The new iPod Touch 4.0 arrived yesterday, all 64 GB in a very easy to open environmental package. Inside was the typical clear plastic package, and then once that was open the usual Apple clear practice wrapper around the touch. After a few minutes of syncing the new device to my Mac Book Pro I went through the steps of configuring a few Voice applications.
After making calls over WiFi using my new FreeTalk Everyman Handsfree headset that's designed for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but works with any mini pin plug enabled mobile device, I quickly realized that the sound quality was as good *OR BETTER* than on my iPhone.
Next I fired up the Verizon Wireless MiFi and made a few more test calls to friends whom I regularly speak with over my Verizon Droid. The result was even more revealing. People on the other end said I sounded better. For the most part my calls were made using Truphone and Bria, and for calls to the PSTN they seemed to have a better overall tone. However, nothing beat Skype to Skype calls, as the wideband Silk codec in the Skype client and the Silk codec in the headset worked as planned.
But where the combination of the headset and the new iPod touch really shined was with what the iPod touch was originally designed for. iTunes. The fidelity range, richness and deep bass response, complete with a very robust mid-range and as well as the upper end of the audio scale, and this included both the audio stored on the device, as well as audio being streamed from Pandora or over a range of NPR stations over Verizon's 3G network.
While I've yet to test this on Sprint, Clearwire or AT&T's networks, I'm confident based on past experiences that the $6.00 a month iPhone has only gotten better. With an unlimited plan from Truphone for $12.95, free calling over Google Voice via the Gizmo client and my Skype Unlimited World Plan at about $12.00 a month, all that calling and data still ends up costing less than an iPhone with a calling bundle and a data plan on AT&T. The key here is we're all moving to a data centric world, and as I look at my minutes consumed I realizing I'm talking far less over a mobile phone, making more placing and receiving more calls from my laptop, and connecting more and more with my colleagues and peers using VoIP, all the time, more and more without a traditional mobile operator for voice, but instead using them as the pipe for the voice supplier of my choice.
In many ways, 3G and 4G calling is as closest as we'll get to deregulated long distance calling, and the iPod touch is like the phone's we used to buy after years of having to rent our phones from Ma Bell. This uncoupling may be the crux of why the carriers are so concerned about net-neutrality, or it may only be a piece of it. Either way, with a little ingenuity you can be calling over something other than a landline, or mobile phone, with quality as good, or better, all while saving money, having more control and greater flexibility.
In part two, I'll discuss why the VOIP services that go beyond your current mobile operator.
UPDATE-> The speaker on the iPod touch works with Bria, Skype and Truphone, so I guess I really now do have an iPhone without a contract for a lot less.