TRYING TO FIND SOMETHING to help a nearly blind student engage with his third level college lectures, I played with an iPod Touch to see if it would aid someone who wanted to review lesson materials stored online. It wins in one respect by rendering web pages crisply and in an astonishingly clear fashion. However, the size of the fonts will not expand as high as with a dedicated screen zoomer. Nonetheless, its screen presentation deserves full marks. Assuming the student will lose more eyesight as the academic year continues, it's important to be able to play audio files and the iTouch does this but you need to work your way around a touch-based user interface. I don't think this will prove viable for a nearly-blind student because the industry recommends devices with large, tactile buttons. A sighted student would be well-served by the iPod Touch's capability to play audio files. And its wi-fi networking makes quick work of connecting up to an internet collection point where the lecture notes would await immediate download. Better still, students can download a raft of creative multimedia notes directly through iTunes or by subscribing to educasts at podcasting.ie.
Like several other evaluators, I have problems with the iPod Touch's glass surface getting greasy. But through all the fog of indecision, I wonder if this new iPod heralds the arrival of a new way of reading the web. I've always enjoyed seeing the internet and reading my newsfeeds on my four-inch Nokia screen. The iPod Touch offers a much crisper option and that alone might make it a viable Christmas present for someone on my family.