or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPod + iTunes + AppleTV › Apple's 3G iPod shuffle reviewed: a step too far?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple's 3G iPod shuffle reviewed: a step too far?

post #1 of 129
Thread Starter 
The iPod shuffle has taken on an unusual role in Apple's lineup both as its price leader and as an example of the company's efficiency in design. But with its third version now out the door, there may be signs Apple isn't sure of where to go next with its least expensive media player.

A brief history of the iPod shuffle

When Apple first unveiled the iPod shuffle in January 2005, it was half inspired by the nature of digital music. Most people had always assumed that any digital music player had to have a screen, and this had led to a rash of very low-cost players that often had only two- or three-line displays and tiny controls. But by taking a gamble and assuming people wouldn't mind playing music at random, mimicking a radio station, Apple had managed to create a device that had full-sized (if limited) controls without pushing up the size or the price.

As a result, the tiniest of iPods has, from its launch, always had at least a mild amount of success. It became a sometimes ideal choice for the gym or for a run; a device small enough to be almost unnoticeable and without a screen to break has had an unexpected but sustained appeal for the past four years.

The second-generation iPod shuffle of September 2006 has an at times almost cult-like following. While it was still unlikely to sway those who demanded a display, it was what you might call functionally "perfect:" it accomplished the goal of having a very compact, screenless, wearable player in style. That the company and its audience liked it was likely borne out by Apple leaving the design virtually unmodified for two and a half years. Aside from increasing the capacity and changing the color mix, what could Apple realistically do without breaking the formula?

And it's here that the other half of the iPod shuffle's reason for being becomes clear: it was also a calculated marketing decision. Apple chief Steve Jobs mentioned in the iPod shuffle's Macworld keynote introduction that needed a player to conquer the low-end flash player market, and from then on the shuffle's design has always been partly dictated by its role as the simplest and least expensive iPod available. Cynically, one could argue that it exists chiefly to upsell buyers to the iPod nano, where competition on price is less necessary and where it's easier to entice customers with iTunes Store music and video purchases.



Accordingly, the third-generation iPod shuffle was virtually destined to pose a problem for Apple before the first concept sketch was ever finished. When you've largely mastered a design but are forced to refresh it with something new and cheap to maintain interest, where do you go? For a company lately guided by "less is more," the answer is minimalism; and as we'll soon see, that guides every facet of the new iPod, for better or for worse.


Design stripped to the bone

Starting from the MacBook Air, Apple has lately been on a quest to see how much it can strip from a design's shape, features and controls without compromising what makes it work. Many thought that the unibody MacBooks were the culmination of this process: not only had Apple excised FireWire in the name of thinness and chassis strength, but it had actually found a way to remove all buttons from the trackpad when some critics had been arguing for more.

The new iPod shuffle, however, takes this progression one step further. Since Apple now has a headphone remote that can perform nearly all the tasks the on-device buttons would normally handle, it has used this advancement to remove nearly all the controls from the iPod itself. In a sense, it's the logical extreme of Apple's distaste for cluttered design.

That provides mixed blessings for actually using the iPod. Since the player is even smaller than before, especially in width, it fits into even tighter spaces and is even less intrusive. It also has the unusual effect of being the first truly understated iPod; because the player itself is virtually featureless, it can be clipped to a coat, pocket or shirt and blend in. If you're prone to wearing black or gray, the two introductory models will practically be camouflaged.

Simultaneously, that change also makes it the first out-and-out dull iPod design in some respects, and very occasionally less practical. The blank front side practically begs for a control, or at least some artwork, to liven it up. The shrink has also produced a smaller, thinner clip that, while it has space for a lanyard and fits in more spaces, is slightly harder to open. Also, Apple as always has found away to try and slip chrome back into its designs when users have complained that it's too easily scratched. The second-generation's all-aluminum back was more resilient against wear and tear.



But again, it's the controls that have seen the greatest overhaul, and it's in that area that Apple has stirred up one of the greatest controversies in its recent history.


Interface: two steps forward, two steps back

More often than not, it's exercisers that most often call out for remote controls for their music players, but Apple has always approached this in a roundabout way with the iPod shuffle. Instead of producing a remote, it just made the player small and wearable enough that it could sit where the remote would have been.

With the third-generation model, Apple made the remote necessary, but didn't really need to do much homework as to what it would use. Minus the obviously rather unnecessary microphone, the new iPod's default controls are a near-exact duplicate of the in-line remote that comes part of official, optional replacement sets, including the high-end iPod In-Ear Headphones. They even share the same controls: a single click plays or pauses, two and three clicks skip forward and back, while dedicated volume buttons sit on either side. A slight change is the addition of fast-forward and rewind by holding the clicker at the end of the forward and back commands.

If nothing else, it's extremely convenient. The iPod no longer has to sit in an easily reached location, and it's less likely to disorient listeners who may find the controls upside-down if the player is worn differently than usual.

