== APPLE iPOD 1GB REVIEW ==
I absolutely adore iPods, and I'm a HUGE fan of Apple and their products. I have several iPods myself (check out my other reviews on the iPod Classic and iPod Nano 4G), but don't always get round to reviewing them all.
When the iPod Shuffle first arrived on the scene, it was tall and white, and I remember it cost around £40. I owned one of these and thoroughly enjoyed owning one, but loathed the fact it didn't have a screen to look at. So, when this version of the iPod Shuffle hit the shelves some years ago now, I was hesitant to make a purchase, because this iPod Shuffle too does not boast a screen.
But, being an iPod fan, I went along to my local Argos store and bought one for myself. Right now, a couple of years later, they're still selling on Argos for around the £30 mark (£31 to be exact), which for a 1GB MP3 player is rather pricey, in my opinion. You can buy 1GB MP3 players for a lot cheaper, and most of them include screens so you can actually see which track is playing at the time. In this review, I will be analysing sound playback, the look of the iPod Shuffle, its ease of use, and more.
THE iPOD SHUFFLE'S MEMORY
The iPod Shuffle holds a 1GB of memory. 1GB is a little disappointing, BUT this iPod is incredibly small, and can hold around 250 songs. I really wouldn't advise buying ANY iPod Shuffle to hold your entire music collection on, even if the memory is larger. Why? Because the iPod Shuffle is simply not the easiest to use (more on that later). I bought this iPod to use whilst running - I occassionally will use my iPod Nano 4th Generation for gym-use etc, but find the iPod Shuffle is PERFECT when used in sport. It's small, light, clips easily onto clothing and you won't even notice it's there! 250 songs is perfectly fine if you don't have much music, or you are going to use the iPod for one reason, e.g. to listen to whilst exercising. But the small amount of memory just isn't enough if you wish to hold your entire music collection on.
THE iPOD'S APPEARANCE
I'm a big fan of 'large' electronic products - I use the fairly big BlackBerry Bold 9000 as a mobile phone, and love my iPod Classic with the fairly big screen. This, on the other hand, is much smaller. Finished off with an aluminium finish, it feels good in the han, and has a 'shiny' look to it. Not only that, but it comes in an array of colours; just like the iPod Nano 4th Gen, you can choose the colour to suit you, rather than sticking with the plain colours Apple used to favour (black, white, silver). The iPod Shuffle still has the 'trademark' wheel at the front, including the centre button for play/pause, and you are able to switch tracks using the buttons on the left and right, and the top and bottom buttons alter the volume. And well...that's it.
Am I disappointed it lacks a screen? In a way, yes. I like to be able to view my music, and feel as though I am properly in control. I don't like how there's not even a small screen going along the top which could display the track title. But, on the other hand, (and I am going to completely contradict myself here), I'm quite pleased there isn't a screen, because it makes the Shuffle appear very 'clean' and simple, which I am sure was Apple's idea when creating this MP3 player. It literally is a device made for holding some of your music collection, rather than adding in often unnecessary bits and pieces which would only allow the price tag to begin creeping up.
On one side of the Shuffle is the 'on/off' switch. Simply slide the switch on when you want to listen to your music, and off again when you've finished. There is also a switch which enables you to shuffle your tracks; in other words, the iPod Shuffle will select music for you randomly from your selection. On the other side is the 3.5mm headphone jack, and it should be noted that the iPod Shuffle comes with the Apple earphones. Nothing special about these, BUT surely the iPod Shuffle is missing something? Where's the hold switch? On my other iPods, the most used button is the one which slides to the right which 'holds' the iPod so when you press the buttons, it won't change track. The iPod Shuffle lacks this feature, and that, for me, is very dissappointing. When you're in the gym, or jogging around parks, you're quite likely to accidentally 'knock' the Shuffle, and if you happen to accidentally press one of the buttons, it will change track. Maybe I'm just being a little fussy - it would only take a further second to go back to the previous song - but when this iPod Shuffle has most likely been designed for those who enjoy sports, a hold switch would have been useful.
HOW DO YOU CHARGE THE iPOD SHUFFLE?
The iPod Shuffle is charged via its very own dock/docking cradle, which comes with the iPod. That means there isn't a USB cable, which may be a relief to some, but a slight aggreivance to others. The docking cradle allows the user to charge the iPod and sync music (via iTunes) by simply placing the iPod into the cradle (via the earphone socket), and leaving it to charge/sync. The best thing about the cradle is that the iPod isn't being scratched when being placed on your desk, or on the floor. With a USB cable, you plug the cable into the iPod, and the iPod lays wherever you then wish to place it. With the iPod Shuffle, however, the iPod stays protected thanks to the sturdy and well-made docking cradle, which means the iPod is less likely to become scratched/misplaced.
I like the docking cradle and wish Apple had stuck to that way of charging/syncing iPods. The best part about it is that it protects the player. It would be a good idea to be able to place an iPod into a dock connector, sync music, charge its battery and play music all at the same time. As far as I'm aware, something like this hasn't been created yet. You can purchase all kinds of iPod stereos which charge the iPod and play music at the same time, BUT they don't sync music from your PC/laptop. I might be wrong, but I'm not aware of any of these right now.
With the iPod Shuffle comes the white and grey Apple earphones. A lot of people HATE Apple earphones, but I personally do not have a problem with them whatsoever. The sound always sounds crisp and clear, and I like the appearance of them, too. The only problem is often a lot of people experience volume difficulties. When I purchased my iPod Classic, the earphones were absolutely rubbish, and the sound produced through them was extremely quiet and poor. Yet with other Apple earphones I've owned, they've been flawless, and I wouldn't bother swapping them with other ones. The earphones alone cost around £20, but if you don't like the Apple earphones the Shuffle comes with, buy some others, although I don't really think this is necessary.
