Apple's new 32GB iPod touch very nearly lives up to the dream of the phone-less iPhone.

When Apple unveiled the iPod touch our initial reaction was lukewarm. Its video wasn't as bright and defined as that of the iPhone. It offered an unnecessarily hobbled set of features - the Calendar application, for example, didn't allow you to add or edit events and it lacked applications such as Stocks, Weather, and Notes. And its playtime didn't measure up to Apple's estimates.

Slick though the touchscreen interface was, many were disappointed that the touch didn't live up to the dream of the "phone-less iPhone". Not now, however.

Getting the picture

Apple addressed the most egregious video performance issues - where dark video and photos were really dark and lacked contrast - in the iPod touch 1.1.1 update. After applying the update, video on affected iPods improved.

Yet even with the update our original 16GB iPod touches didn't produce video as bright and defined as did an iPhone, though what it did produce was watchable.

The quality of the 32GB iPod touch's screen still doesn't match that of the iPhone. Its display has a yellower cast and is darker than the iPhone's display. But you're unlikely to be bothered by these issues unless you have the touch next to an iPhone and compare the two.

Added applications

Apple eventually allowed adding and editing events within the touch's Calendar application through a free software update.

The iPhone's "non-phone" applications remained missing in action, however, until Steve Jobs announced an add-on package of iPod touch applications at the recent Macworld Expo. These applications - Mail, Stocks, Maps, Weather and Notes - are included with iPod touches sold today.

They work just as they do on the iPhone other than providing links to calling functionality. For example, you can ask an iPhone to dial a phone number embedded in a Safari page or contact. Obviously this feature doesn't exist on the iPod touch.

Just as with an iPhone running version 1.1.3 of the iPhone software, the iPod touch, with its 1.1.3 software includes the Maps application enhancements as well as the ability to place web clippings on the Home screen, rearrange icons on that Home screen, and add additional Home screen pages to accommodate those web clippings and the third-party applications that Apple will make available later this year.

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