The new iPod's centerpiece, though, is the addition of an additional control scheme dubbed VoiceOver. A single click-and-hold will speak out the track title, while holding it down until a tone is played lets you pick from playlists as their names are read aloud. It's an odd choice, but it does make for the first screenless music player that can still hold multiple playlists, podcasts and even audiobooks. That's more than a little relieving to owners of previous-generation models (yours truly included) who've been forced to change sync preferences every time they want a different mix or to listen to spoken-word audio.



Even so, it quickly becomes evident that the remote-only and VoiceOver controls together feel as much like regressions as they do steps forward. Bluntly stated, the remote actually makes things more complex, not simpler: what almost always took one click with the second-generation model now takes two or three clicks. Using these controls will be familiar to most any iPhone owner or to anyone who's bought one of Apple's newer headphone sets since September, but Apple's own elaborate control map shows that its attempt to be clever has partly backfired.

VoiceOver is also awkwardly implemented. Since Apple insists that the iPod say the complete track title before switching to playlists, you're forced to wait longer than you'd usually like. It simply feels arbitrary. Most users already know what songs they have on their iPods; why feel compelled to remind them every time they want to hear an exercise mix or a favorite album?

Moreover, the interface as created isn't very intelligent in coping with podcasts. Rather than give each podcast its own virtual playlist, Apple lumps all of them into a single "podcasts" section and treats them like songs; you either play them in the order established during sync or play them shuffled. The system makes it impossible to hold more than one episode of a given podcast and discourages placing any more than one podcast on the iPod at a time. The software designers didn't even have the courtesy of stopping playback outright at the end of a podcast, as it invariably loops back to the beginning of the first podcast stored on the player.

As such, the iPod shuffle still ultimately feels like a simple, all-or-nothing music-oriented player first. While it provides some relief for those with more complex listening tastes than "completely random," it introduces a significant (if sometimes forgivable) nuisance and still doesn't really solve the problem of juggling multiple listening formats. Those most likely to enjoy it the most are those who use it like the random jukebox first- and second-generation players, which somewhat defeats the point.


Listening quality and the question of Apple headphone lock-in

Thankfully, there does appear to have been a boost in the iPod shuffle's audio fidelity with this third iteration. The slight background hiss during quiet moments appears to be gone. Whether or not the intended output has improved is harder to determine and may vary from user to user, but in testing it seemed like the new shuffle was above the second-run model in quality but below high-end devices like the iPhone. Bass and treble are a bit more distinct.

This may latter less to most owners than what the move to put the controls on the remote has done. By requiring a remote just to use the shuffle beyond starting or stopping playback, Apple has effectively shoehorned most users into sticking with Apple's pack-in earbuds. For many, this is a quirk they'll never notice: when even cheaper steps up in audio quality cost nearly as much as the iPod in question, it doesn't usually make economic sense to buy a new pair of headphones.

Given that Apple's stock headphones aren't exactly known for their fidelity or their ability to remain in place on some ears, though, a significant portion of Apple's audience is likely to be frustrated. If you prefer the comfort of in-ears or simply want better listening, you'll either have to opt for Apple's iPod In-Ear Headphones -- which, at $79, cost as much as the iPod shuffle -- or else wait until either an adapter is available or an integrated third-party headphone set comes along with the price and features you want. It's good to know that Apple isn't using DRM to require its own remote control chips, but that fact is also small comfort to those who already own better-sounding third-party equipment than what Apple provides.



Additionally, it's now just about impossible to use the shuffle with anything beyond headphones. Until an adapter exists, the device can't be plugged into the aux-in jack of a car stereo or bookshelf speakers. Even then, VoiceOver is decidedly less appealing when everyone in earshot can hear your current track and your playlist choices.

Battery life and iTunes sync

One consequence of a smaller player is smaller space for a battery, and that's immediately apparent. The iPod shuffle officially nets about 10 hours of battery life and is the first iPod to sink below 12 hours of estimated runtime since the third-generation, scroll wheel iPod from 2003. Of all the iPods, a long battery life is least essential on the shuffle, but that's still disappointing when the previous shuffle claimed 12 hours.

In practice, Apple has been known to deliberately underestimate its battery life and does manage to claw back some of what it's lost. A test of near-uninterrupted playback managed 11 hours and 52 minutes despite holding mostly 256Kbps and 320Kbps songs. While certainly a relief, the older model also easily outran its official benchmark. Don't expect the newest shuffle to last a cross-border trip as well as its predecessor.

Connecting the player has at once become easier and harder. Gone is the proprietary dock that always made owners play a small guessing game as they flipped the player upside-down and tried to align it properly. Instead, owners get a simple cable that leads from the iPod's combo headphone and data port to a standard USB connection. It's as quick as plugging in any set of headphones, but the absence of a dock option (as of this writing) and the extremely short cable also means the iPod sometimes has to sit in a less-than-ideal spot while it charges or syncs. Users without USB ports on their keyboard or on the front of their computer may find themselves reaching around to attach or disconnect an iPod dangling in mid-air.

Syncing has become more complex, though this is easier to understand than for the iPod's own interface. Since the first- and second-generation iPod shuffles were extremely simple, loading them was just as easy; users had only to plug the iPod in and hit the "autofill" button to get as much random music as the device would hold. Support for multiple playlists, audiobooks and podcasts has pushed Apple to require checkmarking manual sync and highlighting "music" in the device contents before it becomes an option. While it would likely still have been possible to make autofill a one-click affair, this new option does let owners add as many playlists or other audio before they fill the rest with music.



