Apple's iPod Touch gets iOS 5
On October 12, Apple will have a new version of the iPod Touch to sell, priced at $199 (8GB), $299 (32GB), and $399 (64GB).
The bad news is that the 2011 hardware is seemingly identical to last year's iPod Touch. You get the same front (VGA) and rear (720p) camera, same processor, and same 3.5-inch Retina display. Aside from a new white color option, the iPod Touch hardware is essentially unchanged.
The good news? Well, the iPod Touch is the least expensive (contract-free) way to get iOS 5. The base iPod Touch model (8GB) has dropped from $229 down to $199.
Of course, if you already own the 2010 iPod Touch you'll be getting the same iOS 5 experience as the 2011 model. Unless you're really jonesing for a white iPod Touch, you'd do just as well to skip it.
Apple's iPhone event (live blog)
Apple unveils iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S First Take
Apple's iPod lineup (2011)
Full coverage: Apple's iPhone event
When iOS 5 hits on October 12, anyone with a 2010 or 2011 iPod Touch will be treated to new features such as iCloud, iTunes Match, lock screen notifications, Newsstand, tabbed browsing, reminders, improved Twitter integration, and iMessages. It's a great new set of features, with iCloud integration chief among them.
A month ago, I outlined all of the ways I hoped Apple would improve the iPod Touch. Aside from producing a new color, Apple fulfilled none of my predictions. The company could have gone with a bigger screen, a faster processor, a cellular data connection, or any number of enhancements--but it didn't.
Still, for $199, the iPod Touch is, and will remain, a great value. It's a fantastic music player, a killer mobile gaming platform, and one of the best pocket-size distractions money can buy.
The difference is that last year I felt comfortable saying that nothing came close to matching the content and software experience of the iPod Touch. This year, with Amazon.com's $199 Kindle Fire tablet on the horizon, it's going to be a tough call.