The rumors are running that 4GB (and a 2GB) iPod Shuffles are on the cards. Mostly this is because of their existence on Shopping.com as a potential search and comparison item.
I hope it’s true. I don’t know if I’m a typical Shuffle user, but I don’t constantly update and modify the content on my Shuffle, instead I’ve copied across a good set of music I always like. Whenever I leave the house – or sometimes when I’m doing chores – I pop the iPod shuffle on. I rarely wear it for more than an hour, and because I know I’m always going to be in the mood for the music, I can always be sure that I’m going to want to use it when I pick it up.
If I constantly updated the music, I could never be so carefree and easy about using it. I’m not always in the mood for Tomita or an audiobook, for example. I have two other iPods (original 20GB models) that I use when I want choice; one sits by the bed with audiobooks, language tapes and other info I listen to when falling asleep.
For longer journeys and stints I use the other 20GB iPod which is loaded up with a wider range of choice, and because it’s got a display (no implied criticism of the Shuffle), I can be more selective about what I listen to.
These two units though need a little more care and thought – I only take them with me or use them on longer journeys, holidays and so on, and it’s a deliberate, rather than automatic practice.
And there lies my desire for a larger Shuffle. As well as my 1GB Shuffle I also own one of the tiny PQI 1GB Intelligent Stick USB drives. It’s small enough to carry in my pocket without really noticing and it’s main purpose is as a backup store for all of my ‘active’ work. The problem is that unlike the Shuffle, which has a purpose when I take it away with me, I often forget. This doesn’t make it very useful as a backup device.
Now my Shuffle isn’t completely full, even with the 120 songs in my ever-ready collection, I’ve only used about half the space on the drive. But the 400MB or so I have is not enough to keep a record of all my active documents, preferences and other stuff; my iTunes library alone takes up 80MB.
With a 4GB Shuffle, not only would I have the space for everything I needed in terms of music and backup storage, I’d also have the impetus to take it with me, making it a much more effective personal storage and portable audio player.
As to the reliability of the information, well 4GB is no longer such a huge amount of space for a USB drive, so it’s technically possible. But do we need 4GB of storage in a device whewre we can’t select the music? If I can fit 120 songs in about 512MB, then I could almost a thousand in 4GB. Would I really want a choice of 1000 songs in a device where I couldn’t pick them fron a list?
The real issue, though, is what effect it will have on the rest of the range and the price point.
If Apple release a 4GB iPod shuffle, will the iPod Mini 4GB become redundant? Will the recently announced 20GB drives also be part of a revamp of the Mini line at the same time?
And $129 for a 4GB unit will be hard to make, especially when 4GB USB drives are running at about $200, so I would expect a 4GB Shuffle to come in at about $249, and that’s more expensive than the 4GB Mini. Yes, it’s smaller, but small enough for an extra $50?
If I’m honest, I don’t care. I just want that nice, portable, convenient, 4GB Shuffle :)