By CHONG JINN WEI
It's short on features and small, but the iPod Shuffle is good at its job.
THERE were a lot of complaints on the previous version of the Shuffle and Apple listened.
The fourth-generation Shuffle incorporates a lot of improvements that make it a better device. The simple five-button design for music playback which was left out in the previous version, is now back.
The buttons - volume control, rewind, fast forward, pause and play - go a long way in making the Shuffle easier to use.
It still maintains a minimalistic design as there are only two other buttons on the music player.
One is a slider that powers on the player and sets it to play songs in order or shuffle mode, and the other is the VoiceOver button that lets you know the current track that is playing.
If you press the VoiceOver button twice, the Shuffle will tell you the battery power left and holding the button down will allow you to choose your playlists.
Music on the go
The Shuffle makes it easy to flip through songs and often without having to look at the device.
Selecting your playlist is as easy as holding on the VoiceOver button and pressing the play button. However, this can be slow depending on the number of playlists you have on the Shuffle because it will read them out one by one.
The audio quality is fantastic and is comparable to the iPhone and iPod touch. The standard earphones bundled with the Shuffle delivered clear and crisp music.
As the Shuffle only has 2GB of built-in memory, it probably isn't big enough to hold your entire music collection and because it doesn't have a memory card slot, you cannot expand the storage capacity.
It's amazing that Apple has managed to make the Shuffle so small. The compact size makes it easy to carry it around but, unfortunately, also easy to misplace.
The Shuffle can easily get lost in bags and drawers unless you use the clip on the Shuffle's body to attach it to something.
Another drawback due to the size is that it's very easy to accidentally press a button especially when you are reaching for the clip.
In terms of battery life, the Shuffle can last between 10 to 15 hours depending on usage.
The new Apple iPod Shuffle is a great portable music player as it inherits some of the best elements from the previous versions of the device.
It now has buttons for controlling music playback, something that was left out in the previous version, and also the VoiceOver function for selecting playlists.
The Shuffle's most attractive feature is still it's small size and weight - it's easy to carry around and listen to your favourite songs.
You can also easily skip songs and playlists even without looking at it which is really handy if you like to listen to music while, say, jogging.
The Shuffle, which is available in five different colours such as blue, black, green and pink, is also affordably priced.
The only downisde is the limited 2GB memory and the lack of an expansion slot.
Overall, the Apple iPod Shuffle is a great easy-to-use portable music player.
Pros: Very small; good battery life; easy to use; affordable.
Cons: Limited space.
Portable media player
SUPPORTED FORMATS: AAC, MP3, AIFF, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV
BUNDLED ACCESSORIES: Earphones, sync cable
OTHER FEATURES: VoiceOver function
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 31.6 x 8.7 x 29mm
Review unit courtesy of Apple Malaysia, (03) 2711-1888.