Product Type: Apple MP3 players
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Apple iPod Shuffle: Everyday I'm Shuffling!
Apple iPod shuffle (4G) 2 GB
Member Name: darling89
Apple iPod shuffle (4G) 2 GB
Advantages: Good value, easy to use, compact, looks good, good battery life
Disadvantages: No screen, only 2 GB capacity, not many features, easy to use
I must admit, for a long time I resisted buying an iPod Shuffle. I previously had an iPod Classic, which I absolutely loved, and didn't think I'd be able to cope with an MP3 player without a screen - I like being able to scroll through my music and pick out what I want to listen to. However, a few months ago I got sick of not having any way of listening to music whilst out and about and, being too poor to justify buying another iPod Classic or Touch, I decided to cave in and buy a Shuffle as it's much cheaper than the other iPod models. Since then I've become very attached to my little iPod and I'm very glad that I decided to buy it.
The iPod Shuffle is a very small, basic MP3 player. Unlike many MP3 players, it doesn't have a screen (something I thought I would struggle with initially, but this hasn't been the case). It is square in shape and measures approximately 3cm x 3cm and 1 cm in depth. I was a little worried about the size of this iPod as I'm very good at losing things, but I've found that it's size makes it ideal to slot into a little pocket that I have on the inside of my bag (I'd imagine most women's handbags would have a little pocket like this!), preventing me from losing it as I make sure that I always store it in the same place. The size also makes this a very portable MP3 player as it will fit in the smallest of pockets. The back of the iPod is taken up by a clip which can be used to fasten it to clothes, making it ideal for people who go running, for example, and don't have pockets. As a little note for anyone who is inclined to go running and wants to listen to music whilst doing so, it only weighs a tiny 12.5 grams, so this is a great lightweight option that won't get in the way while you're exercising.
This iPod is available in five colours, all of which have a slightly matte, metallic finish. The colours available are silver, blue, pink, green and orange and are all quite muted rather than being very bright.
The front of the iPod is taken up by the MP3 player's controls. It has a circular button in the middle, which functions as the play / pause button, surrounded by a circular control pad (this is white on all colours of model except for the silver one, on which it is black) which has four clickable buttons on it: next track, previous track, volume up and volume down. Overall, the appearance of this iPod is very simple and quite sophisticated, with the five colour options giving owners a bit of choice about the appearance of their MP3 player.
Using the iPod
Because it doesn't have any complicated features, this is a nice easy MP3 player to use. In order to put music onto your iPod you simply create an iTunes library on your computer (the software can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/ if you don't have it on your computer already), either by downloading songs from the iTunes store or by importing existing files from your computer or from CDs. Once you've added songs to your library, you connect the iPod to your computer using the USB cable it comes with, then follow the on-screen instructions to sync music to your iPod.
Once your iPod is loaded up with the songs of your choice you have two main options when it comes to listening to your music. There is a small switch on the top of the iPod which allows you to choose between listening to music in order (i.e. in the order that it comes in in your iTunes library) or 'shuffling', i.e. playing songs at random. The control pad is very easy to use and enables you to move between tracks, and also to rewind or fast forward.
The iPod Shuffle now comes with a new 'Voiceover' feature which enables your iPod to 'speak' to you in 25 languages. Now, if I'm perfectly honest, I don't really understand this feature and I haven't managed to get it working on my iPod. However, my understanding of this feature is that you can press the 'Voiceover' button located on the top of the MP3 player and it will announce track names, artists and playlist names, as well as letting you know the iPod's battery status. As I've said, I've not really looked into setting Voiceover up properly; however, more information can be found in the iPod's user guide, at http://manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/iPod​ ;_shuffle_4thgen_User_Guide.pdf .
With regards listening to music, I've been pleased with the sound quality of my iPod Shuffle. I've not had any technical problems and haven't found that my songs have skipped or anything. I know quite a few people who can't stand listening to music through the Apple earphones that come with this iPod, but I find that my music sounds clear and not too tinny. Of course, you can always use your own headphones or earphones if you choose to.
Because this iPod is pretty simple, battery life is good. According to the technical specifications you can get up to 15 hours of audio playback from a fully charged iPod Shuffle, and I'd say that this is no exaggeration. I recently took mine on a week's holiday and worried initially about it running out of battery within a couple of days, but it lasted me the entire week (probably 1 - 3 hours of listening per day) without needing to be re-charged. Charging this MP3 player is simple - you simply plug it into your laptop and leave it to charge - it takes around 3 hours for the battery to go from empty to full. If you prefer to charge your MP3 player using the mains, you can purchase an adaptor to do so - these are £26(!) on the Apple website which seems very steep, but they can be bought for a few pounds on Amazon or ebay, allowing you to charge your iPod Shuffle when you don't have access to a computer.
