Product Type: Apple MP3 players
Newest Review: ... will likely not be considering this shuffle anyway. Speaking of the ear phones, this ipod came with the original Apple ear buds, which I f... more
Does what it says on the tin
Apple iPod shuffle 512 MB
Member Name: Tybalt348
Apple iPod shuffle 512 MB
Date: 20/07/05, updated on 21/07/05 (199 review reads)
Advantages: Small, light, good quality, robust
Disadvantages: None - only very minor niggles
If you want the short version, skip down towards the bottom. For more detail, read the whole thing. The choice is yours :)
The iPod shuffle 512Mb is the baby of the entire iPod range, sitting at £69, next to its slightly bigger sibling with 1Gb of memory at £89. As the two machines are identical in other respects, you could treat this as a review of the 1Gb iPod shuffle too, but bear in mind its double capacity.
The first thing that hits you is the minimalist styling of it, right from the packaging to the player itself. You've all heard before how small and light it is, so I won't say much about it, except that it really is quite amazingly small. A little longer and thinner than a packet of chewing gum. Along with the player, you get a software CD for PC or Mac, a pair of headphones and a lanyard, which may be of use to some people. Personally I'd rather not wear it around my neck in public and advertise that there's a £69 gadget available to the first thief who decides to try and take it...
Installing the software (I use Mac OSX) took just a few minutes and that was it for setup - ready to go. I imagine anyone who already has fully up to date iPod software might not even need to do that much.
Putting songs onto it couldn't be easier - just plug into a spare USB or USB 2 port, load itunes and drag songs into iPod as if it were an iTunes playlist. Try to plug into USB 2 if you can. I have to use ye-olde-USB, and so uploading music to the iPod takes a lot longer than it would on USB 2.
Putting it to use: The controls are as simple as they could possibly be. Play and pause button with a small ring around the outside. Volume controls on the top and bottom of the ring, skip back and forward on the left and right. Obviously, holding these down will do a fast-forward or rewind effect. Then there's a three position switch on the back - off, play and shuffle. You can also set it to hold by holding down the play button for a few seconds. This locks out the controls so that if they get bumped in your pocket, it doesn't skip songs, pause etc etc. And that's it.
So how does it sound? Very good. Much better, in fact, than you'd expect it to sound for the money. The only issue is a slight harshness at higher pitches. Crash cymbals are something of a victim of this hardness. Obviously, like all MP3 players though, the better the quality of audio file you put into it in the first place, the better the sound quality that comes out. It can use a bitrate anywhere between 8-320 kbps on both MP3 and AAC, so the choice is yours as to the number of songs you want vs the quality of sound you want. Higher bitrates go a long way towards helping with the harshness of the treble mentioned before. The one thing you may want to think about is a different pair of headphones. The standard ones do the job just fine, but The shuffle can sound a lot better than the stock headphones let it, plus the distinctive white headphones are a thief magnet.
The only other critcism I have is purely down to personal preference. When you set it to shuffle, it shuffles up the whole playlist and then until you hook it up to a computer, there seems to be no way to restore the original order. I would much rather have it so when you set it to shuffle, it keeps the playlist in one piece and randomly chooses what to play next, leaving you with the option of going back to your original list. Just a small niggle though...
TO SUM UP:
The iPod shuffle is a great little MP3 player (though it supports other formats - see apple website for details) at a good price. It's robust (I use it when I'm mountain biking and yes, I have fallen on it. No guarantees yours will survive though), sounds good and is extremely easy to use. While 512Mb may not sound that much, if you're careful about what you upload and only put stuff on it that you really want, it's not a problem at all. I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for a good, simple MP3 player. Remember that at £90 there's the 1Gb model for anyone wanting more space in the same lightweight package.
Summary: Excellent little gadget. Absolutely recommended.
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