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Apples 4th Gen iPod Shuffle 2GB
Newly appointed Chief of Apple, Tim Cook who'd taken over from the highly acclaimed guru of nano technology the late Steve Jobs in August 2011 - has large boots to follow. One of Jobs legacies apart from writing an incredibly moving biography left for his children was to show the world how small nano technology could evolve when it came to MP3 portable devices. The fourth generation delivers beyond the miniature, swiftly into a world of 'Gulliver's Travels'. A product naturally would've got the 'Tom Thumbs Up' from Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels created originally in 1726) No doubt the Shuffle certainly is an eye-opener literally; yes, you do need to open them wide to take full advantage at such a minuscule device. Measured up at 29 × 31.5 × 8.8 mm and weighs in at 12.6 grams, the device predominantly serves portability way past the point of call. Through curiosity I tested whether the Shuffle could fit inside an After Eight Mint paper sleeve. It sat in the sleeve as snug as a bug in a rug - The only down-fall was that the device did take on the aromatic scent of chocolate peppermint. Along with its inherited new metallic plastic scent that all Apple manufacturers seem to gift their devices, I somehow feel that storing the device in the After Eight paper sleeve won't catch on. For those fascinated: (Dimension of an After Eight paper sleeve is: 4 cm X 4 cm)
I can't help but think the fourth generation Shuffle should've been named 'Pip' - Apple Pip. Very apt for such a weenie device; so
no visual screen to try out any swish U3 technology, or experience the clinically clean Apple graphics. Instead, only six iconic buttons suffice - that don't need any manual to explain their meaning either. Apple has already made the dial navigation via previous generations of iPod Shuffle whereby it's conducted a Universal emblematic language of its own; even if you've not had a Shuffle before, the comprehension of the navigation symbols is permanently engrained in our consciousness. For me, the iPod Shuffle fourth generation out strips the MP3 competition when it comes to portability and the main focus is the secure back-clip the Shuffle is accessorized with; it hangs onto your clothes like a sheep tick. From six feet away the device resembles a slinky fuel blue storage facility for a well sucked polo mint.
The LED indicator (safe green in colour) states whether the device is on or not and accompanied on the side is the USB port connector and ear-phone socket. Connectivity, is purely adapted for iTunes sadly, funny that, being an Apple product and all. Apples has all there services well covered when it comes to 'apps' although obviously the mini Shuffle only has a VoiceOver app which is embryonic initially; until you start downloading from the iTune's URL; thereafter it comes to life. As soon as the iTune connectivity is established with your iPod Shuffle the MiRobot; introducing the VoiceOver application, and then it gets into the full swing. This is a clever addition for those who crave for a screen navigation facility, and by simply tapping on the activating button, a computer generated voice breaks the airwaves stating the play list you've successfully downloaded and currently playing. A very useful bit of forward planning by Apple is the 'VoiceOver' tells you how much charge you've got. Plus it is impressively bilingual - iTunes installation options allow the 'VoiceOver' app to access 25 languages, this is a fun add-on; as you flick through the play-lists. Without question the 'MiRobot - VoiceOver' feature brings a unique user friendliness into the equation - available now on new dinky iPod products.
USB enabled for charging the battery, so it is advisable to have a laptop or workstation nearby to avoid disappointment - maybe just charge it up before you start using the device, treat it not dissimilarly to your mobile phone. Apple claims that a full battery term is 15 hours - I've tended to disregard that information and had it on for no more than several hours at the most - usually due to my schedule, rather than choice. Generally my usage is incredibly sporadic and therefore my battery life longevity would differ from any specifications the manufacturer would advise. Sporadic daily usage aids battery life. Anyway there is a trio colour indicator showing you the amount of battery life there is.
Affordability - yes, the device is worthy of 35 GBP (new) - however, try to invest in ear-phones that provides quality sound and comfort. This is one arena Apple isn't efficient in. Other brands fair better in regards to sound technology i.e. portability of sound via an ear-plug. Another mild negative is the storage facility of a meagre 2 GB so you can't specifically use the Shuffle as you would a 'Media Tablet' which purely works as a digital media library - therefore stringent selection processes are required for those who need a play list in access of 500 music files. The 2 GB storage facility will only cater for 300 MP3 music files, in all formats of digital music codec.
Shuffle in the Jungle.
Stone v Shuffle; the battle of the featherweights.
Weighing up the competition - the Creative Zen's 'Stone Plus' MP3 player weighs in at a hefty 21 grams - comparably the Shuffle fourth generation weighs nearly half its weight. Yet both portable MP3 players are marketed with portability as a major priority - the Shuffle wins the weigh-in battle - kitted out at 12.6 grams.
Round One: Sound - Stone scored 10.7/20 Shuffle scored 9/20 (Round One to 'Stone') Round Two: Storage - Stone scored 9.1/20 Shuffle scored 9.1/20 (tied) Round Three: Features - Stone scored 13/20 Shuffle scored 14.5/20 (Round Three to 'Shuffle') Round Four: Design & Navigation - Stone scored 15.3/20 Shuffle scored 18.4/20 (Round Four to 'Shuffle') Round Five: Originality - Stone scored 16.2/20 Shuffle scored 17.8/20 (Round Five to 'Shuffle')