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The Newest Member of the iPod Family

Released at MacWorld San Francisco 2005, Apple moves in a new direction with the release of its latest iPod, a Flash-RAM player the size of a chewing-gum pack. It may not be the smallest MP3 player on the market or have any groundbreaking new features, but due to the current popularity of all things iPod, it'll probably sell very well indeed. It sits below the iPod Mini in Apple's product range as the smallest capacity player. The term 'iPod shuffle' is meant to refer to its feature of being able to play tracks stored on it in a random order, seemingly a triumph of marketing, since almost every other MP3 player in the marketplace will perform the same function.

There are two versions available: a 512Mb capacity player for $99/£69, and a 1Gb capacity version for $149/£99. This pricing compares favourably to other Flash-based players on the market, but the iPod Shuffle lacks any form of display on the unit itself.

Technical Specifications

  • Storage - 512Mb or 1Gb solid-state memory
  • Battery - up to 12 hours playback from integrated Li-Ion battery, with a charge time of 4 hours (Apple's own statistics, actual usage will probably vary)
  • Ports - 3.5mm headphone jack and USB 2.0 connector
  • Audio Formats Supported - MP3, MP3 VBR, AAC, Audible 2, 3, 4, WAV
  • Size - 8.4 x 2.5 x 0.84 cm
  • Weight - 22g
  • Buttons
  • - Play/Pause, Volume Up/Down, Skip Forward/Backwards, Play Slider: Off/Play in Order/Shuffle
  • Included Accessories - Headphones, Lanyard, Connector Cap

The iPod shuffle needs iTunes installed on the host computer to transfer music, and has a new feature for transfering music, Autofill, where iTunes will transfer a random selection of music to the device up to a specified size limit. Any space unused for music is available for other files, allowing the iPod shuffle to be used as a USB memory device as well.

With the release of this new iPod, Apple is moving to cover the lower end of the MP3 player market (the sub-£100 Flash player section) which has been hitherto forgotten by Apple. With the combination of the iPod brand, Apple's marketing and a surprisingly competitive price, Apple is trying to mop up a saturated market and convert them to the Way of the Fruit.

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