Product Recommendations – iPod Shuffle (3rd Generation)

Apple has been dominating the news lately. They just released a new iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro. iTunes recently got an update to version 8.1. The new iPhone OS 3.0 is going to be unveiled on March 17. Apple’s core OS called Leopard is rumored to be replaced by Snow Leopard in June. And there are rumors of Apple purchasing large quantities of 10” touch-screen displays for what might be there first try at a netbook.

Amidst all this, Apple just released their 3rd Generation iPod Shuffle. And the changes from the previous version are quite large for an extremely small device.
As seen from the picture on the right, the 3rd Generation Shuffle is quite small. Half that of the previous version. And you may notice from the picture that all the buttons have been removed from the device. Now you only have a port for your headphones, an off-straight-shuffle slider for turning the device on, and a clip to attach it to your clothes. That’s it. No really, that is it. Where did the rest of it go? To the headphones.

Apple moved the volume and next-last buttons to the headphones. They also added a feature called VoiceOver. The basic premise is that you can adjust the volume or change songs with a click on the headphone wire. Should you want to switch playlists (yes, the Shuffle finally has playlists) you can press and hold until the VoiceOver takes control. It will read to you the current playlist then read to you other playlists. When you hear the playlist you want to listen to, click again and it will start playing it. It does this same thing to tell you the current song you’re listening to. Also, the Shuffle now differentiates between audio books and music, so when you shuffle your songs it won’t play you a chapter of War and Peace.

My recommendation: Thanks, but no thanks. The new features are neat, but sound completely impractical. The best use of the Shuffle is when you’re active. I can’t imagine trying to navigate through songs and playlists while going for a jog. Also, if you misplace the headphones, you get no controls whatsoever. Sure it will play music, but you can’t change the volume or skip songs. What good is that?

I think Apple got a little too fancy on this one. They could have easily put some controls on the device itself. I would recommend purchasing or keeping the 2nd Generation Shuffle and treat the 3rd Generation as a novelty.