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Signature attractive Apple design, brilliant new 4 inch retina display, powerful dual-core A5 processor, new iOS6 operating system, stunning music/movie performance, great for games, great new apps, runs Siri, but not everyone will like the new dock connector and it's not quite as powerful as the iPhone 5.
To great fanfare, technology giant Apple has announce its latest range of flagship products. Whilst the new iPhone 5 has had the lion's share of the headlines, Apple has also launched an all new version of the iPod Touch and it looks simply superb. Keeping much of the styling of the previous model, Apple has made the new iPod touch longer and thinner, as well as far lighter for improved portability. Apple has also given the Touch the same screen as the new iPhone, making it both larger and more detailed than any of the models before it. There's plenty of power in the new iPod Touch too with a brand new dual-core processor that should quickly zip through any task that you throw at it. The new iOS6 operating system looks the most user friendly yet and has great new features that we haven't seen on the Touch before like Apple's voice assistant Siri. If you're in the market for a PMP, the new iPod Touch looks set to become the pick of the bunch and we highly recommend it.
Design & Features
When it comes to product design Apple has achieved something that most brands strive for and few achieve, as the iPod has become iconic to the extent that it's a must-have fashion accessory. The new Touch has taken the classic iPod design and built upon it, with the end result looking strikingly similar to the new iPhone 5, just slightly curvier and even thinner.
The new iPod Touch is available in a choice of five colours to suit any occasion; there's black, white, blue, green and even pink. The build quality is very good indeed, feeling comfortably solid in the hand despite its incredible lightness. The front of the device is dominated by the new 4 inch glass retina display, whilst the back is covered in anodised aluminium, giving a premium aesthetic. We far prefer the brushed aluminium finish on the Touch's rear to its shiny steel predecessor; it's got better grip and won't get covered in fingerprints or scratches like the previous model. There's also a useful strap that Apple calls the Loop that can be attached to the back for extra security. The only decision that may disappoint some users is to give the touch the same new "lightning" dock connector as the iPhone 5, something that will render existing third party iPhone accessories redundant until Apple release an adaptor. The Touch has dimensions of 58.6 mm (width) x 6.1 mm (depth) x 1123.4 mm (height), making it extremely compact and comfortable to carry. Indeed, iPhone users should take note of the Touch's ridiculously thin 6.1 mm depth which, coupled with the extremely light 88 gram weight, means it's almost unnoticeable in your pocket.
The front of the Touch is taken up by its beautiful high resolution retina display. Apple has upgraded the latest Touch with the same grade of high quality display that has left us drooling over the iPhone 5. The new retina display boasts a 1136x640 pixel resolution at 326 pixels per square inch. It looks super-bright and unbelievably detailed, leaving competing PMPs firmly in second place. High definition movies look great on the new larger screen. The new display is also great for using the iPod Touch's two cameras, which have also been significantly improved over previous models. The front-facing FaceTime camera has been improved to 720p and is ideal for making video calls. The new rear camera, dubbed the iSight camera, has been given a really impressive makeover. It's been boosted to 5 megapixels and features a backside illuminated sensor that shoots at a f/2.4 for rapid performance. Photo quality is far better than with previous versions of the Touch and you even get Apple's new Panorama feature for taking wide landscape photos.
Arguably the biggest criticism that can be levelled at the iPod Touch is that it's not an iPhone. The common argument is that you "might as well just get an iPhone" and whilst it's true that the iPhone is a more complete device overall, there is still a role for the Touch to play as there are still plenty of people out there who want a PMP that's independent of their phone. There's also the fact that the new Touch is fairly affordable for what it is which makes it accessible to an audience that might not be willing or able to shell out more money for an iPhone. This argument can be debated endlessly but at the end of the day whilst it may not be quite as powerful as the iPhone, the iTouch is still the best PMP on the market and is filled with excellent features that make using it a sheer joy.
