Review: Apple iPod shuffle (Third-Generation)
Pros: Apple’s smallest, lightest iPod yet, and first iPod shuffle with remote control functionality. Offers modestly better transfer speeds and audio quality than prior shuffle, replaces prior dock with simpler USB sync and charge cable. Adds VoiceOver feature to let you switch playlists, identify certain tracks, determine battery levels. Fall 2009: Now available in six total colors, and either 2GB or 4GB capacities.
Cons: Needlessly and seriously complicates controls by switching to a buttonless body, which cannot be controlled without Apple headphones or not-yet-manufactured third-party proprietary remote control solutions; presently next to useless with car or home stereos. Confusing interface will be hard for many users to totally grasp and use. Poor value as either a 4GB media player or 4GB flash drive. Very slow at file transfers by current iPod standards. Battery power diminished considerably from prior model. Boring design.
The third-generation iPod shuffle follows in the packaging tradition of its predecessor and most other iPods of the past two years. It ships in a clear hard plastic box that prominently spotlights the device through its front window, listing the 4GB storage capacity on its top, computer requirements on the back, and serial number details on its bottom. All that’s noteworthy about the package is its simultaneous display of the device’s remote control alongside the iPod, a first for Apple’s clear packages, and its size: unlike the second-generation shuffle’s originally iPod nano-sized box, the new one is barely larger than the shuffle itself in height, and wider solely to allow room for accessories and inserts.
Those items are obviously spartan: the remote control is obviously attached to the headphones, which ship wrapped and hide behind the shuffle’s white mounting board, and the only other accessory is a 40mm (1.8 inch) USB sync and charging cable that’s designed specifically for the new shuffle; gone is the larger and less than popular iPod shuffle Dock that Apple packed in with the prior model. In keeping with tradition, both the headphones and the cable are a mix of white and light gray plastic, regardless of the color of the shuffle in the package.
You also get three paper inserts: a set of two tiny Apple stickers, a warranty book, and a tiny “Start here” manual that gives users only the briefest explanation of the device and its controls. Consistent with all iPods and iPhones released in recent years, users are directed to download the iTunes music, audiobook, and podcast management software themselves, but unlike past shuffles, users may well need to look at a manual or Apple’s web page just to learn how to use the third-generation model’s controls.