Speed, unfortunately, remains something of a liability. Apple has always used slower flash memory for the iPod shuffle than for the iPod nano, iPod touch and iPhone. That wasn't an issue when 1GB was the most an iPod shuffle could hold, but with 4GB of memory onboard the latest version, the impact of that cost-cutting has been magnified that much more. Loading the iPod with almost exactly 3GB of music took a painfully long 14 minutes; if it had been filled to its maximum, formatted 3.8GB limit, it would have taken nearly 18 minutes. That's not pick-up-and-go speed, and while multi-playlist support means you don't have to reload the entire player to keep the music fresh, many users will almost dread clicking the "autofill" button unless they can afford to wait.


In the end: recommendations and reservations

For all the criticism of the new iPod shuffle, it's likely to remain in use here at AppleInsider and is hard not to like on at least some levels. Outside of a slightly more complicated sync process, it's still the quintessential exercise iPod and the most likely to be a companion to an iPhone or one of Apple's larger iPods. The addition of playlists alone may tip the balance for those who wanted more diversity in what they could play, and the remote-borne input is easier to manage in mid-run than a player bouncing and jiggling on your clothes.

Also, those with most existing iPod shuffles who wanted an upgrade in capacity will no doubt be happy. As much as the slow transfer speeds make syncing an exercise in patience, 4GB allows for much more diversity in music than the 1GB of space most iPod shuffles have had in the past.

However, this is the first iPod in recent memory that would give prospective buyers a serious reason to pause. Are you willing to tie yourself into buying only certain kinds of headphones or using only certain accessories? Do you have enough patience to wait several seconds to switch playlists, or a quarter of an hour to completely refill your music selection? Many aren't and don't, and asking them to make this choice where they didn't have to before is unfortunate, to say the least.

It's increasingly clear that Apple has run into the limits of what the iPod shuffle can do, not to mention its own design aesthetic. A redesign for its own sake is rarely likely to impress someone; and pulling out genuinely handy controls to satisfy a disdain for buttons or bulk is a help to no one. Apple either needs to consider a return to the iPod shuffle's roots for its fourth outing or, finally, acknowledge that it may need a player with a screen at or below the $100 mark. Just making a device smaller doesn't make it better.



Rating 3 out of 5



Pros:
Smaller, more upscale design
Remote convenient in at least some cases
Support for audiobooks, playlists and podcasts
Improved audio quality
Better-than-estimated battery life

Cons:
Too heavily dependent on remote; change is arbitary
Locks users into special headphones or adapters
VoiceOver forces too much waiting
Shorter battery life than 2G
Transfer speeds too slow
post #2 of 129
Wow, what a long-winded review! I'm sure you'll start a long flame war with this post and I don't want to really get into it in as much detail as you have here, but I have to say I disagree with almost every aspect of this review. It's not so much a review as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It trips all over itself and contradicts itself at times also. You say the new controls are more handy and intuitive at times but then at other times that the new shuffle has pulled out "genuinely handy" controls (the old ones) for reasons (you assume), that are strictly superficial (even though you present no proof that the reason for the decision was in fact that).

It's as if you really hate the thing, but realise that there isn't really that much to hate and that the design reasoning behind it is actually rather sound, but you still just don't like it. So you dance around for three or four pages trying to justify your dislike, even though you sort of can't.

Overall, this is like a review of a burger shack, treated as if you were eating at a five star restaurant. I can't help but continually come back to the fact that this is a super cheap low end PMP that is only intended to shuffle music for grandma when she goes to the gym, but you review it as if it's the latest Porsche that isn't quite up to your standards.

It's a shuffle dammit! It has higher capacity for less cost than the previous model, better sound, easier to use controls and is smaller, easier to clip to things, has a lanyard etc. etc. etc. Give it a rest why don't you and just say it's a better product all around but if you don't like it the old one is still available?
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
post #3 of 129
Many (many, many) people don't like the new Shuffle.
But at least Apple have the guts to try something new and since I own the new In-ear headphones, I don't care about the lack of buttons on the device!
M
Reply
M
Reply
post #4 of 129
It wouldn't be surprising if this design is short-lived, rather like the fat Nano. Like the article alluded to, it may primarily be an industrial-design-led refresh (meant to buy time until a more significant update), rather than a functionality-led refresh. We might just see a return to past model/controls, but with much improved functionality, in two years or so (which would mean it's already on the roadmap, obviously). Or do you guys (readers/responders) believe the clickwheel is gone from the Shuffle for good?
post #5 of 129
Quote:
and the remote-borne input is easier to manage in mid-run than a player bouncing and jiggling on your clothes.

Has the reviewer ever actually ran?
Nothing bounces or jiggles more than headphone wires. A player snapped to your waistband doesn't move at all and the 2G controls were entirely intuitive unlike this shuffle.
post #6 of 129
I'm going to go ahead and preface this whole comment with the statement that I have no need for a shuffle, and will never be the target audience for this device. That said, I really like the direction of this shuffle.

