My wife was given this as a Xmas present a couple of years ago to replace a very small capacity MP3 player.
Silver, stylish, very small (and I do mean small - I have never known something lost so many times), so all looks good - hang on where are the control buttons? Here lies the main problem.
There are no buttons on the the unit itself - all controls are via a switch on the headphones (volume, next track shuffle - that's it!). Having said that, they work, are easy to use and do what they say on the tin.
The problem is that the headphones, whilst OK, are not brilliant - at a reasonable volume, the sound is really a bit tinny and the bass is negligible with no way of changing it.
With any other iPod or mp3 player it would simply be a case of changing the headphones, but with this unit you can't as you need to use the controls.
From Apple's point of view, this is fine as it ties you to their products, however in reality it will probably cost them sales as most discerning users will want to be able to use headphones that suit them - not what they are forced to use. In practice I have found that headphones don't last forever - so I assume that a premium price would need to be paid to replace like for like - fortunately that has not happened.
Around 10 hours on a full charge - not too shabby, but not brilliant either.
In reality, what you have is another well made piece of Apple kit with what appear to be well made headphones, although the sound isn't brilliant. The iPod is still working and the headphones are still going, so it can't be all bad. It is stylish and portable with reasonable battery life, so I guess the consumer needs to weigh up what is most important to them.
For my part, there are far better options in the market place today, so I would not recommend.
Thanks for reading
Now Ive used each gen of the iPod Shuffle and to be honest this was one of apples weirdest designs for a music player Ive seen. The lack of buttons make for a quirky if dull design choice and a very impractical one when you take in to acccount the specific type of earphones required used to operate it
The earphones provided come with the buttons used to change track and alter the volume of the song you are listening to. Which in theory may sound clever as you dont need to scramble around your pockets to find the buttons. But as soon as you lose those earphones you lose control of the i pod and official apple earphones do not come cheap.
Battery life is nothing spectacular for me it averaged out at around 8-10 hours before a full recharge had to be taken. Typical file types are supported such as MP3, AAC and Audiable downloads all work fine however their is no support avalible for WMA files which may be annoying
The overall sound quality is comprimised as you will not be able to listen to the device using your favourite bass inducing headphones and the apple brand earphones are quiten tinny in comarison.
It is hard to reccomend these when I personally found the second generation shuffle so much more appealing
I bought the old shape Nano for my wife about three years ago and having spent about ten hours trying to get some music on it finally gave in and read the instructions. After these early teething problems my wife declared it a smashing bit of kit.
After this endorsement from my guinea pig(sorry Mrs W) I decided to dust the cobwebs from my wallet and enter the I-pod market for myself, I was beaten to it by my kindly parents however who had no doubt had a birthday tip off.
My Mother especially was astounded at the size of the I-pod which in its second incarnation is even smaller than the original. She couldn't understand where the little man would sit to do his singing! Well maybe not quite that bad but I think the last thing she saw like this was the original Sony Walkman.
It certainly is impressively small which was a big factor for me as I use it on the way to work and for sport. With the handy clip on the back I can clip it to my bag or a sleeve for easy access.
As discussed by other reviewers the sound is reasonable enough but could probably be improved with a better set of headphones. These would need to be carefully selected however as the volume and song skip controls are handily located on the headphone cable. I have yet to get round to buying new ones however as the quality is good enough for my needs except on the occasional track. Hardcore music fans would certainly want to look elsewhere I think especially when considering the capacity of the I-pod, I have about 12 or 13 albums on it which seems to be about the maximum. It's more than I would listen to in one session but it's a bit of a pain to hook it up to my laptop and change the songs every time I feel like a change.
It seems to be quite a hardy little machine, I've used it in all weather with no problems for about 18 months. The current price seems to be about £50.00 which seems about fair if not a particular bargain.
All in all I would recommend this product for its size and ease of use but if music quality and capacity is of more concern I would say to look elsewhere.
As I come from a musical household with my mam always playing the radio downstairs and my dad with his records upstairs I naturally have a love of music and don't go anywhere without my ipod but as my old trusty nano was on it's last legs after lasting for a well used couple of years. I decided it was time I bought a new one.
