Apple iPod Shuffle 2GB (4th generation) review
The iPod Shuffle as always been the smallest and the cheapest of Apple's MP3 players. The last generation was the smallest yet, around the size of an AAA battery, but Apple achieved this miniaturisation by relocating all the buttons from the body of the Shuffle to the in-line remote built into the earphone cable. As well as being fiddly to use, an adaptor was required to use third party earphones.
Thankfully, Apple has seen sense. The latest Shuffle has all the usual playback control buttons located on its body that you would expect. It greatly resembles the second generation Shuffle, but is smaller than that model. It's only slightly thicker than two £1 coins and weighs just 12g. It feels sturdy thanks to its aluminium construction and the integrated clip allows it to be securely fastened to your clothing.
As with previous Shuffles, the standard 3.5mm headphone socket also doubles as a USB port for charging and data transfer using the included adaptor cable. A small indicator light glows orange when the battery is charging and turns green when fully charged. In our tests, the battery lasted just over 17 hours when playing music, which is very impressive for such a small audio player.
The power button doubles as a switch for choosing either random or repeat playback modes. As with the last generation Shuffle, this model supports playlists. Since there's no screen, you have to press and hold the VoiceOver button. A computer generated voice then reads out the names of the playlists you've transferred over from your computer using iTunes. When it gets to the name of the playlist you want to play, release the VoiceOver button and press Play. If you've enabled the option in iTunes on your computer, the voice can also read out the name and artist info for each of your tracks. It works well, and it's arguably no less fiddly than the tiny screens on other budget MP3 players.