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Apple iPod Shuffle (fourth-gen), a return to form

CNET Senior Editor Donald Bell weighs in with his first impressions of the fourth-generation Apple iPod Shuffle.

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The iPod Shuffle is back to the design that made it famous, only better and cheaper than ever.

With five colors (silver, green, pink, orange, and blue), one capacity (2GB), all the features of last year's VoiceOver model, and one low price ($49), the fourth-generation iPod Shuffle seems to be the best model yet.

There's very little new to report on the latest Shuffle. The navigation controls, clip, and power switch are taken right from the second-gen design, while the internal features, such as VoiceOver navigation of your playlists, music collection, audiobooks, podcasts, and so on, are all borrowed from the buttonless third-gen model.

So what is new? Well, the design is a little smaller and more squarish than the second-gen model. You can sync Genius playlists now. Battery life is now 15 hours, up from 10.

There's also a new button up on the top edge, which triggers the VoiceOver menu navigation. Previously, this VoiceOver button was located on the cable of the included earbuds. Now, with the remote button directly on the device, the Shuffle is back to shipping with standard earbuds.

Stay tuned for a full review of the fourth-generation iPod Shuffle next week.