My reason for choosing the shuffle~~~~~~~
I went for the shuffle mainly because of the price, I purchased it from Argos for a charming £40.00 and also for the fact it was easily concealed to anything I clipped it too and was virtually hands free.
I bought it in a lovely metallic pink with a 2GB memory to boot as well.
It's memory is very good and I can store about 500 songs on it although I have nowhere near that many on there, to clip is hard wearing and doesn't break easily its very securely attached and I can put it anywhere I like.
The headphones I found were the worst part of the product the sound quality isn't great and often goes up and down depending on what song is playing, the ears don't fit very well and often fall out which is quite annoying as your walking along listening to your music. The durability of the product is very good though as I've had mine for a couple of years now and it shows no signs of giving up yet so for the price I've paid it's amazing value for your money but I think next I invest in an ipod I'll stick to my nano.
The Final Word~~~~~~~~
Although at £40.00 it doesn't exactly break the bank but I would of liked better quality headphones and sound as it's quite poor for this product which is disappointing although having said that the durability of the ipod is good and worth giving a go but I wouldn't be buying another one when this one packs up, I'd rather pay a little extra for another model.
WARNING: SMALL REVIEW FOR SMALL DEVICE
The iPod shuffle has always been Apples smallest major product. It has been noted never to have a screen in all its generation and this 3rd Generation is the first to have no buttons! I think that using it is very fiddly and in this review I will be explaining my reasons to believe this.
The iPod itself:
The iPod is made of a brushed metal material that is non slip and is easy on the hand. It is extremely small, measuring around the size of a USB Memory Stick. There are no buttons on the device, only a switch on the top for power. On the back is a shiny metal clip that is prone to scratches.
The headphones on this iPod are different to all other Apple headphones as they have controls on the wire where you can pause, skip tracks and increase volume. They are still as horrible as ever and feel uncomfortable. They often fall out.
Sound quality on this iPod is satisfactory and is similar to all other iPods. When the headphones do stay in they do give deep bass and clear sound even at higher volumes. Because of the small capacity, iTunes recommends converting to 128kbps AAC files to fit more songs on.
Battery life is very good and lasts weeks without charge. Charging is very quick (couple of hours) and is done via USB cable as Apple dont give a power lead or USB to 3 pin plug.
The iPod Shuffle has a feature that tells you the name of the track you are listening to and battery status. This feature is handy because of the lack of LCD screen. The feature isnt enabled by default and you have to download a small file via iTunes to make it work.
I got this Ipod shuffle for free when I entered into a mobile plan with my provider. I was surprised at the quality of this tiny MP3 player and the sound quality that it produced. Lets get straight down to basic. The stylish silver exterior houses a tiny flash based mp3 player. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. It has been touted as one of the smallest Mp3 players in its class. It is a stylish device that has a small clip at the back which you can hook on to your shirt pocket to bring around when you are on the go.
It connects to the PC with a white USB cable that comes with the package. Do not lose this cable as it is the only way you will be able to transfer music to and from your device. The capacity of this player is a mere 2GB. Well it might not be on par with the huge capacity were are used to with other Ipods, but for light listening, i must say it serves its purpose.
The headphones which come with the Ipod are very basic. There is a volume control tab on the wires that connect the headphones to the device which come in handy. However, the sound quality from the headphones are just alright if you ask me.
I found that the device played a wide variety of music other than just Mp3s. It could also play WAV and AAC files.
A very important factor when it comes to choosing an Mp3 player is of course the battery life. On a day with average usage I found that this machine could give me around 9 - 10 hours of usage. This is pretty good for a small player. And lets face it, with the small capacity, you wouldn't have that much music to put in it anyway.
If you're looking for a very portable and stylish mp3 player, albeit basic, I recommend it.
As a musician and someone who generally listens to music on a daily basis, having some form of a music player on me is as essential as carrying a set of keys or my purse. For a long time, I had dismissed the idea of buying an ipod of any kind, as it seemed so commercial and impersonal, not to mention expensive! I finally decided in December of last year that I was going to bite the bullet and upgrade my 128mb Alba MP3 player to something a little more flash, at £45 from Argos, the 2GB ipod Shuffle seemed like the ideal purchase.
