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Apple iPod Shuffle (2012)stars
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It's not just Apple's
Apple boasts that the third-generation shuffle is the smallest MP3 player in the world, and we're not about to argue -- it really is tiny. Imagine a stick of chewing gum folded in half and you'll get a pretty good idea of its dinky dimensions. It's also incredibly light, weighing in at just under 11g. Previously the shuffle was only available in silver and black, but now you can pick one up in silver, black, pink, blue or green.
There's only a single control on the shuffle's body -- the switch on top. This is used to turn the shuffle on and off and choose between the two play modes -- shuffle and consecutive. There's no USB port. When you need to connect the shuffle to your computer, you have to use the short, 10cm adaptor cable that plugs into the shuffle's headphone jack. As the cable is so small, it's easy to misplace. That could prove a problem, because, if you haven't got it to hand, there's no other way of getting music onto the shuffle.
Apple hasn't yet perfected mind control, so the buttons you might expect to find on the player have had to find another home -- the headphone cable, or, more precisely, the part of the cable that runs to the right ear piece. There are three buttons mounted on a very small piece of hard plastic, providing you with controls for increasing and decreasing the volume, and a multi-function central button.
Pressing the central button once pauses playback, pressing it twice in quick succession skips forward, and pressing it three times skips back. The problem with putting the controls on the headphone cable is that it means you can't easily swap out Apple's rather lacklustre cans for a different pair. There are now headphones available from third parties with shuffle controls built-in, but these can set you back almost as much as the player itself.