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Summary:

I’ve had my new iPod shuffle for two days and thought I’d post my thoughts on it. We’ve already covered the out-of-the-box and setup experience elsewhere, so I won’t repeat them here. Playlist Support I experimented with a few different setups, but finally settled on using […]

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I’ve had my new iPod shuffle for two days and thought I’d post my thoughts on it. We’ve already covered the out-of-the-box and setup experience elsewhere, so I won’t repeat them here.

Playlist Support

I experimented with a few different setups, but finally settled on using three playlists:

  • One contains all my “recent” music (basically, everything added in the last few months).
  • Another contains all the “recent” music that’s been rated one star and up. (This is just a subset of the above list, so it requires no extra space on the device.)
  • The third one grabs songs at random — rated three stars or higher — from my entire collection, provided they’re not “recent.”

The first playlist takes about a third of the shuffle’s storage (though obviously it fluctuates), and the latter is specifically limited to the remaining two-thirds.

The interface to switch between playlists is pretty simple, and works great. Click and hold the center button, it first names the current song/artist and then beeps. Let go at the beep and it will name the current playlist, then “All Songs,” and then each playlist in alphabetical order. When it names the one you want, click the center button.

With up to six playlists, this works great. For 7-12 playlists I’d suggest using the + and – buttons to speed up the voice listing. Going past a dozen playlists I found it a bit too much, but it really all depends on your own patience level.

For my purposes, it’s a great convenience to have playlist functionality, and a very welcome improvement in the shuffle.

Song Titles

This is a wonderful addition. Since a lot of the music on my shuffle is new, I’d sometimes hear a song and not be sure who it was, or what song it was. I’d have to make a mental note to remember that when I got back to my Mac I’d want to find it and see if it was rated. Now I just click and hold to get the artist and title.

Sound

I haven’t used my 2G shuffle in a while, but I remember it being a little more “noisy” than this one. This one just seems quieter.

I think the sound is fine, but then again I use it walking or riding a bike and that’s hardly the best time for the brain to be especially picky about high fidelity.

Gripes

The USB charger cable is three inches long. If my main Mac were a MacBook I’d probably prefer this; how much cable do you need for that anyway? But my iTunes library is on my iMac. I have to plug it in the back (kind of a pain) and then it just hangs there since it doesn’t even reach the desktop. My iPhone dock is always plugged in; I just dock it when I need it. My old shuffle was the same way. But this device really can’t work that way since I have to fumble around in the back regardless.

The headphone cable is shorter than Apple has supplied before. My plan was not to even clip the thing, but rather just drop it in my pocket. When I did that, I found the headphone cord uncomfortably short, yet the iPhone never had this problem. I compared it to the iPhone headphones and it’s roughly eight inches shorter. Really, Apple, are you getting rich from all the cord you saved with this device?

Conclusion

I like this device quite a bit more than the 2G shuffle. I’ve been using headphone controls for a while with my iPhone and find them preferable to fumbling with the unit. I think they make even more sense on the shuffle. I also like the playlist and song title support, and of course holding 4GB of tunes is a big plus.

If you’re very happy with your 2G unit, I wouldn’t rush out and get a 3G. And if the Apple headphones are a deal breaker, you’ll need to wait until third party’s gear up. But if you’d like even a couple of these features: a lot more memory, headphone controls, more convenient size, playlist support, and ability to know what song is playing, then it’s an excellent upgrade.

  1. The earbuds included with the shuffle should be split, like the Sony EX71. The short cable is perfect when you have the shuffle clipped on your sleeve or lapel.

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  2. Along with most of the world, I’m not a fan of Apple’s proprietary earphones. I didn’t anticipate them being so short though – that’s interesting. Hopefully the 3rd party manufacturers will keep that in mind for their versions.

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  3. Why don’t you plug the shuffle into the USB ports on your iMac’s keyboard?

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  4. Have you used yours to workout? Do you sweat? I love the multi-playlist capability of the new Shuffle (one for running, one for cool-down!), but I’ve found that a bit of sweat causes my earbud controller to malfunction. At first the volume goes all the way up, then the thing refuses to respond to presses of any button. Later (after drying out?) it’s all back to normal.

    So, great little thing — but either I’ve got myself a dud, or Apple didn’t give this much real-world testing where people exercise and sweat while wearing it.

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    1. I had the exact same sweat problem… This is a major pain. I love the shuffle, but these things make me think that Apple is still not mature enough to make truly durable consumer electronics products. The product planning is design is so superior, yet these things disappoint me once in a while….

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    2. I’ve had the same problem with the controls not working after wearing it to work out. I didn’t know what the problem was due to but now it makes sense. I was definitely sweating when I wore it last.

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  5. MisterD,

    Apple says not to use the keyboard ports. I assume they lack the juice for proper charging, and may be slower as well. Not that it matters to me. I use the wireless keyboard.

    Jase,

    I don’t sweat enough for it to get on the controls, so I can’t say I’ve experienced what you’ve seen.

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  6. The USB charger cable is three inches long. If my main Mac were a MacBook I’d probably prefer this; how much cable do you need for that anyway? But my iTunes library is on my iMac. I have to plug it in the back (kind of a pain) and then it just hangs there since it doesn’t even reach the desktop. My iPhone dock is always plugged in; I just dock it when I need it. My old shuffle was the same way. But this device really can’t work that way since I have to fumble around in the back regardless.

    Ever thought of using a USB extender cable?

    Whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge.

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  7. They actually make two cables, a short one, that is the one you have, that is used for using the shuffle as a usb drive. Check this page out for the real set of usb cables: Apple Store

    Good Luck

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  8. Jase, I’m experiencing the same thing. At the first drop of sweat my volume shoots way up and then becomes unresponsive. I thought it might have been some ridiculous low battery feature, but apparently not. I guess I’ll just have to put a little sweat band on the volume control

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  9. I just sent mine back because of the sweat issue. Like many people I use my shuffle primarily for workout. It’s way too water sensitive to be effective, especially when it’s located right under your chin where sweat tends to drip.

    Sure, I could probably rig something to protect the control — but then again I could save fifty bucks and buy the old version that didn’t have this issue.

    In addition, the controls on the headphone make it impossible to use the shuffle to plug into other devices. I used to use it in my car. Once again, minor issue, but the old version worked fine.

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