I was due the following week, to camp outside HMV Oxford Street in London, in the bitter freezing December cold with all my friends to obtain special concert tickets for Tori Amos (yes, I know it's crazy), so I wanted a music player to keep me going through all that. The perfect opportunity to road test the product!
There were several colours to choose from including green, silver, blue, pink and black. I chose the blue colour, and ordered it within the Argos store as you do. I think once I had got it home and looked at it, I thought... £45 is a lot of money for something so tiny! We are talking an inch and a bit worth of one very expensive Apple. Was I just paying for the name?
Granted, the shuffle does include Apple earphones which in the Argos book currently retail at £25 each which is pretty astounding! Perhaps I was getting a good deal afterall?
As I was new to the whole Apple phenomenon, I hadn't really used itunes before so this was something new for me also. I initially found it frustrating I could simply drag and drop my mp3 files onto the shuffle player as I could with my old mp3 player. Having said that, I did end up buying a lot of music from the shop and as it "syncs" with the shuffle player when you connect it to your computer, the process seemed simple enough.
Now, the key word here is "shuffle". You literally cannot pick and choose which songs you want to listen to, although there is the option to "play the next track" or "random shuffle", which you can determine by flicking the button next to "off". After a while, this did grate on me if I am honest! I suppose if you were to take this out running though (and it does have a clip on fastening) you may not be as bothered about the particular song choice, and I suppose it does mix things up a bit.
Memory wise, 2GB is supposed to hold 500 songs. I haven't added that amount of songs, because I have been buying from the itunes store and this would really add up! I do have around 150 songs on it, and so I think 500 is certainly adequate as I tend to delete and change the tracks around often anyway. 2GB is certainly wouldn't hold my entire music collection though, so if you wanted or needed more memory capacity, the 4GB shuffle player is only £14 dearer. If I wasn't on a student budget I probably would have gone for the larger memory option.
So back to the freezing cold of London... did the shuffle player keep me company.. did it freeze like my poor old feet? Well, actually it worked perfectly and I had it on throughout the night and on my train journey home, so the power was certainly impressive and it didn't malfunction because of the cold. Unlike my old mp3 player, the ipod shuffle is made of a solid, strong metal meaning it is less prone to breaking and of course is very slimline. As it is charged through USB, it also means no more AA batteries which in the long run will save me money and effort.
Maybe the only real "weird" factor, is the fact there is no screen whatsoever. There is an automated voice which will tell you the song title if you hold down the middle button on your Apple earphones, but there is no visual element to it... it's almost ghostly! However if there had of been a screen, I doubt the player would have been so small in size or streamlined, so I guess that's a positive.
So, is the ipod shuffle 2gb a worthwhile purchase? On the whole, I would say so. It's small enough to clip to my pocket whilst out shopping or working in uni, and it can hold an awful lot of songs, much more than my previous mp3 player. It is well designed and is both lightweight and easy to use. It may be a little frustrating that I can't pick the exact song or artist I want to listen to, but I guess you just get used to that. I think if you are someone who doesn't want to fork out extreme amounts for a proper iphone or ipod, then you may find the shuffle player ideal.
The third generation version of 'the smallest music player in the world', this iPod shuffle retails at £46.00 for the 2GB standard version (which stores around 500 songs), £60.00 for the 4GB standard version (1000 songs) and £77.00 for the deluxe polished stainless steel special edition option (only available from the Apple store and with 4GB storage). Earphones with remote, a USB cable and instructions are all included in the pack as standard.
Earlier generations of the iPod shuffle came in the standard Apple white plastic which was prone to discolouration and cracking. Five matt colours are available in this 3G version: silver, black, turquoise blue, lime green and hot pink (in addition to the stainless steel option mentioned above). The turn wheel of earlier generations has also been removed from this cigarette lighter shaped device. 4cm x 1cm x 0.5 cm (the latter being the depth including the metal clip that permits convenient attachment to your clothes) of casing is topped by an on/off button in silver and the headphone port. All of the other controls are to be found on a small 'remote' on the headphones (in Apple's standard white).
Unsurprisingly the iPod shuffle doesn't deviate from the 'Shuffle' concept: using the remote on the headphones you can either opt to listen to your playlist in order, or 'shuffle' through the tracks in randomised order. The most significant modification is the new option to have a voiceover tell you what track and artist is playing: probably not particularly useful if you know your music well.
