There's an extra button that wasn't present on the 2G Shuffle: the VoiceOver key, used to get the player to speak out the title and artist of the track currently playing. Hold it down, and you get a sequential read-out of any playlists sync'd to the device. They're read in sequence - just press play when you hear the one you want. If the read-out is too slow, you can press the track skip keys to move forward or back.
Sure, VoiceOver is no reason to chuck out a perfectly working 2G Shuffle and replace it with a 4G, but despite the inevitable broken English of the system's mix'n'match syallable voice synthesis, it's nice to have for playlist navigation. I don't need to to tell me what track's playing - I know what I put on the Shuffle.
And here's a quirk: while VoiceOver plays on the bundled Apple earphones - fading the track into the background while it's speaking - it didn't on the B&W P5 headphones I was also trying the player with. The music fades out, but there's no track ident. Put the Apple 'phones back in and the voice returns.
Now, the P5's in-line volume controls adjust the Shuffle's settings as well as the Apple ones do, but it seems VoiceOver requires the latter. I tried the Shuffle at a time when I didn't have other earphones to hand, so I can't say whether this is a broader issue, or limited to the P5s, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was a common problem with third-party eargear.
Next page: Getting it right
How can people prefer this over a similarly priced 4GB or 8GB Sansa Clip+? That player also has physical buttons, but adds a small display, FM radio, voice recording, accepts up to 16GB microSDHC cards, and doesn't require iTunes to sync. Do people just assume that because it's Apple there's no need for comparison shopping?
only ipod you can use with your eyes closed
It's worth remembering this is the only ipod you can use without looking at the display -I've got an old nano, played with the new one -which has physical volume controls- but Mr Jobs still expects you to hold up the device to navigate around. The shuffle is something you can keep in your pocket, use in the gym, on the mountain bike, anywhere, and for me, the only one worth having.
I am glad that they've realised this and put the buttons back -the fact they admitted their mistake means that sales must have died.
The Sansa range is stunning.
I've got two Fuzes, and they are the best MP3 players I've ever used, by a long way.
i would totally buy one, but...
No way is that scumware ever coming anywhere near my music collection.
iPod to kill the In-car Radio?
It was the iPod that finally dragged me in to the Apple walled-garden, and I too am very glad the blind person's iPod is back.
Of course the biggest tribute to the device was that I was able to get my Dad and brothers to take up using the device, partly through simplicity, but mostly because they both doing a lot of driving and the no-look controls are essential (especially with my Dad's refusing to ever wear reading glasses). Pity care stereo designers seem to continue producing products and integrations that are fated to cause many an accident, and with the continuing digital radio fiasco the future seems bleak for those wanting to live the car-advert dream of cruising with tunes.