In my opinion, the shuffle is clearly not designed for true audiophiles, they are expected to go for a combination of a classic/ipod touch/iphone and a nano. Personally, I think the nano's are more than small enough to work out with, and so the shuffle is only if you really wanted a completely stripped down experience for working out with or something, or you're simply not that in love with music.

People using the shuffle just want a streamlined experience for working out, or are curious about the ipod/apple platform and are using it as a cheap way to jump in and test it out. These are not the people owning $200 Shure's and so they aren't going to mind as much using the stock ipod headphones. While I admit that I personally will never ever touch those low fidelity pieces of junk again, I know many many people who never notice a difference. For these people, the newly designed shuffle is a great concept, giving them complete control without moving/looking at the device.

It seems like software updates are necessary for the voice over interface, maybe a way to toggle it on/off easily, so that at times where you don't need the device telling you the name of songs you know by heart it wont be wasting your time. However, in theory, this is a wonderful interface for a device which has needed something in this vein for years.

I think apple is, properly, truly separating the nano from the shuffle and making it quite obvious to potential buyers which one will be worth it for them. If you want any sort of easy direct control over the device, the shuffle is not for you, but if want no hassle plug in and play then this is nearly a culmination of engineering.
32G iPhone 4, 32G iPad 2, late 2009 15" mbp
Reply
32G iPhone 4, 32G iPad 2, late 2009 15" mbp
Reply
post #7 of 129
Although i do not yet own the new shuffle. It is exactly, what i have been waiting for:
A tiny player you can put anywhere and with controls you can easily reach and blindly operate.

i would say less than 1% of all shuffle owners in the world use different headsets and less than 1% actually use it for more than randomly listen to music.

And who actually changes his music selection completely everytime he syncs it? Usually auto-fill will throw out some old often skipped tracks and will replace them with some new additions to his collection.
post #8 of 129
It's a silly design. Now that even the controls have been taken off of the unit, and the unit is so small, Apple might has well have done an all-in-the-headphones design. One of those over-the-ear things, with the controls on one earpiece. Having this little Chicklet stick that you have to clip somewhere doesn't make much sense. Just get rid of the cords altogether, except for one going behind the head to connect the 2 earpieces.

I prefer my previous-generation Shuffle. The voice-over is cool, though, as is the multiple playlists. But the physical design of this new Shuffle is silly.
post #9 of 129
I am an Apple fan and user (MacBook White + Touch V2), but think the new Shuffle a human factors disaster, not to mention, it's way overpriced in comparison to better equipped and more innovative alternatives from Apple themselves, Philips (see March 2009 Register review of their OLED miniplayer), Creative and others. Just today, I got to play with a Nokia 5310. It costs £99 unlocked (max price) and yet has a 3.5mm jack, very good sounding music player, an FM Radio with RDS, a camera (crap, but there), all the Symbian Series 40 features and it's ultra thin. And unlike the Shuffle, it has controls on it - and can take calls.

Again, I just don't see what Apple are doing here? Why not an iPhone Nano instead, IE, an iPod Nano with basic phone functions for the youthful crowd?

New Shuffle will fail, except for those with restricted eye site, for which Apple should be focusing this product.

BTW, my next expensive phone will be the next generation iPhone as the Touch has sold me on the GUI and App store. Until then, considering the Nokia 5310 as it's so sweet and innocent.
post #10 of 129
Wow Virgil, only 133 posts to go before you can change your tag to "Devoted Apple fanboy", "Drunk on the koolaid", "Infected by the RDF and I like it" or some such. Do you really think Apple can do no wrong at all?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I can't help but continually come back to the fact that this is a super cheap.

Super cheap? Er no, this new shuffle costs £59. Here's an mp3 player that costs £12 and here's a 4 GB player that costs £20. They are super-cheap. The shuffle has never been super cheap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

low end PMP

As low-capacity players go, the shuffle is high end.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

easier to use controls

Easier to use? What kind of twisted logic did you use to come to that conclusion? How is clicking a button three times to skip backward (and remembering that it's three times rather than two times, one time, two and half times whilst hopping) easier than clicking once a button marked with a "skip backward" symbol?

Have you seen this Onion piece? This new iPod is disturbingly close in ridiculousness to the Onion's piss-take.

I remember when I was 17 having an AIWA walkman with inline remote (a quick Goggle found me this image, mine had the same remote, shown in bottom right); it connected via a four-pin plug like this iPod, but had properly seperated play, stop, back, forward etc. buttons in a joypad arrangement, much like the arrangement of controls on the previous shuffles. This new shuffle is crying out for a two-line OLED display covering the whole of the currently blank front face, and a remote control with separate buttons instead of this ridiculous control scheme.
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
post #11 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Has the reviewer ever actually ran?
Nothing bounces or jiggles more than headphone wires. A player snapped to your waistband doesn't move at all and the 2G controls were entirely intuitive unlike this shuffle.

The sky must be falling; I agree with teckstud
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
post #12 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Wow Virgil, only 133 posts to go before you can change your tag to "devoted Apple fanboy", "Drunk on the koolaid", "infected by the RDF and I like it" or some such. Do you really think Apple can do no wrong at all?



