Tech Horizon

Dear J-

As expected Apple introduced new iPods yesterday; the Shuffle regressed to the 2nd generation design (controls on the body), the Nano became a square-format touchscreen player (no separate applications and, supposedly, no plans for such, either), and the one I’d been waiting for, the Touch grew ever-closer to the iPhone, now sporting the high-resolution screen, A4 processor, and dual cameras for FaceTime and 720p30 video. The role of ubiqutious camera now falls on the Touch, as the Nano’s camera has been removed. Unlike the iPhone, though, the Touch’s back camera seems unnecessarily limited: no LED flash and more critically, no resolution, as stills are stuck at single-frame resolutions of 960×720 (it’s there in the tech specs if you don’t believe me). That’s lower than even the original iPhone, yet for web use that’s probably perfect as no one appreciates multi-megabyte emails with high-resolution attachments.

So life is hard again. Assuming that the Touch sports the same connectivity as the rest of the A4-equipped line, that means I can pair a Bluetooth keyboard and blog on-the-go, finally coming full circle from the PalmOS and Maemo devices I’ve been using (a Treo 650 and then a Nokia N800). The integrated camera means it’s relatively easy to integrate pictures into writing, and the iOS WordPress application is a solid piece of work. If the SD card reader for the iPad works, in fact, I’d have no reason to lug around the N800, which was useful though limited in being able to upload real-camera pictures wherever I can get a WiFi signal (the limit being that more than five pictures at a time and the program would start doing funny things to flickr).

The trick is that Android already offers most of these things with hardware that’s as cheap though less capable: built-in card reader, Kindle, WordPress, flickr all accounted for. I’m comfortable with the idea of the Touch, though, even if the perception is that it’s a system for people afraid of technology. I looked at the process of installing unsupported upgrades to Android: it’s entirely possible, and the instructions are detailed enough, but that you’d have to install the Android SDK onto your computer and build your own image stops me cold. It’s fiddly, and it means less time actually using programs. That’s fine for those who delight in modifying settings, but I’m getting too old and impatient for that stuff already.



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