The iPod Touch is incredible, amazing, with a sensational design to utilize wireless broadband

Apple’s iPod Touch is more than a portable music player with a great-looking interface–it is the Internet browsing device of the future. Yes, that’s right–the future is actually getting here now!

On an academic tour of the northern European capitals back in 2001, I heard from one telecom executive and professor after another about the amazing devices ready to happen when “3G” mobile telephony was launched. Then it launched, with a whimper, in Norway and Japan, and very little changed.

Phones slowly evolved over time after that, with occasional good ideas from the likes of Palm, Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Blackberry, Samsung and Motorola, but really–as the network caught up, slowly, it became clear that no one had designed a fully-capable thin-layer computer for hooking into the web at broadband speed that actually had the interface to take advantage of it.

Now wi-fi isn’t everywhere yet–Google and Earthlink haven’t even managed to bring it to San Francisco as they promised–but it is found in more and more places. Though the iPod Touch doesn’t have the camera or persistent connection to the cellular telephone network of the iPhone, it is a thinner device that does very well at its few tasks.

It also avoids the entanglement and expense of a(nother) cell phone contract.

Its touch-screen interface is amazing, and gives easy access to the Safari browser (a much better one than the version for PCs) along with a Youtube player and an iTunes music store, which work when connected to wireless Internet, along with the music and video players and calendar and contact managers that can work anywhere. The battery does need to be hooked in, and wall chargers cost about $30 extra, but for such a thin device the battery is decent.

Being able to install more programs would be nice–I still have to look in to how much I can put on there. I’d like to experiment with other browsers, like Opera Mobile, just because I like to try out stuff like that (as I said, the Safari on the Touch is very good). A few office applications would be excellent additions to the program list, and could expand the functionality of the device. But even now, Apple’s iPod Touch is an incredible breakthrough and likely to be a sensational gift for anyone this holiday season.

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