The new iPod Touch comes complete with a new version of iTunes and whilst we won't know how good it is until we've spent more time with it, early indications suggest that it's the best incarnation of iTunes yet. Like the iPhone 5, the Touch runs on Apple's new iOS6 operating system which, as well as being Apple's most user-friendly OS to date, keeps everything running quickly and smoothly. You also get new apps that are exclusive to iOS6 like Apple's hotly anticipated new Maps service. For the first time ever Apple's voice assistant Siri has also been included on the Touch, allowing you to book restaurants or send a text by voice command.
The Touch also supports Apple's iCloud virtual storage system which allows you to send data wirelessly between Apple compatible devices. This is great for both work and play, allowing you to access important documents whilst on the move, as well as varying up your music selection on the go. Another feature that ties in with this and works spectacularly well is Apple's AirPlay service which allows you to wirelessly stream media from your Touch over compatible speakers or TVs. Similarly, AirPrint provides the same service with compatible printers. These are really good features that save loads of time and negate the need to connect devices physically.
Another of the new iPod Touch's headline features is its dual-core A5 processor. Apple claims that the new processor is twice as powerful and up to seven times the graphics speed of the previous model. This is good news because as Apple likes to remind us, the Touch is every bit as good for gaming as it is music and movies. With over 150,000 games available for download from the App Store, you shouldn't run out of options anytime soon either. Apple has also promised that it will be easy for app developers to make the transition to the new larger screen size, so expect a vast number of new apps to appear in the coming months.
The new iPod Touch is a phenomenal device that looks set to rocket straight into pole position in the portable music player market. From its beautiful design to the stacked features inside, the Touch leaves other PMPs trailing in its wake. The glorious new 4 inch retina display is reason enough alone to fall in love with the Touch and it's the ideal companion for watching videos or playing games whilst out and about. The new FaceTime camera is perfect for video calls and the 5mp iSight camera provides a real step up in photo quality. Apple's iCloud software makes transferring new music to your PMP as simple as can be and AirPlay lets you stream content through a compatible TV or speaker set. The new dual-core A5 processor provides loads of power and allows speedy gaming with much improved graphics. The Touch is a fantastic PMP that costs a fraction of its smartphone sibling. If you want a dedicated PMP and will only settle for the best available, the new Apple iPod Touch is the only way to go.
Typically stunning Apple design, ultra compact, new larger 2.5 inch touch-screen, now supports Bluetooth, unrivalled for exercising, improved radio tuner, better battery, new Apple earphones included, but some users won't like the new dock connector.
In a widely anticipated event held in San Francisco on the 13th September 2012, Apple unveiled its next generation of appliances. The iPhone 5 stole all the headlines, with the new iPod Touch following suit, but it's actually the new iPod Nano that looks most radically different from its predecessor. The iPod Nano 2012 is the 7th generation of the Nano line and it looks like the best yet. Bearing all of Apple's hallmarks for quality, the new Nano allows portable music in a completely redesigned compact frame featuring a brand new and larger 2.5 inch touch-screen display. It comes with a 16 GB capacity to store your songs and other multimedia. Apple has also made the Nano thinner and lighter than ever for added portability. There are great features like a built-in radio tuner too, and it's an ideal jogging companion for those who like to work out. If you want a portable mp3 player that's small enough to take anywhere without compromising on the quality of your music, the new iPod Nano is as good as it gets.
Design & Features
Being an Apple appliance it should come as no great surprise that the new iPod Nano is superbly designed. It's made of smooth anodized aluminium that gives a luxurious, quality feel and is durable enough to be unscathed by a minor knock or two. There's a choice of 8 colours to finish the iPod according to your unique style (silver, slate, blue, green, purple, yellow, pink, limited edition red).
