AMITIAE - Wednesday 5 August 2015

Cassandra: iPod shuffle - A New Look at a Refreshed Product

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Every so often, someone pronounces doom for Apple or one of its products. With the withdrawal of the iPod a while back, many shook their heads and glanced at sales figures for all devices in the range. Tim Cook later confirmed that the reason the iPod ceased being made was the lack of available parts. Apple was continuing with the flash-based iPods. Still heads shook.

When Apple Music went live a few weeks ago, many noticed that some of the images showed iPods in different colors, suggesting a revision was in the works. The iPod shuffle and iPod nano were given new colors and the iPod touch was updated with new insides. I will get to that in a day or so. These revised iPods arrived in my hands this week and I have been playing with them, starting with the smallest: the iPod shuffle.

iPod shuffle

In the box, which I measured at 45mm square and 42mm high, was the device itself, a short USB cable and the old-style ear buds. What always set this device apart for me was not just the lack of a screen - users deal with that - but the way the speaker outlet can also be used for data transfer and charging.

The box contained some papers in Thai and English to explain how the device works. Basically this is plug it in and let iTunes do its stuff. The ON button showed me there was a charge (as there always is with new Apple products). Even when in use, the power light goes out in a few seconds to conserve power.

iPod shuffle

I connected the iPod shuffle to my MacBook Pro using the USB cable. A Welcome screen appeared, followed by a user agreement. I actually read these. There was nothing untoward here, although with the SSL licence section, there were several mentions of Eric Young, who wrote the original SSLeay.


A Get Started page followed and this opens an iPod Summary panel. There are also sections for Music, Podcasts and iTunesU. With only 1.88 GB available (2 GB iPod) I was not able to sync my entire music collection, so I relied on the Autofill feature to start with.

iTunes sync I decided to scrap the first sync however and selected a couple of older playlists, ending up with 301 tunes, which was reportedly a running time of 1 day, 55 minutes and 9 seconds. Not bad for a device 29 x 31.6mm and weighing 12.5 grams. The selection included an opera, several symphonies a number of modern albums, as well as a few random tunes. I can sort this all out later. Or not.

Although I have a set of the newer ear buds that came with the iPhone 6, I decided to try the older-style ones that were in the box. I found the sound output more than acceptable, really belting out Rex Tremendae from the Mozart Requiem. I did switch to the newer ear buds later, but those that come with the iPod shuffle are fine for casual use and I did have to turn the volume down with several tunes.

Music can either be played in order or shuffled. The function is selected with the power button: the full ON position shuffles the music; halfway will play in list order.

iPod shuffle

A voice-over button (between the Power button and the headphone connector) informs the user what has been selected. This function can also be accessed with the control switch on the latest ear buds. As with the original iPod, the controls for volume, fast forward, back, play and stop are on the scroll wheel that takes up most of the front of the device. The rear has a clip that allows it to be attached to an item of clothing quite securely.

iPod shuffle
iPod shuffle - Image Courtesy of Apple

The iPod shuffle comes in 6 colors: silver, gold, space gray, pink, blue and (Product) red. The price in Thailand is 2200 baht. The US price (without tax) is $49 or 1724.33 baht. When 7% is added, this gave me 1845 baht: a difference of 345 baht, which might be explained by the current fluctuations in exchange rates.

With all the more sophisticated touch devices that Apple makes, the iPod shuffle still has a place in the range with its size and lightness. It can be carried around easily - hardly noticeable - and provide the music addict with several hours enjoyment if the battery on one of the larger devices begins to fade.

These also make good presents and Apple does have a Corporate Purchase Program that makes this an attractive choice for corporate gifting as well as lower-priced gifts for family or friends. Bought in the online store, the product can also be engraved. There is free gift-wrapping and delivery.

See also:

Cassandra: iPod nano - Another Updated Member of the iPod Range

Cassandra: iPod touch - Updated Member of the iPod Range with Much Still to Offer

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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