A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

iPod Touch: A Gamer's Best Friend?

Yes, yes, we all know all the hipsters and insane people are buying iPhones with their 70 dollar a month contracts.
Provided you don't mind missing the phone and camera bit, the iPod Touch is the same machine, except you drop 230-400 at once and nobody bugs you.

I went with an 8 gigger. Why? The Application Store makes these overblown MP3 player/PDA hybrids into the pocket computer we all have wanted but nobody has bothered to give us.

I currently have an animated dice program capable of running 100 polygonal dice on screen at once, and it will add things up plus any other adds you put in. Good for games like D6 or Tunnels & Trolls! The developer is working on more seriously needed features (like holding dice, multicolored dice, ect) and so forth. And it was a buck! Some die rollers had more features currently in for a higher price, but a buck for a gamer die roller in my pocket is sure handy!

With the program DataCase my machine can now read locally stored PDFs, though the larger file sizes can bring the application to its knees if not outright CRASH it. But its got handy bookmarks, is easy to use, supports lots of various computer files, allows for easy deletion (more on the machine's god awful file system in a minute...) and so forth. Image and text quality is good. Now I can carry any PDF I need for gaming in my pocket, saving paper, ink, and materials carried. A simple binder to print out charts and game maps and character sheets, and everything else could just fit in this little device that is about as big as my small hands (1 hand) sideways not counting fingers. Want to play Basic Fantasy or OSRIC on the go? You can do that now! All those retro RPGs only available in PDF format are at your command. Public domain books to read, magazine and comic PDF collections... this program alone makes this a wonder machine.

The machine is solidly constructed, with a metal back and a glass front. The only button on the face is the wakeup and backout of apps button. The bottom of the machine has the headphone jack/speaker, and the dock connector most every iPod has. The left side has the volume buttons, and the top has the lock/sleep button. The image quality is great, being about 25% smaller than the PSP, but about 33% bigger than either DS screen. Depending on which way you hold it, many applications have a landscape or vertical layout. Its built in accelerometer that allows you to tilt and turn the machine like a Wii Wiimote sees this. This is very handy for PDF reading!

Built in applications include a notepad, a calendar, a contact list, Safari Web Browser, Weather, a basic calculator, the App Store, iPhone Youtube (These touch machines don't seem to like flash much, so it gets its own custom setup), an email client, stocks, a fancier clock than the top screen timer, a map program, the settings options, photo viewing, itunes store link, the iPod Music, and Video playback.

I moved most of the online required programs to the 2nd page. The Videos seem primarily designed for iTunes store purchasing, as does the music. (Though some file programs like the one I bought above circumvent this.) I converted a working mpg film into an iPod format and transferred it over via the usual iTunes requirements. The video came across and was nice, but the audio was missing. BOO. Its largely gonna be alright for pure Quicktime video, and probably squat else.

Conversion of the file on my 2.8 ghz 2 gig ram dual core iMac took a good 5-7 minutes for a 2 minute video. My second attempt involved a high res Quicktime movie of the Watchmen trailer. It converted in a MUCH quicker timeframe, and the sound was fine. Viewing it on the iPod I saw some missed frames (something I saw in Youtube as well), though this could also be attributed to the conversion removing them in the first place when I played it on the iMac before transferring it over.

The iPod interface got a massive overhaul from my 1st gen Nano with more bells and whistles. Nicely done, but it wasn't really a must need. It was pretty good to begin with! It also has a fairly ok sounding and ok powered speaker so you don't need to buy one or use headphones, though obviously the volume and quality takes a bit of a hit. Nice when you want to annoy people with Wesley Willis music though, or need to throw up a quick RPG background music playlist to get your players in the right mindframe. (Or because you are a bard. And the 2 main reasons to play that class involve getting chicks, and shoving your music down everyone else's throat. Its just the latter that actually works. The former is akin to being good at Guitar Hero or Rock Band.)

Now one thing I need to bring up is transferring files over. Unless its built into iTunes IT SUCKS EGGS. You have to sync files and folders to the machine and whatever is in said folder is shot over, and everything not in that folder is erased. For iTunes music and movies and apps this isn't too shabby. Delete on your computer (or on the machine for the new downloaded apps only) and drag and drop new stuff over and turn that sync malarkey off. This makes using the built in Photoviewer kind of annoying. But you can use those photos for your wallpaper with a flick of a finger.

Because you pretty much control it with your fingers, moving and flicking and pointing. Stylus control doesn't work, but a few companies are making ones that will, giving you more accurate control, which is handy for fat fingered folk, or anyone who wants to type or do any data entry on this thing. It could be a handy tool for writing down notes in RPGs, drawing quick maps.. lots of uses!

So this little gadget plays music, videogames, does most PDA functions, web browsing and other net functions, plus whatever features developers make and hopefully only charge a small fee for.

As a gamer's handy friend I would say it might be one of the better investments you can make. Outside of having a cellphone functionality that I could use with a pay as you go plan like AT&T's Go Phone (which I use for my current phone), its the all in one pocket computer we have all dreamed of!

Its not perfect though. Apple's distrust of the end user, the amount of horrible drek on the App Store, and a few minor quibbles keep it from being a must have.

Its more a REALLY COOL TO HAVE sort of device, especially if you are as nerdy as I am!

My score? Is it Good? Is it Ok? Is it Bad?

It is Good.

With more and better apps to buy and more OS updates this thing should just get better and better though!

No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Southeastern CT, United States
I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/