steve Jobs was no longer around to tell what to put into the iPod touch.  I have a feeling that it was Steve Jobs who kept the iPod touch to such a low level compared to the iPhone in order to persuade people to make the big jump to the iPhone.  I can understand that it was a business decision to make money, but who would buy an iPhone for a 10-year old kid who can drop it easily or lose it easily?

I know there are a lot of other features that I didn’t talk about here, like the improved headphones, but I think that should be your opportunity to check it out yourself.  If you want to get a 5th gen iPod touch, I suggest going out to an Apple Store or any electronics store near you and check out the display model.  I could talk about everything about the iPod touch, but it’s nothing compared to experiencing it yourself.

If you want to skip driving to the store and just order it online, you can check out all the details at the Apple website.

Click here to go to the iPod touch page on Apple.com

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HAVE FUN AND GEEK OUT!!

ION iCade Video Review

by Brian Booher

Hey everyone,

Instead of having to write about the ION iCade, I figured a video review would be better.  Now if you don’t know what the iCade is; it is an arcade cabinet built for the iPad using Bluetooth.  Several game manufacturers are building apps for iOS that is compatible with the iCade, giving a fun experience for those who remember going to the arcades when they were younger.

The really cool thing is that it is NOT just for the iPad, though the built in dock is designed for it.  The iCade can work with Android devices too, since all we’re really dealing with is Bluetooth connectivity.

I could write more, but that would take away from watching the video review.

Have fun and geek out!

Boxee Box: The G.B.U. Review

by Brian Booher

The Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media PlayerThe Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player

Hey everyone out there in Internetland.  How are things going for you on the Information Superhighway?  Wow!  Who says that anymore?

I am going to give a review of that weird looking, but awesome, device known as the Boxee Box.  The Boxee Box has been around for over 2 years and have had a decent selling rate.  I have had mine for almost a month and now I think it’s time to give my impression on this thing.  As I did with the “The new iPad” review, I am giving the good, the bad, and the ugly points, or “G.B.U.” as it say in the title.  I am under no contract by the manufacturer or vendors that are on the device, so I am free to bash this all I want.  So let’s get down to it.

If you’re looking to hook up a home theatre PC (HTPC) to your HDTV in your living room but don’t want to deal with having to use a keyboard and mouse to navigate media files, then a Boxee Box is the way to go.

I will say right now that if you’re one of those people who has invested heavily into the Apple iTunes universe, you probably will be better off with getting the Apple TV since that connects to iTunes so you can watch your copy-protected movies and stuff.  But there is no harm in having a Boxee Box too.  You would have the best of both worlds.

The Good

Capability

The big thing that makes Boxee Box really awesome is that it can basically play videos, music, and photos in every format known.  I have been throwing every kind of video file at it that does not have copy protection on it and it will play.

Media Sharing

You have 2 choices in being able to stream video, music, and pictures from your connected PC or Mac to the Boxee Box.

The first is the “Boxee Media Manager”.  It’s a simple drag and drop of the files or folders of files you want to have shared to your Boxee Box.  You must have your computer running this app in order to share the media.  It is the simplest of the two methods.

The second is sharing drives and folders directly from a Mac or PC.  With the PC, I had to do a Google search on how to properly set it up, as there some settings that you have to activate and deactivate.  This process can be tedious to many people who are not tech savvy, but if you can manage to get the process done, you wouldn’t need the “Boxee Media Manager”.

Content

I will keep it simple.  The Boxee Box is the little engine that could.  This little device will basically play any kind of video, audio, and picture format out there.

But I will say that it cannot play EVERYTHING.  I have tried to get it to play HD-DVD and Blu-ray formatted files and they would not work, mainly due to them having copy protection on them.

The Boxee Box does have a hard time playing large video files, say like 10GB and bigger involving HD video.  I think it’s due to the buffering of the video that it cannot keep up.  I’ve tried to make things easier for the movie to run, but eventually it stops and the Boxee resets.  Unless you can compress the HD video into a smaller file size, it will sputter.

Many people that have written reviews on the Boxee Box previously say that the device does not play ISO images.  I can say that it can play ISO images, just not all of them.  I have been able to convert a DVD to an ISO image and it will play like a DVD on the device.  You get access to the menus and special features as well as the movie itself.  I say that it’s about a 50/50 chance that the ISO will be played.

Apps and Online Content

The Boxee Box has an amazing variety of online channels to access from.  You can get Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, MLB.tv, NBA TV, Comedy Central, Vudu, etc.  This little box has just about everything on it.  The only real downside is that you cannot access Hulu Plus on it, as Hulu doesn’t like being on that device and goes to great lengths to make sure you don’t access it through the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Remote

The Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player

The Boxee remote is a functional and fairly simplistic device.  The coolest feature is that it is not and IR remote, meaning you do not have to point it to the Boxee Box to go through the menus. It’s all radio based.  There are 4 main buttons on the top.  One is a dedicated Netflix button while the others are the directional pad, the Enter button, and the exit/menu button.  On the back is what makes it better than other remotes.  On the back is a full querty keyboard that allows you to type in addresses for websites or login information.  It is a compact design, but after a little bit of using it, you will get the hang of it.

The Bad

There really is not much that is bad about the Boxee Box.  It is more expensive than the Apple TV or Roku boxes, but with the amount of content that you can do on it will make it worth the $180.

The Ugly

There are some things about the Boxee Box that are ugly, but does not really detract from the experience very much.  Though each person’s experience is different.

The Boxee Remote

The Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player

The ugly things about the Boxee Remote is that the top side is symetirical both on the X and Y axis.  If you happen to drop the remote in a dark room and picked it up to change a channel or to pause, there is the 50% chance that you might have it upside down and accidentally hit the Netflix button when you wanted to hit the menu button.  The simple solution is to just look where the red Netflix button is, since hitting that kicks you out of what you were watching and it takes like a minute, at least for me, to have Netflix load to a point where I can back out.  I do wish that the remote could also be illuminated, but I don’t want to be too picky.

Missing Apps

As I said before, Hulu Plus is not on the Boxee Box.  Hulu itself has made the effort to preventing people from accessing the content from the Boxee Box.  I think it all has to do with Hulu’s high demand for control as well as money issues.  That could all change in the future though. We can only hope.

HD video

I have noticed that trying to play large HD video files like MKV’s or MP4 that range of more than 10GB can cause the Boxee Box to crash.  I can compress those files to small sizes, but the picture quality can suffer.  Either it is because there is something wrong with the video files itself or a buffering issue with the Boxee Box that it eventually just cannot keep up.

The physical design

If you have never seen a Boxee Box, it looks like this below:

The Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player

It is a weird shape, like someone just cut 3 corners off a cube and make it lean to one side.  Some people might find this annoying since you cannot stack other devices on top,  but the design also makes it stand out from the rest.

Conclusion

The Boxee Box is one amazing little entertainment box.  Although it does not have the ability to access everything that the web has to offer, I think that with the amount of content currently on there, you’ll be well entertained.  You can also stream your own music and movies from your Mac or PC.  It will play just about every kind of popular music and movie file format out there.

For $180, I think I got my money’s worth in this device.  I believe that their content will get better in the future as more people “cut the cord” from cable or satellite services.

Have fun and geek out!

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