I'm not particularly fond of the shuffle concept and think that it's probably been sold as a cleverly marketed function when it is in fact a result of the lack of space for programming / a screen for selecting tracks. But then, the pay-off is the small size, which is particularly useful for working out with (I think in virtually every other scenario you'd be able to carry something a bit more substantial). Its cheap price also means that when using for running, etc, you wouldn't be too worried about it getting dropped!
Set up is straight forward once you have iTunes (plug it in and it pretty much talks you through what to do) and sound quality is good if unremarkable.
Mac: computer with USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later, iTunes 9 or later.
PCL with USB 2.0 port, Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (including Service Pack 3) or later, iTunes 9 or later.
RELIABILITY and THE GENIUS BAR:
Mine started to get a bit 'jumpy' when listening to music... I took it to an Apple Genius Bar (available at every apple store) and they replaced it for me without hesitation. To be honest I think the 'Genius Bar' is one of the main reasons for buying an Apple product. While Apple products do tend to be pretty reliable, I've had this break within its warrantee period and two further products (including one very expensive laptop) go outside their warrantee. All have been replaced in full / had parts replaced free of charge. Super duper customer service.
If you are thinking a cheap MP3 player then 9 out of 10 times most people will go for the ipod shuffle as a cheap alternative to the ipod. This latest addition to the shuffle family replaces the old 2g devices which had most of its function based on the shuffle itself.
The 3g device seems to have most of its fuction based in the earphone device which will control volume, past songs and skip songs etc. I have to admit I think this is a real step backwards for apple as I will explain more later.
This shuffle is a lot smaller in size and its very well priced at about £45 but is simular to the previous 2g model but it can hold more memory and is a lot better designed in terms of carrying the device around or strapping it to a belt or jeans.
You can by the ipod in a variety of colours which include silver, black, pink, green and blue, I personally went for the silver colour as its eems to be the more common of colour concerning the apple shuffle.
As stated most of the function is based in the headphones with only the on button actually on the unit. Discussing more about the headphones that come with the device I have had nothing but trouble with them.
If you intend to purchase a shuffle and intend to exercise with it then I would possibly think again. The headphones have been poorly designed and will break very easily, the base unit however is very strong and also resilient. I have had to change my headphones at the local Argos stores on no fewer than 8 times, luckily under warranty as the headphone volume control keeps breaking.
I have now purchased my last pair as I have had enough, I have today purchased the old style 2g device where the volume control is on the device, I have much more faith in going back to basics.
When fully charged the battery life will last up to 10 hours. I do not intend to purchase another one in the future as have had nothing but trouble. Not for me thanks apple.
I am actually really behind on buying all the latest gadgets as to be honest Id rather buy a new pair of heels or a handbag but I finally bit the bullet a few weeks back and got myself an Ipod. My friends were so proud LOL but I had literally no idea how to use it so I thought once I got the hang of it Id write a review for anyone who is as clueless as I was and even Ipod virgins as this one I think is a great one to start of with when your just entering the scary world of new gadgets!!
I got my 2gb Ipod from Amazon for around £30 and included in that deal I got the earphones, USB cable and a step by step instructions guide. The only problem with that was it was written in German so it may be worth asking what language your instructions will be in if your buying it from amazon and have never used one before. I personally bought the blue coloured version of this but it also comes in black, silver, green & pink so there is definately something for everyone. Even better is that with this 2GB memory you can fit up to at least 500 songs onto this device which I think is totally brilliant and thats way more memory than I even need - Ive had mine about 3 months and Im not even half way to filling up the memory yet!
I dont think some people will realise how tiny this Ipod actually is. Yes it looks quite small on the pictures but in reality it really is miniscule - just smaller than my little finger and it is super thin. I really like that design though as it shows a product can still be brilliant even if it is super small and it also means it hardly takes up any room in a handbag or pocket so the design makes it ultra lightweight and easy to transport. There is a silver clip on the one side which means this can be clipped to pretty much anything: clothes, pockets, bag which makes it perfect for taking to the gym or using when running. Quick thing though dont leave it attached to your clothes when you put them in the washing machine - I have twice its very easy to forget its there due to its size!!