The Nano's dimensions are 39.6 mm (width) x 5.4 mm (depth) x 76.5 mm (height). This makes an incredibly compact, rectangular player and what's even more amazing is that Apple has managed to fit in such an outstanding new display. Considering the small size of the player the new screen is a comparably huge 2.5 inches. It uses Apple's touch screen control system and has an impressive 240x432 pixels resolution, yielding 202 pixels per inch. This marks a significant departure from previous incarnations of the Nano, with the larger screen providing much improved navigation of the operating system and far superior viewing of photos, as well as videos. We were also pleased with Apple's decision to bring back physical controls on the side of the Nano, allowing you to adjust the volume or press pause without having to access the touch-screen. Many users will find Apple's choice to go with their new lightning dock connector less pleasing as it will end the useful life of many existing third party iPhone accessories (like speaker docks) until Apple releases an adaptor.
Another astonishing feature of the new iPod Nanos design is that its tiny dimensions give it an even smaller mass. With an overall weight of just 31 grams, the new Nano is one of the lightest mp3 players around. This makes it incredibly comfortable to use casually or when exercising; a real bonus given that the Nano has always been the iPod of choice for fitness fanatics.
We've long bemoaned Apple's practice of including stock earphones with their products as the sound has never done the devices justice. Imagine how pleased we were then to discover that the new Nano comes with a completely new set of buds that Apple is calling the EarPods. It's a huge relief that the old stock earphones have been dispensed with and users will now be able to enjoy their new Nano straight out of the box without the compromise of unsatisfactory earphones.
Unlike its predecessor, which had a choice of storage capacity, only a 16 GB version of the new Nano has been announced so far. This shouldn't be a problem as we've always thought that any less than 16 GB of storage space would leave most users wanting. Either way, the new Nano should have more than enough space for all your songs and photos as long as you don't overload the system with data heavy videos.
The new iPod Nano's most impressive feature is without shadow of a doubt its pocket friendly compact size that will thrill joggers everywhere. However, despite being small, the Nano does have a few more tricks in the bag. It's fully compatible with Apple's iTunes software, allowing you to purchase music on your home computer and then sync it to the device. It goes without saying that audio-books and podcasts can be transferred as well. The sound quality is excellent too and the new EarPods should help you enjoy it. The Nano also has Apple's "Genius" feature, which can create automatic playlists according to your mood. Simply touch the "Genius" icon when listening to a song you particularly enjoy and "Genius" will automatically form a playlist of similar sounding songs from your music library. This is especially handy when you haven't had time to make a playlist to accompany your morning run or journey to work.
There's also a really good built-in radio tuner that allows you to pause and re-listen to up to 15 minutes of live radio. When you're finished catching up, you can fast-forward the broadcast back to where you initially paused it. You can even tag songs on some stations, making them easier to find on your iTunes to buy and download when you get home.
Finally there's the "Nike+" feature, a useful feature that is aimed at, you guessed it, runners. It uses the Nanos built-in pedometer to give you useful information about your workout such as the distance you have run, your speed and the number of calories that you have burnt off. You can even set goals for your workout and your Nano will keep you informed of your progress through your headphones. This is a great feature for those who enjoy working out, allowing fitness programmes to be tailored specifically to individual requirements. Who needs a personal trainer?
The new iPod Nano is a seriously small mp3 player that is certain to impress despite its compact frame. It can easily be stowed in any pocket and is bound to please music-lovers who like to work out. Apple has combined an easy to use touch screen interface with features like the FM radio that will be used repeatedly. If that wasn't enough, the Nano looks every bit an Apple product too, with its sleek design, new 2.5 inch touch-screen and choice of colours making it an ideal accessory. If you're always on the go and want a portable music player that is compact, stylish and easy to use, you can't go wrong with the new iPod Nano. We think it's the first choice compact music player for sport and leisure.
Eye catching design and flawless sound quality underpinned by Apple 'AirPlay' wireless audio technology. However, it is the ultimate in music docking systems and is priced accordingly.
