OK, I promised a wee review of the iPod shuffle, so here it is. It’s very mini though… Heh.

I’ve had the iPod for over a month now, and it has had very heavy use in that time. Executive summary? It’s a splendid little tinker, I recommend it.

Long version: the shuffle is ideal for a certain kind of listening experience. As you probably know, it doesn’t have a display or any of the whizzy playlist enhancements of its older siblings. It has been criticised — incredibly unfairly — for this. The lack of display suits me down to the ground, and here’s why: I use the shuffle on my daily walks to and from the railway station, both at home, and in London when getting to the office. This means that the iPod gets well over an hour of play a day, not including the times I have it going on the train / trying to ignore people in meetings etc. What I don’t do is look at it. I plug m’self in, slide the clip over to shuffle, and press play. That’s it, and this is why the thing suits me. I have the half gig model, which can take around 100 - 125 AAC-formatted files at 128kps. I’d say that ’s about the right number of songs for a unit like this, and they ’re easy to replace and update. Now, I mentioned the bit-rate. Of course, you could get snobbish about sound quality and stuff, but this a digital music player. Chances are, you’re going to be listening to it on the move — maybe outside — whilst doing something. An ideal listening environment none of that makes, so why worry about bass response when the number 42 bus is thundering past??

Other reasons for my choosing the shuffle:

  1. Price. The thing cost me £69, delivery included. That’s pretty cheap for the kind of player it is
  2. iTunes. I already have stacks of my music in iTunes on my Mac. Having to use said app to shift files between my computer and music player is therefore not an issue for me: your mileage may vary, so people bitching about this aspect of the iPod get no sympathy from me. As an aside, EQ settings in iTunes don’t appear to come across when syncing the iPod, but volume settings do so be careful!
  3. Ease of use. This wee chap is an absolute breeze to get up and running, loaded with music. Autofill is a great feature, and yes, you can play songs in sequence if you want (sometimes handy when you stumble upon an album track and decide to hear the rest).
  4. Size. This thing is tiny and weighs practically nothing. You can slip it in your shirt pocket and it’s totally unobtrusive. I really like that after my clunky ole’ mini-disc player.

OK, so now the gripes:

  1. Scratching. The shuffle has had a lot of use, which invariably means scuffs, drops and scratches. This doesn’t bother me — you should see the state of the MD player it’s replaced! — but again, you may differ here. If maintaining the pristine white looks of your iPod are crucial for you, I would suggest investing in some kind of cover. It survives drops onto concrete well by the way!
  2. The slider control on the back: this works really well, unless you’re wearing gloves— then it’s a fiddle ;-)

And that’s it. I’m very pleased with this purchase, and I love changing my choons around whenever I fancy it (no more real-time CD recording on to mini-disc for me). With regards battery life, no complaints so far; It will be interesting to see how long the battery retains any semblance of memory, as needless to say the battery is not user-replaceable.


  1. I have to say, although I myself have a 20GB iPod, and am very happy with it, it seems to me that at the £70-£100 quid range the iPod shuffle doesn't seem like a good deal.

    I think it's sales are based almost entirely on the loyalty of "Apple Lovers". Fair play if that's what people want to do, but no display? Give me a break.. If only I could get away with bits of my applications being missing by just telling the user it's actually cool not to have it!

    Seriously though, there are a number of better alternatives out there. For example there's a rather neat little Packard Bell number (can't remember the name, might be AudioStream or something). Anyway, you transfer the files across in Windows Explorer (not on the Mac of course) and it's just a case of swapping files from one drive to another. To your average computer user that is far easier than iTunes. Also, it offers 1GB for about £100, and a display (some people do like to have that) and it's even smaller than the iPod Shuffle (and looks better too).

    Just wanted to get that off my chest! I like my iPod, I like the Mac, but as for the iPod Shuffle, it just doesn't compare to some of it's rivals (in my opinion….). Lee#
  2. Lee, I trade you my Samsung">">Samsung player any time against a 1 gig Shuttle any time. And that is for the missing iTunes integration. Deal?Volker Weber#
  3. Hmmh, I should have read the instructions that are offwhite on white. :-) Weber#
  4. I just got a Mini and a Shuffle and I'm very happy with the combination. Yes, I could do it cheaper with other products, but the ease of use is worth the premium price to me. It also seems that the Mini is much faster at transferring audio data than iTunes on my PC. My Wintel machine is already in the basement. I'm happy… something I could not say about my experiences with any version of Windows.Ed Maloney#
  5. > To your average computer user that is far easier than iTunes.

    Using Explorer to move files around is easier than just clicking "Autofill", or just dragging songs over to your iPod? Hmmm… OK.

    Re the display, this is the biggest bone of contention about the shuffle. Like I said in my review, some like this, some don't. I have no requirement for one in a music player like this. In a 20GB iPod of course you have to have one.

    I think that with the gig shuffle (which stores around 240 songs), the lack of display could start to be a pain for the same reasons. But for 100-odd songs, whilst walking around, not an issue in my book.

    Finally, purchases only being made by Mac loyalists? I don't think so. Look at how many of these beasts have been sold since it was announced. A lot of units. I know of a few people who have one, and I'm the only one who's a Mac owner. £70 for something like this is a good deal. Sure there are cheaper players -- and more and more will become available -- but for the amount of storage and sheer ease of use, that's not a bad price.Ben Poole#
  6. Fair points, and as I said, it's only my opinion. For the record I don't think the Shuffle is overpriced, as like you say it's got a 1GB for under £100 quid.

    Personally, a lot of my non-techy friends find the Shuffle bizarre for the lack of a display alone, but again, it's personal preference and i've read lots of bloggers who love it.

    One point I made which I think is particularly valid though is transferring data without iTunes. Before I had my iPod I used RealJukebox or Winamp for listening/recording music. Since being "forced" to use iTunes due to my iPod, I find it much more difficult to control what I want to do. The default option of overwriting what's already on my iPod when I dock it is just one of many irritating "features" of iTunes.

    Again, don't shoot me down in flames, I don't hate the iPod/Shuffle/Apple, these are just my honest opinions. But Ben, enjoy the Shuffle mate!Lee#
  7. No shooting Lee, many thanks for your input! I happen to like iTunes, but I can appreciate how someone who likes WinAmp, for example, would find the iTunes requirement for iPods onerous to say the least.

    Before iTunes was available for Windoze, I used Musicmatch Jukebox on that platform: can’t say I was sorry when I stopped using it though, a real bear.Ben Poole#

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I’m a software architect / developer / general IT wrangler specialising in web, mobile web and middleware using things like node.js, Java, C#, PHP, HTML5 and more.

Best described as a simpleton, but kindly. You can read more here.