Over time, the earphones do begin to become a little flaky around the edges, and they attract dirt as well. I wipe mine every so often as they can become a little grubby by placing them on desktops and such-like.
On Apple's website and various other websites where iPod Shuffles are sold, the battery life is expected to last around 12 hours. This is superb, and I have to say I have had no problems whatsoever with the battery life on the iPod Shuffle. I think the battery life is perhaps so good because it has no screen, no video capability etc, and therefore battery life is conserved in this way. Nothing to complain about when it comes to battery life - it does its job perfectly.
You MUST use iTunes when buying an iPod. It's an absolute must. Many people think iTunes is just an 'add-on' for iPod and technology fanatics - believe me, it isn't. If you want to play any music whatsoever on your device, iTunes is essential. Without it, you'll just have an iPod sitting on your shelf, doing very little! iTunes is completely free and you can download it from Apple's official website. It is fairly straight-forward to use (although quite complex at the beginning), and after playing around with it a bit, you'll be sure to get the hang of it. You can buy music from iTunes for your Shuffle (or any other iPod), and it's well-priced. Some people love iTunes, some people hate it, and I'm in the middle. I've used it for so long that I know it (almost) like the back of my hand, but it's not the fastest way to transfer your music. I'd much rather 'drag and drop' my music from music folders straight into my iPod rather than transferring it via iTunes. You can download iTunes whether you have an iPod or not, so if you're not sure about it, download it now before you get an iPod and have a play with it before you decide on whether to purchase your device or not.
DO I HAVE TO BUY MY MUSIC FROM iTUNES OR CAN I PUT MY OWN MUSIC COLLECTION ON MY iPOD?
You don't have to buy music from iTunes. A lot of people who are new to iPods are worried they'll have to buy all of their music from iTunes and won't be able to use any of their OWN music. If you have CDs at home, you can 'rip' them onto your PC/laptop and have them on your iPod (iTunes does this for you). You can also download music from other websites and put that music onto your device, too. Of course, I'm not promoting illegal downloading with my last comment, but just about any music you have can be put onto the iPod Shuffle from your own collection (it plays MP3 and AAC files, the most common). I have never had a problem putting all of my music collection on any of my iPods, and I haven't purchased too much from iTunes.
- The look of the device. I have the iPod Shuffle in green and it looks really eye-catching and bright. It also comes in pink, blue, silver, and orange, so a nice variety of colours to pick from.
- The earphones are of good quality. The sound is clear and they're decent earphones. You can buy the earphones alone for £20, and for an extra £10 you can have the iPod Shuffle as well!
- The battery life is excellent.
- It only costs £30! You can get MANY more MP3 players which are a lot cheaper and have a higher memory, but you're purchasing an Apple product, and I do believe it's worth buying an Apple product over (some) others.
- It's tiny, and incredibly light. It's amazing how much this iPod Shuffle weighs - you won't even feel it if you've clipped it to your clothing! It also means that this product is ideal if you use the gym regularly, or take part in sport activities, because it's so light, you won't even know it's there!
- The docking cradle is a great way to charge the player. It keeps the device from becoming scratched, and thanks to the fact it connects to the docking cable via the earphone jack, it also means space hasn't been taken up for a USB connector on the iPod Shuffle, which would have made it bigger/heavier.
- 1GB of memory is enough if you don't own too many songs, or if you're using it simply for one purpose e.g. classical music or music you can exercise to.
- You can't play the iPod Shuffle on an iPod Stereo, which is quite disappointing. I sometimes like to plug iPods into my stereo to let it charge whilst playing my music at the same time. Because the iPod Shuffle connects through its earphone jack, though, MOST iPod Stereo's have a little headphone plug which plays your music through the speakers, although it won't charge the Shuffle.
- There's no screen. Can be annoying if you have the 250 song limit on your shuffle and you're desperately trying to find the song you're looking for.
- There's no hold switch. I'd rather the shuffle switch be replaced with a hold switch because I do really think the hold switch is essential when playing music. There's nothing worse than when you're enjoying a certain record and then it switches track!
- iTunes. It's not the fastest way to transfer music to your iPod and I'm pretty sure it puts some customers off from purchasing Apple products because they feel it's complicated enough sometimes to learn how to use an iPod, let alone then learn how to sync music to it!
- The iPod Shuffle's memory. 1GB isn't loads - it can hold up to 250 songs. 1GB is surprisingly quickly to fill - if an average album has around 15 songs on it, you'll only be able to fit a maximum of 16 albums onto your iPod Shuffle. That might be fine for some, but others might the memory is a little too small.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
I certainly would recommend the iPod Shuffle. I think this product would be ideal for:
- Even the elderly!
This iPod Shuffle is a perfect way to introduce those who may not be so tech-savvy to the world of iPods and MP3 players. Because the iPod Shuffle is so simple to operate, you could load up your child's favourite nursery rhymes, or your Grandma's favourite songs, and all they'd have to do is press a few buttons to listen to their music.
I think those who enjoy participating in sports activities would also love the iPod Shuffle. Thanks to the fact it's so light is a dream for those who like to listen to motivating music during exercise!
It does have its negative points, but overall I am pleased I bought this iPod Shuffle all that time ago! It is a very simple player which is simple and easy to use, and without all the fuss of video playback capabilities etc. I'd give it a well-deserved 8/10.
Thank you for reading my review. === Sonic4290 ===