It seems everyone and his dog expected Apple's latest iPod touch to include a camera, but, sadly, that's not the case. Instead, the new version boasts a faster processor that makes it feel more responsive, and an updated operating system. The third-generation touch is available in 32GB and 64GB storage capacities, costing around £230 and £300 respectively. Here we review the 64GB model. Apple has dumped the 16GB model from the line-up but retained the older 8GB version, reducing its price to £150. While the 8GB model features the new software, it runs on the older, slower hardware.
On the outside, the third-generation touch doesn't look all that different to the previous model. It retains the extremely slim, 9mm-thick profile, along with the metal rear and flush glass finish on the front. For some, the new touch will be slightly too much like the older version, especially as it lacks a camera, an omission for which Apple has received a significant pasting in the press.
It's an especially odd omission given that Apple has managed to add a video camera to the cheaper and smaller iPod nano. The word is that production problems stopped the company from being able to kit the touch out with a camera this time around, but it's likely to make an appearance on the next version.
If little has changed externally, what has Apple actually been up to for the last 12 months? The answer lies under the bonnet. Instead of considering this model as the one that doesn't have a camera, we're sure Apple would rather you think of it as the speedier touch, because the engine has had a serious bump in horsepower.
Not only does this model boast a newer processor, clocked at 600MHz, but Apple has also upgraded the graphics chip and doubled the memory available to the operating system to 256MB. What all this means is that the new touch now features the same innards as the iPhone 3GS. More importantly, the changes are very noticeable when you're actually using the device. Applications load almost instantaneously, while zooming in on and resizing maps, pictures and Web pages is a great deal quicker and smoother than before.
Apple also reckons that, with its faster processor and improved graphics chip, the touch can now take on the likes of the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS when it comes to gaming. Certainly, existing 3D games seem to run smoother, with less choppiness when there's plenty happening on the screen, but, until new games arrive designed specifically to take advantage of the new hardware, we'll have to reserve judgement. One thing's for sure: the touchscreen controls for most games aren't as easy to use as the dedicated controls on the PSP or DS.
One downside of the faster processor and graphics chip is that the new touch is slightly more battery-hungry than previous models, so, while video-playback time remains the same, at 6 hours, music-playback time is down from 36 to 30 hours. We don't think that's too much of a sacrifice to make for the increase in speed, though.
Elsewhere, the player remains largely unchanged from previous iterations. You still get a brilliant music player, excellent video-playback capabilities and the best mobile browser in the business. The beauty of the touch is that it doesn't stop there. It also packs in a photo viewer, email reader and host of other utilities, including a contacts book, calendar, weather-forecast viewer and notebook.