Apple latest products: early reviews of iPod touch 4G, Ping, Apple TV and Nano
Apple has received mixed early reviews to the launch of its latest product updates: the iPod touch 4G, Ping, Apple TV with streaming and the sixth-generation iPod nano.
Apple on Wednesday unveiled Ping as a new music social network that could rival Facebook and Twitter, as well as a version of Apple TV that can stream movies and television shows directly from the internet
Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, used a special press conference at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco to outline Apple’s new approach to music and entertainment services.
“One of the biggest things we focus on with iTunes is discovery. There are more than 12 million songs to choose from, so how do you find new stuff?,” asked Jobs.
“So we’re launching Ping – it’s a social network that’s all about music. It’s like Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes. You can follow your favourite artists and friends and discover what music they like and are downloading.”
iPod touch 4G
Early reviews praise the range of functions, with Gizmodo describing it as a "killer gadget".
The website said: "An iPod touch with a camera. It's a powerful proposition. The fact that it can replace a camera makes it that much more powerful of a gadget, that much more of a threat to everything else—because that means it really can replace everything in a manbag or purse but the phone—iPod, camera, notepad, gaming device, the list goes on.
"And it's everything that's great about the iPhone 4, but without the technological venereal disease that is a two-year AT&T contract.
"It's approachable, even to people who aren't super tech savvy—they can keep their simple, reliable phone on any carrier and use the iPod touch right along with it. That's a killer gadget."
A review on Techradar said the device was "essentially an iPhone 4, minus the phone and SMS functions".
"If you have yet to feast your eyes on the iPhone's 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 pixel resolution 'Retina' display, then you have yet to appreciate the vibrancy and quality of the images that are now available on the new iPod touch," it said.
"This is sure to be a massive boon to students and younger users that either don't want (or, more likely, are not financially able) to get tied into long-term mobile contracts, yet still want to use their iPod touch for instant messaging and video calling.
"It is, as we heard more than one punter mumble at today's London showcase, a potential game-changer. Although whether or not it will cannibalise the demand for Apple's iPhone 4 remains to be seen."
However, Delvin Coldeway at CrunchGear was less impressed by the dual camera, noting: "The specs on Apple’s page note that the new iPod touch only takes still pictures at 960×720. That’s some nonsense. If the sensor can capture 1280×720 video at 30FPS, surely it’s capable of better stills.
"On the other hand, If the sensor is only capable of 960×720 images and they’re just stretching it to 1280×720, I’m going to have an image quality hissy fit."
On Twitter, @DanPryce wrote: "With regards to the iPod touch 4G - it's probably not enough of an evolution to justify an upgrade for me. Next year, perhaps."
There were mixed reviews for Ping, the social network linked to iTunes. Blogger Om Malik hailed it as the "futue of social commerce.
"It can tell me who my friends think are cool and the top 10 favorites of people in my social graph," he wrote. "Some of my friends are famous deejays. Others just have eclectic musical tastes. They can collectively sift through over 10 million songs and help with the discovery of music. This social-powered discovery is part of the biggest theme of our times: serendipity."
Mashable declared: "We don’t love Ping yet, but we don’t hate it, either. We suspect that much of the network’s value will be a wait-and-see proposition."
It found plenty of evidence that Ping could emulate Myspace as a social network but also some flaws including the fact that users can only "like" three genres of music.
"Moreover, the interface is still buggy and slower than molasses in January at the North Pole during a legitimate Ice Age. And that slowness is a big turnoff and an inherent factor of working within iTunes."
On Twitter, @jasonmauer from Portland, Oregon, wrote: “Ping, the iTunes social network. like I want to spend more time in iTunes. it's like having a social network in prison.”
Reviewers were less keen on the latest incarncation of Apple TV, which is geared towards streaming content rather than just storing it.
Delvin Coldeway of CrunchGear said Apple had "undershot it a bit", adding: "There’s room for a lot more functionality that could have been added without complicating the device, and I think that's going to be clear in comparisons with existing and new set-top boxes over the next few weeks and months."
Matt Burns, also on CrunchGear, said it was "boring", adding that "that there’s already a well-developed product on the market that not only competes directly with the new Apple TV, but in many ways, is vastly superior: The Roku."
iPod Nano (sixth generation)
There was also a broadly lukewarm response to the latest Nano, which Twitter user @realsameangland said was "a miniaturisation too far".
PCPro said: "The new nano dispenses with the familiar iPod click-wheel, and replaces it with a square, 1.54in, 220 x 220 multitouch display. The only hardware buttons on the device are the power button and the volume controls.
"Can multitouch work on a display that dinky? I’m far from convinced. While Apple has done its best to revamp the iPod UI for the new nano, problems remain."
However, Delvin Coldeway CrunchGear said the Nano was "an amazing little device", adding: "I think they’ll be very popular."