Apple iPod Shuffle review: Apple iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle plugged into its matching lanyard.
As far as extra features go, the Shuffle has none and leaves it to the slightly more expensive Creative MuVo Micros of the world to handle FM radio, voice recording, and line-in recording. A single playlist is all you get, either manually or automatically determined and played back either linearly or shuffled. Audio is plenty loud, and sound quality is quite good despite the lack of an equalizer. Those who need to pause in the middle of a track will appreciate the resume feature, and a true shuffle, where iTunes randomly fills your iPod, will lead to discovery (or rediscovery) of music. But again, we remind you that virtually every other player out there includes a shuffle feature. If you're an iTunes loyalist and you need only digital audio playback of your favorite songs on a compact device, the Shuffle is the player for you. Otherwise, spend a few extra bucks and get one of these .

The Shuffle works seamlessly with the latest iTunes 4.7.1, which includes the mentioned autofill feature that automatically loads the Shuffle player with an optimal number of songs based on user preference. Our first 512MB autofill stats: 488MB, 103 songs, 7.5 hours. We're wondering why iTunes wasn't able to cram another 4MB-plus of audio (the amount of space left for audio data) onto the Shuffle. For those who will use the Shuffle as a storage device, iTunes will allocate a specific amount of space for dedicated data storage. You can direct iTunes to swap out the Shuffle with brand-new songs and/or load them randomly from the playlist of your choice, as well as manually transfer the songs yourself. And remember, if you're an iTunes Music Store junkie, the Shuffle is the only flash-based player that will play your FairPlay-protected AAC files.

Speaking of supported file formats, the Shuffle will play back AAC up to 320Kbps, MP3 up to 320Kbps, MP3 VBR, WAV, and Audible files. It does not support AIFF, Apple Lossless, and of course, WMA.

Die-hard Shuffle fans will appreciate Apple's nice set of accessories, each costing $29 apiece. These include an AAA battery pack, a miniature dock, a USB power adapter, an armband, and a cool protective carrying case. More will surely come from third-party vendors.

We were able to get 15 hours out of the Shuffle, which is considerably less than some other flash-based players out there, such as the 40-hour iRiver iFP-800 series but plenty more than Apple's claims of 12 hours. But realize that most other players lasting more than 20 hours typically use a replaceable battery--good for convenience, though bad for the wallet. The Shuffle takes two hours to charge to 80 percent and a full four hours to charge completely. If you're traveling with it, you'll need to have a computer or the optional power adapter (which is several times larger than the Shuffle itself) nearby. Transfer time was 1.4MB per second, noticeably slower than a hard drive-based iPod's and disappointing for a USB 2.0 device.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Apple iPod Shuffle (512MB)

Part Number: M9724LL/A Released: Jan 10, 2005
Low Price: $36.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 10, 2005
  • Battery Player battery - rechargeable
  • Run Time (Up To) 12 hour(s)
  • Capacity 512 MB
  • Weight 0.8 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Type 1 year warranty
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital player