Latest iPod shuffle the quintessential Apple product

Perhaps more than any other Apple product, the iPod shuffle is the perfect example of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field in action. When the shuffle was initially released, it was widely criticized for lacking the screen offered by other players in its price range. But the missing screen wasn’t an oversight—it was a feature, along with the wildly innovative concept of randomized playback. Yeah, right.

Despite its obvious shortcomings, the original shuffle became a popular player for Apple fans who couldn’t afford more expensive iPods. It also caught on as a workout companion for those loathe to rattling their hard-drive-based iPods while running, at the gym, or otherwise engaged in vigorous physical activity.

The shuffle’s eventual successor offered greater capacity and added a useful clip to the back, making it a better workout player. But again, Apple refused to endow the device with a screen, keeping it one step behind rivals that also offered higher capacities at lower prices. To be fair, the new shuffle was smaller than its direct competition, but only in an academic sense. Even comparatively larger MP3 players from the likes of Creative and SanDisk were more than small enough to disappear easily into a pocket or to feel weightless when clipped onto clothing.

Apple’s philosophy behind the shuffle was clear: make the smallest, lightest MP3 player possible, even if that meant restricting its usability and capacity. Oh, and charge way more than the competition, because there are droves of iZombies poised to shell out for anything Steve Jobs trots out at a keynote.

So what of this latest shuffle, then? Well it’s tiny—the smallest MP3 player around, according to Apple. But the shuffle’s form factor passed the point of diminishing returns long ago. This new version may be the smallest shuffle yet, but in practical terms, it’s really not any more portable than the last one—or the droves of other mini MP3 players available on the market.

The new shuffle’s freshly-shrunk form factor leaves no room for a screen, which should come as no surprise. Even more ridiculous, however, is the device’s lack of buttons. Rather than putting standard playback and volume controls on the player, Apple has moved them to a remote control unit on the shuffle’s headphones. The remote only has three buttons: two for volume and a single control button that, through the magic of Morse code, controls playback, track navigation, and playlist selection. I guess we should have expected this from the same folks who thought a one-button mouse was a good idea.

Apple argues that this new remote control is easier to access than buttons on the player, but it also suggests clipping the new shuffle onto your clothes, which would presumably make buttons on the device readily accessible. There’s a bigger problem, though. Because the new shuffle’s controls reside in the headphones, you can’t ditch Apple’s notoriously poor quality ear buds for better ones without losing the ability to control playback and volume. Some have argued that Apple’s ear buds should be sufficient for a simple workout MP3 player, but I beg to differ. The ear buds have a reputation for refusing to stay in your ears, which is rather important when at the gym or out for a run. I don’t imagine that ear buds infamous for their poor quality will handle sweat or rain all that well, either.

Of course, Apple will surely offer a remote adapter that allows users to combine any headphones they like with the new shuffle. You’ll have to pay for the privilege, though.

At least Apple bumped the new shuffle’s capacity up to 4GB, so meaningful progress has been made on one front. And therein lies a rather striking disconnect. This latest shuffle is capable of carrying more music than ever, but Apple has actually made it more difficult to navigate that collection of tracks. The fact the remote control unit requires instructions confirms that it’s harder to use and less intuitive than traditional MP3 player controls. Without a screen, users will also have to rely on VoiceOver to dictate song and playlist titles. The Apple faithful have argued that this means you don’t have to interrupt a workout to look down at a screen, which is true. However, finding a track or playlist is going to take a lot longer on a shuffle, which can only parse through items one at a time, than it would on even the most basic of alternatives, which allow users to scroll quickly through tracks and playlists, arbitrarily selecting whichever they please.

Given the shuffle’s obvious limitations, one might expect it to be fairly cheap. But this is Apple, so it’s not. The latest shuffle will cost you a cool $80, which is nearly double the price of a 4GB Sansa Clip that has not only a screen, but proper controls that won’t limit your headphone options. Why anyone looking for a new MP3 player would even consider the shuffle is beyond me. Perhaps that’s because the shuffle isn’t just an MP3 player. According to Apple, it’s a “fashion tech-cessory,” which presumably makes it OK to sacrifice functionality, usability, and value in pursuit of smaller, sleeker form factors. This isn’t just an MP3 player for the gym; it’s an MP3 player for people who put on make up and only the most fashionable workout attire to be seen at the gym, and that’s what makes the new shuffle the quintessential Apple product.

Comments closed
    • no51
    • 11 years ago

    Imagine if this were Microsoft Zune instead of Apple iPod; I’d bet the defenders wouldn’t be as rabid, if any.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      Considering MS isn’t stupid enough to make a screenless product that csts more than other very good products with screens…

    • Kharnellius
    • 11 years ago

    FYI, Apple has already announced plans for third party companies to make compatible headphones with the in line controls built in…not an adapter mind you.

