Apple iPod shuffle (2nd Generation)
- Versatile design, compact, durable
- No screen, can only sync with one computer, mediocre sound quality
The shuffle would serve well as a secondary music player for exercise, but too many limitations - most notably the lack of screen - make it a poor choice for everyday use.
Price$ 119.00 (AUD)
Is an LCD display essential for a good MP3 player? That's the challenge Apple tries to answer with its latest screen-less wonder, the second generation iPod shuffle. A 1GB capacity gives it room for around 240 songs, and like the larger iPods, it synchronises with iTunes on the desktop for transferring music.
This latest version of the shuffle looks radically different from the original. The 'pack of gum' design has been replaced with a much smaller, belt clip-style form factor, and the casing is made out of aluminium alloy. At 27.3mm x 41.2mm x 10.5mm and weighing a wee 15g, Apple credits it as the world's smallest digital music player; given the saturation of the MP3 player market, we're not sure if that's the case, but if there's a smaller player out there, we certainly haven't seen it.
There are numerous advantages to this new look. The first is obviously portability, with the shuffle being roughly the same size and shape of many MP3 player inline remote controls - including Apple's own Radio Remote accessory for the iPod nano and video.
The clip hinge feels sturdy and extends approximately 40 degrees, which should be more than enough for affixing it to everything from jeans and shirt pockets to backpack straps. It also clamps on securely - good news for runners and other active types who'd want to use it for vigorous exercise.
The aluminium alloy construction makes it more durable than the original shuffle's plastic casing, which was prone to scratches and scuffing. The silver finish is also more eye-catching and classy, contrasting nicely with the white circular controls area.
Noticeably missing from the new shuffle is a built-in USB connector. Instead, a small USB dock is included that connects via the shuffle's 3.5mm audio jack for transferring music and charging via a PC. The lack of 'real' dock connector on the shuffle makes it incompatible with any other iPod accessory currently available, spanning the whole caboodle of cables, speakers, FM transmitters, and the like. On the other hand, we have no doubt that a flurry of new shuffle accessories are currently in the works as you read this.
Contrary to the seemingly primary objective of creating an ultra portable music player, having to carry the dock for syncing and charging actually makes the new shuffle a lot less 'mobile' than the old one. However it's worth pointing out that you can only partner the shuffle with one PC at a time anyway. Unlike the larger iPod nano and video models, you can't simply plug the shuffle into a second PC to grab music off it; to transfer songs from a new computer, you have to choose the 'Erase and Sync' option, which deletes all of the music currently stored on it.
An interesting departure from the usual iPod design is the use of multi-functional buttons. In lieu of a Hold switch, pressing and holding on the play/pause button toggles Hold on and off. Pressing play/pause three times quickly also restarts the shuffle to the beginning of the playlist. Other controls include the slider (which can be set to shuffled or sequential playback), an on/off switch, and an indicator light on either edge for displaying things like battery status, charging and whether it's paused or on hold. Both lights have the same function - two are included so you can see at least one from wherever you've clipped the shuffle to.
Whether these controls are a satisfactory substitute for an LCD screen is another question. Apple has made a big song and dance about the beauty of "expecting the unexpected", and indeed, not knowing what track is next is a nice way to listen to your music. But what if you want to listen to one song in particular? If you've filled the shuffle to its capacity, then tracking that single song down could mean pressing the Skip button up to 239 times, not to mention having to listen to each song for a second to check whether it's the one you're looking for.
Synchronising content to the shuffle via iTunes can be done in a few ways. You can manually drag songs from your desktop library, or you can use the 'Autofill' feature. Autofill works as its name suggests, automatically filling the shuffle with the contents of your music library. This can be limited to one particular playlist, and you can also specify that items are chosen randomly and/or higher-rated songs given higher priority.
Music formats supported are MP3, AAC (including songs bought through the online iTunes Store), Audible, WAV and AIFF. The shuffle doesn't support WMA files natively, but iTunes can convert unprotected files of that format to AAC, albeit with a degradation in sound quality.
It's worth pointing out that while the shuffle is advertised as having 1GB of capacity, only 967MB is available to use. Assuming that each song is roughly 4MB in size, storing 240 songs is doable. From our test library - which contains music of variable length and file size - we could only fit 176 songs, or 12.5 hours worth of music. This neatly matches the shuffle's advertised battery life of 12 hours, but our run-down test gave us a slightly higher total of around 16 hours. Filling the shuffle takes four minutes and 48 seconds - a reasonably speedy score for that capacity.
It's disappointing that Apple has bundled the older iPod earphones with the shuffle, given that the new nano and video models ship with an upgraded pair. The circular earpieces produce average sound quality, and they're uncomfortable in the ear for extended periods. Even with these in, the shuffle's sound quality is noticeably inferior to other MP3 players, including the iPod video, nano, and most especially the original shuffle, which was lauded for having exceptional sound quality. Bass is weak, lacking the punch needed to pump out heavy drum & bass and hip-hop tracks, while the highs sounds flat, causing vocals and guitar riffs to lose clarity.
The shuffle's versatile design is its main redeeming feature, but it makes too many compromises to achieve it. The lack of screen may be acceptable for certain activities like exercising, but being kept completely in the dark about upcoming tracks is too reminiscent of the personal cassette player days for our liking.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Apple TV will serve as hub for remotely controlling HomeKit devices
- Sony Smart B-Trainer headset gives runners vocal advice
- The iPod classic plays its last
- Apple iPod Touch pricing slashed by up to 25 per cent in Australia
- Apple shows off iPod touch, nano updates
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTTechnical WriterACT
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTCRM Technical Specialist (Oracle Eloqua)SA
- FTSenior PHP Developer / ArchitectQLD
- CCSenior Network Architect l CCNP/CCIE R&S l Cisco ACINSW
- CCNetwork Engineer FIFO WeipaQLD
- TPBusiness Intelligence DeveloperSA
- PTProject ManagerNSW
- CCSecurity ConsultantVIC
- CCCitrix SpecialistACT
- CCServer SOE EngineerACT
- CCSystems AdministratorNSW
- FTCitrix Engineer/Designer - AWS experience essentialNSW
- CCBusiness Project ManagerNSW
- CCBusiness Analysts - Benefits RealisationACT
- FTMid-Level .NET DeveloperVIC
- FTIT Helpdesk AnalystVIC
- CCSenior Domain ArchitectVIC
- CC1 st Level Help Desk SupportNSW
- CCTelecommunication Business SpecialistTAS
- CCProject Scheduler/CoordinatorVIC
- FTSales/Account Manager - Education SectorNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTTechnical Architect - Network /InfrastructureQLD
- TPBI AnalystQLD