iPod Shuffle - A Peek Into The Future?

By: Mike Singh

Small is in when it is only 1.62 inches long and weighs only half an ounce – and lets face it – "small is in". With the whole purpose being to easily load it with an assortment of songs, it then plays them in a random order. The first iPod to use flash memory, the iPod shuffle weighs only 22 grams, or .78 ounces, while holding 240 songs in the 1GB version, or four minutes per song, with listening power of 12 continuous hours. Apple claims its iPod shuffle is "the biggest thing in small", available in 512 MB or 1 GB. The iPod shuffle is made to clip onto just about anything: coin pockets, purses, bags, or hats. In the world of digital electronics, it is the small size that matters the most anymore. And the iPod has the small market cornered in the mainstream market – more than any previous iPods.

The opposite side of the iPod shuffle is that it has several less features than the iPod – the trademark, scroll wheel, playlist management features, games, address book, calendar, notes capability of earlier iPods, the iPod shuffle cannot be used with iSync, its incapable of playing Apple Lossless and AIFF audio files. But it has a better bass sound quality than the larger pods. The iTune allows an iPod shuffle playlist to be viewed and changed while the unit is not connected, and when the unit is connected the next time, it can be updated with the changed playlist.

The question then becomes, why buy the shuffle with its limited disk space? The complaint against other iPod systems is the lack of durability, so you couldn't take it to the gym regularly and keep it for long, yet the consumers interested in the shuffle are those same type of people. Its advantage is its low price. The target for the iPod shuffle and the iPod mini was the lower-end market. Eventually, any heavy physical activity would decrease its usage, yet the price was low enough that a person could actually purchase another one if needed.

As the name suggests, the benefit of the shuffle is that every time you listen to it the songs you downloaded are played in a different order. There are ways to get around this if it is not a benefit you are excited about. For instance, you can set the play list on your computer before sending it to the iPod, but you cannot control the songs being played from the shuffle itself. Arguments against the shuffle stem from the "shuffle" feature itself, the fact that you cannot control the play list from the device itself like other iPod systems. However, the price and durability appear to be above average for "flash drive" players.

Shuffle seems to be a good fit for fast paced individuals who are on the move, and are physically active while listening to music on the go. With this sort of clientele, accessories that are available to keep the iPod shuffle on the go with its user is a case that protects it from the weather and elements, a shuffle dock that allows it to connect easier to the computer, decorative and protective sleeves, belt clips, AC and DC power plugs, earphones, and FM transmitters. The battery takes about 1 1/2 hours to charge 80%, while a full charge will take about 3 hours.

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