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    People keep saying oh the new shuffle is simple and will be easy to use that is why people will want one of them. Old shuffle with simple controls VS morse code controls on the new shuffle. I will take an old shuffle thanks.

    • Tamale
    • 11 years ago

    I think a lot of people are failing to understand the difference between a discussion of a PRODUCT and a discussion of a COMPANY.

    Without speaking for any of our other editors, I know I always personally try to look at each product from a company from a fresh slate. I might use the context of the company’s past to help me with a ‘first impression’ or guesstimate of a product’s value, but once I get into using it I always worry about the merits of the individual model on their own.

    It’s ridiculous for some of you to be calling this “anti-apple”.. it’s anti-new-shuffle.. that’s it. I don’t think anyone here can disagree with Geoff’s assessment that there are still going to be plenty of these sold, but not for the value it holds as an mp3 player.. no, indeed it will be because there are plenty of people already hooked on Apple’s approach and any disadvantages that might be present in the device will simply be glanced over in lieu of the ‘ooo shiny’ factor. It’s not Apple bashing to mention the izombies as Geoff calls them.. we all know they exist… and it’s certainly not Apple bashing to sarcastically berate the design flaws present in the shuffle.. I’m sure Geoff as well as myself just wish it was a better device, and the sarcasm and negative tone is indicative of a disappointment in Apple FOR THIS DEVICE.

    Apple knows it serves them well to release controversial products. It helps maintain their image of difference in the tech market, and in turn, superiority. Sure, sometimes that’s warranted – it’s hard to doubt the usefulness, usability, and impact of the iphone – but I for one am happy to hear what an experienced technical editor has to say about their latest foray into the unknown.. and by far and large in this case, I completely agree and stand behind Geoff’s analysis.

    Let’s not forget that the neatest trick Apple has managed to do is to keep itself in the news pretty constantly, either by releasing truly innovative products or by simply coming out with things that get the community talking.. remember, there’s no such thing as bad publicity 🙂

      • FireGryphon
      • 11 years ago

      Among many other things, the problem I find with all this negative commentary about the new Shuffle (including Geoff’s and yours) is the focus on the features — or lack thereof — that make the new Shuffle disappointing. The Shuffle is marketed at people who like simplicity, don’t want too many confusing features, and want a product that just works. The Shuffle hits that target exactly.

      We all fall on a spectrum of how tweakable or simplistic we want our devices to be. Like most TR readers, I like being able to tweak just about anything. In fact, I held off from buying an iPod for a long time because it lacked features and customizability present in other players like the Creative Zen. After I actually used an iPod I saw how the lack of features and simplicity are appealing. Sometimes even I want something that doesn’t require too much fuss.

      When I look at the negativity about the new Shuffle what I see is a bunch of people who are angry at Apple for creating a product that doesn’t cater to the enthusiast crowd. Instead of members of our community saying, “Gee, that player doesn’t have the features I want, so I’ll just buy a more feature-rich player,” they’re getting up on soapboxes about how this product doesn’t serve their vision of what a small MP3 player should be. When Geoff posts a blog with the snarky title, “Latest iPod shuffle the quintessential Apple product” and then proceeds to write a negative opinion about the product, steeped in snark and replete with words like ‘ridiculous’ and cheap blows at Apple as a company, it’s easy to see how this issue is no longer just a pot shot at a new product, but a condemnation of Apple itself; but I digress.

      Apple’s new product may not cater to enthusiasts like us, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. Most people who are in the iPod market would probably prefer a music player that is simple to operate and works reliably rather than a music player with feature creep. Heck, many of us appreciate simplicity in our electronic products already. large percentage of us in the forums prefer cell phones with as few extra functions as possible as long as they perform their primary purpose — making phone calls — simply and reliably. The new iPod shuffle appeals to many people on the same grounds.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        You could say that yes, the last gen, or even the first gen shuffle filled those needs. However, this latest generation takes it to the extreme, and reaches beyond the point of simplicity to aggravatingly stupid.

        • Kharnellius
        • 11 years ago

        Bingo. You had more patience than I did to type all of that.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        “Simple” looks six buttons: Play/Pause, Skip/Seek Forward, Skip/Seek back, Power, and volume up/down. Making it even simpler with fewer buttons and voiceover, but then requiring Morse code routines to access other features, is not “simple” — in fact it’s a violation of Einstein’s dictum on simplicity.

        “Simple” doesn’t lock you in to a custom pair of headphones that are infamous for their lack of quality when ten thousand acceptable variants exist, nor does a “simple” package cost 1.5-2x the competition which includes superior features.

        Let’s go back to the one where Apple is selling fashionable jewelry — because that’s the only way to explain how and why this product will succeed (which, given Apple’s recent history, it almost certainly will).

        • Tamale
        • 11 years ago

        I still disagree about being negative toward Apple vs. negative toward the shuffle, but more importantly, I still think it IS ridiculous to try to play off a lack of basic controls as a ‘feature of simplicity’.

