When Apple announced the iPod touch back in September 2007, our reaction was lukewarm.
We'd already used the iPhone and the touch felt like a cut-down version. Yes, we loved the touch screen with multi-touch gestures, and we swooned over the Safari WiFi web browsing, but when it came to the crunch, the iTouch was essentially just a crippled iPhone.
The acres of black space on the home screen bore testament to how many of the iPhone's non-phone features were missing. Apple had removed the Maps application, Stocks, Notes, Weather and Mail. You also couldn't edit or create calendar entries like on the iPhone.
Combine this with a paltry memory size, coming in just 8GB and 16GB flavours, and we were distinctly underwhelmed by Apple's attempts to create an artificial segmentation between its iPod and iPhone product lines.
Double the memory
Now, however, Apple has introduced a new 32GB iPod touch, removing most people's main objection to the original player in one blow. It delivers a knockout punch by bundling the five missing iPhone apps that were left out of the itouch's maiden voyage.
That leaves us with nothing left to pull out of our big box of iPod touch grievances, except maybe the price. So, you're going to have to excuse us as we lose our normal journalistic decorum and join the iPod fanboys in going unashamedly ga-ga over the touch.
In iPod mode it's sublime. Cover Flow makes total sense on the touch's large 3.5-inch screen, and rooting through your list of artists by flicking your finger on the screen makes it easier than ever to find what you're looking for.
As a video playing device it scores highly again. The screen is bright and clear and you can certainly use it for watching full-length movies. The screen itself is tough and durable. Being made of glass it's very difficult to scratch, and smudgy finger prints wipe off easily with the supplied microfibre cloth.
As an iPod it's lovely, but it's as a WiFi device that the touch really excels. Now you can browse the web with a device you can hold in your hand and fit in your pocket, provided you're in range of a WiFi hotspot, of course. The Safari web browsing experience is superb, thanks to the ability to zoom in and out of the page effortlessly.
Maps can pinpoint your location using nearby WiFi hotspots. This was always going to be less accurate on the touch than on the iPhone, which has the advantage of using mobile phone masts to help triangulate your position. Location mapping only really works on the touch if you're in an urban area.
The new killer app on the iPod touch, though, is Mail. Easy to set up and use, it turns the touch into a true internet device. The home screen customisation and Safari web clipping features from the iPhone are also available.
Of course, we still want more. What we want is iChat on the iPod touch, and we wouldn't be surprised if Apple adds it as a software update very soon. The iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) is being announced shortly, and once that's available developers will be able to code a multitude of apps for the touch, from games and utilities to productivity apps.
If you want all the joy of the iPhone, but without the sting in the tail of a monthly tariff, then rejoice - the iPod touch has finally come of age, and once the iPhone SDK is released to developers you're going to see a whole new raft of iPod touch applications popping up every week. We can't wait!
Don't forget, the iPod touch software upgrade is available to all existing iPod touch owners as a £12.99 download from the iTunes Store.