OK, so I finally broke down a couple of weeks ago, and jumped onto the smartphone bandwagon. On October 26, my Verizon iPhone 4S showed up at the door, two days earlier than the promised delivery date. No sooner had this techno-toy registered on my household than my 7-year-old son Gregory expropriated it for his own uses–which in his case means playing games.
Not necessarily wanting to surrender this communication tool to the savage mercies of the younger generation, I started casting about for some kind of techno-toy for him to use so that I could regain full-time custody of my cellphone cum computing platform. That’s when I discovered that the latest iPod Touch models (or recent versions that can handle the iOS 5 upgrade) can do everything the iPhone does except for making and taking phone calls, or using 3G WLAN wireless to operate untethered away from Wi-Fi networks.
With a little judicious shopping around, I was able to pick up a used iPod Touch 32 GB model with iOS 5 installed for about two hundred bucks. Not only did this allow me to put a handheld device into Gregory’s hands that did what he wanted it to do, it let me regain control over my 64 GB iPhone 4S, for which the invoice from Verizon says the list price is a whopping $849! Even though I am paying for breakage and replacement insurance on the device ($8.18 a month seems a small price to pay for such a small and costly handheld), I am much more comfortable having put something less valuable into a young boy’s hands. I came to this decision when the first thing he did was to grab the iPhone from me upon his arrival home from school the day it appeared at our front door, and the next thing he did after that was drop it on the tile floor in the kitchen–luckily for all of us, onto a small kitchen rug next to the island between the range and the sink.
But as I’ve been involved in acquiring, setting up, and occasionally using his iPod Touch to surf the Web and run various apps, I’ve been impressed by its ability to do everything the iPhone does except to handle phone stuff. And I’m told that as long as the device stays in Wi-Fi range, the Skype app makes it possible to use it for VoIP calls, too. For $200 (or even the $300 list price of the device I purchased used) this is some astounding and valuable capability for a fairly small price, with no monthly fees or jailbreak consequences to ponder.
It’s a real eye-opener for Gregory, too. He’s already announced he no longer needs his Nintendo DSI, and greatly prefers the resolution and behavior of the iPod Touch. And for about the same amount of money, the iPod Touch offers a much smoother network integration than the DSI (this iPod works happily with standard WPA security on 802.11g and 802.11n at 2.4 GHz, while the DSI works only with WEP, and is nowhere near as snappy doing Internet stuff of any kind). And he hasn’t even begun to tap into the iPod’s stellar music playback and management functions, nor its video storage and playback capability, either.