iPod touch : the new PDA?

Apple iPod touch 8 GB (2nd Generation)

At their “Let’s Rock” event a couple of days ago, Apple unveiled the latest version of the iPod touch. The already thin iPod touch got a bit thinner, and a bit classier, with a metal body.

New features include built-in speakers, hardware volume controls and built-in Nike+ transmitter. It also has a new firmware update, version 2.1 which brings among other things the Genius recommendation service, which optimises your song groupings.

Apple spent a lot of time at the event doing demonstrations of games, for example Spore Origins, Need for Speed and Real Soccer. While the iPod touch has a long way to go in order to replace the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP any time soon, it makes a pretty decent PDA already.

Palm TX Handheld

In terms of software, the iPod touch has a pretty good platform already. You get email and calendaring as default, and these two support synchronization with Microsoft Exchange. The contact list is integrated and quite full-featured, too. The other two default applications that Palm has are Notes and To Do list. While the Notes feature on the iPod touch is nothing to shout about (it doesn’t sync, for example), we now have a big enough base of third party software that we have multiple options for Notes and To Do, and many are available for free.

The iPod touch is about the same form factor as the last from Palm, the Palm TX. There are several differences, of course. The iPod touch does not have an expansion slot for additional storage. However, you could argue that with built-in storage from 8GB to 32GB, you don’t need the SD slot. The main weakness of the iPod touch today is that it doesn’t have Bluetooth, which means you can’t pair it with your phone for Internet access on the go.

In terms of affordability, the iPod touch version 2.0 seems to hit all the right price points: US$229 for 8GB of storage, US$299 for 16GB, and US$399 for 32GB. These prices are between US$70-100 lower than the previous versions. In comparison, the Palm TX is still available — at the price of $399. Palm needs to either reduce the price of the Palm TX, or remove it from the market. At the moment, it looks just outdated and overpriced.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a dedicated PDA, the iPod touch could be just the device for you.