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New iPod Shuffle Review

APPLE iPod shuffle 2GB Silver 4th Gen IPOD SHUFFLE 2GB SILVER

Rating: ★★★★☆

Apple’s new iPod Shuffle fourth generation may be the baby of the latest iPod line up but with its sub £40 price and robust simplicity, it’s got its own charms.

Reverting back to the 2G Shuffle’s button design but incorporating the creepy VoiceOver feature of the iPod Shuffle third generation, today’s Shuffle is the most compact Apple has produced, yet the buttons are nearing a fifth bigger than ever before.

As with the previous incarnation, you flick the small slider on top to switch between continuous and random playback and tap the equally small button flanking it to activate VoiceOver – one press for the current track and artist; two for battery status; hold it down to cycle the playlist menu. You have to enable (and download) the VoiceOver Kit in iTunes, but installation is automatic.

It’s hardly as much fun to use as touchscreen Apple iPod Touch, nor is it as intuitive, but you’ll soon get used to operating playback, blindly, in a pocket.

Once connected to a Mac or PC using the small 3.5mm-jack-to-USB cable, the Shuffle can be synced with multiple playlists and Genius mixes through iTunes, as well as podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes U files. Tick a box in iTunes and the Shuffle can also be used as an external flash drive.

New iPod Shuffle fourth generation: Audio and battery

Audio doesn’t reach the volume or quality of its bigger brethren but as a lightweight – just 12.5g – MP3 player to clip onto a sleeve or short pocket when exercising, there’s nothing that does the job better.

The battery gives just under 14 hours continuous play before needing a recharge and the supplied Apple headphones are about as good as ever – ie: not very. In the case of the Shuffle, adding more expensive cans won’t greatly improve the range, bass and punchiness of the audio, but it’d be nice to at least have earphones that stay in your ears during a treadmill session, or won’t annoy your fellow commuters through ‘leaky’ sound.

That aside, at just £39, with 2GB of storage and coming in a variety of fruity colours – our “orange” was more gold, and better for it – this iPod Shuffle is the best effort to date.

Pros

  • Incredibly compact, robust and simple device
  • Cheap, too

Cons

  • No screen means you can't find your music quickly
  • Puny sound

Verdict

Not as fun or as classy as the Touch, but this is the best Shuffle to date and the perfect accompaniment to your run.

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