Review: iPod shuffle (Second Generation)

This new tiny iPod delivers more pack than punch (November 27th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Apple Computer, Inc.

Price: $79.95 US, 55 UK

The Good

  • Small. Clips to anything.

The Bad

  • Needs removable clip. Not usable as a flash drive. Sound not as crisp as previous model. Original earphones included. Requires a dock.

Apple recently released its 2nd generation iPod shuffle in a mission to improve what had gone before. The previous shuffle, often compared to a pack of gum, was superb, very compact and had a dual use, because it also could be used as a USB flash memory stick. So, the question remains, is this new shuffle better than the before?

Impressively Small

The second generation iPod shuffle is tiny in comparison to the previous model. Measuring only 1.07 inches high by 1.62 inches wide (27.3 x 41.2 x 10mm) and weighing a mere 0.55 ounces (15.5 g), it is astounding that they fit the audio technology and 1GB of storage into such a tiny device. The iPod shuffle is packed in Apple's newly styled see through box, with a set of miniature instructions, a small crib sheet showing the controls and LED indicator colors, and a dock. Also included, to my dismay, are the older style Apple earphones.

Clipped To Go

The silver brushed aluminum finish on the iPod shuffle (Second Generation) is the same as the new iPod nano. The supplied mini dock connects to your Mac or PC via USB and to the bottom of the Shuffle via the headphone jack, which now deliver audio and serves to synchronize the device. The four-way controller with the play or pause button in the middle is very nice to use, but no great improvement over the previous iPod shuffle. The unit has a built in clip, which allows you to attach it to a pocket or piece of clothing. The clip is acceptable, but does not feel very strong. I doubt the clip will snap, but the spring does not have a very tight grip, so it could slip off if you are not careful. The clip cannot be removed either, which is a shame, because it makes it too bulky to hang it around your neck.

Docking the new iPod shuffle works fine, if you have applied the iTunes 7.0.2 update. The new dock means that you cannot use it as an USB flash memory stick, unless you carry the dock around with you. It only takes a few minutes to fill it up with music.

Acceptable Sound

The sound quality is what I would term as perfectly acceptable. When compared to the previous iPod shuffle, it does not seem as detailed or crisp. When compared to an iPod nano or full sized iPod, the sound quality and depth are definitely nowhere near as good. Yet, this is a tiny miniature marvel, perfectly designed for using while exercising and on the move.

Room for Improvement

There is room for improvement though, because it would be better with a removable clip and a small USB adapter. It is such a novelty that I am sure it will find its way into many a Christmas stocking or as one of the eight joys of Chanukah this holiday season.

by Dave Cryer


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