Super cheap? Er no, this new shuffle costs £59. Here's an mp3 player that costs £12 and here's a 4 GB player that costs £20. They are super-cheap. The shuffle has never been super cheap.



As low-capacity players go, the shuffle is high end.




Easier to use? What kind of twisted logic did you use to come to that conclusion? How is clicking a button three times to skip backward (and remembering that it's three times rather than two times, one time, two and half times whilst hopping) easier than clicking once a button marked with a "skip backward" symbol?

Have you seen this Onion piece? This new iPod is disturbingly close in ridiculousness to the Onion's piss-take.

I remember when I was 17 having an AIWA walkman with inline remote (a quick Goggle found me this image, mine had the same remote, shown in bottom right); it connected via a four-pin plug like this iPod, but had properly seperated play, stop, back, forward etc. buttons in a joypad arrangement, much like the arrangement of controls on the previous shuffles. This new shuffle is crying out for a two-line OLED display covering the whole of the currently blank front face, and a remote control with separate buttons instead of this ridiculous control scheme.

Have you actually used one for any length of time?
I have the new iPod Shuffle (having owned all the previous models as well) and it is a great device and very easy to use.

If you can't remember the VERY simple operation of the shuffle then maybe you should stay away from technology!
post #13 of 129
I like the idea behind the new Shuffle, but I personally need a screen. I can't imagine going through up to 1,000 songs without a screen. If I want to hear only the songs from Master of Puppets, how do I know how to get to Orion specifically? The stock headphones suit me just fine and the voice feature sure is a gimmick to me. It sure does look nice though.
post #14 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by parky View Post

If you can't remember the VERY simple operation of the shuffle then maybe you should stay away from technology!

Maybe you think it's simple. I'm also confident that I would have no problem with these controls. That is beside the point. To try and claim these controls are easier to use than previous shuffles, is, frankly, stupid. I've helped out enough non-tech-savvy people with their gadgets to realise that these controls are not simple and not intuitive. The remote would not have to be that much bigger to provide dedicated buttons rather than a single multi-function button and would unarguably be easier to use; therefore the decision to use one button was misguided. Perhaps we'll see third-parties come out with multi-button remotes.
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
Reply
post #15 of 129
The shuffle isn't super cheap. If controls are in the earbuds, then the earbuds should fit properly for more people. For me, the earbuds hurt after 10 minutes. For others they fall out. While having controls in the earbuds is a neat idea, the execution is terrible.

Love most Apple products. Like the looks and idea of the new shuffle. Just hate the execution.
post #16 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by oberpongo View Post

Although i do not yet own the new shuffle. It is exactly, what i have been waiting for:
A tiny player you can put anywhere and with controls you can easily reach and blindly operate.

i would say less than 1% of all shuffle owners in the world use different headsets and less than 1% actually use it for more than randomly listen to music.

And who actually changes his music selection completely everytime he syncs it? Usually auto-fill will throw out some old often skipped tracks and will replace them with some new additions to his collection.

Ah, a completely wrong fanboy, those are hard to find aren't they?

About 99% of users i've ever seen use different headphones to those that come with the Ipod. I've had 3 ipods and i've never once even opened the ones that come with the ipod. They are well known for being terrible quality and not fitting in the ears well. I walk around university where I can easily see 100 people in a day listening to ipods and I RARELY ever see anyone with the stock head phones.
post #17 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Wow, what a long-winded review! I'm sure you'll start a long flame war with this post and I don't want to really get into it in as much detail as you have here, but I have to say I disagree with almost every aspect of this review. It's not so much a review as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It trips all over itself and contradicts itself at times also. You say the new controls are more handy and intuitive at times but then at other times that the new shuffle has pulled out "genuinely handy" controls (the old ones) for reasons (you assume), that are strictly superficial (even though you present no proof that the reason for the decision was in fact that).

It's as if you really hate the thing, but realise that there isn't really that much to hate and that the design reasoning behind it is actually rather sound, but you still just don't like it. So you dance around for three or four pages trying to justify your dislike, even though you sort of can't.

Overall, this is like a review of a burger shack, treated as if you were eating at a five star restaurant. I can't help but continually come back to the fact that this is a super cheap low end PMP that is only intended to shuffle music for grandma when she goes to the gym, but you review it as if it's the latest Porsche that isn't quite up to your standards.

It's a shuffle dammit! It has higher capacity for less cost than the previous model, better sound, easier to use controls and is smaller, easier to clip to things, has a lanyard etc. etc. etc. Give it a rest why don't you and just say it's a better product all around but if you don't like it the old one is still available?

I'd never thought I'd find myself saying this, but this is a good review. Just because you disagree with it doesn't mean you should make up criticisms of it. They don't contradict themselves but rather are trying to make a more nuanced point about the usability of the device. They certainly don't show a strong bias against, which is unusual because AI usually pander to the fanboy crowd.

