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>> Hey, I'm Donald Bell, Senior Editor for Digital, Audio, and MP3, and this is a First Look at the third generation Apple iPod Touch. If you haven't heard, the iPod Touch is a touchscreen, portable media player that essentially works like an iPhone without the phone or the monthly bill. It's slightly slimmer than the iPhone, since there's no need to cram in all that phone and GPS technology, but you get the same Wi-Fi Internet connection, the same Bluetooth wireless audio, and the same 3.5-inch glass-covered screen. Apple is selling three models of the iPod Touch, an 8-gigabyte version for $199.00, 32-gigabytes for $299.00, and whopping 64-gigabyte version for $399.00. Why they couldn't throw in a 16-gigabyte version is beyond me, but the pricing seems fair, all things considered. One thing to note, however, is that while the $199.00 option looks identical to the pricier models, it's technically running last year's hardware. Some of the new features, such as voice control, an accelerated processor, open GL graphic support, and improved accessibility controls are only available on the 32-gigabyte and 64-gigabyte versions. Now, personally, I don't feel like any of those features are inherently worth an extra hundred bucks, if you'd otherwise be fine with an 8-gigabyte touch. But you should know what you're buying. Okay, so I've got about two more minutes to describe a product to you that offers about a dozen killer features right out of the box. First off, you get a great music player with sophisticated features such as genius playlist, search, over-the-air podcast updating, and a cover flow of you that still feels like magic to me. The video player is equally fantastic and integrates seamlessly with the vast library of movies, TV shows, rentals, video podcasts, and music videos available from iTunes. The Safari web browser is smoking fast, especially with the improved processor on the 32 and 64-gigabyte models. Then there's email, calendars, photos, contacts, stocks, maps, notes, voice recording, weather reports, and let's not forget YouTube. Now, Apple could have just left it there and still have an outstanding product, but to really knock it out of the park, they threw in the App Store. You've probably seen the ads from Apple demonstrating how the iPhone App Store has an app for just about everything. Well, it's true, maybe even to a fault. For example, a search for dictionaries produces hundreds of results, ranging from a free Spanish dictionary to a $25.00 version of the American Heritage Fourth Edition. Mostly, though, the app store is filled with fun stuff like games, Internet radio tuners, streaming video players, absurd gimmicks, or the occasional life-changing app, like a pizza delivery locator. Everyone will have a different take on what apps are meaningful to them, but just the mere existence of a robust, constantly evolving storefront of apps transforms the iPod Touch into a kind of infinitely customizable platform that can be molded into whatever you want. And that's really the killer feature. So whether you're crazy about games, music, or videos, or you just want a $200.00 gadget that can update your Facebook profile and locate a good restaurant, the Apple iPod Touch offers the total package. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell.
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