iPod Shuffle Review

February 3, 2005

I bought a 1GB iPod Shuffle, and no sooner had it arrived on my desk than I was asked by Mark to write up a product review. Let me start out by saying I’m not an iPod owner. I currently have a PC, but I am a former Mac user/owner and probably will be a Mac owner again in the future. I had considered an iPod in the past, but couldn’t justify the cost, considering my expected limited use of it as a music player. I’m not one to walk around everywhere I go with headphones on, and mostly I wanted it for activities like exercising, mowing the lawn, and working around the house. I would probably only use it once a week or so, as opposed to daily, like most iPod users.

So when the Shuffle came out, I uncharacteristically went out and ordered one the next day, seeing it as a low-cost opportunity as not only a music player, but also a 1GB USB key. It took about 2 and 1/2 weeks to fill the order and another 3 days to ship. I had already set up iTunes and imported all of the music I have on my computer (probably about 10GB worth). The first thing I did was allow the Shuffle to download a full gig of songs randomly from my collection. This took well over 1/2 hour, mostly this was due to a setting to convert songs to ACC, which it recommended for space-saving reasons. I’ve since learned this probably won’t be an issue for me, so subsequent downloads of MP3s have gone much quicker.

Even though I haven’t had a lot of experience with it so far, I am very happy with it overall. I’ve fully loaded it randomly, as I said above, and this was close to 240 songs, as advertised. I’ve also loaded individual play lists and even created an “iShuffle Playlist” of my own liking, into which I’m putting all of the songs I really like from my collection. Then I’ll let iTunes pull the songs from this list, rather than my entire collection, when using the auto-load feature. I haven’t used it as a USB key yet, but it does allow you to specify the amount of room on the Shuffle that you want to reserve for data. This is nice, if you don’t plan to have it fully loaded with music all of the time, but I can see how it might be kind of a pain to have to remove all of your music if you want use the full capacity of the drive for data, and then reload your music. I also haven’t used it to the point of needing to recharge it yet. They estimate twelve hours on a full charge, and I’ve probably used it for about six to eight hours total. Of course I was also reloading play lists and such, so it was recharging at times.

What I like most about it is the physical size of it. You barely even know you’re carrying it, especially compared to my previous MP3 player, which was a Discman that played MP3 discs. For my uses, 1GB will be plenty of space for music, even if I decide to designate some of it for data, and expect that I’ll have ample opportunity to reload and recharge it, so I don’t see battery life or lack of song variety as an issue. The only negative I’ve run up against so far is using the volume/track controls. It’s a small circle with volume on the top and bottom and next and previous tracks to the right and left. Occasionally I’ll go to turn up the volume and hit the next track button on accident. But when that happens, you can either just jump back to the original track or enjoy the next one on the list. The straight play list setting might come in handy if you were to listen to an audio book or take the time to set up a play list just the way you want to listen to it before hand, but I’ll probably just let it shuffle through the songs for the most part. I’ll have to give you an update if I find it picks out too many of the same songs on the shuffle. I’ve heard some people have that problem with their iPods, but I just haven’t had enough time to use it to notice yet.

For my needs, I think the Shuffle will work just great. I think it would be a bit of a step down for iPod users who might want to keep all of their music with them at all times and be able to select exactly what they want to listen to using the display. But for an entry-level MP3 player/USB key, I’d have to recommend it.

2024 Note - This review was written by Scott Leeman

1 Comment

good writeup

Comment by ScatASStic — 2/2/2005 @ 5:59 pm