“Minimalism has always been a guiding principle at Apple, and the new iPod shuffle is an outstanding example. The slim white shell encases a 512MB or 1GB flash-based player, with nothing more than a four-way rocker ring and play/pause button on the front and a power switch and battery-check button on the back. You pull off one end of the 0.8-ounce player to expose the USB plug. The shuffle has no display to tell you what song you’re listening to, no playlists, no navigating to the next song, and no EQ settings. Instead, you get a new version of iTunes that can randomly load the shuffle with songs; two positions on the power switch let you play them in order or randomly. The big idea here, such as it is, is that shuffle owners want to be continually surprised at which songs pop up from their music collections,” Bill Machrone writes for PC Magazine.
“We admire the functional simplicity of the shuffle, and recognize there are times (such as during a workout) that you won’t miss the display (and will be happy to do without the extra weight it necessitates). Still, overall we prefer a player with a navigation window. When we use random play on our personal digital audio player, we often find that it stimulates a musical mood; we’ll then switch to a specific playlist or group of albums,” Machrone writes.
“The shuffle’s value is interesting. Though the $99 price for the 512MB player ($149 for 1GB) is low, it isn’t unique. For example, the 512MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player can be found for $99 and has a functional navigation window, voice recording, and FM radio. Of course, it isn’t as tiny, light, or sleek as the iPod shuffle. So if you want a low-cost player that stores just hundreds (as opposed to thousands) of songs and don’t need to see what’s playing, the iPod shuffle is a very good choice.”
Full review here.