        I wholeheartedly agree that simplicity and ease of use are paramount in personal electronics, but my being an ‘enthusiast’ in most senses of the word doesn’t change an innate fact.. controls that aren’t there are as ‘simple’ as simply choosing to not use the controls.

        Choosing to simply eliminate basic controls and functions isn’t designing for ease-of-use.. it’s designing for an ideal that only exists in the marketing department of a company that wants to ensure its products keep getting attention 🙂

    • grege
    • 11 years ago

    So the best feature of this toy is to allow the playing of songs downloaded from iTunes that are DRM locked. Buy your music from Amazon, then you will not have to worry. My favourite music player is – drum roll – Nokia. It is small, light weight, solid state, has an FM radio and when the phone rings the music stops and you can hear the incoming call. When you hang up the music resumes. Another feature is that it refuses to play iTunes songs. You can even shove it in an arm band and exercise if you want. As I had the phone anyway the cost of stereo earbuds and a mini SD card were not much.

    I am with Geoff, the Shuffle is nothing special.

      • grantmeaname
      • 11 years ago

      l[

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    All I am thinking right now is how excited I am for the next Podcast when jordan asks Geoff about this topic. That’s good -[

    • nonegatives
    • 11 years ago

    They should market this for in car use. With limited buttons and no screen, they driver should not be distracted. Call it a safety feature.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 11 years ago

    LOL!

    Keep it up, Geoff. Your detractors suck.

    • grantmeaname
    • 11 years ago

    This is a blog. Not a review.

    This is a blog. Not a review.

    This is a blog. Not a review.

    Any questions?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      No, but an observation – Geoff seems to be opining on something with which he has zero experience. Uninformed opinions are generally frowned upon.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        Permit me to give you pictures of and a detailed description of a bicycle derivative that has only one wheel and no steering mechanism, uses a custom tire design that is both flimsy and has to be specially sourced if it goes flat, requires the acquisition of unusual and otherwise useless talents in order to operate correctly, and costs twice as much as any competing near-equivalent on the market.

        How much experience would you require to conclude that you don’t want an overpriced unicycle?

        • Dissonance
        • 11 years ago

        Let’s see… I’ve been using MP3 players for more than six years now, and that includes running with them, biking with them, skiing with them, and taking them to the gym. I’ve played around with both previous-gen shuffles and used enough players with screens to know that a visual display does, in fact, come in handy–particularly when the player in question can accommodate hundreds of songs.

        I own an iPod, so I have rather intimate experience with the poor sound quality and fit of Apple’s stock earbuds. I’m informed enough on that front to have a problem with requiring the use of the stock earbuds, the purchase of new headphones that have a remote built-in, or the purchase of an adapter that will only add to the cost of an already expensive 4GB player.

        In my many years using MP3 players of all shapes and sizes, I’m well-versed in just how easy it is to perform simple tasks, such as pausing, playing, and skipping tracks, and adjusting the volume, using on-device buttons–and I’ve been able to do that without looking at every MP3 player I’ve ever owned. Apple’s morse-code input scheme may not be a chore to use, but the fact that it requires such detailed instructions indicates that it’s more difficult and less intuitive than the standard controls available on just about every other MP3 player on the market.

        Oh, and I can read, which quite clearly informs me of Apple’s desire to sell the new shuffle as a fashion accessory. I can do math, too, making price comparisons with players that offer equivalent capacity with greater functionality quite easy.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          do you own this device? No? Then you have no experience with it.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            That’s a cop out. This isn’t like having a wife.

            • yogibbear
            • 11 years ago

            If i won one, i don’t think i’d use it.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            A wife, or a Shuffle?

            • Tamale
            • 11 years ago

            …LOL !!

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            No, seriously, I want to know.

            • yogibbear
            • 11 years ago

            It was meant to be ambiguous. 😉 Glad you liked it.

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            Sorry, but that argument doesn’t really hold water with a palpable consumer product. I’ve read about this device, and I maintain that it is, quite possibly, the worst iPod I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t even use a standard headphone jack. Let me repeat: *[

          • Kharnellius
          • 11 years ago

          This is for people who want the player. You obviously don’t. You aren’t forced to buy it. No matter what you say, I bet it will still sell well which shows Apple must know what they are doing. They are in a business to sell, and guess what, they are pretty damn good at it. (P.S. Those controls are hardly difficult to learn. I mean really?)

          [To the general public:] Does it really make that many people lose sleep over the fact that Apple knows how to sell products? Why would anyone care? I don’t get why people are so impassioned over it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but please stop trying to make others bend to YOUR purchasing demands (will).

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      It’s not a cop-out, it’s a perfectly reasonable response to this tripe of a blog post.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        “You don’t have experience with this particular product” when this particular product goes out of its way to be obtuse, and he does have experience with comparable products in the types of environments where it would be used, is not a reasonable response.

