We knew it was coming and it didn't take a genius to figure out what was in store for the fourth generation of the Apple iPod touch. Having seen the changes to the iPhone 4, it was only natural to assume that the iPod touch would be getting the pick of the best parts. Pocket-lint was on-hand at the Apple launch and gave the new iPod touch a good going over during a hands-on session.
The star of the show, naturally, is the high resolution, 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 pixel resolution display. Staring into the sharp, vibrant, display, it reminded us of just how impressive the iPhone 4's screen is. If the iPhone can be praised for one thing in particular, it is that its success has brought great benefits to the iPod touch.
We'd expected a more drastic design shift to reflect the new design of the iPhone, but the design overall is fairly similar to before. You still have the stainless steel back, wonderfully curved to fit into your hand and simple clean lines that look elegant from every angle. It is marginally slimmer at 7.2mm (111 x 58.9 x 7.2mm overall, and weighing 101g), although it wasn't exactly fat in the first place, which means none of your existing covers will fit.
The most noticeable change to the design is around the edges of the screen, where the line between the screen and the metal back as been trimmed down even further. Again, it wasn't exactly fat in this area, but the tight new design makes the previous iteration look decidedly tired.
Steve Jobs said the iPod touch is "an iPhone without a phone. It's also an iPhone without a contract" and that's what appeals about the iPod touch in its previous and new guise: it gives you access to all the iPhone goodness without the ongoing cost.
And this means you get access to the App Store and all the joys it contains, from social apps, to games, to doing your grocery shopping online. One major omission in the past has been the lack of a camera to get to grips with all the photo apps.
This is a major change for the iPod touch with the inclusion of both a front a rear camera. We saw the slightly odd addition of a camera to the iPod nano last year (removed without even a mention in the latest version) that only offered video, but the new iPod touch gives you both a rear and front facing camera.
The iPod touch will now support HD video capture, but you'll also have iOS 4.1 in place, so you'll be able to upload HD content direct to YouTube and make FaceTime calls to other iPod touch users, or iPhone 4 users, if such a thing appeals to you. There is a mic included and from the demo we saw, it was the same experience as on the iPhone 4.
Although Apple doesn't declare what the resolution of these cameras is we suspect they are somewhere around 0.6 or 0.7 megapixels on the back, but this will depend on the aspect ratio of the video it captures. If it is a standard 1280 x 720 video (16:9 aspect) then it is more likely to be a 1-megapixel camera. Whatever the details are, we'll be looking closely at this in our full review and see if the step down means the still imaging suffers as a result.
All these things will have to wait until we have the iPod touch back for a full review. But exploring the devices Apple had on show, we were surprised how slick and fast everything felt. Again, just like the design, the old iPod touch is no slouch but the new touch is snappier. It moves around pages faster, it opens apps in a flash.
Apple today pointed out that iPod touch is the most successful portable gaming platform available, outselling portable offerings from Nintendo and Sony. They showed off a demo of Project Sword from Epic Games (the people behind Unreal Tournament and Gears of War), taking advantage of Apple's new Game Center which will be part of iOS 4.1. It's difficult to deny the uptake of gaming that the iPod touch has seen and with the extra power from the A4 processor and the higher resolution, that success is set to continue.
Our first impressions of the new iPod touch are extremely positive. It remains to be seen whether the camera delivers the performance we saw on the iPhone, and if it doesn't, is it an acceptable middle ground?
But we can't help being impressed with Apple's high resolution display again. With apps updating to take advantage of the sharper display, the experience is going to be great for gaming, watching video and browsing photos.
The price is a little high, but you do get a lot for your money and we can't wait to put the iPod touch through its paces in a full review.