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Thursday, April 21, 2005

iPod Shuffle Review

It's time to review the newest gadget in my life, the 1 gigabyte iPod Shuffle. Overall, I have been very impressed with the device. The device does have a few drawbacks, but for what I've found it's perfect for my usage style.

I'll start with the positives and there are quite a few. Judging the size and weight, the device is amazingly small and light. I can easily shove it in my pocket or put it around my neck (with the including lanyard) and within seconds I'll forget it's there. This is a large plus for me, as I want to be able to carry it everywhere effortlessly. A nice feature that avoids bulk is the cover for the USB connector is an interchangeable piece that can either be a flat stub (how the device is often pictured) or the lanyard clip, like I wear it. Most of the accessories take advantage of this space for their connection to the iPod.

The storage capacity of the one-gigabyte version is perfect for my use. I have personally rated most of the music in my iTuneslibrary over the past year (8000+ songs) and use the autofill option to fill the device with music from the "My Top Rated" playlist. I can pick and choose music I would want to include and then autofill the rest of the space, but I rarely go that route. The autofill feature is flawless and ensures a steady variety of good music from my collection. I can go for a couple weeks at a time (or a sixteen-hour drive to North Dakota and back like last weekend) without hearing the same song twice, because I have roughly 220 songs on the device at any time. The battery life seems great to me, it lasts at least the 12 hours Apple says. The battery charges when plugged into any USB port, making it easy to charge anywhere you are. The USB drive function of the device is an added plus, I can carry a gig of data with me at any time if need be and I can play the music on the Shuffle in MP3 software on any computer I plug the device into (like I do at work).

My heaviest use of the device occurs in the car. I want to be able to sit-down, pull the device out of my pocket, plug it in to my tape-deck adaptor, and jam away. That's exactly what I am able to do with the Shuffle. The device pumps out some pretty good sound quality at a volume much higher than my previous MP3 device (Palm Zire 71). I think I would have a much harder time doing this with the other iPods and any larger MP3 player.

Comparing the device to the other iPods and most of the upper-tier MP3 players, it has that nice factor of not having to worry about it. If you're at all like me you want to take good care of your portable devices (PDA, cell phone, digital camera, etc), the iPod Shuffle makes this easy. The device is light but of decent size, this makes it a perfect size to stay in my pocket without annoying me. Because of the cost and size of the device ($150 for the 1GB version) I don't panic when I fall over and have it on, it's small and is not going to set me back a month's salary if it gets damaged. I have successfully (unfortunately) bumped the device into numerous things including the basement and my car door, and when I expected it to quit working it has kept on chugging.

On the negative side... If you're one that has to have your entire collection with you (I can only see this if you are gone for days at a time), this device is not for you. If you're one that needs the screen because you can't handle a random song, this device is not for you. If you're one that really likes big bulky device, the Shuffle is not for you.

If you are one that finds anything I said before remotely applicable to them you may be interested in the iPod Shuffle. It has been definitely been a great device for me, and I recommend it to anyone out there looking for an MP3 player to take jogging, carry in their pocket, or to replace their existing USB flash drive.

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