I like MP3 players, but I’m not a fan of the iPod. It’s expensive, crippled, and expensive (I couldn’t think of a third thing), but I have to admit that I’m a little intrigued by the new addition to the iPod family: the iPod Shuffle.Unless Apple now manufactures enormous packs of Trident, the iPod Shuffle is smaller than a pack of gum while wielding 512 or 1024 MB. Best of all, at only $99 it’s 60% cheaper than an iPod Mini.
For some reason, the marketing campaign is entirely focused on it’s ability to play songs in a random order. My sources at Apple tell me that the engineers call this completely novel feature “shuffle,” which explains the player’s name.
This focus is a misstep, because it just highlights the fact that this player really can’t do anything else. It doesn’t even have a display, something most comparable, slightly less expensive players have. It can’t loop a single song or program a playlist.
Breaking from tradition, Apple left a firewire port off this thing, opting instead to put a USB connector in the end so they didn’t have to include a cable. Now they can sell you a special adapter cable in case you don’t have a USB port on the front of your computer. While meant to shave down the cost, this makes the player feel like a glorified flash drive, which, basically, it is.