        Are you sure this isn’t just about Diss dissing St. Apple?

    • Convert
    • 11 years ago

    I was a little torn about the article as well. They say the truth hurts but one could argue this was a kick to the groin.

    There are a few responses though that don’t make a lot of sense.

    “The shuffle sells well = win” or “People are buying it = win”

    People, since Geoff isn’t the first and won’t be the last, say that apple is able to sell iTrash and people will still gobble it up. Saying the above comment makes me think you don’t understand the proposed situation at all or the premise of the blog post.

    Perhaps he saw the perfect opportunity to express his thoughts about apple, even apple followers are giving up trying to defend the product itself or not trying very hard. Call me an opportunist but you couldn’t pass up a better time to illustrate a point without the RDF turned to ‘garrison’.

    It’s so easy to go on a pro mac/anti mac post at this point but meh.

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    My wife and I each have an iPod touch and we both really like iTunes because of how easy it makes it to manage music. I listen to a pretty large selection of podcasts and NOTHING compares to iTunes when it comes to podcast support. With that said the new shuffe is CRAP plain and simple.

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    Dissonance focused on the wrong items. You can’t blame him, he’s a hardware geek and can’t generally see past his own eyes and feelers.

    Now let’s go into why the shuffle will be a continuing successful product in this line. Disclaimer: I hate apple.

    – Its tie-in with iTunes is why this product exists. iTunes is the main interface with this product, not the hardware on the device. itunes is playlist centric, everything revolves around the management of playlists. When you take the management of playlist on the computer (where it belongs,) versus the management of individual songs (still clunky on a small device,) you start to realize why this product is a success.

    Imagine yourself about to head to the gym. You pop in your shuffle, upload a playlist, and detach.

    When you get to the gym, you want to get in a music zone. You can choose said playlist with one hand motion, maybe a few button presses, without ever looking at the thing. This is not a player to take without you on a long car trip necessarily, it’s an accessory that is non-intrusive to getting music in your ear when exercising.

    – iTunes again: The competition has nothing in comparison to iTunes. Hey I hate iTunes interface and performance as much as the next geek, but when I talk to my friends and family, they *adore* how it works for them. Ask friends and family if they’ve seen better management of their tunes than Apple, and I doubt you’ll find many. Again, the competition is null and lacks sorely in this department.

    – It’s Apple Hardware Quality. Now I know I’ll get some groans out of people, but Apple does have some of the lowest hardware return rates, highest customer satisfaction, at least if we look at Consumer Reports. I’d show you the link but that is a copyright violation/you need an account. This has been going on for a DECADE. People will pay more for reliability and service. See: Lexus.

    Finally, it will succeed because it doesn’t sell to geeks, it sells to the mass international public. we are geeks, but we often ignore the packaging, presentation, interfaces that others do enjoy. Apple doesn’t care about geeks in this segment, they care about Jane teenybopper and Jake Executive hitting the Raq courtsg{<.<}g edit: spelling/grammar. It would be nice to have a "preview" that includes formatted tags before posting, if any tr devs are feature hunting.

      • Convert
      • 11 years ago

      q[< Its tie-in with iTunes is why this product exists. iTunes is the main interface with this product, not the hardware on the device. itunes is playlist centric, everything revolves around the management of playlists. When you take the management of playlist on the computer (where it belongs,) versus the management of individual songs (still clunky on a small device,) you start to realize why this product is a success.<]q Thought provoking point, however I don't see this degree of mutilation as appropriate. I always treated a MP3 player as a portable music collection, not as rewritable media without track controls. In the end you are right though, having a huge music collection is unmanageable on such a device but I just don't think you can justify taking away track control buttons.. What are you gaining anyways and at what cost? It just doesn't add up.

      • Kulith
      • 11 years ago

      l[

        • _Sigma
        • 11 years ago

        True, but in terms of purchasing music, videos, apps, etc, iTunes is pretty damn good.

        Performance of iTunes needs to be fixed. On an Oc’d quad core with 8gb of ram, there is no reason for it to suck that bad.

        For the record, I’m a Winamp guy.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          Performance of iTunes is tons better with 8.1. In fact, that’s supposedly the only thing they fixed. 8.1 on my work machine (Dell Latitude D520, Core Duo 1.66GHz, 1.5GB RAM) is way more responsive than any verison previous.

            • kc77
            • 11 years ago

            Better amongst iTunes, but not much better compared to alternatives.

          • kc77
          • 11 years ago

          Yes but the problem is that iTunes no longer does any one thing well. If I’m watching a movie. I’m not going to do it on iTunes. There’s better players with better controls out there. Even the database is lack luster at best for those of us who have large collections.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Again, itunes the music/video store is by far the gorilla in the room, and none of those services compares. Like a geek seeing the latest Nvidia or ATI card and drooling, you ignore the massive intel graphics share.

