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Of course all this would be pretty useless if the music and video players weren't much cop. But here it is every bit as good as any other iPod. Akin to the rest of the recent iPod releases, it doesn't go very loud, but in terms of balance and clarity there's nothing wrong with it at all. If I was being picky, I'd say it lacks in the dynamics department, and there's a small amount of background hiss that I haven't heard on the other iPods, but its perfectly musical and there's very little else to complain about.
I kicked off the listening tests with a touch of undemanding country and western and Shawn Colvin's Wichita Skyline. The pianos, and the mix of acoustic and electric guitars came across well. Perhaps there wasn't quite as much clarity and presence as with the Trekstor Vibez, my current benchmark for sound quality, but it was still very good. Moving onto something more fast-moving - Green Day's American Idiot - and the touch's weaknesses were exposed more, with less punch and bite than the Vibez and the sound a little compressed, but once again the differences are small and unless you've a really good pair of headphones (replace the white ones that come with it - they're not very good), this probably won't bother you in the slightest.
As for video, the touch's 3.5in screen is perfect. I'd be happy watching TV shows or movies on it: it's vibrant, bright, crisp and colourful and considerably larger than the one on the standard hard disk-based iPod. Most importantly, perhaps, though you'll be doing a lot of re-encoding of files, videos play back at up to 30 frames per second, which is better than many cheaper video-enabled pocket players can manage.
Of course you can dismiss the touch as an over-priced gimmick - and many people will, justifiably. Its sound quality isn't the greatest in the world and just 16GB of storage space in a device costing £265 will be more than many technological spendthrifts can stomach.
But that would be ignoring the sheer software and hardware engineering genius that's gone into making this product viable - and the pleasure you'll derive from using it. Put simply, if you want to experience the cutting edge in interface design, this is the best way of doing it without saddling yourself with a £35 per month phone bill. Apple has done it again. Bravo.
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