Apple iPod touch 32GB (2nd Gen) - Apple iPod touch

By Hugo Jobling



Our Score:


Sticking to the trend of incremental, rather than revolutionary improvements, the new touch slightly bests its predecessor's 22 hours music and five hours video playback by offering 36 hours of audio and six of video. Format support remains unchanged and as poor as ever compared to more than a few rivals. On the audio side up to 320kbps MP3, 320kbps AAC (including, obviously, iTunes DRMed tracks), Apple lossless, Audible (formats 2,3 and 4), AIFF and WAV files are catered for. Meanwhile video support is limited to either 1.5Mbps, 640 x 480, 30fps H.264 or 2.5Mbps, 640 x 480, 30fps MPEG-4.

Other players may have better format support - FLAC, Ogg and WMA for example - but frankly you don't buy an iPod for its audio quality. It's the interface and design that sets Apple's players apart from the crowd. You only have to wander around any reasonably sized town for half and hour to be reminded that, contrary to all good advice, most users are content to use the ghastly bundled earphones with their iPods. They probably all rip (or acquire…) their music at 128kbps so it takes up less space, too. That's just plain wrong if you ask me - Apple Lossless or nothing, thanks.

Rant aside (but seriously, if you buy any music player get a decent set of earphones as well, okay?) there's little to dislike about the iPod touch's audio performance in general. Firing up Anberlin's Cities highlighted the traditional iPod pitfalls of a slight lack in punch and clarity.The synth-heavy There is no Mathematics to Love and Loss, for example, while more than listenable, could definitely do with a touch (ho ho) more presence. The less complex Reclusion faired better, with the touch delivering a decently balanced sound and the synth effects nicely punctuating the electric guitar parts without overwhelming them.

Winding back a few years to The Smashing Pumpkins' Cherub Rock and the situation didn't differ much, the touch again making a decent show of itself. My biggest gripe is that vocals occasionally had a tendency of getting lost in the mix a little. Whether the touch or The Pumpkins are to blame for that, though, is a matter of debate. Incidentally, swapping from my Shure SE 420s to the bundled earbuds was a truly painful experience - who'd've thought it?

One good thing I can report is that the strange hiss Jon noticed with his 16GB first generation touch definitely wasn't present with my second gen model - either he had a dud or Apple has fixed whatever problem was previously present. If fidelity is your primary concern then the Trekstor Vibez (although good luck finding anywhere selling one) should be your first port of call, although a player from Sony, iRiver or Creative will also likely best anything from Apple when it comes to pure audio quality.

Video wise, a play through the three-part Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Firefly's Joss Whedon's side-project during the writers' strike - while sitting in bed confirmed what we've said before. The iPod touch's screen really is as small as I'd want to use on a semi-regular basis. That said, the screen is as vibrant, bright and colourful as anyone has any right to ask from such a relatively small device. I wouldn't want to use it to watch a film, but for TV shows (House, for example) it's pretty damn watchable.

So far, so good then, and I haven't even mentioned the most important feature of the touch…


September 20, 2008, 3:18 pm

"If you don't want one you probably don't want a portable player at all. "

Oh, Hugo, why did you do it? The review was going so well. Not everybody wants an MP3 player simply to pose on their preferred method of public transport. Some want portability or higher audio quality or storage and so on so forth. Some of the great unwashed actually never worry about what the reat of the general populace think of what they are using as an MP3 player. Really, it's true.

I'll sit back and watch with glee as you carefully probe your way out of this minefield ;-)


September 20, 2008, 5:25 pm

It still just doesn't push the right buttons for me. It's just another run of the mill Apple product that excels in software design (excluding itunes from that sentiment of course) and just fails at the hurdles of hardware, looks, sound quality and price.

The price it asks demands such simple things as an FM radio, better file support and more. The looks, although subjective, to me is just as bland and boring as an old grey generic computer case that's been given a paint job, and had an Apple logo stamped on it. And if you buy an Apple player, sound quality is obviously nowhere near the top of your list, although sound quality certainly isn't bad in iPods, Apple backs it up with truly terrible headphones and file support, so it might as well be.

