Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB review
The iPod shuffle is impressively small and light, but the fiddly controls and restricted choice of headphones means it's poor value compared to other compact MP3 players
Review Date: 11 Nov 2009
Price when reviewed: £45
Reviewed By: Alan Lu
Apple's latest iPod Shuffle is impressively compact; it's comparable in size and weight to an AAA battery, but you're unlikely to lose it since the sturdy, integrated metal clip keeps it firmly fastened to your clothing.
This miniaturisation has been achieved by the lack of a screen and by moving all the controls - apart from the switch for choosing between shuffle and random modes - to an inline remote integrated into the cord of the included earphones.
Aside from the volume control, there's just a single button for controlling playback and navigating music. Pressing it once pauses a track, pressing it twice skips to the next song, while pressing it three times returns to the previous track. If you press and hold the button, a voice tells you the track and artist names.
Unlike previous Shuffles, this one supports playlists. To change playlists, press and hold the button until you hear a tone, then let go. A voice will say the name of each playlist; press the button again when it says the name of your desired playlist and it will start playing.
We managed to get used to these controls quickly, but they're still more cumbersome than the simple buttons on other players. We'd prefer it if they were an addition to, rather than a replacement for, a standard set of buttons.
Since the controls are integrated into the earphones, you won't be able to use a different set, or even connect a pair of speakers without losing the ability to control music playback. Replacement headphones are essential if you want the best audio quality as the included earphones sound muddy and lack bass. Third-party headphone adaptors should be available soon, but this is just an extra cost.
For such a small player, battery life was good at 13 hours. Although slightly larger players with bigger batteries can last even longer, the most serious flaw isn't battery life but the fiddly control system, which isn't worth the comparatively small reduction in size and weight compared with the previous Shuffle. Sony's Walkman NWZ-E443 is a better choice for most and has twice the storage capacity.
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