Apple products come with three qualities– simplicity, sleek body and minimalistic design. The latest 3rd Generation iPod Shuffle boasts all the three qualities but I think Apple may have gone too far with minimalism. The new iPod Shuffle is totally different from its predecessor and adopts a flash drive-esque form factor with just one button on the whole player and the music controls placed on earphones. We tried out the Shuffle for a considerable amount of time to let you know if Apple’s minimalistic approach is worth your money.
As I said, the third iteration is different from its predecessors. Comparing it with the second gen Shuffle, the new Shuffle’s size has been trimmed down by more than half and is more taller. The only things you’d find on the player is an stainless steel clip (that is prone to scratches), a 3.5mm input for earphones as well as transferring songs/charging, a tiny status LED and a small button to on the player, shuffle or play in order.
iPod’s clickwheel has been given a miss for a new type of music control mechanism. The music controls are localted on the right cord of the earbuds, which allows a user to play/stop, +/- volume, skip forward/backward music. Although it seems cool, the downer here is that to use your favorite headphone or speakers you’ll need to attach a Shuffle compatible adapter. Here’s the vast list of commands that the earphone with remote can perform.
Another new addition you’ll find in the Shuffle is the VoiceOver feature. Since the Shuffle does not have a display it becomes difficult to know which song are you hearing to or want to know artist name. VoiceOver claims to solve that. As the name says, it speaks back the song’s name and artist on pressing the center button on the earphone. VoiceOver is accurate but expectedly finds it difficult to speak out Hindi song name’s perfectly.
Enabling VoiceOver is easy. Just enable it from the iTunes and iTunes will connect to the Apple server to download the necessary VoiceOver files. VoiceOver is available in 20 languages.
Moving onto the audio quality, I found it ok. Considering there’s no EQ or any other means of enhancing audio quality, the output was neither bad or exemplary on the stock Apple earphones. The new Shuffle brings in support for playlists, which is a good thing. You can play and surf through different playlists created in iTunes with the help of VoiceOver.
The 3rd gen Shuffle claims to have a 10 hour battery life and with the continuous running of about 2 hours per session, it did give about 8-9 hours of runtime.
To sum it up, Apple’s target market for the iPod Shuffle are active individuals. This player gives them everything they want – a clip, tiny footprint and allowing to enjoy music while they burn their calories out. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking to invest in a decent music solution. Shelling a few more will get a better spec’d player and not to forget, free from the dependency of the on-earbud controls.
iPod Shuffle currently retails for Rs. 3,700 (2GB) and Rs. 4,800 (4GB) in India.