The built-in Wi-Fi support means you can download music, videos and applications directly to the player without having to hook it up to a PC or Mac. The on-board iTunes app gives you access to a vast library of music, TV shows and movies, which you can purchase and download in a matter of minutes, while the App Store, with its thousands of applications, means you'll always be able to add new games or new features to your touch.
The player comes with version 3.1 of the iPhone OS. This includes the new Genius Mixes feature, which creates endless mixes from your library of tunes, but perhaps the most significant update is the addition of voice control (the earphones have been upgraded to include an inline mic that supports this). All you have to do is press the 'home' or 'mic' button and then utter a phrase like 'play songs by Orbital' and the player will speak the command back to you and then act upon it. It also responds to voice commands like 'shuffle', 'next song' and 'pause'. It doesn't need to be trained to your voice, and it works brilliantly. Also, although the new software will be available for older touch models, voice control is only supported on the new touch and the iPhone.
The touch isn't perfect, though. What with all the fuss that's been made about the lack of a camera, you can be fairly sure that Apple will include one with the next update. This makes it difficult to decide whether to buy this player now or hold off and see if Apple actually does add a camera to the next model.
We also don't like the fact that Apple has kept the headphone jack on the bottom of the touch, rather than shifting it to the top, as on the iPhone. It means you have to put it in your pocket head-first, unlike pretty much every other MP3 player on the market.
We'd also like to see support for more standard video formats, like Xvid and DivX, but, seeing as Apple now makes considerable amounts of money from selling movies and TV shows online, we can't see this happening anytime soon, even though many other players now support these formats. A built-in FM transmitter for wirelessly beaming tracks to a car stereo would also have been welcome, especially as this feature is starting to appear on some of the newer portable media players.
Nevertheless, we can put up with these flaws simply because the touch remains such a sublimely brilliant piece of kit. It looks great, sounds good, is incredibly easy to use, and is eminently expandable via both software and third-party add-ons. Despite being on the market for two years in one form or another, no other player comes close.
The lack of a camera on Apple's third-generation iPod touch is disappointing and will rightly make many people wait until the next update before splashing out their cash. But, for those who don't want or need an on-board camera, this version's much faster processor helps make sure that it remains far and away the best portable media player currently on the market.
Edited by Charles Kloet