Buy my Books!

The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →
Watch a FREE video sample →

The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →

Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
Read more about Mike →

SIGN UP! Get the Rohdesign Newsletter.

« BarCampMilwaukee2 Was a Success! | Main | Steel Frame Bikes & The Joy of Cycling »

iPod Touch: My New PDA

03_large20070905.jpgI've been Palm PDA-less for about a year and a half now, successfully switching to a hacked Moleskine Planner system for my personal calendar, tasks and notes.

In fact, the Moleskine has worked well in combination with my iPod nano, which provided access to my contacts in nearly unreadable 4pt text.

When the iPhone launched, I was quite interested, even though an iPhone doesn't suit my needs or budget. I was more interested in the iPhone as a mobile data device, with Safari, Mail and other features it offers.

Enter iPod touch
When Steve Jobs announced the iPod touch, my ears perked up. Now here was a device I could make use of, without a 2 year contract. It had the features I'd actually use: music and podcasts, contact info in a font I could actually read, WiFi and a mobile version of Safari, video play, and access to iCal calendars on the go.

So, this week, for my birthday I got an iPod touch, and so far I'm very impressed.

First Observations
Here are my first observations after having the touch a bit over 24 hours:

  • The size and thinness are amazing, compared to the Palm devices I used to carry round. it's a little disconcerting carrying a $400 iPod with a full glass screen in my pocket, so I'm working on a case and clear screen/body protectors.
  • Mobile Safari and WiFi are quite nice. I'm investigating mobile-specific sites for the iPhone and iPod touch, like PocketTweets and Mobile NY Times, picked up from Janet Tokerud's update on her iPhone. If you have sites to share, please share the links.
  • I've already been able to play audio at IT Conversations, and video from Google Video, so the browser is pretty handy and flexible for my needs.
  • I love the Contacts app, with super-readable text. I like that it syncs from my Address Book on the Mac. I like that I can add new contacts on the go. This was one of the most-missed feature of my Palm PDA.
  • It's handy to have my work and family calendars synced from the Mac as well. We've just setup a common family calendar with iCal on our Macs, Google Calendar on the web and SpanningSync to connect everything together. Having a mobile view of our shared calendars adds a nice access point. I wish I could add events, and hope this feature is added in a future software update.
  • Widescreen video is wonderful. I've moved a few videos over with iSquint and have been pleased with the results. Since my nano had no video capabilities, this is an interesting new option to explore. Now I can watch The IT Crowd wherever I want! :-)
  • Audio is great, though I'm having to re-orient myself a little to to the touch way of navigating through my music and podcasts. I think it's more a matter of me adapting to the new features the touch offers.
  • One thing I miss from the nano is the scroll wheel. I listen to podcasts and music when I drive, so having a physical wheel there for jumping tracks or adjusting or pausing the sound has been useful. Now I need to eyeball the iPod touch to make these changes. I've heard from friends there may be headphones or docks with this feature, so I need to do some research. If you have tips on this, let me know.
  • I'm trying to secure some things to review for the iPod touch in coming months. As I get hold of those and try them, look for reviews, to help out other touch owners.
  • Battery life seems OK, not extensive as my nano though. But hey, this device has a huge screen and WiFi, so I have to be realistic about my expectations coming from an iPod nano.
  • It's nowhere near as featured as a Palm PDA, and doesn't have near the tools that are available on the Palm OS, However, it has the items I need it to have. Over the years I've found that the right features in a tool or device are better for me than every possible feature, especially if I never use 80% of the features offered.

After 24 hours I'm impressed. We'll see what quirks arise after a few weeks. I'l be sure to post again after a month or so and let you all know how things are going in iPod touch land. :-)


Related Links

Apple iPod touch 8 GB (1st Generation)

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (1st Generation)

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (1st Generation)

Apple iPod touch 8 GB (2nd Generation)

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation)

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation)

Forget the iPhone — The iPod Touch is Good Enough (LifeHacker)

iPhone/iPod Touch Application List

iPod Touch Tricks

Apple iPod Touch (Official Page)

Reader Comments (8)

Thanks for the great review, and enjoy the ipod touch :)
October 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJS
I'm sorry I missed the demo today! You'll have to bring it with you on Thursday :D
October 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAshe
Great review Mike, thanks! I'm in a similar boat, I loved the features of the iPhone but I didn't need a cell phone and sure didn't want a 2 year contract. I'm very tempted to get the touch but I'm a little underwhelmed with the amount of storage space. I'm using over half of my 60gb 5th gen iPod Video, so even the 16gb model would be a little low. Hopefully the capacity of flash memory will make a jump in the near future.
October 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEvan Agee
I had a hard time justifying getting an iPod Touch. After all, I didn't really need one. But once I did, I never looked back. Best toy ever. :)

Spanning Sync is an essential add-on so I can add calendar items in Google calendar or iCal.

My only complaint is that if I forget to charge it overnight, I have to go without the next day!
October 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Robinson
I'm one of the biggest Mac heads ever (since the 1980's) and I would sell whatever I could on eBay to buy an iPod Touch. But it's a huge disappointment to me that something so gorgeous with a touch screen keyboard lacks so much as a notepad app to write with.

I understand that Apple doesn't want it to compete with the iPhone, but a little more functionality would be welcome, especially for that much money spent.
October 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkenaroni
Paul � SpanningSycn is great! It's going to be purchased soon as it works well for keeping our family schedule on track across Macs, iPods and even online. Wish it would sync tasks (though this might be a limitation of gCal).

kenaroni � I agree. That and lack of calendar apps really limits this device as a PDA. However, I am optimistic that more apps and features will continue to appear on the touch as time goes on, as happened with the iPhone.

October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Hey Mike.. been reading your stuff since the old days of a certain Palm oriented newsletter.. I have never been a Mac or Apple fan. I didn't dislike them, I just never "got into" them. I was a huge Palm fan for over 10 years, my dresser is a graveyard of devices.. PalmPilot, PalmPilotPro (with the IR conversion back), IIIc, m505, Tungsten T and C... well, you get the idea. When I replaced my phone in August, I was excited to replace it with a Treo 680.

In the meantime, I became an iPod fan... I avoided the iPod brand for a long time, finally becoming frustrated with different mp3 players enough to buy an iPod nano... what a sweet little device.

So after two weeks of absolute frustration with the 680.. crashes, hard resets, poor battery life.. and an announcement of a price drop on the iPhone.. I jumped off the cliff and bought an 8 gig iPhone.

What an amazing device.. I know press has been lackluster on it.. but speaking as a technical geek who is not an Apple fanboi, I am constantly impressed with this thing's performance. If the iPhoneless (that's what people in developer circles are calling it) is as strong of an experience as the iPhone, you'll continue to love it... and now Jobs has announced an SDK will be available late winter... think of the cool apps that are coming.

Enjoy! I know I am!

And keep posting the analog PDA revelations, too... Love every one of them. :)
October 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Thanks for the interesting story Brad -- I remember you from way, way back too! :-)

I am very much enjoying the iPod touch and am extra excited to hear that the SDK is coming in February. I actually am optimistic that Apple will add features to the touch from the iPhone, such as editable iCal and other stuff, however come March, we all ought to have some more options on the table.

Glad you like my reports � reminds me to do a follow-up report on the touch this weekend after 2 weeks with the thing.
October 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.