I admire the Apple software engineers for what they do (excluding iTunes again), especially considering the stuff they are given to work with. I own a Cowon D2, but I think pretty much everyone can see that the Samsung YP-P2 is so much better value for money then this player, and comes with the arguably better feature of bluetooth, rather then Wi-Fi.


September 20, 2008, 8:37 pm

Crazyhorse: The touch is im *my* opinion the most desirable of MP3 players. I realise that many people won't want it because there's something about it they don't like or that it doesn't offer and they want/need. But I bet they'll be thinking "I wish the touch had FLAC sport" or "I wish it wasn't so prohibitively expensive".

Put it this way: if I'd said "if you don't want an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, you probaly don't want a car at all" would you have called me on it? I doubt it.

You're reading too much into a throw-away comment.

Juxtah - I don't want to sound rude, but what the heck are you talking about?

How can you critizise the touch's hardware? Multi-Touch is a hardware feature and is what makes the touch so brlliant. Frankly until any other manufacturer can equal or better that interface Apple could charge 𧺬 for a touch and it'd arguably still be good value. Although admitedly it's the combination of great hardware and software that's what makes the touch *so* impressive from a technology stand point.

You'll never pursuade me radio on an MP3 player is a good idea, at any price. Especially in these days of podcasts and the iPlayer (especially as the BBC has the only radio stations worth listening to if you ask me).

The need for better file support I agree with to an extent - I should be to rip my music however I want to - but the argument that it needs to be mroe extensive is generaly made by pirates frustrated with having to re-encode downoaded stuff for different players.

Aesthetics I can't really argue with you because, as you say, it is sch a subjective aspect. But I definitely take issue with you comapring the touch to a "gray generic computer case that's been given a paint job". I'll eat the notebook I'm typing this on when curvy, shiny aluminum goes out of fashion.

Criticising Apple specifically for bundling awful earphones with its player is a bit much. One of Sony's NWZ-series players that we had in for review came with a set of dual-driver earphones which were pretty good, but that's defnitely the exception rather than the rule.

While I agree iTunes has a few problems, calling it a bad piece of software is a it harsh. iTunes primarly falls down when it isn't used the way it is intended to be. In Apple's ideal world, everyone would buy music from the iTunes Store and sync it to their iPods - as this is Apple Land they'd do it on a Mac too, but that's a less important point. Used in this way, Tunes works just fine - it keeps your music folder tidy, it even lets you listen to the DRMed (and in this usage modle DRM isn't a bad thing, because it's completely uninvasive) tracks on multiple computers (up to 5 if my memory serves me) which can be authorised or deauthorised via your online account.

Even if you want to use CDs (because, let's face it, 192k AAC is not comparable to a CD) you still don't have problems. You rip your music to your library using iTunes so you know your music will be compatible with your player and, again, it's all organised nicely - album art and everyting.

Problems occur when you start downloading pirated music. If you're an audiophile, or like to think you are, you'll only download lossless rips and these will inevitable be in FLAC format so you'll have to re-encode it as Apple Lossless (or AIFF or even WAV I guess if you're more retro) to use it in iTunes. Just don't even think about moving those files around 'cause iTunes won't keep track of them, oh no.

And that's assuming you have an iPod because if you don't things get even worse. If it's drag and drop, you might still be okay. I hope you didn't buy any music from the iTunes store, though, because that won't work unless you strip the DRM which is even more work! If you've got to use software to sync your player then you've sudenly got two programs fighting over which is in control of your music and then iTunes can be fussy and refuse to play ball - storing cover art seperately from the music files, for example.

My point? Any piece of software breaks when you don't use it the way it's designed to be used. iTunes works fine for the average iPod user who just wants to buy music and put it on their iPod.

Bluetooth versus WiFi is a simple aregument. The touch should have both, and it should do A2DP (as should the iPod - i mean, come on Apple..!). However, WiFi is FAR more useful than Bluetooth - App store (and a load of apps themselves) , Safari, email, music store etc. etc. all use WiFi.

