My free iPod Touch

Each member of my family—my wife, three children and I—are heavy iPod Nano users. We never got into the iPods with hard drives because they were just too large. When the first Nano model came out I immediately went out and got one for each of us. We do a lot of travel as a family and figured the iPod would be a great way to help reduce the quantity and volume of "Are we there yet?".

At that point we were all still Windows users, each of us running some flavor of Windows XP and using iTunes on it. The Nanos were perfect for us and regardless of where we fell on the technical proficiency scale they were mastered very quickly.  We imported our CD collections and began buying our music through iTunes. 

Over the years we cycled through at least one iPod each. For my wife, son and I it was because we upgraded to a newer model with more memory, video capabilities, etc.

My daughters were a different story. Either both of them are fond of carrying bricks in their oversized purses or they have a secret pet rock fetish but both have managed to crush the display on their Nanos. My oldest daughter is very pragmatic about it and was quite happy to just take the ones that my wife or son had upgraded from. My youngest however is a gadget fiend and simply has to have the latest and greatest device.

"Daddy, I would love to get an iPod Touch. Have you seen the screens on them? They are SOOOO cool! Can I please have one?"

Ugh. I don't know where she gets this obsession with technology. 

Needless to say she did get an iPod Touch for Christmas last year and happily showed it off to everyone. While I was quite happy with my last generation iPod Nano (no video) because of the tiny size and 8GB capacity, there was a part of me that coveted that iPod Touch.

A free iPod Touch?
When we bought the MacBook Pro a little over a week ago we were able to take advantage of the promotional program Apple is running for people that qualify for an educational discount. There are benefits that my wife gets from teaching at a public high school and this is one that I enjoy the most. Not only were we able to get a discount on the MacBook Pro itself and Applecare, we were also able to get a free iPod with up to a $299 rebate. Since the 8GB iPod Touch was $299 I figured this would be a great time to get one.

The Touch is an interesting device and a marvel of engineering. The large display on it is simply stunning. After the display the biggest difference between it and the standard iPod line is that there are only two external buttons: The Sleep/Wake—On/Off button at the top edge and the Home button on the face. This is a bit of a challenge because I normally operate my Nano by feel. My thumb feels the click wheel on the Nano and I can pause, change the volume or skip to the next or previous song without ever looking, even when I'm out jogging.

The Touch requires my full attention when operating it however. The position of the controls is handled directly on the touch display, a display that can reorient itself based on the attitude of the device. Hold it straight up (Portrait) and you get slightly different control surfaces than if the Touch is on it's side (Landscape).

For this reason alone the Nano will continue to be my primary music device, at least for exercising. The Touch has many capabilities though, some changing the way I access my primary computers.

E-Mail and Web Browsing
Perhaps the coolest feature of the iPod Touch is the ability to surf the web using Wifi and the internal Safari browser. If you have not seen an iPhone or iPod Touch browsing the web you will be stunned that something so small could actually be so functional. Though it does require a Wifi host to tap into I can generally find them in most of the places I frequent. 

I'm a big Gmail fan and the mail program in the Touch can hook right up to it and provide a highly readable interface to my e-mail. Though I wouldn't want to compose anything of length on the Touch's display based keyboard, it is pretty easy to type on. If you have large fingers it would likely be a bit of a challenge though.

I've found that now when I am upstairs watching TV with my wife I'll keep the Touch handy because it's so quick and easy to check e-mail or pull up a web site that is referenced on the program we're watching. It isn't something I would spend an extended amount of time on but is perfect for that quick reference.

It may be pretty but it gets dirty fast
About the only thing negative I could think of with the iPod Touch is that its polished surface—both the display glass and the chrome back—show every finger print and smudge. Within a day of getting the Touch I went over to my local Best Buy and purchased a DLO Jam Jacket for $21. It provides a rubberized case that ads a little to the bulk of the Touch but in return makes it feel highly ruggedized. 

The small clip on the back of the Jam Jacket doubles as a headphone holder so you don't have to wrap the headphones around the business end of the display. This makes it even easier to just grab it quickly and check e-mail or the web.

Apple comes through again
When we bought the MacBook Pro and the iPod Touch we had to pay for the Touch up front. The $299 was supposed to come as a rebate. I've always hated rebates. The companies that provide them often squirrel out of them by telling you that you didn't include the correct UPC code or you wait for 6-8 weeks and just forget about the darn thing.

Apple is different. When we bought it they gave me a little card and the Apple Store employee told me to go online when I got home and fill out the form. He even offered the use of the Macs on display if I wanted to do it immediately. I ended up going home and filling out the form, a very brief one that basically had me plugging in my receipt ID and confirming my mailing address. It was really simple.

Four days later I got an e-mail from Apple indicating that my rebate was on the way. Today I received the rebate check from Apple. Elapsed time to receive the rebate check: 9 calendar days or 5 business days.

Apple continues to impress me. Not only are they producing cutting edge products that I thoroughly enjoy using, they are running their business exceptionally well.


Jeff said…
I just wanted to touch (pun intended) on one thing in your post. I have large hands (ring size 14) and I have no problem typing on my iPhone.

