Review: iPod shuffle
Price: $99 (512 MB); $149 (1 GB)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.1.5 or Windows 2000 or XP
The iPod shuffle is a gadget that does exactly what it is designed to do. It provides portable music-playing, it is inexpensive, and—like all Apple products—it just works.
The shuffle is the current evolution of the product line that has made Apple a success on Wall Street again. The iPod, in all its forms, and the iTunes Music Store, have revolutionized digital music. I think the iPod would still be a success without the Music Store, because plenty of consumers already use their existing music collection to compile their playlists. But the notion of buying one song at a time, instead of having to commit to an entire album, is one that has been long overdue. Of course, popular songs have always been available as singles, from the days of LPs. But over the past few years, consumers have wanted access to single digital files, and Apple has provided that.
Single songs would not matter as much if we did not have this music player. This is the music player that pulls it all together. Having said that, I will agree it has its limitations. If those limitations bother you, I suggest you stick with an iPod mini.
There is no display on the shuffle, which saves bunches of real estate, and I guess weight, because there is no gimcrackery to run the display. With no display, you cannot see a written thing to tell you what song or file you are hearing, or who the artist is. I fail to see what the big deal is about this. You choose which songs to put in the playlist, or at least which songs to put on your hard drive (if you let the Shuffle randomly pick songs), so what is the big mystery?
The Shuffle holds 512 MB (about 120 songs) or 1 GB in the high-end version. I was able to fit 93 on my first playlist. Your mileage will vary. The iPod mini holds about 1000 songs for $199 on the low-end version, so if you need a large library on the go, again, stick with the Mini. You get more storage space for the dollar, but you give up the incredible light weight of the Shuffle. Not that the Mini is ponderous, at 3.6 ounces. But the Shuffle is just unbelievably light. You could make it a hair accessory.
As far as operating the unit, those are the only limitations I can see. There’s one other thing that I would change if I could, which is that you have to plug the Shuffle into a computer (that’s on) to charge it, or else purchase an adapter or dock. The other iPods come with wall chargers.
The Shuffle has a 12-hour rechargeable battery, which you need to plug in to charge before doing anything else. The instructions to load the software are simple. iTunes does most of the work for you. You can let the Shuffle select songs from the library, or create your own custom playlist. The Shuffle does not support AIFF files. You can have the songs play in sequence, or allow them to shuffle, which is sort of the point of the whole approach, for me. I like not knowing what the next song will be.
The Shuffle weighs less than one ounce. The USB connector is the butt end of the unit, which comes with a cap to cover it when it is not plugged in. The unit and the lanyard are white, but I bet it won’t be long before there are other colors available. Maybe not. Maybe one way Apple keeps down cost is to make them all the same color. For a music player that does what this one does, for $99, I say they could make it puke green and it would still sell. Oh, and there is no shipping charge from the Apple Store. My order took about three weeks to arrive, as they predicted, but right now the Web site predicts shipping within 1-3 days.
It comes with those crummy earbuds they send with all the iPods, which give me headaches. But if you like them, great for you. You can plug in any standard headphones into the jack.
The unit runs on flash memory instead of a hard drive, so the songs will not skip. The iPod Mini has 25-minute skip protection, which is probably good enough for most of us. Have I mentioned that the Shuffle weighs next to nothing? Wearing it is like hanging a pack of gum around your neck. It might lose a fight with a paper clip.
If you understand that you will not see a display of your songs as they come up, and you do not care that the song selection is more limited than on the Mini or the grownup iPod, this is the toy for you. It is cheap, convenient, and ideally suited for exercising, which I assume is one of the most popular applications for portable music players. I have written more on iPods and exercise. I have not seen any Shuffles at my gym yet, but I bet it won’t take long. Already, I have been getting lots of envious looks and questions about mine.
Reader Comments (96)
The preferred iPod format is AAC, and those can be purchased, among other places, directly within the iTunes application which you can download from Apple's web site.
Will the ipod shuffle play all mp3s or only the ones purchased on itunes?
As for MP3s, your question is sort of off tilt. iTunes does not sell MP3s. It sells AACs. As for MP3s you acquire elsewhere or rip yourself, yes the iPod shuffle will play standard MP3s.
I would, however, agree with you about the price of a battery replacement, if it is the same price as a normal iPod. I'd put money on the thought that Apple will probably have a cheaper pricing plan for replacing an iPod shuffle's battery, considering the $99 price tag is the same as the low-end iPod shuffle. My guess is that Apple's simply not yet offered pricing for an iPod shuffle because it's so early in it's life.
Car chargers for USB 2.0 are about 6$US. My recommendation is to use a small wall charger you place somewhere obvious (i.e. Kitchen) to remind you to charge your shuffle.
The sound of the shuffle is great and it is meant for those who know what's on the player and don't care to be reminded.
Also, iTunes does not have an option button. Needless to say, this thing is crap, until I can get it to work. Never had this problem with my MPIO player....
I've had my 3rd-generation iPod for more than two years and its battery is maybe not quite as robust as it originally was, but my only current wish to replace it is based on capacity—not battery wear.