        Final word: This product will likely sell more than all other products in its class combinedg{<.<}g

          • Kulith
          • 11 years ago

          Maximum PC did a review comparing the itunes store directly with amazon mp3. Amazon mp3 won in almost every single category, including audio quality, simplicity, price, disaster recovery and more.

          In fact, the only category itunes won was selection – which is slightly larger in the itunes store when concerning “lesser known selections”

          But by all means keep trying to glorify itunes. The only thing itunes has going for it is the mobs of dumb people that use it.

            • FireGryphon
            • 11 years ago

            Maximum BS– err, I mean, Minimum PC– err, I mean, Maximum PC as a source is questionable, as is your claim than non-enthusiasts are ‘dumb people’.

            • Kulith
            • 11 years ago

            It’s hard to screw up price comparisons and audio quality and such…. and these are the same people that glorified the ipod so…

            as for dumb people, well they are. I can’t think of any reason why someone would pick a lesser product over a better product, any more than you’d pick a $1 bill instead of a $5 bill.

            • FireGryphon
            • 11 years ago

            That iTunes is a lesser product is an opinion, not a fact. There are many reasons why someone would choose iTunes over another service. Perhaps they’re confident in the quality of service Apple provides, or expect that Apple will provide a stable service for longer. Perhaps they already know how to use iTunes and don’t want to bother moving their operation to a new service; why switch when what I have now works?

            Quality of service is important to me. Even though I’m too far from my CO and Speakeasy can’t provide me with fast service, I still keep them as my ISP because of the great customer service experience I’ve had with them. I feel confident that I will have stable service and swift resolution to any problems, and therefore don’t mind paying them a lot of money for Internet access when I could get faster speeds for less money.

            I personally do not use iTunes or any other service for downloading music, but knowing Apple’s excellent customer satisfaction reputation, I empathize with people who use Apple products for that reason alone.

    • Umbragen
    • 11 years ago

    Shouldn’t the “quintessential Apple product” have one button and only one button?

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    Troll blog post. I expect more from TRg{<.<}g

    • timbits
    • 11 years ago

    I would never buy this product, but give Apple credit for trying something new.

      • Farting Bob
      • 11 years ago

      Why try to reinvent the wheel when the wheel is perfect for the job?
      An mp3 player without a screen is tolerable for some uses, but one that prevents you from using any controls unless you use the crappy bundled earphones or having to buy an overpriced add-on (which would make the whole thing larger than the previous gen shuffle) is utterly pointless IMO.

    • Dually
    • 11 years ago

    Yaaaawnn….more Apple hate from TechReport.

    I suppose that they ARE the only company on the planet that releases products that are higher in price than the competition while having the same or lesser functionality. Why not continually dog on them…..

    EDIT: And it strikes me as ironic that a bunch of people using Windows Vista are insulting people for buying an obviously poorly designed product…

      • DrDillyBar
      • 11 years ago

      There’s more Apple Love lately too. I think it balances out nicely.

      • no51
      • 11 years ago

      Are you insinuating that Vista is poorly designed?

        • Dually
        • 11 years ago

        Um….yes, yes I am.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          That’s a very daring statement to make.

            • Dually
            • 11 years ago

            I suppose. But if I were wrong, why would demand for Microsoft’s prior product still be in such high demand?

            New products should entirely supplant the product they were designed to replace. If Vista were done well, people would not have demanded the extension of XP availability. Perhaps that will happen with the the new Shuffle? Maybe we’ll see the Gen. 2 offered until the Gen. 4 is available?

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            So you’re using consumer demand to gauge design? By your logic then, OS10 is horribly designed because no one demands it. Linux even more so.

            • Dually
            • 11 years ago

            No one demands OSX? That’s sure news to me!

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

            • willyolio
            • 11 years ago

            by your logic, nobody would ever buy used products, unless the newer product was horribly designed.

            • Dually
            • 11 years ago

            No, Willy, that’s not my logic. But thanks for playing.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            Don’t blame him, your logic really is hard to aim the flashlight at.

    • Flying Fox
    • 11 years ago

    The next podcast needs to have a Dissonance vs the Mac dude segment.

    • scpulp
    • 11 years ago

    I just want to come out here in: a. support of Geoff’s blog and b. stunned horror of anyone who would defend this thing.

    Let’s be clear here, the new iPod Shuffle is for sheeple (much like iPods in general at this point). Apple is charging you more for less. Period. Does the bizarre interface and ULTRA-TINY form factor really merit having to pay extra and be tied to iTunes?

    They took out the screen. They largely removed the controls. I’m not saying a screen is a necessity for a music player. But if Vendor B is willing to give it to you while charging you less, and their player isn’t butt ugly, why would you buy this?

    Likewise, moving the controls to the ear buds is a heinous cash grab, and don’t you dare see it for anything else. Just like the proprietary USB connector, this isn’t a “new and exciting way to control your music” so much as a means to force you to buy one more overpriced accessory just to have the privilege of using your music player with anything other than their ear buds. Worse than that, it means that if the ear buds go FUBAR from a loose cable in the jack, etc., you have to buy a new pair of proprietary ear buds just to be able to USE the player.