Re the YP-P2. Yes it is quite good but it really can't compete with the touch's feature set so it's a bad comparison. And it has even worse format support than the touch, most notably the lack of any lossless support at all.

Anything I missed?

m memmory

September 20, 2008, 9:00 pm

Personally I don't mind iPods (I have what is now known as a "classic" although admittedly only due to my Cowon X5L being stolen and the iPod being the only player that my insurance would get me)

But what I think Apple miss out on (or their users) is the audio quality. I like the touch interface whenever I've tried a mates (although I can never get to grips with the onscreen keyboard no matter how often I try) and it *is* nice being able to browse the web using Safari but, to me, the main point of any MP3 player is playing music to sound as good as possible and on this Apple don't seem to be trying that hard (or not as hard as other manufactorers)

Now maybe to some the quality of the music isn't important (my mum has a nano and is very happy with it - even with stock buds! urgh!!) and if the quality is fine to most of your consumers what's the point of trying to make it better but to me it matters so I'd like it to be as good as possible.


September 20, 2008, 9:14 pm

@ Hugo

Ok, I'll try go through your points :P

First, I believe I can criticise the touches hardware, multi touch is a hardware feature, yes. And I agree it is very nice, and a great feature. However in other areas the touch is lacking, we may not see eye to eye on this but I think a radio on an mp3 player is a great feature and considering how cheap it is I don't think the inclusion of one could ever be seen as a negative point. And I love being able to record the odd song of the radio while listening to it with my D2, not a requirement I agree but If I'm paying for a premium player I'd hope it has all the features I may only have a use for once or twice.

For the file support, and I have to heavily disagree with your point of 'only pirates ask for this' since if you wanted to look, you'd see 99%+ of all pirated music is in mp3. As for me I rip all my CD's in .OGG partly because it sounds great, mostly because it all that jetaudio supports ;). Again I have to make the same point as above, if Apple wants me to pay twice as much as their competitors they better give me more features, even those I may not have much use of too often (although a player that can play .OGG is a requirement for me now considering I have about 50+ CD's ripped into .OGG).

OK, maybe I was a little harsh about the design, however I'm a large advocate of design needs to be interesting and look good to catch my attention. For me the general range of Apple products looks bland, and in my eyes it just doesn't look good, and the touch follows that Apple trend and just doesn't interest or pique my attention.

And it's not that Apple bundles the bad headphones in that I'm complaining about because let's be honest pretty much every manufacturer does it, it's the fact that these headphones sound just completely awful yet to Apple seem to be worth a large replacement fee, and the scary thing is people actually buy them...

And I have to disagree that iTunes isn't a bad piece of software, compared to it's major competitor Winamp it is slow and drains a lot of resources. And compared to the organisational skills of MediaMonkey iTunes falls flat on it's face. And on top of this they insist on packaging programs with it that you haven't asked for like Bonjour (which iTunes works just fine without) and Quicktime (which is handy but If I need it I'll get it separately).

And you keep going back to piracy, I'm no pirate but I'm clued up enough on the subject to know that itunes doesn't have any problems dealing with mp3's of which 99% of pirated albums are made up of.

And the on the WiFi vs. bluetooth thing, I think you missed the word 'arguable' in my initial comment. For me bluetooth is the better option, as I like not having wires trailing all over my person, and personally have no need for WiFi as wherever I go that has WiFi already has a computer there of some description. WiFi for me is of limited use you see, whereas for you it may be great. There's no doubt I'd like to have it, but the simple fact is I don't use it enough to justify the extra cost.

And on the YP-P2, I said much better value for money, which it is. It's almost half the cost of the iPod touch and comes with 80% of the features, if you can live without WiFi I believe it's a much better choice.


September 20, 2008, 10:47 pm

love ipod touch and love iphone.. the only thing i havn't got my head around this new toy is that black plaster on the top left corner?? wot's that?