The bottom line is that Apple sometimes steps over the form-over-function line. Within the current product line it's done it with the MacBook Air, and now again with the new Shuffle. It's probably done a better job than most, but Apple is held to a high standard, and rightly so. They need to have another look at this product and fix it up in a revision.
post #18 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by parky View Post

Have you actually used one for any length of time?
If you can't remember the VERY simple operation of the shuffle then maybe you should stay away from technology!

When I picked it up, it was so obvious that I had to click twice or three times. The interface just screams click multiple times, it's not like you need to read the manual or anything. You never have to read the manual with Apple products.

So, yeah, we're all idiots for not being able to remember how many clicks to use for going forward or backward or whatever.
post #19 of 129
Don't see what's the big deal about this shuffle. Used one at the store, nice to use and control, voice feature is nice too. Might pick one up.
post #20 of 129
Oh dear, I'm afraid I agree with oberpongo (about stock ipod headphones, maybe not 99% but a high percentage, and now, after a week's use with new shuffle I can say that the playlists transform the use of a shuffle. Despite what it says in the review there is nothing to stop you having multiple episodes of a podcast on the shuffle. One improvement would be to be able to turn off the track announcement before getting the playlist menu. A simple update could change this. Others can disagree, as is their right, but this has made a huge difference to my use of a shuffle.
post #21 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Speed, unfortunately, remains something of a liability. Apple has always used slower flash memory for the iPod shuffle than for the iPod nano, iPod touch and iPhone. That wasn't an issue when 1GB was the most an iPod shuffle could hold, but with 4GB of memory onboard the latest version, the impact of that cost-cutting has been magnified that much more. Loading the iPod with almost exactly 3GB of music took a painfully long 14 minutes; if it had been filled to its maximum, formatted 3.8GB limit, it would have taken nearly 18 minutes. That's not pick-up-and-go speed, and while multi-playlist support means you don't have to reload the entire player to keep the music fresh, many users will almost dread clicking the "autofill" button unless they can afford to wait.

Is it the slow flash or the fact that the data is being pushed through the headphone jack?

Quote:
Support for audiobooks, playlists and podcasts
Improved audio quality

Such a lengthy review and still no mention of this being the first Shuffle to support Apple Lossless. I'm flabbergasted that this doesn't even get a nod as being the Shuffle being powerful enough to play ~1000kbps audio files.

PS: I'd like to see a battery usage analysis of Apple Lossless compared to 256kbps AAC (et al.) but if reviewers aren't even going to acknowledge it I am surely asking for too much. If my current Shuffle wasn't adequate and/or I actually worked more I would buy the damn thing to test myself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

The sky must be falling; I agree with teckstud

In a way he is right, but it is much easier to grab the right side of your headphones to change switch tracks than trying to do it while it's on your arm or waist or elsewhere.

I've used my 2G Shuffle with my Sony in-ear phones with a removable cable so they are perfect length for going from your head to your sleeve. They also are meant to be worn on the back of the neck and have two different length wires. I love that design. Despite that, I now use Apple's in-ear phones with my 2G Shuffle because changing tracks from the wire is easier.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #22 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorotea View Post

Apple earbuds are uncomfortable.

My ear cartilage agrees with you. I'd rather get waterboarded at Gitmo than have to wear those things for a day. They don't eveb sound good when sitting in my ear properly. If I want the best sound I have to turn them sideways so the speaker faces front. I must some funky ears.

Apple's new in-ear phones are nice if you want to shell out $79 for a decent pair of headphones. Good quality for the price, though the bass could be more pronounced.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #23 of 129
Further feature not mentioned in review. Pause a track then double-click. Next song is announced; not the song you want then double-click again and it then the following song is announced etc. Don't need to hear whole of title: as soon as you recognize it as one you want then click to play or double-click to next song announcement without it finishing the announcement. I hope you can guess what triple-click does on pause mode! So choose your song from the playlist fairly painlessly if you keep playlists down to album lengths.
post #24 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Super cheap? Er no, this new shuffle costs £59.

Yes... And didn't the last gen Shuffle also only cost £32? I know it was 2GB not 4GB but where's the old £32 price point? Or has that gone because of the poxy pound?
post #25 of 129
Well, I like the new Shuffle. It is light, easy to control, love the voice - wish I had it on my iTouch. The price is right and it holds enough. A step to far? No, I step in the right direction. The nice thing is, if you would prefer another type of iPod, just go buy it. What's the big deal. Nothing Apple does is for everyone.
rfrmac
Reply
rfrmac
Reply
post #26 of 129
This iPod is a disaster. Now that the controls are separated from the Shuffle, you are guaranteed to accidentally leave the headphones at home with no way to control your music.

You can no longer plug it into your car or home stereo and their list of blinking lights and button presses is a nightmare.

They haven't simplified anything. It just looks like they have.

Hell, had they just moved the battery to the headphones it could have been 1/3 the size it is now. I guess they'll save that for the 4th gen. Better yet, the 4th gen iPod could just be invisible - you just sing all the tunes in your head. No need for a player or headphones.
post #27 of 129
The shuffle earbuds should have had a split cable like many Sony's do. The short cord is perfect for a shuffle clipped on your sleeve or lapel.
post #28 of 129
I think they need to update the review to indicate that the USB sync cable is not only ridiculously short (which they mention), but it is also incompatible with the 2nd gen shuffle's cable. Obviously, there is no "dock" for the 3rd gen model. But potential buyers may think they can use a 3rd party cable from their 2nd gen shuffle, or the one included with the 3rd gen shuffle, to sync and charge both a 2nd gen and 3rd gen shuffle. You can't! Apple changed the order of the contacts on the 4-contact headphone jack.