Now as this is so tiny it hasnt actually got any buttons. Well not where you would expect them to be anyway. There is a small flicker button on the one side which has 3 options: flip to the left and the Ipod will play your music in shuffle mode, flip to the middle and the songs will be played in order and the last right hand bit is to switch it off. The volume and song choice controls are found on the headphones as you simply click the middle part down twice to swtich the song over and turn up and down like normal. Very stylish I think but of course that means if you loose the headphones you are screwed as you will need to replace them with proper Ipod brand ones.
Now this is a fact that I genuinely did not know. You HAVE to have the Itunes application on your computer before you can start using your Ipod. As the music is sent through there and the Ipod is also charged through your computer as well. It doesnt cost anything to download and you dont have to buy your songs through Itunes you can send songs through there that you have downloaded from anywhere - obviously they would prefer you use Itunes but I dont think it matters whether you do or not. Ill leave a small section at the bottom of the review explaining using Itunes if your as clueless as I was. It doesnt take long to get the hang of it though!
Obviously the features on this arent going to be as brilliant when you compare them to the newer models but you should just look at it for what it is and not to try draw comparisons. If you want something with more features geta newer model but I believe this Ipod has something the others dont. Now with the absence of a screen you arent always totally sure which track is playing so Apple have introduced a Voiceover feature which simply states the name of the track and the singer when you hold down the middle button - I dont use that feature a lot but I have no idea whether other people would love it. I think you actually might be able to uninstall it on Itunes if you dont think much of it - nice idea though.
I would fully recommend this Shuffle to everybody but if you have used one of the newer/better versions like the Nano I think you would be disappointed by what this one has to offer as the features arent great. The sound/music quality is brilliant, easy to do once youve figured it out, stylish, easy to transport, fabulous battery life (I charge mine about once a week and I use it all the time), quite cheap & basically its just great. Hope my review is helpful and hope you buy one if you havent already - 500 songs in something thats smaller than my finger!
Thanks For Reading
x0 Salz 0x
*Quick Itunes Installation/Using It Bit*
Download It To Your Computer - Its Free & Ive Never Had A Problem With Viruses
Plug your ipod in using the USB cable and it shoud come up underneath devices then click on that and that will show you all music you already have saved on there and ask if you want to send anymore.
Now you can pick 2 options at this point Itunes can either automatically send every song you have on your computer to the Ipod or you can manually choose the songs it sends. I highly recommend choosing the latter.
To add msuci after that simply click on the song name (Itunes will referesh its library everytime you open it) and drag it to the Ipod icon. Then it will send.
Quickly how to delete music: Just click on Music under Ipod and then click on the song(s) you wish to delete simple as that.
The third generation iPod shuffle was a bit of a change, when compared to the other two generations before it.
Like the other two, the Shuffle 3G is small (much smaller, in fact and about half the size of the first gen. one), and there's no screen so you do have or know what song's next on its playlist or, alternatively, trust your luck and go with the shuffle option. It has a large clip which I find to be incredibly useful, especially with the smaller iPods like this. It means you can put them pretty much anywhere and they'll stay.
The new features on this one are the shine - this one features the same sleek look the larger iPods have, instead of the more matte finish of the other two.
This one now offers three playlists to pick from, which I think is actually pretty cool. The other two generations only gave you one to choose from, which you could mix about a bit with the shuffle option, but this one you can choose one of three for whichever mood, or whatever you want, which is pretty useful.
You'll notice that there aren't any buttons on this one - and in fact (and this is probably the only flaw I can find in this) all of the buttons and things (as well the ability to switch playlist and volume and so on) are on the headphones, which is a bit of a pain as I like to have my own headphones.
The sound quality is great and its sturdy and durable. Worth buying
I bought one of these for my wife who runs frequently and was getting annoyed at taking her iphone out with her all the time. Once upon a time i had one of the original iPod Shuffles and i'm amazed how far they have come along over the years.
I bought this from Amazon.co.uk for £44, this seems to be the typical price in most online stores. It comes in 5 colours Pink (the one i bought), Silver, Blue, Black and Green.
I was very impressed with the design of both the iPod and the packaging. The iPod comes in a thick, clear plastic case with the iPod clearly position at the front and the accessories (earphones, charging cable, instructions) neatly hidden away at the back.
