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The iPod Shuffle @ Rs 8,500!
Rohit Tikmany |
March 17, 2005
hen we first set out to do a review for the new iPod Shuffle mp3 player, we didn't know where to start.
The iPod Shuffle is downright simple with neither a bell nor a whistle in sight.
For the uninitiated, the iPod Shuffle is the latest addition to the iPod family, a series of portable mp3 players designed and sold by Apple Computer. It was launched in January at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, USA.
Two major changes set the iPod Shuffle apart from the rest of the iPod family:
a. The iPod Shuffle is the first iPod based on flash memory (as against a hard drive).
b. Apple has done away with the famous iPod LCD screen to make the iPod Shuffle cheaper, smaller and simpler. The iPod Shuffle is small. Really small. It is about the size of a man's finger!
It comes in two models: one with a 512 MB storage capacity and the other with 1 GB. They can store roughly 120 and 240 four-minute songs (encoded at 128 kbit/s), respectively.
Everything else about the two models is same.
Style and form factor
For us, what made the iPod Shuffle most appealing is that it carried the name 'iPod'.
This device leaves its competition in the shade in terms of physical dimensions and hip factor. Its resolutely compact and modern look epitomises Apple's trademark minimalism.
The iPod Shuffle's body is made from the same white glossy plastic seen on its bigger cousins.
At first glance, the iPod Shuffle comes across as a small white stick with a headphone jack on one end and a USB plug on the other.
It is pretty much weightless, at 22 grams. That is less than the weight of a CD!
It is one-third of an inch thick -- it is 3.3 inches tall and 0.98 inches wide. That is about the size of the standard cigarette lighter (the ubiquitous transparent gas-based cigarette lighter stands 3.2 inches tall and 0.9 inches wide).
You really have to hold the iPod Shuffle in your hand to feel the small size and weightlessness.
So say bye-bye to the bulge that has ruined many a trouser pocket!
The Shuffle comes with iPod standard white headphones. Wrap the included white lanyard necklace around your neck. You get the ultimate see-and-be-seen techno jewellery for gadget fashionistas.
Unlike the iPod, there is no screen or any user interface on the iPod Shuffle. Consequently, there is no menu which, in turn, eliminates the need for the iPod standard menu button and the scroll wheel.
The iPod Shuffle box comes with no cables, no batteries, no cradles and no power adapters.
You simply plug the Shuffle's USB plug directly into your computer's USB port and load the music with the included iTunes software.
You can create your own playlist and transfer the songs or you can use iTunes' new feature: Autofill.
This easy-to-use feature automatically pulls up 120 to 150 songs randomly from your music lirary, creates a playlist and transfers it to the Shuffle.
If you have rated all the songs in your library, you can even instruct iTunes to favour songs with a higher rating.
You can play songs either in the order of loading or in a shuffled (random) order. It takes a little over six minutes to transfer 512 MB worth of songs (that is good!).
Plug it out, fit your earphones, switch the power on and press play!
The controls couldn't be simpler. There are just four buttons: for volume control, play/pause, next track and previous track.
Apart from playing well-balanced and low-distortion digital music, the iPod Shuffle plays audiobooks and can be used as an external storage device.
In the US, the two models, 512 MB and 1 GB, retail at $99 and $149 respectively.
At $99, the 512 MB iPod Shuffle packs unbeatable bang for the buck. It is the most affordable 512 MB mp3 player.
Earlier this month, Apple India announced the launch of the two models at Rs 8,500 and Rs 12,400 respectively.
On the street, the 512 MB iPod Shuffle sells for Rs 5,800 in markets like Mumbai's Heera Panna and Delhi's Palika Bazaar.
What's good, What's not!
~ The good
* Rock bottom price
* Ultra small and ultra light
* Decent storage space
* Really simple to use
* Great iTunes software
* Great sound quality
* Great battery
* Can be used as an external storage device
* Plays audiobooks
~ The bad
* No screen
* Limited control over what's playing
* No FM radio
* No equaliser
* No voice recording
* No expansion through memory cards
Who is it for? Who is it not for?
~ The iPod Shuffle is for you if:
i. You want a no-nonsense mp3 player, which does just that -- plays mp3s.
ii. You don't mind carrying only hundreds of songs (as against thousands), on your mp3 player.
iii. You want a user-friendly mp3 player that has almost no learning curve and gets you the attention wherever you go.
iv. You listen to music while working out, jogging or playing sport.
v. You are really low on budget and looking for a basic, entry level and bare bones digital music player.
~ The iPod Shuffle is not for you if:
i. You must carry your entire music library of 1,000s of songs with you.
ii. You want to see the information about a song (ID3 tags) while it is playing
iii. You only listen to songs organised in playlists.
iv. You are a power user looking for advanced audio features, like
equalisation, FM radio or voice recording.
The iPod Shuffle is the best portable mp3 player for the money.
Although far from being a replacement for your iPod, it is all the company diehard mp3 aficionados need for their daily commute.