Getting the most out of your gear : "The Ipod Touch" (part1)

Geeks, We always seem to be on the lookout for the next new gadet. Scrolling through website reviews, rumor sites or amazon “suggestions” to the next shiny new toy we can purchase and add to our collection. But with technology picking up its already fast pace even more, its harder and harder to keep up. It seems like, even before you drain the batteries on your new gadget, its successor is already around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, progress is a good thing, but with this fast moving evolution of technology, we hardly get the chance to “know” our devices, before they become obsolete. So today I’m not going to talk about one of my newer gizmo’s, I’m going to talk about one I’ve owned for allmost a year now : My Ipod Touch.

My 4th generation Ipod Touch is, conicidentally also the fourth Ipod that I own. Having started out with a 15 gigabyte Ipod (2nd Generation), an Ipod Video, a 1st gen Ipod Touch and now this guy, I can say this may be one of the most versatile music players that I’ve owned so far. With the addition of functionalities like video and wifi to the ‘classic’ Ipods, Apple tried somehow to have the ipods “Evolve” from plain music playing devices to video players, game consoles or even video camera”s. Therefore adding loads of functionality to the device, but holding back on the “simcard” addition to differentiate them from the twice as expensive Iphone. I”ve never gone for a “new” Iphone out of principle because the additional value of being able to make “phone calls” on a device that was JUST like the Ipod touch, only twice as expensive, but used the ipod touch mostly for its primary function : playing music. Untill now. My newest Ipod touch (32 gigabyte model), with the addition of a front and rear camera, AND a microphone, together with its wifi and video playing abilities , changed the way how I looked at the device.

One of the most important things in the way you use your devices, is your perception about what their primary function is. If you view your smartphone as a “phone-with-extra’s” you’ll probably use the device differently then when you look at it as a “Game console that also makes phonecalls”. Your perception of its primary function will probably dictate how you use the device and how deep you will explore the “other functions” from day to day.  This got me thinking : If I take a look at my Ipod Touch : Do I really see “just” a music player with extra’s ?  The answer is : No. 

My Ipod touch is my “Internet communicator”.

I seldom get any phonecalls, to be honest. When my phone actually “rings” my heart skips a beat because its mostly someone who needs to tell me something urgent, or its a some “Homo-proto-digitalis” who is unaware that I conduct most of my communictionations in a digital way. So back in the days I used to have my laptop open on the table with Skype, Googletalk, Email, Irc and other communictations channels open. This was not always practical. Imagine having to “boot up” your doorbell, your home phone etc .. So from time to time I forgot to boot up Skype, or closed down IRC because it was distracting me etc.  But thanx to my Ipod touch that has changed. Automatically connecting to the home wifi network, the “touch” has applications like Skype, Facetime, Irc and others running in the background. With the addition of a Mozymount stand I “prop up” the Ipod touch and it becomes ideal for video conversations. Instead of sitting behind my computer to “talk” to people, the Ipod touch is now my “home communicator” for voice-and-videocalls. Its instant on, always online when i’m home and very futuristic when I hook it up to its speakerdock to converse with friends around the world. Additional channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are also quickly monitored via this device. Inputting text can be quite tedious, but like Scotty said : “The right tools for the right job”, so for that I use the Ipad or one of my computers. One of the other upsides to “channeling” your communication channels to the Ipod, is a distraction and clutter free desktop on your computer. No pesky IM applications that bother you. Want peace and quiet ?  Just tuck the Ipod away. In effect the Ipod touch functions as an instant-on monitoring device for your communication channels but also offers great functionality as a portable digital communicator for voice and video.

Apps : Skype – Facetime – Tweetdeck – Facebook App – Google+ App – Vtok (Videochatting on google talk) Mail – Mango Light (Free Irc client, there are better ones)  Hardware : Mosy Mount, Logitech Speaker Dock for the Ipod.

My Ipod touch is my mobile camera.

With the addition of the front and rear facing camera and tons of software available the “camera” functionality is no longer an extra gimmick. For “quick and dirty” photo or videoblogging around the house (or in a place within reach of Wifi) the Ipod touch is ideal. Wether its taking pictures or shooting little video’s the quality of the Ipod Touch is quite good, considering you have enough ambient light to pull it off. With the “creative types” lurking on IOS its quite awesome.  Not only can you use the Ipod touch for some point and shoot action, you can also use some of the apps like camera+ to edit them before uploading them.  With the addition of my Mozymount trypod the Ipod is quite handy for small outdoor videorecording too. ( As demonstrated in our episode of KWTV where we did a review of ‘mounts’ for your mobile devices. The Ipod touch makes for a very versitile camera / videocamera that is easy to carry, discrete to use and has a fairly high quality. It can even “stunt double” as an IP security camera when I need it to (all I need is Wifi) or as a quick “lifeblogging” camera with apps like Ustream TV. 

Apps : Camera – Camera+ – 8MM – Toonpaint – Ustream Broadcaster – IP Cam – Pixelpipe 

My Ipod touch is my entertainment center.

Though small in size, the Ipod is big when it comes to entertaining me. Being the main source of content carier for my music AND my daily podcasts,  it keeps me sane on the long drives in the car. Using Itunes (and the silly cable) I fill up the ipod with some “standard music” I like to listen to, but 99% of the content is made up out of Podcasts and Audiobooks. Using a special script that I have written up, my Linux server downloads my fresh podcasts on a daily basis. Using the fantastic application called “goodreader” I sync over that folder (over Wifi) to my Ipod. Because I also forwarded some ports, I can do this from anywhere with a working internet connection. The old podcasts get deleted , the new ones get added, it works perfectly. Goodreader is, without a shadow of a doubt the best and most used app on my Ipod. But it doesn’t end there. Sometimes I have audio and videofiles I would like to “take along” on my Ipod. All I need to do is drop them in a folder on my server, and goodreader syncs over THAT folder to, bringing whatever content I wish ( And this also works both ways : content CREATED on the ipod touch is sent “UP” to the server too). But aside from that I enjoy using the Ipod as a “personal trainer” when I need to find out how you hang a frame on a wall. ( Youtube is full of both entertaining and instructional video’s) I don’t put video”s ‘on’ my ipod using Itunes so i hardly use the stock “video” app, but DO use AIRPLAYER, a great DLNA client that connects to my Amahi DLNA server. That way I can stream audio and videocontent stored on my server. And if I ever run out of local content I can just use apps like TED , or the revision3 app. Even the Sticher app comes in handy when I want to
listen to streaming podcast radio.  

Apps : Music player – Goodreader – Airplayer – Revision3 app – Stictcher app – TED app – Youtube app.

In part 2 of this article (Posted tomorrow) we flip around the Ipod touch and take a peek at how it can serve us as an Audio recorder, remote control unit, universal translator (well, kinda), PDA and more.

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