This MP3 player comes with 2 GB of memory, which is not expandable. 2 GB will allow you to store around about 1000 songs, and you can also load audiobooks and podcasts onto your iPod Shuffle if you choose to. While some people may think that 2 GB isn't an awful lot of memory, it is worth remembering that when you sync your songs to your iPod you can manually choose which tracks to copy to your MP3 player, letting you move the songs that you really want to listen to onto your iPod whilst leaving those you're less likely to want to hear in your library on your computer. It's also very simple to switch around which songs you sync to the iPod Shuffle, so you can easily make changes if you get bored of listening to the same songs over and over again. Nonetheless, the Shuffle's 2 GB capacity allows you to sync enough songs to give a nice amount of variety in what you listen to.
What's in the Box?
This iPod comes in a very small clear plastic box, measuring approximately 4.5cm x 4.5 cm x 3.5cm. I'm a big fan of the packaging, as I like to keep the boxes that electrical goods and so on have come in so I hate it when small items come in much larger boxes as they take up an unnecessary amount of space. The box contains minimal bits and pieces, just the MP3 player (obviously!), a pair of Apple in-ear earphones, a very short USB cable (measuring just 10cm!) and quick start guides and 'Important Product Information' leaflets in English and (for some reason) Italian. The 'quick start guide' is a nice little introduction to the product which doesn't actually come with the full manual - this can be found online at http://manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/iPod​ ;_shuffle_4thgen_User_Guide.pdf.
Though there is very little in the box, it contains everything you need to get started; my iPod came fully charged, so all I had to do was plug it into my laptop and select which tracks I wanted to move across to it from my iTunes library and I was ready to go!
Warranty and Support
Because I had quite a few problems with my previous iPod model, I was pleased to discover that the iPod Shuffle (along with all other iPod models) comes with 90 days (from the day of purchase) of technical support by telephone. It also has a year's limited hardware warranty which covers the iPod, it's battery and its accessories. iPod owners can also pop into Apple stores for advice and help, and I've heard very good things about the standard of customer service at these 'Genius Bars'.
Price and Availability
The iPod Shuffle has an RRP of £40 and can be purchased from the Apple website at this price, with free engraving and free delivery. They can also be purchased from numerous other retailers; I bought mine from Currys but have also seen them in Argos, Comet, Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys. I've also seen them on sale on Amazon, and it's worth having a look online as sometimes you can get quite good reductions in price.
Overall, I've been very pleasantly surprised with my iPod Shuffle. I didn't expect to like the element of having little control over which songs I listen to and the order in which they're played (as there is no display screen to navigate through songs), but instead this MP3 player has broadened the music I listen to as I tend to listen to songs on shuffle now. I do miss having a display screen a little bit, but not enough to make me go out and buy an iPod Touch or Classic.
Some may see the lack of snazzy features (video playback / games / apps etc) as a drawback, but I think that the simplicity of the iPod Shuffle is one of its best features as it means that it is very easy to use, doesn't seem to have as many technical problems as more advanced models and has a good battery life. It also means that you can use the entire capacity for songs, audiobooks and podcasts, rather than wasting memory on features and games that you rarely use.
With 2 GB of memory, I've found that this iPod certainly has enough space to give me a nice variety of songs to listen to, and it's incredibly easy to update if I decide that I'm sick of some songs or want to add others.
I think that £40 is a reasonable price to pay for this MP3 player. Admittedly, it is possible to buy similarly-priced MP3 players that perhaps have more features or will hold more songs; however, I like that this product comes with a warranty and technical support, and that I can go into my local Apple store and ask for help with my iPod if I need it. I also really like the appearance of my little iPod Shuffle, and love that it's small enough to clip onto my belt without getting in the way or clogging up my pockets.
All in all, I'm awarding the Apple iPod Shuffle (4th generation) a cracking score of 4 out of 5. I'm very glad I bought mine, and would definitely feel a little bit lost if anything were to happen to mine!
Summary: A basic little MP3 player with a 2 GB capacity for songs, audiobooks and podcasts.
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