The B&W Zeppelin Air has been synonymous with great sound quality ever since the original was launched in 2007. Its unique design has, with time, almost made it the ‘iDevice’ of speaker docks due to its instantly recognisable appearance and functionality. The good news is that B&W realised this and released the Zeppelin Air with Apple’s ‘AirPlay’ technology which does away with wires when paired with a compatible device and provides even better sound quality than ever before. Bowers & Wilkins are specialists in high end audio equipment and have established themselves as market leaders with their eye catching and innovative products. We think that the Zeppelin Air is the obvious choice if you’re looking for an Apple AirPlay compatible speaker dock.
There really is very little to say about the outward appearance of the Zeppelin Air as it has become pretty iconic and instantly recognisable due to its unusual styling. It is reassuringly heavy which points to some durable components with an ebony textured exterior (over sound-emitting areas) which is pleasing to the touch. The actual dock connector protrudes from the front of the device and serves its purpose well, although could be improved with retract ability for when you’re streaming your tunes via AirPlay.
The rear of the Zeppelin Air features various connectivity options (aside from its wireless capabilities) including a USB input for streaming music directly from your computer, an auxiliary socket with optical and analogue inputs and a composite video if you choose to use your Zeppelin Air for video playback audio. An Ethernet port is also provided as a backup should your wireless have problems, which is prone to happen from time to time.
A stylish miniature remote control is also included and resembles the Zeppelin Air itself. This is a thoughtful inclusion on the part of B&W as it is not strictly necessary due to the speaker’s wireless properties (when using ‘AirPlay’ you can simply control the Zeppelin with your iDevice).
Whilst it is fair to say that not much has changed externally, the B&W Zeppelin Air could not be more different on the inside. It features a fully active 2.1 design which means that all five internal units (4x25 watt and 1x50w) are smaller than previously and individually driven by audiophile grade class D amplifiers which were specifically developed for the task. The reduction in size of these drive units will, according to B&W, offer much improved sound distribution; technically ‘engulfing’ the room with sound. Bass has been given a dramatic boost also with the addition of B&W’s ‘Flowport’ technology and advanced ‘Digital Signal Processing’. This serves to provide a balanced mix, with enough bass to leave an impression without obscuring those all important highs and mids, a feat which so many speakers fail to achieve.
A major selling point here is the inclusion of Apple’s ‘AirPlay’ wireless audio technology. This allows you to stream audio wirelessly from an iPad/ Iphone or Ipod Touch running iOS 4.2 or a subsequent version. There is also the option of streaming from your PC/ Mac, should you have Apple’s iTunes program installed and running. The Zeppelin Air also works in conjunction with your home internet network either wirelessly or via Ethernet cable and supports multiple Zeppelins so you can use more than one simultaneously should you be fortunate enough to own them.
Using this technology is a breeze when connecting via either method (iOS device or PC/Mac). With a portable iOS device, another icon will become available when ‘AirPlay’ is possible which will transfer music to your speaker when selected and connected. When using a PC/ Mac, the ‘AirPlay’ icon will appear in the lower right-hand corner of iTunes and will offer comprehensive controls of any connected devices on the network when selected. These features are truly innovative and work exceptionally well. They provide a new dimension of freedom of control over your speaker dock as you can control it via your iDevice without the hindrance of having to stop what you’re doing and constantly approach the dock to access and adjust the controls.
The overall sound quality of the Zeppelin Air is, as you would expect from a Bowers & Wilkins product, nothing short of outstanding. Bass is punchy and fulfilling whilst not masking the ever important higher portions of the mix. Whether rock, classical or hip hop, the Zeppelin Air performs well, with the most subtle nuances of the music all being clearly audible regardless of the volume. The mix of almost any track we threw at it came across as balanced, detailed and perfectly controlled: a joy for lovers of great sound.
With an extremely attractive design, excellent balanced sound quality and AirPlay technology, Bowers & Wilkins have possibly achieved the ultimate speaker dock for your iDevice in the Zeppelin Air. It has excellent connectivity, vastly improved internal components (over its predecessor) and additional features, all of which make it a very tempting prospect indeed. If you are seeking a high-end speaker dock to play and fully exploit your music collection simply pick up a Zeppelin Air, we doubt you’ll be disappointed.
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