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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An initial impression of the new iPod Shuffle

Just got my new iPod Shuffle yesterday at Best Buy. I've been putting it off for a while, since my 30GB iPod headphone port went kaput last year. It still works fine on my dock or when connected to anything else via USB so I just muddled through until I could take it no longer.

So after one day, here are my initial impressions of the 2GB iPod Shuffle:

God, it's small! About 3 x 3 centimeters.
The comparatively large click wheel on the front of the unit is just big enough for ease of operation, but the main operation slide-button on top is a bit tiny for my fat little sausage fingers and gnawed nails.

Speaking of function, this Shuffle offers two play modes via that sliding button on top: straight play and shuffle songs. Additionally, it does support playlists via the voice-over button in the center of the top of the unit. Yeah, I said voice-over.

At any time during playback, you can press this button and hear a familiar (if you're an Apple owner) computer-generated voice telling you the song title and artist information. Hold the button down and you will hear a list of all the playlists you have stored on the iPod. Whenever you hear the one you want, simply press the play button.

As I unboxed this thing, one impression hit me immediately: it charges via USB through its 3.5mm headphone port. First time I'd seen that. No other comment on that, other than it just being a weird sight--a short little wire with USB on one end and 3.5mm headphone on the other.

The clip on the back presents a bit of a problem. It's tough to open without punching buttons accidentally. There's not enough casing on the front to attain the leverage you need to open it unless you press on the outer ring of the click wheel.

My other gripe is regarding the earbuds packaged with the unit. These earbuds are garbage. The last two iPods I got included decent buds with foam covers. This unit's included buds really needs those foam covers because there is no traction on the buds at all--they are very prone to dislodging easily. Keep 'em as a backup, but use only as a last resort; that's my advice.

All in all, this seems to be a pretty good deal for around 40 bucks. Can't get more portable than 2.5 square inches. Can't get much more lightweight. If only it stored more than 2GB.

If you're not a real audiophile and don't mind lower bit rate music, there is an option in the iPod management screen of iTunes that will automatically resample any higher bit rate music stored on the iPod to 128 kbps. That would allow for more music storage than the 200 or so songs that you can keep on it at 320 kbps. I'm not that desperate yet. Think I'll just keep a fresh rotation going constantly.