Fifth-generation iPod touch is faster, finer than predecessors

There's a new iPod touch on the block and, in many of the ways that most matter, it's a doozy. While it's tempting to compare it to a phone-less iPhone 5--particularly given its similar height, weight, thickness, and Lightning connector--the iPod touch is a device intended for a different audience. An audience that skews younger than the iPhone's and one that desires a cool media and game player that can stand on its own rather than feel like an iPhone's hobbled sibling. And for this reason, a comparison to the is more apt.

That said, there's really no comparison. The latest touch--in (4.5 of 5 rating) and (4.5 of 5 rating) flavors--is umpteen times better.

To help define exactly what I mean by let's begin with the outside. Like the , the latest iPod touch is taller than the previous model--measuring 4.86 inches  versus the 4G iPod touch's 4.4 inches. It's also quite thin at just 0.24 inches thick. And, like the iPhone 5, it's surprisingly light when you first pick it up. (Though taller than the previous model, it's almost half an ounce lighter.) A couple of family members picked mine up unbidden and their first remarks were "Wow, it's taller... and " So yes, you can feel the difference.

The last iPod touch had severely beveled edges. With those edges, I found it clumsy to feel around for the On/Off and Volume buttons. They invariably seemed a little too far back on the case, which caused me to lift up the left side of the iPod to adjust volume. The edges of the new touch still curve around to the back, but not at such a steep angle. In this case, the buttons feel like they're perfectly placed. I hit them every time without having to shift the iPod around or look at it. Similarly, with the less-angled bottom edge, the headphone port feels easier to access. With the 4G iPod touch, I felt like I should be inserting the headphone jack diagonally rather than straight in.

And then there's the (a Lightning-to-USB cable is included in the box). When fumbling with the old-style Dock connector in an ill-lit room on my old iPod touch, I'd try to jack it in the wrong way round at least half the time. Having the new Lightening connector, which goes in regardless of which way the plug's turned, is a welcome change.