Apple iPod Shuffle review: the fourth generation

The latest Shuffle combines the best features

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Introduction

A separate mp3 player isn't a must-buy anymore for many people. Most people have smartphones with enough storage to fit lots of songs, and use that instead. However, there are some situations in which an mp3 player can still be useful, when going for a jog or playing sports for example. The Apple iPod Shuffle has long been one of the smallest portable players around, and the new fourth generation model is smaller and lighter than ever. Apple dressed the version from 2012 in various new colours and corrected some of the mistakes from the previous generation, and further developed the success of this product line.


Now that virtually all mobile phones can play mp3 files, the market for dedicated mp3 players has shrunk. Apple, that transformed this segment and still dominates it, also noticed this. The iPod is still popular, but it's no longer the flagship product of the company and had to relinquish that position to the iPhone and iPad. The iPod Classic did not even get a replacement when the new iPod models were announced last September. That honour was reserved for the Nano, the Touch and the Shuffle. Today we will focus on the smaller and cheapest Apple music player, the Shuffle.

When the original Shuffle was launched it was met with some scepticism. The simple design and basic controls and lack of any type of display at first seemed to be a step back in evolution, in an era when mp3 players got more and more features and prettier displays. Nevertheless, Apple's daring back-to-the-basics design proved to be the ideal companion for people that like to exercise.

The first-generation Shuffle was about the size of an old pack of chewing gum, but the second iteration was really tiny. It barely fit two buttons, and the back featured a clip for fastening to your clothing somewhere. The third incarnation was not received as well, as Apple designed that buttons had become obsolete all together in favour of controls on the headphone cord and voice feedback called VoiceOver. That feature is still present in the version we are reviewing today which makes up for the design mistakes of that third generation. The Shuffle again became the ultimate sports mp3 player.

It was originally launched in 2010, but late last year it received a make-over and Apple provided us with a blue model. The Shuffle is also available now in green, grey, pink, purple, (special edition) red, silver and yellow. They cost about £40.

Apple iPod Shuffle V4 2012 2GB Blue


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