Apple iPod shuffle (1st Generation)
- Great sound quality, small and lightweight
- Lack of features, no screen, a little fragile
The iPod Shuffle is designed to be minimalist. Its appeal lies in not having to worry about always fiddling with it, and letting it 'take control'. If you prefer to be able to choose what you're listening to, and how it sounds, you would be better served by a different product.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
Apple's new flash memory-based iPod Shuffle really doesn't live up to the reputation forged by its stablemates.
Like most Apple products, the Shuffle is very easy to use. Just plug it directly into a computer's USB port and load music via the iTunes program supplied with the package.
In terms of sound quality, the Shuffle one of the best flash-based players we've yet heard. The player, in conjunction with Apple's signature headphones, produces a clean, nicely balanced sound. It rather lacks depth, but it's perfect for sitting on the bus or taking a walk--the sorts of situations for which it is designed--and, being the size of a packet of chewing gum, it is incredibly light and portable.
However, we found the Shuffle's lack of features a real annoyance. The player has no display at all. Users can control the volume, shuttle forward, rewind and pause, and there's an option to play the songs in order or randomly. That's it.
Apple has attempted to turn this shortage of features into a selling point, and it's true that you can still listen to a cassette, for example, without a display of which track is playing. But then, a chimney can still be cleaned by pushing an eight-year-old up it with a brush; but there are now better ways of doing things.
The Shuffle is flimsy, too. While the iPod Mini has a comforting solidity about it, the Shuffle is just too plasticy to inspire much confidence: heaven help anyone who sits on it (not to mention the Shuffle itself!)
So for those seeking a highly portable player with good sound, the Shuffle could fit the bill, but anyone wanting to do more than just play "guess that tune" while waiting in a traffic jam may wish to look elsewhere.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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