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When small is too small.

Apple have just released a new iPod Shuffle. My immediate reaction? Not good.

3rd gen ipod shuffles

This 3rd generation Shuffle is truly tiny, being just half the size of the last version. This is fine and dandy, except that Apple seem to have deemed it’s body too small to host any controls, bar the now-familiar off-sequential-shuffle slider switch. The volume and skip controls are now on a very dinky and neat remote control on the headphone cable. It all looks perfectly fine but, as i see it, the controls being remote bring three problems to the shuffle:

1) You lose the ability to use 3rd party headphones. You’re tied to Apple’s headphones – whether you’re replacing them because you think others sound better or because the originals have bust.

2) You lose the ability to play your music through hifis, car stereos and other external speakers. Yes, ok, this is essentially the same point as 1 but i’m counting it as a seperate problem. Why? Because while some folk may be happy using Apple’s headphones they might not be so happy at losing this functionality.

3) The now feature-less body of the shuffle looks shit. It’s just a boring little block. The ring of control buttons give the 1st and 2nd gen devices a point of interest. The 3rd gen is bland by comparison.

The sad thing is these things could have been so easily avoided. Adding a 3.5mm socket on the top of the remote control would’ve solved the first two and moving the laser-engraved Apple emblem from the clip to the front might well have solved the third.

Of course, leaving the controls on the Shuffle’s body would’ve been better still. And the new Voice Over feature and capacity increases could’ve still gone ahead. Why mess with perfection, eh?1

  1. Thankfully, the 1GB 2nd gen Shuffles are still available. For now.