September 21, 2008, 12:46 am

Seriously.. you don't buy an ipod because of it's features.. you buy it because it's a fashion statement/symbol whatever.. and you pay a premium price for this... fair enough...

if your an audiophile or need a specific feature, or your an old school winamp user and you hate itunes (or whatever the reason), you'll buy a different's that simple..

i love iRiver and the new products from Cowon look very promising, but they are just not as "hip" as the iPods, according to the masses (apple really knows how to promote af product). imo players from cowon and iRiver are as good, if not better, as the iPods..


September 21, 2008, 2:03 am

it's a wifi antenna, mate :D the original had it, and the original iphone disguised it as that lower plastic half (so you know you've got it the right way around)

i'm still puzzled as to why microsoft refuse to release the zune outside the americas - if anything, it'd stop apple dropping the classic, and hopefully will also offer superior audio quality.


September 21, 2008, 3:22 pm

arh... antenna is king.

anyway nowadays, the bigger the size, the better. Let's all develop a complex over it.


September 22, 2008, 1:14 pm

@ Skobbolop

Your point was, to some degree, valid before the release of the iPod touch. However, with the touch you're paying a premium for a shed load of extra features. Whether you want them or not is your choice but they're certainly there.

And as it happens, you're not really paying that much of a premium for the regular iPods nowadays. Maybe 㾶 here or there but overall they're pretty price competitive (audio quality and format support aside).


October 21, 2008, 4:33 pm

I sat next to someone on the train yesterday who was playing a game on his Touch, and it looked great. I was sat next to someone today and all I got was noise through his headphones.

So the message I guess is, if you want a piece of kit that looks good but should sound better, this is for you.

I've also got to question whether the usability aspect is worth so much more cash. I tend not to shift around between tracks too often. If you're listening to a playlist, how many times do you need to glide your fingers across the screen?

Hans Gruber

October 21, 2008, 6:28 pm

Er, time warp? What's this doing coming back?


October 21, 2008, 9:25 pm

If i was in the market for a mp3 player then of paramount importance to me is the quality of the music reproduction and secondly its connectivity to a home hi-fi.

As a phone the iPhone is just to big for me to be thrust in a pocket and in my line of work (welding and fabrication) it would not last five minutes. The main purpose of an iPhone for me would be as a phone.

If you look at the Touch from the viewpoint as an organiser it hits all the right buttons for me. The interface simply just works, its smooth, fast, effortless.

For me the Touch walks all over the iPhone which is in truth a Touch with a phone tacked on.

The simple fact is that if the Touch does what 'YOU' want then its a good buy and in that respect it works for me save the price even though i would go for the 8GB version as my Bucks Fizz and Cliff Richard music collection should just about fit on that.


October 22, 2008, 12:09 am


The text review was bumped as we've just added the video review.


Huh? How many times do you want to contradict yourself?

I'll try to keep my rebuttals to a minimum, as there are many individual points I could pick out, but I can't promise anything.

The phone elements of the iPhone are not just tacked on, they are beautifully and seamlessly integrated and the whole experience is brilliant.

Fair enough, you may feel the iPhone wouldn't last very long in you pocket in your line of work but few phones would by the sounds of it.

I don't really get what you're trying to say. On the one hand you seem to get exactly what the Touch is all about 'if the Touch does what 'YOU' want then its a good buy'. However, you then seem to dismiss the same potential logic for the iPhone by saying 'the Touch walks all over the iPhone'.



October 22, 2008, 4:23 am

@Moggy58 - first things first: "my Bucks Fizz and Cliff Richard music collection" - you are joking, right?!

Secondly, the iPhone came FIRST - the touch is simply an iPhone with the phone and sim parts ripped out and its saves a few millimetres as a result. It's an iPhone Lite.

Personally while I admire the iPod touch I see little point in owning one AND a phone, the iPhone 3G is now subsidised and - unless you need 32GB of storage - far better value for money with a much wider feature set.

As Ed mentioned, your arguements seem rather muddled.


October 22, 2008, 10:58 am

I would hazard a guess that the iPhone and the Touch were designed at the same time or at least the intention was to strip down the iPhone in the future to a music player. I cannot believe that Apple designed the iPhone and then some bright spark thought "hey that would make a good iPod".

