iPod shuffle 3: Another Sound Way to Handle Music
Apple has now updated the iPod shuffle. It is a little taller with a square cross-section. The click wheel has gone and controls are on the cable to the right earbud. The new shuffle has four times the capacity of the previous version at 4G, which Apple claims can carry 1,000 songs. The price has increased slightly to 3,290 baht here (from 2,290 baht). With the greater capacity, we can now add playlists from iTunes, but those songs and playlists need some help to navigate. Apple has developed a "VoiceOver" facility that announces what is being played and is used to navigate the tunes.
When it is first connected, the iTunes welcome screen appears offering registration and the setting up of an iTunes account. A panel also appeared showing an update to the VoiceOver software (now updated to version 1.0.1) which I did install later: after the music was added. This was a mistake. It needs to go on first. As I had a full iPod, I had to restore and start again. This was not a hard task. VoiceOver provides voices for 14 languages, although Thai is not included.
If no playlists are checked, the software creates an "iPod selection" for the shuffle. Users can create these playlists for the individual device. I have three iPods and each has its own specific settings.
A better way to look at this is time: after changing the selections, I ended up with 624 tunes indicating 2.4 days: more than enough for shopping in Bangkok.
Sound files for the system, are installed in the iPod and are shown as property list files although they are not normally accessible. I found when poking around that all the system sounds files are in .WAV format. Apple declined to comment on this, so I guess that it may be to enhance compatibility for those using PCs. For the user of OS X Leopard, the voice used is Alex. For those with earlier versions of OS X or PCs a different voice is used.
The shuffle itself has a single three-position switch for Off, Sequential playing and shuffle of music. Icons on the rear, close to the top show these positions. The switch is beside the headphone port, which also doubles as the connector for charging and synchronisation.
The headphone jack and connector have four metal contacts, while normal iPhone headphones, which cannot control this shuffle, have three contacts. I am not sure if these earbuds have better response, or if it was just that the design made them a better fit, but I found that the sound had far more detail and I am already pleased with the way iPods produce more of the sound information.
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