Product Type: Apple MP3 players
Newest Review: ... so I do not worry about throwing it into a bag. It also comes with a pair of Apple earphones The iPod has up to 15 hours battery life... more
The littlest iPod
Apple iPod shuffle (2G) 2 GB
Member Name: hogsflesh
Apple iPod shuffle (2G) 2 GB
Advantages: Small, cheap, decent quality, space for enough tunes
Disadvantages: No interface, white earphones
The problems were a) my reluctance to spend money on anything; and b) my dislike of Apple's branding. I resolved to go for the cheapest iPod I could find, but ended up getting the second cheapest: a second generation 2GB Shuffle. Not one of the fancy new ones that talks to you (why would I want an MP3 player to talk to me? What could it have to say?), just a simple device to drown out the awful, awful noises made by other human beings as I travel to and from work every day.
I was shocked at just how small it is - it's only just bigger than a large postage stamp. My first thought when I opened it was 'christ alive, I could fit that up my bottom, no problem!' (I didn't try. I suspect it'd be a lot more difficult getting it out again afterwards). It looks quite nice (I went for one in blue), but I wish it didn't have those stupid white headphones, which look unbearably twee. As with all in-ear headphones, they start to become noticeably uncomfortable after about half an hour.
I think it's compatible with other headphones, but I have none around to try, my last decent pair having been eaten by a dog. (And I tell you what, if that dog ate these ones, blood would be spilled. Probably mine - I doubt I'd win a serious fight with a Labrador. I know they're pretty stoical, but surely there's a point after which they snap. Isn't there? Or do they just look up at you with big, pleading eyes throughout the whole sordid business, like in those RSPCA ads, as if to say 'But master, I love you. Why must you hurt me like this? I only meant to please...' Ah great. Now I'm going to have nightmares about torturing dogs.)
Obviously, coming to an iPod after an old fashioned Walkman, it can't help but be an enormous improvement. The sound quality is nice and clear and loud - almost loud enough to drown out the sound of children shouting at one another on the bus. I can turn it up so loud it feels like it's doing permanent damage to my hearing. No doubt there are file formats that are of better quality than MP3, and no doubt I could have better headphones, but these are fine for my needs.
I figured 2GB was more than enough memory, as it's about a day's worth of music, and I was right. 2GB allows you to load everything by The Beatles, plus all David Bowie's good albums, and still have room for most of Brian Eno's 70s output. If you choose to listen to every UK number 1 in order (and you should, it's hilarious and depressing at the same time) then you'll get to the mid-80s before you need to restock.
It's very very easy to fill with songs, although you'll need iTunes installed on your computer - all you have to do is stick it on its 'docking bay' (ie plug) and it appears as a folder on iTunes into which you can drag and drop files. (Be warned, though - although the iPod itself looks quite sturdy, the docking thing will break if you tread on it when drunk - and, probably, when sober. You'll have to pay £10 for a new one.) The little clip on the iPod seems reliable, although I tend to just stick it in my pocket.
The bad things? Well, there's no real interface. When it's loaded up, you can't find songs you want easily. This doesn't usually worry me, as I tend to let fate determine what I listen to. But on the occasions when I am trying to listen to something in sequence, I find that recharging the iPod starts you back at the very beginning of your playlist, so you have to click through dozens of songs to get to the one you want.
Also, the white circle you use to navigate is annoying. Sometimes when trying to turn down the volume, I accidentally skip forward a track by mistake. This to my mind is bad design, although I daresay I'm just not thinking sufficiently differently. The pause/play button is also a bit random in my experience; sometimes you have to hit it two or three times before anything happens.
The battery doesn't last very long, which can be annoying. It seems to give about 6 or 7 hours of play before it dies (and when it dies it dies suddenly). It gives no audible warning of when it's about to run out; instead there's a light on it which changes colour, but I never notice that. Couldn't it beep or something when you're down to your last half hour?
But that's not a major problem, I just have to remember to recharge it every few days. Otherwise, it does everything it's meant to. It's easy to fill up with songs, it sounds good, and it has space for a more than acceptable amount of music. For £40 you can't go wrong, even if the controls could be better. It functions as well as it needs to - it keeps me sane on journeys, which is what it's there for.
Summary: A cheap iPod that does the trick
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