That said, Apple's web site states that the iPod shuffle will fully charge in about four hours while plugged into a USB port (and while syncing with iTunes). Therefore, no you don't have to get a power adapter to charge it.
I bet you can buy a phone that will play music. If not now, soon. Good luck.
I doubt Apple would sell us a product whose battery life is only one year. But that is just my opinion. This company has a history of not putting out crummy products, at least not in recent years.
Everybody (not necessarily Jen): if you don't want to buy a shuffle, don't buy one. Our job at atpm is not to sell you a product.
Thanks for reading.
But to answer your question, a battery replacement would run about $66 with shipping. I wouldn't let that dissuade you, however. Just follow Apple's suggestions on getting the most out of your battery and I'm betting it'll provide years of usable life.
PS for residents of USA I suggest you get your ipod from Apple directly instead of getting refurbished ones on ebay at almost the same price.I got mine( a brand new one at a cheap 70$) only after a lot of searching.
If you can return the shuffle, I might suggest waiting a few more months and getting the new generation of iPod minis. Rumors have it that the next round will have more capacity, have color screens, and be solid-state (flash memory) based. No hard drive to worry about "shaking."
I believe all that would have happened while it was plugged in was that the battery would charge. The formatting and installation need you to take actions.
Try Apple's online support. The link is farther up in the comments section.
You may have a bad unit which will need to be replaced at the point of purchase.
also, for the ipod shuffle can you just get songs of your windows media player and put it in it or does it have to be i-tunes.
My question: Can perspiration soaking through the bandanna have caused damage to components bringing on this charging problem, or am I likely to be suffering from some other difficulty.
Incidentally I just found this via google - a company sells a Shuffle battery replacement kit for the shuffle at http://www.welovemacs.com/ipintrbatsh.html
By the way I tried charging my Ipod for the first time on my desktop PC, left it connected overnight, and it did not charge!? Battery light is red and it only plays for a minute or 2. I can download songs to it though and they played fine for several hours yesterday - the unit was partially charged when I bought it. I can even load songs onto it with the battery empty.
My USB slot is a powered slot and I run a Wacom tablet on the same port which requires power, so I'm sure the usb port has power.
Couple of thoughts, does the Shuffle switch need to be in the on or off position while charging, or does it matter? I also noticed that when I plug it in, the amber light flashes for a few seconds then goes off. Isn't the light supposed to be continuously lit (or flashing) all during charging?
Is the only way I can do this, is to create an individual playlist for each album and place all the songs for that album into seperate playlists before downloading to shuffle?
As for the playlist question, I have no idea. I get about 90 songs at a time on my shuffle, and I have always treated it as one playlist. If I wanted more playlists I would have a unit that held more songs.
ive owned one
and the idea of me not being able to see im listening to bothers me
so i just bought a sony nw-hd1
How do you get them to play???
Oh and it also said something about the ipod might need service? can i send the ipod in for repair and still keep my data? Cause i have some important stuff on the ipod and i dont want to lose it!
Segue to our firm belief that anything you put on your iPod should never be the only copy.
I suggest you consult their FAQs before you start asking questions they may have already answered.
Thanks for reading. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, our job at ATPM is to review a product, so you will know what you're getting. If you don't want to buy a shuffle, don't buy one. If you have a complaint or comment that you think would be useful for a prospective buyer, that's an appropriate use of this section.
i'm happy for any info on the apple ipod shuffel.
And if you still cannot resurrect it, use a forum better-suited to troubleshooting iPods:
i am wondering if i get an ipod myself and get songs from his itunes, because my model is a 98, will it do the same thing to my ipod. if so, what can i do
As for your last question, not only will it not do the same thing, it won't work at all. You must be running Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4 or later, or Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later for iPod compatibility.
With nano and full-size iPods, you could purchase an iPod A/C adapter and connect the iPod with the bundled USB cable. Since the shuffle has an integrated USB port, it gets trickier.
Our theory (emphasis on 'theory') is that you could get both the A/C adapter and a male-to-female USB extension cable to connect the shuffle to the power, then tap the audio off the headphone jack. If the shuffle operates like the other iPods, then yes it would remain powered and playable 24/7. You may can also plug the shuffle directly into the A/C adapter if it will fit and just have enough 3.5mm audio cable to reach from the shuffle to your phone system.
We emphasize that we're not 100% sure that a shuffle remains playable while plugged into a non-computer-based power source, but it should, since nanos and full size versions are playable. We recommend either poking through Apple's Tech Info Library or visiting an Apple retail store or perhaps a Best Buy or CompUSA who may have shuffles on display and plugged into power that you can test yourself.
This Gadgeteer review page has several pictures that should help. There is a switch where you choose between Off, Repeat, and Shuffle. From the looks of it, you can choose Repeat or Shuffle, but not both simultaneously. That may not be a real concern for the use you describe. If you want both, you may want to consider getting an iPod nano instead which would let you set both modes simultaneously. A nano would also include the cable to connect the dock port on the bottom to a USB jack such as the one on an iPod A/C adapter.