All day on December 25, TUAW presents "Now What?" We've got first steps and recommendations for all the Apple gifts you (hopefully!) found under the tree today. Happy holidays!
Did you wake up this morning with a shiny new iPod touch under the tree? If you did, read on to get our suggestions in making the "funnest iPod ever" even more fun!
You know, even though the grammar in the ad kills me -- Apple got it right, the iPod touch really is the "funnest iPod ever." The first-generation touch was a great device but the second generation touch is even better. Faster than its predecessor (it is even faster than the iPhone 3G), and now with a built-in speaker, the ability to record your voice and built-in Nike+ support, the iPod touch is one of the most versatile digital devices on the market today.
Here are my suggestions for making the iPod touch experience even better:
The stock earbuds that come with the iPod touch are the same white earbuds (more or less) Apple has been packing with its iPod since the first version came out in 2001. Seven years later, they still suck. While they'll do in a pinch, if you really want to listen to high quality audio files (maybe something in Apple Lossless) or watch a movie or TV show with a less tinny sound, you'll want to replace them.
You don't even have to spend a fortune to get a better sounding earbud, though if you want to get your audio-geek on, you certainly can.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Sony MDR-ED21LP - If you want a solid replacement for the buds that ship with the iPod touch, but you don't want to spend more than $20, check these out. You can get them for $15 US from Amazon.com and they are lightweight and provide a substantially better experience than the default earphones. I have a pair of these stashed in my purse in case of an emergency (and no earphones is most certainly an emergency) or for running or walking in nasty weather. A solid replacement.
- Apple In-Ear with Microphone and Remote - Apple's first pair of in-ear headphones were just awful. Awful. The fit was weird and they had this great tendency to stop working (more specifically, one ear would stop working) after six months. The new In-Ear headphones include a microphone and a remote, and the reviews have been largely positive. For $80, the set offers a solid experience.
- Denon AH-C551K In-Ear Earphones - Amazon.com is selling these for $55 (MSRP is $99.99) and these are a great pair of entry-level ECH buds. I like them better than my old Shure EC3s.
- Shure I2C-MP - i'm mentioning these because at $40 US from Amazon.com, they are a pretty great deal. The buds themselves aren't as good as other Shure products, but the addition of a microphone that works with the iPod touch 2G and the great price point makes them worth a look.
Remember when iPods used to ship with that nice little black case with a belt clip? Apple stopped that practice with the iPod 4G, but even the iPod 5G had a nice little slipcover case (which I still have, with my 5G ensconced in it at my bedside). The waste-free packaging of the touch also eliminates any sort of case, so if you are going to be traveling with it a lot, you'll want to consider some protection.
- DLO Action Jacket for the iPod touch -- It's ugly, but it does a great job of keeping the iPod touch protected and working as either an armband or a clip case.
- ZAGG InvisibleShield - After my first case for my iPod touch turned out to be a total dud (see below), I ordered the Zagg InvisibleShield and have been thriled with the results. If you are mostly going to carry your iPod in a pocket, the screen protector works great and as an added bonus, eliminates the need to constantly clean the screen.
- Sena Flip Case - Works as a clip and an easy to access flip case.
I've tried a number of cases for the new iPod touch and the only real STAY AWAY suggestion I can give is for the InCase silicon sheath. It's pretty worthless. It doesn't protect the screen, it has button covers but they kind of suck, and taking it off and putting it on might lead to a scratched unit.
The App Store really turns the touch, which would be a great device even if it was just a music and video player and web browser, into a truly spectacular unit.
Almost every app for the iPhone will work for the iPod touch, but here are some additional favorites (all title links go to the App Store):
- Frenzic - I'm addicted to this game. Like, it has stolen my life. If you want the ultimate puzzle app (yeah, I said it, sorry Trism!), Frenzic is IT.
- Rolando - To me, this marked the first "real" game (in a GB DS/PSP kind of way) game for the iPhone/iPod touch and really shows the viability of the OS as a game platform. Astounding detail and tons of fun. If you like platform games, this is a real gem. Check out Mike Schramm's in-depth look at Rolando.
- Tweetie - I'm still working on my Twitter client Battle Royale, but thus far, Tweetie has continued to steal my heart.
- i.TV - i.TV does movie showtimes, TV listings and Netflix Queue management. Other apps do the individual tasks better, but i.TV is free and an essential download. Get the more specialized apps if you need them, but i.TV is a gem.
- Instapaper - Mike Rose loves this app and so do I -- it's a great way to manage links and stuff you want to take a look at later.
- FileMagnet - I love this app becaue it is a great way to transfer various documents quickly and easily to your iPod touch via WiFi.
- Boingo Mobile - If you are going to be out and about with your touch, you might want to consider subscribing to Boingo Mobile. $8 a month US gets you unlimited data and VOiP for your iPod touch at any of Boingo's wireless hotspots. This includes every Starbucks and McDonald's and thousands of hotels and airports. If you're searching for free WiFI constantly, you might want to try out Savoy Software's Spots application, providing you an onboard database of hotspots for $1.99US.
Do the Oooh and Ahhh Demo
I'm an iPod addict. I got my first unit in September 2002 (the 10 GB unit) and have owned at least one unit from each generation ever since. Every Christmas, I pop out my current iPod so I can listen to some tunes and I wind up giving the extended family the latest "Oooh and Ahh iPod Demo." (I used a similar variation of this demo when I worked in consumer electronics in the years before the iPod became such a breakaway success.)
The "Oooh and Ahhh Demo" with the iPod touch is the best yet. This year, I'll be showing off the following features to my family:
- Watching a YouTube Video
- Navigating to some websites and showing off the pinch/zoom
- Finding a place to get food tomorrow with Urbanspoon
- Showing off some photos I've loaded on my iPod touch
- Demo Rolando
- Find and download the TUAW Talkcast from iTunes' podcast listings and play part of it for the family
- Cover Flow
What will you demo for your astonished family with your new touch?