    Yes, Apple makes overpriced crap, news at 11. The problem isn’t with that. The problem is how freaking deluded a consumer has to be to keep buying products from a company that’s deliberately and overtly taking them for a ride. I guess maybe we’re all so used to DRM fiascos that we don’t mind when a company sticks it in and breaks it off, but you can always find some piece of software to break DRM. Code your way out of this mess.

    • FireGryphon
    • 11 years ago

    With Apple, it’s about the user experience. The ‘cool’ factor is just a marketing gimmick.

    EDIT: Gah, meant to reply to #51.

    • Pax-UX
    • 11 years ago

    r[

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      Wrong, I like pretty stuff, I just hate over-priced.

        • Pax-UX
        • 11 years ago

        Your not their demographic, you care about money. Apple want people who don’t think twice about spend it’s all about being cool.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      delete, shouldn’t have been a reply

      • torquer
      • 11 years ago

      Uh, does anyone actually still look at an iPod of any sort and think “wow, cool”?

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        I would at the iPod Touch.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          The iPod touch is funny, once again Apple uses the RDF to make it seem like they invented the touchscreen PMP.

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            My sister had one, the Olympus M:Robe. It had good potential, execution however, was lacking. It had a VGA screen but no video capabilities. She had to RMA it too since the hdd crapped out.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            I owned an m:robe with a red and black display. The player itself was fine. It was the bundled software that I hated.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            Invented, schmented. What they came up with is a pretty /[

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            Not saying it isn’t but it shouldn’t elicit a ‘wow, cool’ either. The (mainly Korean) DAPs that already had touch screen interfaces just have too small a market share in the mainstream US for many people to see them.

          • Tamale
          • 11 years ago

          lol.. whenever I see an Ipod touch, I think

          “Wow look, apple finally made something almost as usful as the 7 year-old dell axim x50v.. oh wait, it doesn’t have removable media or as high of a resolution.. darn”

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 11 years ago

            It can do alot more than almost and PDA can though. There are certain things it can’t do.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            Thanks to the App store, there ain’t nothing it can’t do. I’d consider it more strongly if apps could talk to each other (I don’t need copy/paste, I just need to get data from one app to another, and there are ways to do that beyond copy/paste).

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 11 years ago

            There are plenty of things it can’t do, mostly hardware related. Stereo Bluetooth, FM Radio, wireless syncing, etc.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            ah, that’s fair. Of those things, stereo bluetooth is the only one I’d be remotely interested in.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            The X50 was something like a $500-600 device IIRC, and its modern equivalent still starts around $399 while only including a 240×320 screen.

            • Tamale
            • 11 years ago

            I got my x50v new for $300 in 2003 off ebay.

            I dunno, I know the touch does a few more things thanks to the better touch screen and accelerometer, but the lack of things that even the SEVEN year old device had seems appalling to me.

            It’s always these lacking, basic, essential in my opinion features that keeps me away from apple, and I’m not even one to think they’re necessarily overpriced, because I get the whole usability/design premium. I just think they lack basic, important features that other companies gladly offer, so I can’t really justify giving them my business.

            • indeego
            • 11 years ago

            Apple didn’t abandon its product after miserable failure in the marketplace like Dell has with Jukebox or Microsoft with plays4nahnevermindg{<.<}g Just saying. Apple still supports the products they sellg{<.<}g

    • FireGryphon
    • 11 years ago

    After more than two decades of deriding Apple’s products on technical specs and common sense, I took a step back a few years ago and began using a MacBook and an iPod. My experience with each has been and still is great. I don’t miss the features absent from the iPod. The user experience that Apple’s products deliver is far above and beyond what can be quantified by words or specifications.

    It didn’t surprise me when people online criticized the new Shuffle. We can all see plainly why the Shuffle’s features don’t make sense; it’s ridiculous that Apple would make a product like this, yet I’m confident that the actual experience of owning and using a new Shuffle will outweigh any of its drawbacks. Apple’s novel designs have an amazing track record of being functional and enjoyable.

    It’s funny to see people jumping all over Apple and poking sarcastic fun at it and its products. A few years ago, I would have done the same thing, but then a funny thing happened: I actually used Apple products.

    The market needs harsh critics to keep companies on their toes, but in this case, I think a little more open-mindedness is in order. Before criticizing a product that is based on a new idea, we should use it ourselves. If we are open-minded computer enthusiasts who embrace innovation, we owe the innovators at Apple that much.

      • Pax-UX
      • 11 years ago

      Oops wrong post replied to

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    aaaaaand because it’s a Google ad, the top-right ad is for iPod shuffles. That’s hilarious.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      Adblock Plus says otherwise.