I would not carry a Touch around with me at work either, it can be close at hand though, a phone however has to be on my person.

For me the iPhone is not better value because i do not require or want the 18 month contract with O2 or the the minimum price plan which is still to expensive for my needs.

Its horses for courses ....... of course if you bods here want to try a real days work instead of being namby pamby office type bods i would be more than delighted to let you put your iPhones through a day of welding, grinding, blood and sweat at my employment works ......... i will even take you to Starbucks at lunchtime if your good boys so you can flask your (by then damaged) iPhones off, may even let you rip my Cliff and Bucks Fizz tracks to your phones. ;-)


October 22, 2008, 3:12 pm


Let's not get personal. Different jobs stress different parts of you in different ways, simple as.

I'm intrigued, though, that you're allowed to have and use a phone in your line of work. Surely if you're kitted out for welding, you can't just stop what you're doing and take a call? And even if you are there are few phones that would survive being in that environment, anyway. Seems like a moot argument.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disagreeing that it's not right for you. Just that to say the iPhone is crap because it doesn't suit your needs is nonsense.

Also, you're saying you want a Touch but those of us with our iPhones are show offs that would flash our phones around at Starbucks. Talk about hypocritical!


October 22, 2008, 5:27 pm

lol. sometimes the comments are more interesting than the reviews.

i've never seen the point of a touch purely as an mp3 player. i think its far too big and expensive and the lack of physical playback controls just annoys me, not matter how amazing multi touch is. i don't want to have to pull out my player, look at it and touch the screen to have to use it.

it'd be great as a pmp but the format support is just rubbish. and i don't see the point of wifi on so many mobile devices. i've had it on my last few phones but networks are always encrypted these days meaning i only use it at home where i could just as easily use my laptop to get browse the web more quickly and easily. to me, taking out the phone part loses a lot of the utility. i'd want permenant connectivity.


October 22, 2008, 10:49 pm

*looks for where i used the word crap to describe the iPhone* - nope, cant see it.

No worries anyway Ed, i was giving you a gentle ribbing, you need some smilies for these replies.

Oh ........ Starbucks is crap though, so no lunch there i am afraid ;-) beer though, anytime.


October 23, 2008, 7:22 pm

Mmmm, beeeeer...


October 23, 2008, 9:40 pm

The ipod touch is but a passing gimmick. The iRiver iHP-140 is THE King of the Music players. Had mine for 4 years now and it still has more features and more advanced features than any other player on the market today.

It's battery still lasts for over a days play (user replaceable) , FM radio, optical in/out, 40GB HD (upgradable), support for every codec going, great recording quality from inbuilt mic or line-in, great sound quality...I could go on!


October 24, 2008, 1:06 pm

Yes and it's also an ugly-as-sin brick without video support. Get some perspective.


October 24, 2008, 8:22 pm

@ED - Off your high horse!

Not everyone wants or needs video on an MP3 player, after all they are primarily for playing music, there are tons of better and cheaper gadgets out there for playing video. Obviously you are a form over function type with more money than sense...𧷤 for a iPod Touch is stupid. BTW the 'ugly-as-sin brick' (agreed, but what do you want to do - wear it?) can be had for peanuts and is almost 4 years old.

Now how about you go get some perspective? The ipod touch is hideously expensive and has a poor feature set, everyone else has outlined the annoyance with it's link to iTunes. Your way out of touch.


October 24, 2008, 8:55 pm

oh and before you go in to another point-by-point defence (as above), i'm not saying that the Touch isn't good for some people, only that there are a lot of better and cheaper options out there for people who care about music quality, feature set and who appreciate non-DRM music & drag and drop functionality.


November 3, 2008, 9:30 pm

I'm planning to treat myself to the apple ipod 32GB for Christmas. What i'm wondering is when I was reading the review on the audio formats it says it does not offer support to WMA but says it can always be converted to MP3 format using the Apple iTunes software.

What i'm wondering is, is it easy to do? Reason i'm asking as alot of my files that I have downloaded are WMA.

Hope someone can help,

Sorry if this question has been covered already but I am new to this site. :o)

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