Small and silver
Manufacturer: Apple (product page)
Price: $79 (shop for this item)
System requirements: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, or Mac OS X 10.3.9
Apple announced the second incarnation of its budget iPod, the iPod shuffle, at its widely-anticipated "It’s Showtime" event in September. The new shuffle is notably smaller, thinner, and lighter than the original, with the addition of an aluminum case and a built-in clip. The second-generation iPod shuffle was set to ship in October, and after a lot of noise about delays, customers finally started receiving their tiny flash-based digital audio players at the beginning of November.
The 2G shuffle is now only available with 1GB of flash RAM, whereas the previous version came in 512MB and 1GB flavors. It’s also cheaper than its first-generation predecessor at $79 vs. $99 for the 512MB and $149 for the 1GB versions, making this not only the most affordable shuffle yet, but the most affordable iPod ever.
What’s in the package?
The 2G shuffle’s new packaging is similar to the packaging of the iPod nano: it comes in a small, plastic case that suspends the iPod in the middle with all of the extras tucked underneath. The iPod shuffle comes with a USB 2.0 dock with cable, a little packet of instructions with two small Apple stickers, a set of headphones, and foam pads for the earbuds.
Yes, you read that right. Pads for the earbuds. You may remember that the new headphones that Steve Jobs announced at the "It’s Showtime" event no longer come with pads, and we confirmed that when we did our review of the second-generation iPod nano. For some inexplicable reason, the 2G shuffle comes with the old earbuds. Some users have speculated that the old earbuds have a better bass response than the new earbuds, which is easily compensated for by the EQ settings on the iPod nano or full-size iPod, but not on the EQ-less shuffle. I prefer the new earbuds to the old, which I don’t find to be as comfortable.
Old versus newSize
The 2G shuffle is pretty darn small. It’s 1.07", 1.62", and 0.41" deep including the clip. For comparison, the old shuffle was 3.3 x 0.98 x 0.33, with no clip. The old shuffle weighed approximately 0.78 ounces while the new shuffle weighs 0.55 ounces. Since I don’t have an original shuffle to compare to and I seem to have misplaced the dismantled casing of the 2G nano, I compared the shuffle to the 1G nano:
The shuffle is slightly larger than the iPod nano’s screen.
The old shuffle moonlighted on the side as a USB thumb drive that you could plug directly into your computer, so the need for a dock or even a cable was unnecessary. However, Apple has sadly removed this wonderful feature from the iPod shuffle. It can still be used as an external USB disk (just like all other iPods) when connected to the computer via cable, but no more thumb drive. As a result, the new shuffle comes with its very own dock. The dock is nearly as tiny as the shuffle itself and comes with a rubberized bottom to prevent slipping, necessary due to its small size and (lack of) weight.
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Notice anything interesting about this dock? The 2G iPod shuffle uses the 3.5mm stereo headphone minijack for everything—audio, power, and syncing. It doesn’t have the usual iPod connector that we’re used to for all other iPods. This could become an annoyance to people who go on the road a lot and will be forced to take a dock while traveling instead of just a cord, or to those crazy iPod fanatics (*ahem*) who own more than one iPod and would like to use just one cable or dock with them all. That "Universal" iPod Connector/Dock? It’s no longer universal.