When Apple’s iPod iTouch was first introduced in September 2007, some critics disparagingly called it “an iPhone without the phone.” But Apple guessed right about the public’s reception, and the iTouch has become one of Apple’s best selling devices.

For those who are a bit puzzled about what an iTouch exactly is, and what the benefits of owning one are, you’ll find the answers right here.

What’s an iTouch?
If it could be described in three words it would be “portable multimedia machine.” It resembles the iPhone, and as has been pointed out by others, it’s an iPhone without the phone.

The device can be used as an MP3 player, handheld video game console, streaming video player, Internet browser, and camera. Added to these functions, depending on what type of apps you load onto it, the iTouch can serve as a sketch pad, photo editor, word processor, weight management system and even as a portable slot machine!

The iTouch runs on Apple’s operating system or what is called an iOS. The system software is constantly upgraded to improve Apple products, but having an Apple device also means plugging into the vast array of downloadable applications from its online App Store. Presently there are over 700,000 apps available for download, in addition to the huge library of music on the iTunes store.
 

Cross compatibility
The iTouch has a touchscreen--who would have thought? The user interface is the same as the iPhone and iPad. What this boils down to is a seamless user experience across different Apple product lines; learn to use an iPhone, for instance, and you have everything you need to know about operating an iTouch, iPod or iPad.

This may seem trivial on the surface, but this approach by Apple is brilliant because a common user interface means no extra time in learning how to use new products.

Gamer, player, video, apps
The iTouch, although it can be thought of primarily as an MP3 player, is much more than that. As a game machine, it has access to tens of thousands of games, which spans the genres of shooters, adventure and action games, arcade games, RPGs, card games, puzzles, and virtually any other categories that can be found for full-sized game consoles.

The display of the iTouch, depending on the model you are interested in, can offer full HD resolution, and a voice recognition system. The crisp HD display is ideal for viewing films, playing games or watching television shows. The huge library of apps on Apple’s App Store can expand the functionality and usefulness of the iTouch.

The different models
There have been five models of the iTouch since it was released. The models that are commonly available are:

Third Generation iTouch: The 32GB and 64GB versions are true 3rd gen devices that offer upgrades to its CPU, graphics processor, WiFi and RAM, but no camera functions. The 8GB and 16GB models, although they were called third generation, actually had the components of the 2nd gen edition, and thus, could not run some of the games and apps programmed for the 32GB and 64GB machines.

For those who want a bargain, a used iTouch third generation model is a good choice. Just make sure to avoid the 8GB and 16GB models if you want a higher degree of program compatibility.

The device was released in September of 2009 and can still be found on various website electronics stores.

Fourth Generation iTouch: This model heralded the addition of a Retina or HD display for the machine. The overall size of this iTouch was slimmer and lighter than the previous model. It sported an improved processor, front-facing camera, back-facing camera, WiFi and the new iOS 5 operating system. It is available in 16GB and 32GB versions.

The iTouch 4th gen model was released in October 2011.

Fifth Generation iTouch: This is the latest edition of the machine (as of this writing) and was released in September 2012. This newest model increases the screen size of its former editions from 3.5-inches to 4.0 inches.

The Retina HD display is formatted for letterbox viewing. Improvements on this version include an IPS display technology, 1080p video recording, panoramic photo mode, voice activation software (Siri), WiFi and a faster A5 processor.

The fifth gen iTouch is the lightest and thinnest of all previous iTouch versions.

Also new for this model is a departure from the traditional black and white colors to include new ones: slate, silver, blue, yellow, and red.

A great little machine
The iTouch offers a great multimedia experience without paying associated iPhone data charges, obligations to a two-year contract, while still allowing you to plug in to Apple’s vast storehouse of apps and software programs.

For those who want a small dedicated multimedia machine, the iPod iTouch is an excellent choice.

Frank Ling is the National Technology Examiner for Examiner.com. He is a writer, professional photographer, and video editor. One of his all-time favorite jobs was working at a large video game publisher as a QA trainer for testing game software.

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