If your kid's been begging for an iPod Touch, I've got some bad news. Apple has quietly discontinued the most affordable entry point into the world of iOS, the $199 16GB 4th-generation iPod Touch, an update of the 2011 model with a 3.5-inch screen. It's just as well since little Junior would have suffered some peer humiliation for not sporting one of the latest, greatest 5th-gen iPod models -- clearly distinguished by their bigger screens and candy-colored aluminum casing. Those models start at $299 for 32GB, or $399 for double the storage.
Until now, anyway. Apple has conceded a new 16GB model of its iPod Touch, available now for $229. This latest entry-level option looks and behaves exactly like the rest of its 5th-generation kin, except that the rear camera has been removed and your only color option is black (with the bare aluminum backside). Also gone is the loop hand strap -- presumably, since you won't be using this as a handy point-and-shoot camera.
Those subtractions notwithstanding, the new iPod model does introduce several improvements not previously available in a 16GB configuration. You get the latest dual-core A5 processor, the larger 4-inch Retina display, Siri-compatibility, and the inclusion of Apple's Lightning Connector in lieu of the classic 30-pin port, which has now disappeared on all iProducts, save a handful of legacy models (iPod Classic and iPad 2, we're looking at you).
And in Apple's defense, you can still take all the self-portrait photos, videos, and Facetime chats you want with the iPod's front-facing camera. If you can live without the 5 megapixel camera and 1080p video recording found on the $299 32GB iPod Touch model, then why not save the money?
OK, even I have a hard time saying that with a straight face. With only $70 separating the drab, one-eyed 16GB iPod Touch from the colorful 32GB model, choosing the lesser of the two is not only cheap, but foolish. Doubling the storage capacity alone is worth the extra $70; the camera and the 1080p video recorder merely sweeten the deal.
It's your classic movie theater soda dilemma. You just want a small soda, but the larger options are a much better value. Even if you buy the small one on principle or to save money, you then have to walk around publicly as the sucker who overpayed for a thimble of sugar water.
So, would I personally recommend buying Apple's 16GB iPod Touch? Not a chance. The extra $70 to buy the 32GB model with the rear camera is money well spent. And even then, you might be foolish not to spend another $30 ($329 total) for an iPad Mini.
But that's just my two cents. Feel free to add yours in the comments section and stay tuned for a full, in-depth review from CNET.