      Adi

        • Skrying
        • 11 years ago

        Neat, you’re an Apple fanboy and you don’t support TechReport. Nice.

          • Flying Fox
          • 11 years ago

          Banstick coming? 😛

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 11 years ago

        wth Adisor. You get more and more un-likable with each passing day.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        Every -[

        • grantmeaname
        • 11 years ago

        It may be good to disable it on sites that you find are worthy of your time, such as TechReport. In other news, Mr. Eiberger has a good track record of killing off the really annoying ads.

    • dustyjamessutton
    • 11 years ago

    Can any of the new shuffle designers relate to Kevin Bacon in less than 5 steps? But seriously, this new iPod is going to cause a traffic accident from fiddling with the cord buttons trying to find the right song. It’s complicated and frustrating enough to cause a brain fart, and those can be bad while driving.

    • JdL
    • 11 years ago

    Excellent article! Very well written — it was the best read I’ve had in quite a while. If I could give TR a raise, I would.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      that’s what the donation link is for.

    • Thresher
    • 11 years ago

    The Shuffle has always been somewhat of a compromised product. As I mentioned in the forums, generally, Apple is good at having form follow function. In this case, form PRECEDED function. The design was the goal and the functionality suffers.

    I think it’s an interesting product and there is probably a market for it, but I suspect this is a test of sorts that will probably fail.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      I agree that THIS Shuffle is probably a victim of form over function. The in-ear controls might be handy for a subset of people – maybe even the majority of people who already own 2G shuffles – but having to buy a separate dongle for my application (in the car) just kills it for me.

      I disagree that the Shuffle suffers from that in general, though, which I think you’re implying. I have a 2G Shuffle and it does exactly what it’s supposed to – take a playlist, play it either in order or randomly (there is a toggle on the 2G shuffle for that sort of thing), and allow you to play/pause/skip/rewind. I use it as an “FM Radio” to supplant the lousy stations in my area. I don’t care what plays next – I know it’s going to be an awesome song. If I’m not in the mood for THAT awesome song, I skip to the next awesome song.

    • floodo1
    • 11 years ago

    Try actually using it before you complain so much. This article reeks of pure haterade.

    I really wish people who dont like apple would just shut up. Seriously, we ALL know how it is. Really cool features, usually something to hate, and really expensive.

    All I’ll say is that I used to get in arguments daily about how pre OS X mac OS sucked and how apple was ridiculous. Then I got a macbook, and an iPod (school deal) and fell in love. OSX + Quicksilver owns on windows. So then I got an iPhone which is great (though not without flaws but nothing was a deal breaker). Now I just bought a mac mini.

    Sure I could have purchased other brands and probably saved money but I doubt i’d be this happy. So piss off already.

      • imtheunknown176
      • 11 years ago

      Name a “really cool feature” on this shuffle. Unless you are blind the voiceover isn’t all that useful (don’t ipods have that feature built in already?). I think the new shuffle sucks and using it isn’t going to make a difference.

      Other mac products are fine. Some are better than their competitors. But it is possible for apple to make a mistake. And this is one of them.

      BTW how did you get OSX and quicksilver to run on windows? :p

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        no, this is the first with VoiceOver. And without a screen, you don’t have to be blind.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      well, Meadows was asking for some sort of “pro-MS” blogger to counter the Mac users. I suggested Geoff and Scott. This is the result.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      q[

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      So which flavor of Koolaid did you choose?

        • PetMiceRnice
        • 11 years ago

        That’s for sure. Why on Earth would I or anyone else consider the Shuffle unless they were an Apple die-hard? There are so many better options out there competitively priced. I’m also happy not being married to iTunes.

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      Mmm, no thanks. I’ll take Apple’s own operational description as being an adquate warning label NOT to spend $80 in order to get less function than what everybody else sells for $50.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    While I generally agree, I’d also argue that a lot of these objections maybe just suggest you’re using it wrong. You’re supposed to start the thing and let it play, every song, in order (or on random). Maybe you skip one now and then, but that’s it. When you get to the end of your songs, you start over.

    This is how everybody I’ve seen with a Shuffle at the gym seems to use them (and I see a lot of the last gen Shuffles). It’s how I use my Sansa Clip. Heck, it’s how I used my old CD walkman: for several years: I kept the same CD in the thing, on repeat, and every workout I’d turn it on and just let it play until I was done. Same CD, same 12 songs, several times a week for a couple of years. It had nothing to do with my larger music library; it was just better-than-white-noise to blot out everything and everybody else. (Other people have a “soundtrack” set of songs intended to motivate them; or alternatively the repetitiveness of the music reinforces their routine, helping them pace their workout.)

    The Shuffle would be an impossible device as someone’s only music player. But like the smallest of the netbooks, it’s nobody’s /[

      • nerdrage
      • 11 years ago

      Finally a voice of reason in a sea of whiners.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        The Voice of Reason’s revealed preference is the Sansa Clip, which makes a whole lot more sense for less money. As Dissonance notes, you’re not paying for an MP3 player, you’re paying for jewelry. I guess nobody ever said jewelry had to make sense.

