Apple has been throwing a lot of love at their iPod Touch MP3 player recently. A few weeks back at Macworld, Steve Jobs announced that the iPod Touch would now include the iPhone's e-mail, stocks, weather, notepad, improved maps, and Safari Web clip features, as well as support for Apple's new iTunes movie rentals. As of yesterday, there's even a new 32GB model to lust over. With all these new developments, Apple's iPod Touch seems less and less like the iPhone's feature-deprived sibling, and more like the touch screen, high-capacity convergence player we all wanted the first time around. Given all this, I think its fair the iPod Touch's rating gets raised a tick...and that's just what I did. The CNET score for the Apple iPod Touch has been raised from an 8.3 to an 8.7.
With all its incremental improvements, it's easy to miss the big picture of what the iPod Touch has become. Here's an incredibly thin MP3 player, with a stunning interface, an unmatched touch-screen navigation technology, up to 32GB of storage, e-mail that's a breeze to configure, a mobile Web browser that's actually fun to use, the best audio and video podcast platform on the market, support for inexpensive rented movies (on a screen that's actually worth watching them on), a YouTube video browser, and wireless music downloads from the most popular online music retailer on the Web. Sure, there are still features missing on the Touch that would be nice to have (Bluetooth, FM radio, built-in video output), but most of those missing features can be purchased as accessories. I can't purchase an accessory that will give the Zune movie rental support, or give the Archos 605 WiFi the integrated podcast subscription management of iTunes.
Of course, there's always the iPhone. Isn't the iPhone a better product than the iPod Touch? Maybe, but it lacks the 32GB capacity option. It also still comes with a whopping AT&T contract that puts its total price in the thousands of dollars. Most importantly, the iPhone is a phone. It's a different beast.
At the end of the day, I only added 0.33 points to the score of the iPod Touch. An 8.7 ranking puts the iPod Touch squarely in line with other 8.7-rated players, such as the Archos 605 WiFi, and the iRiver Clix.
Still think I've been drinking too much of the Apple Kool-Aid? Convinced that having to use iTunes inherently makes any iPod undesirable? Have a laundry list of MP3 players you think deserve an 8.7 rating before the iPod Touch? Sound off in the comments section.