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iPod Touch (5th Generation)

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What's hot: Excellent 4" Retina display, much faster than previous model, lovely design, great ecosystem of software, media and accessories.

What's not: As ever, iPhone envy: the iPod Touch 5G is a generation behind the iPhone 5's CPU/GPU. Expensive.

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Reviewed October 12, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The iPod Touch, now in its fifth generation hardly needs an introduction. This is a 4" iPhone substitute that does everything except make cellular calls (VoIP calls with Skype and FaceTime are a go). With the fifth generation iPod Touch you get the iPhone 5's 1136 x 640 Retina display married to the iPhone 4S' internals. That's not a bad combo, but as ever, the iPod Touch is always a generation behind the latest iPhone when it comes to CPU and GPU.

iPod Touch fifth generation

The latest iPod Touch ships with Apple's new EarPods, a Lightning USB cable and a lanyard in matching color that affixes to the new pop-up lanyard mount. It's available in 32 and 64 gig capacities and is priced at $299 and $399. Gone is the 16 gig $199 option, and that's a shame since the iPod Touch is now a pricey purchase.

Design and Ergonomics

The iPod Touch sports a new and attractive unibody aluminum design that's available in five colors plus Product Red for a total of six. You can go with stately black or grab the neon-satiny pink like we did. The front face is white with the signature single belly-button below the display. The iPod Touch has always been a very thin device and this one is no exception at 0.24". It weighs just 3.1 ounces yet it doesn't feel cheap. It does disappear easily in a pocket, and that's a good thing for a product that still functions as an excellent portable music player (and much more). Though I liked the mirrored look of the fourth gen iPod Touch, the fifth gen so far seems more immune to scratches, the bane of the fourth gen.

iPod Touch fifth generation

Why didn't Apple offer a 5" iPod Touch this time around? Consumers might just eat it up. Big screens are very trendy, and we don't think it's because Apple avoids trends it didn't create. I suspect the 7" iPad Mini will bridge the gap between the 4" iPod Touch and the 10" iPad, and Apple refuses to take the Samsung route and create products in 1" increments. And as ever, the latest iPod Touch remains very pocketable.

iPod Touch fifth generation

The newest iPod has the usual minimalist set of controls: the center button on the front face that brings you home, volume controls, the new Lightning port on the bottom for USB and charging connections and a headphone jack on the bottom. Like the iPhone 5, the iPod Touch uses the smaller Lightning connector, and it's much easier to plug in since it's smaller and there's no 'this side up', but it means you'll need to buy Apple's 30 pin to Lightning adapter to use older accessories like chargers and some speakers. I say 'some' speakers because the adapter provides analog but not digital out, and some speakers use a digital connection to effect playback and other controls on the iPod.

Performance and iOS 6 Features

The iPod Touch runs on an 800MHz dual core Apple A5 CPU with a dual core CPU, just like the iPhone 4S and it benchmarks similarly. If you're upgrading from the now long in the tooth single core fourth gen, you'll really appreciate the speed increase when gaming: it's very noticeable! CPU performance is doubled and graphics performance is nearly 4X vs. the outgoing model. Watch our video review to see some challenging games: the 5th gen does a good job with smooth frames rates and stable performance.

Geekbench Benchmarks:

iPod Touch 5th gen:637
iPhone 5: 1643
iPhone 4S (iOS 6): 657

iPod Touch fifth generation

The iPod Touch runs iOS 6 and that means you get Siri for voice interactions, iMessages, the notification center, DND (do not disturb settings for audio) and, for better or worse, Apple's Maps rather than Google's. Since the iPod Touch lacks a GPS and does WiFi triangulation for location, we're not sure how much you'll care about mapping. There are a few differences between the iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod Touch in terms of software: obviously there are no cellular network settings and the battery status is available only as an icon but not as a percentage (who knows why).

iPod Touch fifth generation

The iPhone 5 and iPod Touch 5G.

Deals and Shopping:

iPod Touch 5th Generation Video Review

Media Player

As always, the iPod Touch is an easy to use but powerful and pleasing media player. If you don't mind being married to the iTunes ecosystem with its huge selection of music, TV shows and movies, then it's hard to beat the iPod Touch as a portable media player. You're no longer tethered to iTunes on the desktop if you want to get content and apps on the iPod, though you're welcome to use the desktop app and included USB cable or WiFi if you wish. This desktop independence is handy if you're computer-phobic or you have kids you'd like to keep off your computer. You can purchase and stream media or download apps directly onto the iPod and sync that content across your various iOS devices using iCloud and iTunes. And yes, you can load your own ripped CDs and MP3 purchases from other non-DRM services like Amazon and Google, and you can import and load non-DRM videos to iTunes on the desktop for syncing to your iPod Touch.

Battery Life

Apple claims 40 hours of music playback or 8 hours of video playback on a charge. That's within the realm of reason, though we'd say you'll need to keep that 500 nit display set to less than 50% to get 8 hours of video playback on a full charge. As per usual, Apple doesn't include a charger, so you'll charge over USB.

Camera

The front and rear cameras are vastly upgraded from the fouth gen Touch, and you basically get the iPhone 4's rear main 5MP camera with 1080p video recording, HDR and panorama mode for photos. The front 1.2MP FaceTime camera matches the newer iPhones for quality and it renders bright and relatively sharp video.

Conclusion

Are media players a dying breed? Probably so, but their demise is still several years away and in the meantime Apple still owns the market. I'm by no means an Apple fangirl, but there's a reason the iPod still king: the experience is easy and delightful and the hardware is extremely attractive. There are Sony players and Samsung Galaxy Players, but they lack the one-two punch of excellent hardware paired with a huge ecosystem of apps, games, music and videos. The only thing that stands in the way of an Editor's Choice award is the price: with no 16 gig model, the starting $299 price is rather steep.

Price: $299 for 32 gig model, $399 for 64 gig model

Website: www.apple.com

iPod Touch fifth generation

 

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Specs:

Display: 4", 1136 x 640 Retina Display. 326 ppi, 800:1 contrast ratio, 500 nits max brightness.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed up to 40 hours music playback, 8 hours of video playback.

Connector and ports: Lightning USB connector. 3.5mm stereo jack on the bottom edge. Built in speaker and mic.

Wireless: Dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. Nike+ support.

Camera: Rear iSight 5MP camera that can shoot 1080p video, has HDR, panorama mode and LED flash. Front FaceTime 1.2MP camera that can shoot 720p video.

Capacity: 32 and 64 gig versions available.

Video Playback Support: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats. MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats. Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.
AirPlay Mirroring to Apple TV support at 720p
AirPlay video streaming to Apple TV (3rd generation) at up to 1080p and Apple TV (2nd generation) at up to 720p.

Size: 4.86 x 2.31 x 0.24 inches. Weight: 3.1 ounces.

 

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