That is my understanding from other reviews I've read. And if you already own a 2nd gen, you'll need yet another free USB port or have to constantly swap cables.
post #29 of 129
I had two complaints with my last shuffle and two complaints only. 1) ear buds HURT and were a definite no go. 2) so small that I would misplace it for days and it finally got washed in the washer where it died. So now what? A much smaller shuffle with the controls on the god awful ear buds. And my last shuffle I connected through a cassette adapter in my truck's stereo. How would you control this new shuffle if you wanted to do that?
post #30 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H;1393697

[i


Easier[/i] to use? What kind of twisted logic did you use to come to that conclusion? How is clicking a button three times to skip backward (and remembering that it's three times rather than two times, one time, two and half times whilst hopping) easier than clicking once a button marked with a "skip backward" symbol?

Have you seen this Onion piece? This new iPod is disturbingly close in ridiculousness to the Onion's piss-take.

I am reminded of this strip from the webcomic Bob & George
post #31 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrmac View Post

Well, I like the new Shuffle. It is light, easy to control, love the voice - wish I had it on my iTouch. The price is right and it holds enough. A step to far? No, I step in the right direction. The nice thing is, if you would prefer another type of iPod, just go buy it. What's the big deal. Nothing Apple does is for everyone.

I'd wager that after the hype of this device dies does they will issue a firmware for the other iPods and iPhone to allow VoiceOver.

As for the 2G Shuffles, Apple obviously realizes this is an extreme move and may not fit everyone's needs as the old shuffle has been available on the Apple Store since the day the 3G Shuffle launched. Not in the Refurbished section, either, but in the main stoer with a proper page and link on the main page clearly stating it is still available.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

I think they need to update the review to indicate that the USB sync cable is not only ridiculously short (which they mention), but it is also incompatible with the 2nd gen shuffle's cable.
[...]
And if you already own a 2nd gen, you'll need yet another free USB port or have to constantly swap cables.

I read that too, but is it incompatible both ways or can the 3G Shuffle use the 2G Shuffle connection type? Does it at least allow for charging?

It's too bad that they didn't make a USB2.0 passthrough on this cable. Though people would have complained about that too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cygnusrk727 View Post

And my last shuffle I connected through a cassette adapter in my truck's stereo. How would you control this new shuffle if you wanted to do that?

At this point, you wouldn't unless you wanted to just play it and not control it any other way. There will soon be headphones with controls for it. There will soon be cheap adapters with controls so you can use your favorite headphones.

There is also no reason that car stereo and home theaters won't be able to control this Shuffle from their main controls. After all, this Shuffle is now the last iPod (as well as the iPhone) to be controllable by the headphone controls.

For comparison sake, the current iPod Touch, iPod Classic and iPod Nano can use all the same controls except for the track FF/RW that the new Shuffle has. The iPhone also can use these controls except for volume control and the afore mentioned track FF/RW. I'm not sure about the track FF/RW but the volume controls require new HW so the next iPhone will get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rasnet View Post

I am reminded of this strip from the webcomic Bob & George

That pretty much explains it.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #32 of 129
I don't know why people are complaining so much about this new shuffle. I bought it and I love it for what it can do for me at the gym. Apple does seem to have a direction they're heading into with this model. I like the idea of VoiceOver which I'm sure will be perfected in time. I wouldn't be surprised if this leads Apple to explore voice command functionality at some point in the near future with their devices too. Not all iPods can do everything, that's why there are a variety to choose from. If you don't like this one because of the remote or because it has no screen, then buy the previous model or keep it if you already have it, or get one with a screen, pretty simple. If you can't connect it to your stereo devices, then connect your nano or touch or whatever other model. They can't do everything and we don't need to have every type of iPod either.
post #33 of 129
Overall I thought this was a good review, even if I am not sure I agree with it. It had a lot of good information that helped me to understand the device better.

What struck me as a little off were the complaints about Voice Over. My understanding is that Voice Over is not triggered every time you change songs as the review implied when they complained about the extra time it takes over the old shuffle. The complaints went on about how long the process is to change play lists versus the old player which didn't even support playlists. Adding a screen could make the process faster, but given the way that the shuffle seems to be used, many people wouldn't be able to look at the screen to do that. I think Voice Over is a great idea for offering greater control and flexibility to the shuffle without requiring people to stop what they are doing and look down at the screen. It would be great to have that functionality on an iPod or iPhone when using them in a car. These benefits were kind of glossed over in the review.
post #34 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I remember when I was 17 having an AIWA walkman with inline remote (a quick Goggle found me this image, mine had the same remote, shown in bottom right); it connected via a four-pin plug like this iPod, but had properly seperated play, stop, back, forward etc. buttons in a joypad arrangement, much like the arrangement of controls on the previous shuffles.