I also use my for quick reference when watching TV or when out and about. I love the iPhone.
David Alison said…
@Jeff: I have average sized hands and I feel like I need to peek around them a bit to feel sure I'm hitting the key I want. I am amazed that the keyboard works as well as it does given how small it is though. If it wasn't for my Sprint contract I would be picking up an iPhone on July 11. Unfortunately Sprint wants $275 to get out of it.
Anonymous said…
We all do the same at home. Downstairs I have my iPhone, daughter has her iPodT. Getting on the web and email is fast and easy. Specially when we are watching a movie and look up tidbits about it on IMDB. Email is a joy to use, unlike BB and other smart-phones with no rich HTML emails. I mean everything you usually need to get info on is right there at our fingertips with very little compromise on usability or how the data is displayed.

For smudges, I've tried the PowerSupport Anti-Glare film. It really keeps the smudges to a bare minimum, but at the expense of having a bit of a grainy view. It's anti-glare also. So if smudges drives you insane, give it a shot.
mbmcavoy said…
I'm looking to take advantage of the same deal, via my mother-in-law who is a preschool teacher.

Even though I'm planning to purchase at the local store, I've researched it online, and her school isn't on the qualified list. I called 1-800-MY-APPLE today, and got a terrible run-around, including the local store. No one could tell me what verification process is needed!

Any pointers on what is needed? Is just a pay stub enough, scout's honor (albeit questionable in this case), or does the school need to send in something? Also, would it be a problem if the payment/rebate were in my name if she is present at the time of sale?

Almost ready to pull the switching trigger...
Anonymous said…
i have 3 ipods for different purposes - my old 512mb shuffle for the gym, my 40gb classic for my car integration and my 8gb touch for work. i love my touch the best. not only is the interface unlike anything else on earth, it really is a mini computer. email, the best mobile browser on the market (flash is coming soon) and instantaneous booting make it so easy to use the internet when i'm out and about at a hotspot, wardriving or at home when i dont feel like booting my mbp. plus, when the app store is in full effect, the touch experience will be that much cooler.

for my case, i left the original film on and use the griffin iclear ($20 at best buy -
the case is solid and not gaudy.
David Alison said…
@Mike.Mcavoy: I'm not sure exactly what you will need. When we purchased ours my wife was there and had her school id with her, but her school is listed with Apple so it was a no brainer. Apple's web site implies that you must be either K-12 or college. If the school is pre-school only then that may be a problem.
Anonymous said…
I love my iPod touch. And when I travel and stay in a motel, its screen makes a passable flashlight.
mbmcavoy said…
Thanks, David.

"Employees of public or private, for-profit or nonprofit preschools" seem to be in. (, click on "Find out if you qualify", the last bullet-point) It's a small non-profit preschool, and they don't have employee IDs.

As far as I can tell, the best bet is to go to the store, and see if a pay stub will suffice as documentation. Fortunately the school name is quite descriptive!

Wish me luck! :)
Anonymous said…
If you're feeling adventureous, hack it and install! There are some amazing third party apps available
ukann said…
If you still need to peek around to make sure you're hitting the right key, try to get out of it and trust the auto-correct feature. It's incredibly smart and will guess what you meant to type if you make a mistake, usually based on what keys are around. For example, typing "grllo" it will suggest "hello". Just hit the space bar and hello will be typed. Once you learn to trust it, you'll type without thinking about any mistakes. Took me about a week to get used to it on my iPhone but now, I never think twice about the keys I'm hitting.
MagerValp said…
Unfortunately my experience with Apple rebates is just the opposite. I took advantage of their MacBook + "free" iPod two years ago, as part of the Back To School promo (I work at a university). To get the money back for the iPod you had to fill out an annoying paper form, send it together with the receipt to *England* (I live in Sweden), then wait a few weeks before the money showed up. Of course, all that arrived with the computer was a delivery notice, and not the receipt. It conveniently arrived just two days before the rebate offer expired (iirc 8 weeks after purchase). The window of opportunity was less than 24 hours.

This was two years ago, and maybe Apple have changed their rebate policy now, but I'm never touching a rebate offer again, ever.
Josso said…
Hey David! :)
I just wanna say thanks for a god review. ;D

Really hope that the "BackToSchool"-program will comming to Denmark. :)
We had it last year, but nothing new from Apple... :(

- Johan
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Anonymous said…
I have a Touch and a Blackberry - the Touch virtual keypad is far better! The BB keys are microscopic... rather have an iPhone, but work won't allow that.
Anonymous said…
Congratulations on the great deal, there is nothing better than getting something for free!
Yeah, Apple makes great products. I only wish their products were not so darn expensive.
Anonymous said…
To follow up on my comments above. Tuesday night we made the deal, and it was the best-case scenario. The salesman looked at her pay stub and driver's license, and called that verified. The school wasn't listed in his terminal, and he muttered "I'll just put the [local university]". :)

I also hadn't noticed the current printer deal, but they free HP multifunction printer as well!

Call me a happy switcher!
David Alison said…
@Mike: Thats outstanding man - enjoy the new Mac! If you read through some of my earlier posts you'll find quite a few that may help you out.

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