Thursday, February 26, 2009

Music Tech: iPod Shuffle

This post starts a new series focusing on music delivery devices: stereos, radio, media players, more. First up, Apple's iPod Shuffle.

iPod Shuffles

A friend recently asked what kind of media player can one get for under $50. Coming quickly to mind is Apple's iPod Shuffle media player. The Shuffle is a no-nonsense, bare-bones player that plays music or audio content from a built in flash memory card to tiny earbuds or an external listening device. It is small, the newer ones "tiny" and is ideal for the active music fan who engages in walking, jogging, running and other activities. It is the perfect player to take with you almost everywhere.

The current models come with either 1GB or 2GB worth of flash memory, enough to hold 240 to 400 songs. All iPods come with a non-replaceable, rechargeable battery. The iPod Shuffle is the low end model and currently retails for either $49 or $69 depending on the flash memory size.

Being Apple's low end model, the Shuffle lacks most of the features you'd expect to find in the average media player. There is no screen to tell you what songs are currently playing. You cannot make more than one playlist. The list of songs you download from the required iTunes software is what you are stuck with until your next synchronization between the player and the software. The default play position is :"shuffle" which scrambles the play order of your playlist. Some people may not like this, for others this is fine.

The two iPod Shuffles I own are the white, first generation, chewing gum pack sized model (pictured at the top of this post). They came with earbuds that deliver decent sound and a USB cable for synching with your Mac or Windows XP or Vista PC. Leaving the unit plugged into the computer also recharges the built-in battery, which for this model lasts about 12 hours per charge. I'm not very sure. The iPod Shuffles sound great and give a nice in-ear or external audio sound performance. I'd recommend connecting good quality headphones to this or any other player to listen to the best sound your music can deliver.

My iPod Shuffles are aging gracefully and still holds a long charge to make them a practical on-the-go player. The first generation models sold for about $129 brand new. They are no longer available unless you buy one in the used market.

Today's 2nd generation models, shown above, are smaller, cheaper and come in a variety of colors.

Overall the iPod Shuffle is a good value for the money spent. You get a solid, bare-bones basic player that can play many songs.

  • Small
  • Long Battery Life
  • iTunes software required - easy to use, load, manage playlists
  • 2G models come in different colors
  • Sounds good
  • 2G model has built-in clip
  • Affordable
  • Music file formats: MP3, AAC, Protected AAC, WAV, AIFF
  • Built in battery not user replaceable
  • iTunes software required - cannot load device without it
  • Small - can easily be lost or stolen
  • No screen that displays songs
  • No multiple playlists
  • Earbuds tiny and may not be comfortable for some users

1 comment:

ratmammy said...

Thank you so much mel!! I will be awaiting the next installments (remind me on face book so i know to look!!)