I had a couple Sony minidisk players that had an inline remote, which allowed the use of any headphones with the jack on the remote. It had play/pause as a button, a knob to skip tracks, a hold slider and an LCD screen to display the track ID info, and a shirt/lapel clip built in - not much room for jiggling around. It was pretty nifty for the time, I don't think I've seen it bested any since then.

Quote:
This new shuffle is crying out for a two-line OLED display covering the whole of the currently blank front face, and a remote control with separate buttons instead of this ridiculous control scheme.

OLED display would be really cool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thesmoth View Post

Ah, a completely wrong fanboy, those are hard to find aren't they?

About 99% of users i've ever seen use different headphones to those that come with the Ipod. I've had 3 ipods and i've never once even opened the ones that come with the ipod. They are well known for being terrible quality and not fitting in the ears well. I walk around university where I can easily see 100 people in a day listening to ipods and I RARELY ever see anyone with the stock head phones.

To me, 99% looks way out of whack even for hyperbole. At a midwest university, it seemed like maybe 50%.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

At this point, you wouldn't unless you wanted to just play it and not control it any other way. There will soon be headphones with controls for it. There will soon be cheap adapters with controls so you can use your favorite headphones.

Is it the same kind of connection as the iPhone 3G? It seems that there should be some adapters out that control volume. None of the examples I've seen posted so far have it. I think I had the Shure adapter. On the iPhone, not having volume control was a downside but wasn't so terrible because there were alternative controls.

Quote:
There is also no reason that car stereo and home theaters won't be able to control this Shuffle from their main controls. After all, this Shuffle is now the last iPod (as well as the iPhone) to be controllable by the headphone controls.

That could be pretty cool.
post #35 of 129
[QUOTE=solipsism;1393715]
Quote:
Such a lengthy review and still no mention of this being the first Shuffle to support Apple Lossless. I'm flabbergasted that this doesn't even get a nod as being the Shuffle being powerful enough to play ~1000kbps audio files.

What good is lossless sound if the headphones don't reproduce it?

Quote:
In a way he is right, but it is much easier to grab the right side of your headphones to change switch tracks than trying to do it while it's on your arm or waist or elsewhere.

Are you talking this?:

Because surely you don't think grabbing a swinging cable while running is easier.
post #36 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is it the same kind of connection as the iPhone 3G?

The same kind of connection, but the player's hardware doesn't have the capabilities to use all the controls the same way. But the headphones can be used with the inline remote across all models.

For example, Apple's in-ear phones with mic and in-line remote says it isn't supported on the iPhone. Which is technically true in that the volume doesn't work, but everything else works fine.

I see no reason why the next versions won't have the appropriate HW.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #37 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

This iPod is a disaster. Now that the controls are separated from the Shuffle, you are guaranteed to accidentally leave the headphones at home with no way to control your music.

You can no longer plug it into your car or home stereo and their list of blinking lights and button presses is a nightmare.

They haven't simplified anything. It just looks like they have.

Hell, had they just moved the battery to the headphones it could have been 1/3 the size it is now. I guess they'll save that for the 4th gen. Better yet, the 4th gen iPod could just be invisible - you just sing all the tunes in your head. No need for a player or headphones.

It'll still require a one-button remote control, though - how else would they force you to tap out the name of the desired function in Morse code?

Play: .--. .-.. .- -.--
Pause: .--. .- ..- ... . (no, not the same as the "play" command)
Next Track: -. . -..- - - .-. .- -.-. -.-
Previous Track: .--. .-. . ...- .. --- ..- ... - .-. .- -.-. -.-
Rewind: .-. . .-- .. -. -.. (but hold the last dot until finished)
Fast Forward: ..-. .- ... - ..-. --- .-. .-- .- .-. -.. (again, holding the last dot until finished)

Because that is the direction they're actively pursuing here. It already feels like Morse code, they just haven't gone all the way yet. If anything, the reviewer was being just a little too apologetic, but thankfully nowhere near the distasteful depths of iGroveling Dan Dilger stooped to in his recent article on the shuffle.
post #38 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adjei View Post

Don't see what's the big deal about this shuffle. Used one at the store, nice to use and control, voice feature is nice too. Might pick one up.

How did you try it at the store- with ear bud headphones that hundreds have used?
When I went they showed it to me from a salesperson's pocket with the ugly USB dangledopper hanging off it.
post #39 of 129
Though I'm not a shuffle sort of person, atleast I don't own one at the moment, this gas to be Apples best shuffle ever. It is the first of the shuffle series that caused any interest on my part at all.

The reasons are many and start with a reasonable amount of storage. The controls are an important factor two as that provides for device control for active people. For shuffles target user base it is about perfect.

Shuffle isn't perfect of course and I have to wonder why all these so called in depth reports never comment on shuffle operating temperature range. It is very limited and does impact users.

I predict brisk sales of the new shuffle.



Dave
post #40 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post




Have you seen this Onion piece? This new iPod is disturbingly close in ridiculousness to the Onion's piss-take.

Hysterical!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPod + iTunes + AppleTV › Apple's 3G iPod shuffle reviewed: a step too far?