As with most things Apple the styling is superb. This iPod is tiny and light - no more than 4.5 cm long and just over 1 cm wide. It is also very thin, including the clip on the back of the ipod its just over 0.5cm thick.
The iPod has a metal clip attached to the back which feels very strong compared to the plastic clips on previous versions. The whole iPod feels very robust.
This shuffle is very easy to operate, it has one simple control button on the device itself which can be set to 'off', 'continuous' (continuous play of your playlist in sequence) or 'shuffle' (songs on the playlist played at random).
In additon to this the earphones have an in-line remote which allow you to control volume and skip tracks.
This shuffle has a new Apple feature which is a voice over which tells you the title and artist of the song in the earphones, a useful addition as there is no display on the iPod shuffle and never has been on any previous versions.
Apple state the shuffle will store up to 500 or 1000 songs depending on which version you have. We have put nowhere near this number of songs on there so it easily does the job for us.
Set up is easy if you're used to iTunes/Apple. The shuffle comes with a cable to connect it to the PC/Mac. Once you plug the iPod in it automatically appears on your 'devices' section in iTunes, you can then create or drag and drop a playlist onto the shuffle.
Once connected to the computer the shuffle will charge. I dont know how long a full charge takes but it seems to last for hours (at least 8) between charges. Apple state the battery will last for 10 hours when fully charged.
The suffle comes with the standard Apple earphones with the in-line remote. These are more than sufficient for day to day use but the sound quality isnt fantastic. Although with the shuffle replacing the earphones is more of a challenge as you really need the in-line remote to be able to adjust the volume and skip tracks.
A great little MP3 player, ideal for running (i might get one myself now). Small and discreet and can be clipped onto clothing/bags. Very easy to use and the voice over to inform of track titles is a good addition. For me this would never replace a proper iPod, purely because its capacity is too small but at £44 its a great additional iPod to have for those occasions where you dont want to carry your iPod/iPhone with you.
So I bought one of these little beauties at Christmas time for my girlfriend and I can certainly say I was impressed. I bought it directly from the Apple store online (which is a breeze to use) and 2 days later it turned up. They have an option to have the stainless steel clip engraved with some choice words which I did.
It arrived well packaged in a plain brown box. I must say I was impressed from the very first look. The packaging is modern, robust and attractive - a hard thick plastic box that will sit in the palm of your hand containing the shuffle - well displayed in the middle of the box. Also contains instructions, iPod earphones, a USB docking connector no longer than a few inches and an Apple sticker for Apple fans.
The Apple engravers did a good job and my cheesy words look great on the clip below the apple logo. The first thing that you will notice is the size and weight of the iPod shuffle - it's teeny tiny and weighs nothing! This is good for clipping on your shirt or trousers or chucking in your pocket but not good for people who lose things on a regular basis. Like me. The feel of the iPod shuffle is very nice - not cheap at all and the clip feels really strong!
On the top of the shuffle you will find a tiny button which selects 'off', 'shuffle' mode and 'continuous play' mode. This is fairly self explanatory. You will also find a 3.5mm jack connector for the earphones. The earphones are the standard Apple iPod/iPhone earphones with a small control on to give you full control over the iPod. You can adjust volume, play/pause, next track, previous track, select playlist and get told by a weird robotic lady voice what you are listening to. These earphones are interchangeable with the iPhone or any other 3rd generation iPod.
The sound on the earphones themselves is pretty good considering the price but not brilliant. They lack bass and can sometimes sound a little too tinny.I tend to adjust the EQ settings on iTunes before sync to try and get a bit more low end through the earphones. They are however very well made and not easy to break. This is proven when I get the damn things caught in the spokes of my bike (while I'm doing about 15mph!)
I couldn't tell you how long the internal USB chargeable battery lasts as I don't charge it myself but it does seem like forever. I have gone a 6 hour train journey without even a hint of the shuffle dying on me. You need to install iTunes on your computer to transfer files to the shuffle via the USB cable provided. It's free, is fairly good at organising your music and can be downloaded from Apple's website. This lets you create playlists, move and delete tracks and generally load your shuffle up with tunes. iTunes itself takes some getting used to but that will come in another review...
