Apple iPod shuffle decoder’s unused features include WMA support, LCD screen output, and FM tuner

“A look under the hood of Apple Computer’s iPod Shuffle shows the company is making music with two chips,” John G. Spooner reports for CNET News. “IDC analyst IdaRose Sylvester recently dissected a 512MB iPod Shuffle, purchased at retail, in order to determine what the tiny music player is made of. Her report, published earlier this month, reveals that Apple used two main chips spread over two separate circuit boards to foster the compact design of the music player, which was introduced in January. But despite the Shuffle’s tiny size, Apple still left room for a relatively high profit margin.”

“The Shuffle that Sylvester dismantled was based around two main chips–an MP3 decoder from SigmaTel and a flash memory chip from Samsung–which means the device uses many fewer chips than hard-drive-based iPods, she wrote,” Spooner reports. “The MP3 decoder, mounted to one board, takes charge of a multitude of functions. Its handles music, including the playing of MP3, AAC and Audible format files. At the same time, it harbors a USB 2.0 converter, SDRAM for buffering data and a headphone driver. The chip can also handle Windows Media music file decoding, voice recording, sending images to an LCD screen and an FM tuner, she wrote. Those features go unused in the Shuffle, though.”

Full article with more details here.

26 Comments

  1. Jobs has an incredible knack for packing more features into his products so that, if necessary, they can be pulled out of the hat!!
    The mac mini is going to be an huge testament to that fact.

  2. Loki-
    I agree, I love how Jobs does more than he’ll ever say.

    He makes one great product, and then, if it starts to loose some ground he could be like “oh yeah, it also can do this, this, and this.”

    And then the competition stops dead in its tracks.

  3. So they use an off-the-shelf chip that includes everything they need, and a few things they don’t, rather than using a more expensive custom design chip. To implement the other features (except WMA) Apple would have to add size, weight, and cost to the Shuffle.

    IokI, no, you don’t need “first post” I can tell who it was without someone writing it. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. uhhh … I dunno about anyone else…. but I have never seen any file with the WMA suffix that was worth anything….

    WMA files have always been crappy on my Macs… so, I have no idea why anyone would want their music encoded in this sub-par format !!

  5. I agree with Daddy Steve that we probably won’t ever see any of the additional features. SigmaTel probably makes chips for many different companies, and so its cheaper for Apple to use the standard chip they produce instead of a custom one that has only the features that are needed. I think the same is true for the other iPods. they include chips with capabilities, including video, not because Apple requested it, but because it’s easier for the manufacturer to put it all into a standard chip instead of having many different kinds.

  6. Sounds good to me!

    To bring up another hairy old chestnut!!
    I’ve been reading about these pop-under ads and admit to having the occasional one in the past, that I merely closed.

    And I’m sure I read somewhere on here that MDN were doing something to eliminate them until the issue can be resolved.

    Well, I’m here to say that rather than eliminate them they seem to have multiplied. Everytime I go back to the main page after reading an article I am getting a pop-under. 3 for 3 so far. It’s becoming an epidemic.

  7. Well If all you need is an antenna for FM there is no reason why one couldn’t be made into the laynard.

    Maybe the Shuffle version two?

    Apple is well known for adding features then not turning them on until later for an upgrade.

  8. Where format becomes an issue is when Walmart someday puts albums on sale for $499 and iPod users won’t have the freedom to take advantage because iPods can’t use any other download service.

    Apple should set the iPods free – remember the old saying iff you love something set it free and if it comes back…

    You should not imprison your girlfriend to ensure she won’t go out with another man and the same is true for the iPod

  9. It also leaves the door open for people to do add ons to the shuffle. You never know, someone might product an FM module for the shuffle, turning it into a FM radio. Or an after market LCD screen for those who want it. They leave it open ended like this so they can either pull it out of the hat, or someone can do it for them, thus people support Apple more with third party adapters and what not.

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