If you can’t wait to see it on TV, Apple has posted a commercial for the new iPod Shuffle on Apple.com. The commercial features the song “Jerk It Out” by The Caesars and black silhouette dancers on a solid green background.
iPod Shuffle Review:
Time to mix things up. Meet iPod shuffle, the unpredictable new iPod. What will it play next? Can it read your mind? Can it read your moods? Load it up. Put it on. See where it takes you.
iPod Shuffle Pros:
- Price – The iPod Shuffle is cheaper than most flash-based MP3 players having the same amount of memory.
- The famous iPod elegance and simplicity – all iPods are designed so well, are easy to learn and a joy to use.
- Size/weight – even compared to other flash-based players, the iPod Shuffle is small and very, very light.
- Plays AAC files – This is the real selling point for people who already own iPods and have a substantial library of music already in AAC format. You might not feel too comfortable bringing your $300, 6-ounce iPod to the gym, with its delicate hard drive and other moving parts. Now you can load 6 or more workouts’ worth of tunes onto a device that weighs less than 1 ounce and has no moving parts. While there are many such flash-based players on the market, the iPod Shuffle is the only one that can play tunes from your existing collection of iPod-friendly AAC files.
- Amazing sound quality for such a tiny device. Careful A/B comparisons between the iPod Shuffle and and its bigger iPod brother (which already has awesome sound quality), and it’s extremely hard to detect any difference in sound quality.
iPod Shuffle Cons:
- The iPod Shuffle lacks a LCD display to help you navigate among the songs on the player. This may be a deal-killer for many people who would otherwise buy an iPod Shuffle in a heart-beat. For example, let’s say you load 100 songs on your iPod Shuffle. Once you unplug it from your computer, the only way you have to navigate to a specific song is to keep forwarding to the next song until you find the one you want. Is this a pain or part of the fun? Those clever Apple marketing folks have tried to put a positive spin on this by using the motto “Random is the new order” and even by just adding the word “shuffle” to the products name. But people aren’t stupid. Anyone familiar with flash-based players knows that almost all of them have displays to help people quickly navigate among the tunes on their player. While the screens on some players are tiny and almost illegible, many other players have highly readable and useful displays (e.g. the iRiver MP3 players).
- No FM tuner or voice recorder. Many other flash-based MP3 players have these features (though none as inexpensive or small as the iPod Shuffle).
- Battery life rated at “up to 12 hours” is low for flash-based MP3 players. Competitors typically achieve 15-20 hours. However, to be fair to the iPod Shuffle, the competing models usually require you to use AA or AAA batteries, which adds to the weight of the device.
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Despite its name, the iPod Shuffle does not force you to listen to your tunes in random order. Using the iTunes software on your computer, it’s easy to create a playlist or download specific songs you choose to your iPod Shuffle, and then listen to them in order.
If you’re not familiar with the iTunes software, it is very well-designed and easy to use. iTunes is also the portal to Apple’s website that sells music downloads, but the iTunes software does NOT push you to visit the store or buy anything.
There are two ways to charge the iPod Shuffle‘s battery – you can plug it into your computer’s USB port, or you can use an external adapter, which is not included in the price. So if you plan on taking your iPod Shuffle on a trip, but won’t have a computer, then you’ll probably need to factor the cost of the adapter into your purchase decision. Or you could just make a visit to the local electronics store and plug it into a display computer with a USB port. If you are desperate, you could even ask someone at your hotel’s front desk to plug it into their computer for a quick charge.
After spending a little time with an iPod Shuffle, you will adapt to the lack of display and really not really miss it. The simplicity of the iPod Shuffle is even more appreciated when compared to other MP3 players. Competitors like iRiver offer extra features in their products, but accessing many of these features is very awkward, especially if you don’t use them very much.