The shuffle will play most files (iTunes converts before sync) and I have the 2GB version (4GB available) with 23 albums on no problem. The best thing about the shuffle is how it clips on so easily and doesn't get in they way when you're running or working out or doing other sweaty stuff. I should go and give it back to my girlfriend now before I get a smack......
Thanks for reading.
Think mp3 players and iPod comes to mind. They have by far the biggest market share and a tendency to be at the leading edge of design. As the progression of technology moves so quickly the market can provide devices that are smaller and more efficient and the public are willing to pay a premium for these goods. The problem with mp3 players is that they are fast becoming incorporated into multi function devices as in the case of smart phones. This could potentially all but kill the market demand unless the products become almost disposable or at least greatly reduced prices.
This is a great point to look at Apple's Shuffle which is now in it's third incarnation. Announced in 2005 the Shuffle was the first iPod to use high speed flash memory and was considerably smaller than any of its predecessors. It was the size of a USB stick and plug directly into the appropiate port on your PC. The second generation shrunk the unit more than looked possible and marketed it as the 'World's smallest' mp3 player.
The current generation has been reduced further with dimensions of just 1.8 x 0.7 x 0.3 in. It is available in five colours, namely black, silver, pink, green and blue. If you buy through Apple directly you can have one in stainless steel which looks absolutely gorgeous. A polished steel clip is attached bearing the ubiquitous logo and makes it easy to attach to clothing. Aesthetically it is fair to say that it is very nice indeed and keeps with the sleek Apple tradition.
In terms of functionality the unit has just one switch on the top of the unit to switch the player on. Two further positions allow the same switch to play music in order or to randomise it. To keep the unit petite the remaining controls are situated on the headphone cord on the right hand side. These control volume and some playback options. Interestingly this also allows access to a new feature dubbed VoiceOver technology which makes its ebut on this model. Basically this uses the text to speech facility in the later releases of iTunes which means holding down the central cord button will allow the Shuffle to actively tell you which artist and track is currently playing. This is a nice touch but really just window dressing. Obviously not having a display of any sort present there is no other way to identify tracks. I would expect that using any media manager other than iTunes would render this feature redundant however.
The iPod is available in both 2gb and 4gb capacities and connects via USB 2.0 though obviously is backwards compatible with 1.0. The USB cable is supplied in the box with the headphones. Minimum system requirements mean you need to use Windows XP or later and Mac Os X 10.4.1 or later. This revision has a shorter battery life than the previous two incarnations but still weighs in at a sizeable 10 hours.
I found the sound from the bundled headphones to be bright and full and an improvement over the earlier iPods. Currently I am unsure if there are any 3rd party sets available from other retailers. You can still upgrade to high spec sets if you wish but you would lose most of the functionality which makes no sense economically.
The Shuffle is available in many high street and online retailers and costs in the region of £40 for the 2gb model. The stainless steel version is available directly from Apple with a £10 premium. I am not sure if Apple re-sellers KCRS stock this model but I assume they do. Used iPods make a good purchase and I myself bought a mint condition silver version for £30 from my local CEX.
Small, lightweight and infinitely stylish the iPod Shuffle is a classic example of how an entry level price can still buy you something hot from the tech shelves of your local retailer. The practicality of clipping it to your clothing makes it ideal for gym and sports use and it obviously takes up very little room in your bag or pocket.
If you don't mind the limitations of having no display screen this is probably the best small mp3 player on the market and therefore the only sensible choice in this price range.
This iPod shuffle is absolutely ideal for anybody who enjoys listening to music whilst out running. The small size and lack of weight means that you barely notice you are wearing it once its clipped on. Unlike previous iPod shuffles there are no playback controls on the device itself, the only switch you'll find there is one to switch the device between shuffle, continuous playback and off. Instead the controls have been moved to the headphone cord. Three button are all you are given but they are all that you need. The outer two control the volume up and down whilst the middle button controls playback through a series of single, double and triple clicks. The system is easy to learn and easy to use whilst out running. Sound quality is as good as any iPod has ever been. The battery lasts for a very long time on a single charge. I would recommend this iPod for anybody using it during exercise. However, if you listen to a lot of music whilst out and about one of the other iPod models would be better for you.