Apple iPod Touch second generation review: Apple iPod Touch second generation

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The second-generation Apple iPod Touch has it all: music, videos, photos, podcasts, e-mail, Web browsing, Internet radio, games, Nike+, Wi-Fi music downloads, and an App Store for adding thousands of custom features.

The Bad The second-generation iPod Touch may be overwhelming to users looking for a simple music player; audio quality is average; and iTunes software is required.

The Bottom Line The second-generation iPod Touch includes features that are light-years ahead of the competition, its design has improved, and its price has finally come down to earth.

CNET Editors' Choice Sep '08

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Editors' note, August 18, 2009: Rumors strongly suggest that a new line of iPods will be unveiled early in September of this year. For those considering the purchase of an iPod, we recommend holding off until these new models become available. Check out CNET's iPod Central for all iPod news updates.

As the less-gifted sibling of Apple's celebrated iPhone, the iPod Touch has had to work hard to prove itself. Now in its second generation, Apple has finally given the iPod Touch a chance to shine by lowering its price (an 8GB model now runs $229), improving the hardware, and practically doubling the features from last year's original model.

Design
Apple's updates to the iPod Touch's design are subtle, but the hardware has definitely changed for the better. A slim volume switch now graces the left edge of the Touch, making it easier to make quick volume adjustments. The chromed steel back of the second-generation iPod Touch now mimics the rounded design of the iPhone 3G, giving the device a slimmer profile at its edges. Whether psychological or by design, the second-generation iPod Touch feels less fragile than last year's model and makes the plastic enclosure of the iPhone 3G feel cheap by comparison.

Minor improvements aside, the second-generation iPod Touch hardware is largely unchanged. Both the first- and second-generation iPod Touch share the same dimensions (4.3 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.31 inch), same glass-covered screen (3.5 inch), and same arrangement of headphone jack, dock connector, sleep button, and home button.


Apple's Cover Flow music menu is a bit useless on the smaller screens of the iPod Nano and iPod Classic, but it's a fantastic way to browse music on the iPod Touch.

Features
Priced at $229 (8GB), $299 (16GB), and $399 (32GB), the second-generation iPod Touch still commands a fairly high price compared with other MP3 players with similar capacities. When you weigh the price of the iPod Touch against its features, however, the device becomes much more attractive. Out of the box, the second-generation iPod Touch includes an amazing music player, podcast support, video playback (including iTunes rentals and a YouTube player), a Safari Web browser, photo viewer, an e-mail reader (compatible with Outlook, Exchange, MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or any POP e-mail service), an integrated Wi-Fi iTunes music store, and a host of smaller utilities (weather, calendar, maps, stocks, notes, voice memos, clock, contacts, and calculator). Provided you can become proficient with its touch-screen keyboard, the iPod Touch is more pocket PC than MP3 player.

iPod Touch OS 3.0 media features Play CNET Video

As of version 3.0 of Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch firmware, the device's stock features are just the beginning. An iTunes App Store, accessible from your computer or directly from the iPod Touch, lets users download and install thousands of applications, including Internet radio players, games, voice recorders, and social-networking tools. You can also extend the capabilities of the iPod Touch using third-party "Made for iPod" hardware accessories such as AV docks, external battery packs, and speaker systems.

The second-generation of the iPod Touch also introduces Apple's new Genius feature, which lets you create an instant 25-song playlists based on the musical characteristics of a single song. The Genius feature is easy to use, and the results are fun, provided your music collection holds enough songs to make interesting connections. You can create and save Genius playlists directly onto your iPod Touch, and with automatic syncing enabled in iTunes you can also transfer them back to your computer. Oddly, the Touch's Genius feature won't work if you haven't enabled Genius on your computer's iTunes software. If you find iTunes' Genius feature too demanding on your computer's resources or too invasive of your privacy (the feature reports your listening habits to Apple), then you'll need to live without the feature on your iPod as well.


Competing MP3 players like the Samsung P2 (right) do an admirable job emulating Apple's touch-screen control. But when push comes to shove, it's easy to tell which of the two companies has more experience with software design.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Run Time (Up To) 36 hour(s)
  • Capacity 32 GB
  • Color black
  • Weight 4.1 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards Apple Lossless
  • Installed Size 32 GB
  • Diagonal Size 3.5" m
  • Type 1 year warranty
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital player