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iPods & MP3 players Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Apple iPod shuffle review

£59 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The minimalist third-generation Apple iPod shuffle has innovative text-to-voice technology, but the controls take some getting used to.

The minimalist third-generation Apple iPod shuffle has innovative text-to-voice technology, but the controls take some getting used to.

Apple's third-generation iPod shuffle will please minimalist-design enthusiasts. Smaller than a USB thumb drive, it is completely devoid of buttons, knobs, and a screen. While it is attractive, the shuffle's earbud controls and VoiceOver feature might not be for everyone.

The latest Apple iPod shuffle looks like no other MP3 player - or even iPod - out there. Aside from the earbuds, the only indicator that it does something other than accessorise your outfit is the Apple logo on the backside clip.

Measuring 45.2x17.5x7.8mm and weighing a scant 10.7g, this minuscule device could easily get lost in your pocket or bag if you're not careful. At the top of the device, next to the headphone jack, resides a switch for iPod shuffle, Play in Order, or Power Off. Between the switch and the jack is a status light that indicates how much life is left in the battery.

The controls for the iPod shuffle are located on the included earbuds, housed in a tiny remote on a cable below the right ear. This earbud design debuted last fall alongside the newest versions of the Apple iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod classic. The controls are pretty basic: volume up/down buttons sit on either side of a multifunction centre button.

Using the multifunction button for playback isn't difficult, but it might take some time getting used to. Pressing the button once plays or pauses a song; twice skips forward and three times skips back.

Apple iPod shuffle

Although the earbud controls are quite small, they're very easy to press. Our main issue with the iPod shuffle design is the placement of the controls.

We had a lot of difficulty trying to skip songs and adjust volume while we were jogging or working out with the iPod shuffle. Since the controls are too close to the right ear, we had to move our neck in an awkward way to grasp them. And unsurprisingly, the earbuds fell out of our ears very easily.

We imagine that a lot of people use their iPod shuffles while working out, so we were disappointed when we learned that the controls were located on the bundled earbuds. And, let's face it, Apple's bundled earbuds have never been the best.

Luckily, a few third-party manufacturers such as Eytmotic Research and Klipsch have headphones compatible with the new iPod shuffle. Apple has also said that third-party adaptors will be available, as well.

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iPod shuffle 3G (2009) Expert Verdict »

Apple iPod Shuffle 4GB 3rd Generation Scores 8.3 out of 10 based on 107 reviews
4GB flash drive
holds up to 1,000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format
Skip-free playback
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF
stores data via USB flash drive
built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery
3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
earbuds with remote control included
45.2x17.5x7.8mm
10.7g
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

If you're looking strictly for an audio player that doesn't take up a lot of space, the third-generation iPod shuffle is ideal. But if you're unwilling to drop sixty quid for a feature-scarce MP3 player, you might want to consider some less expensive alternatives. The 4GB SanDisk Sansa Clip (£25), for example, has a screen, an FM radio, and a built-in microphone - and it doesn't tie you to the bundled earphones.

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