While not exactly feature rich, the 2G iPod Shuffle is about as simple as it gets.
In the box there's only the iPod itself and it's dock for connecting to the computer. The Shuffle comes in a number of vivid colours, including blue, orange, green, purple & silver.
At only 2.7x4.1x1.0cm, there's not much space for fripperies, without even a screen on the thing. It does mean the design is kept refreshingly simple, with a large control button on the front handling the play/pause, Prev/Next Track & Volume Up/Down duties. On the top there's two toggle switches, one for whether it plays the tracks in order or in shuffle mode, and one, quite simply, turning the thing on and off. On both sides you've got a light which tells you if the unit is on, whether it's charged or charging & whether it's paused -- which is useful.
So you plug the Shuffle in with the supplied dock, start iTunes, tell it which playlist to sync (only one playlist can be synced at once) and then you're ready to go.
The simplicity of the design makes the iPod Shuffle really easy to use when doing physical activity, and as you have to buy some headphones for it anyway (none are included with it) you could get some exercise-focused ones with clips that go round the ears to stop them coming off. Once you've got them sorted, it's really easy to use as there's no looking at any screen to use it, you just need to press a button.
Another good feature of the iPod Shuffle is the fact that it automatically pauses the music when you pull your headphones out, so you don't miss any of the music.
As well as a music player, the iPod Shuffle can be used as a USB flash drive. You can choose to leave some of the disk empty in iTunes to keep files on. Choosing this, you can see the iPod as a removable disk in Windows, and can just drag and drop files on to it (though you still need to use iTunes to transfer music to it). This obviously requires you to use the dock as the connector to the computer, but if the computer you want to transfer also has one then it's a very useful way of combining two uses.
With 12 hours of battery life and enough space for 240 (1GB) or 500 (2GB) songs, you've got a big selection of music available and hardly ever need to worry about using all the battery, even when using it on even the largest cycle or day out. It may not have the best music quality out there, but unless you're actually looking for negatives then I seriously doubt that you would ever be able to tell the difference between this and another competitor.
I would say this generation of iPod Shuffle is better than the newer 3G ones, due to the fact that it has buttons, doesn't require you to listen to a robotic voice in order for you to do anything and you can use any brand of headphones without losing functionality (the 3G Shuffle has a control on the headphone cable, meaning you're stuck with no control if you use other headphones).
Overall, it's a hugely feature packed thing packaged into a tiny box. It's simple to use, the battery lasts for ages and even the lack of screen is made into a positive with the simplicity of the device.
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