      • Pax-UX
      • 11 years ago

      Good it see someone gets it!

      • Dissonance
      • 11 years ago

      I’ve long been a proponent of running two MP3 players: a big hard-drive-based model with all my music, and a small flash-based device for running, mountain biking, and so on. So I get the whole secondary MP3 player approach. What I don’t get is why anyone would choose a shuffle over something like the Sansa Clip, which is my current workout MP3 player. The Clip’s easier to use, offers more functionality, and is about half the price.

      In a sense, though, I am looking at the shuffle the wrong way. I’m looking at it as an MP3 player, but that’s not what you’re paying for. You’re paying for the privilege of wearing a piece of Apple techno-jewelry to your shirt.

        • Dually
        • 11 years ago

        r[

          • Dissonance
          • 11 years ago

          Perhaps you should consult Apple’s own website.

          “Fashion tech-cessory.

          Even the iPod shuffle clip gets the rock star treatment. Now forged in stainless steel, the clip attaches securely to your shirt, jacket, workout gear, even your backpack. And the sleek, durable, anodized aluminum case — available in silver or black — *[http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/features.html<]§

            • flip-mode
            • 11 years ago

            So maybe you should start “The Jewelry Report”.

      • Skrying
      • 11 years ago

      If all you’re looking for is a simple MP3 player then why would you purchase this Apple product? I’d instead suggest a much cheaper Sansa or Creative player that is of similar size, has all the “features” of the Shuffle and has more if you choose to use them. So, unless you’re solely focused on looks the Shuffle sucks even at its own game.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    q[

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      most of the “crazy” commands are pretty obscure. How often are you going to skip back partway through a track? Tap to play/pause, double-tap to skip…that’s all most people are going to be doing. Putting them on the earphones is my complaint.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      Yes, the new shuffle is a step backward in every way. Well, it is smaller.. but at this point, the lack of buttons just makes this thing truly a pain to use.

      Adi

    • lamparalaptopiaguita
    • 11 years ago

    The only thing i ‘care’ about apple is OS X. ANd while I admire them for being innovative in very important ways – like DD in music, some of their OS features, etc – their hardware is almost always laughable.

    This blog article is a troll, but I enjoyoed it thorooughly. You made my day!

    I did ask one aquantiance today if they would buy this, if he didnt alraedy have a shuffle right now, and he’s llike ‘yes’ and was like ‘OMG it has voice and no buttons! So cooooll!” Hahaha freaking sheep

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    I want to see a disassembly. It’s a technical achievement in such a small space!

    But useless. The iPod was good because it was so usable with its screen and controls.

    Maybe if I had really bad eyesight or was blind.

    • bdwilcox
    • 11 years ago

    The douche that buys this is the same one who dresses in gym spandex, wears $150 sneakers, and never works out, instead talking to all the “ladies” while hanging on the equipment you want to use.

      • Spurenleser
      • 11 years ago

      Hey you know, some people actually have to buy shoes that expensive for sports because their feet are too far off average. Now that we’re at it let me just say that the Adidas Torsion Bank Shot are great and the Nike Hyperdunk Supreme suck donkey balls. 😉

        • Imperor
        • 11 years ago

        My feet are very average but I still need to spend that kind of money on shoes, for dancing! Bad shoes has caused me to come home with bleeding feet… (Blister, pops, new blister underneath, that pops, grind away a few hours more and voila). :-/

        I do think that the original poster ment ppl wearing $150 sneakers for strolling in malls though.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Never have so few buttons created so much controversy among so many.

      • Tamale
      • 11 years ago

      maybe not, but the air is close 😉

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      What about ye ‘ole hockeypuck iMac mouse?

        • FireGryphon
        • 11 years ago

        That had buttons?

          • ludi
          • 11 years ago

          Well, not with the “s”…

    • herothezero
    • 11 years ago

    With Apple, you can have your audio any way you want it…as long as it’s Stevie Jobs’ way.

    And they say Windows users are sheep…

      • continuum
      • 11 years ago

      As a friend said (he recently picked up a MBP and converted to Apple about two and a half years ago, after 20 years of using Windows and DOS), l[<"I'll pretty much buy anything Apple makes"<]l. No one said it had to make sense. =P

        • Sargent Duck
        • 11 years ago

        I have two friends like that. I remember one time one of these friends said that MacBook Pro’s were price equivalent with PC’s. So I went to Dell.ca, he went to Apple.ca. We had a price match, with me building a Dell laptop very much the same as a MacBook of his choosing. The Dell was close to $1000 cheaper (eh, maybe $800). He justified it by saying that the MacBook’s key’s lit up and some other non-whimsical garbage. izombies indeed…

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          I recall a Mac guy in a coffee shop back in the G3 days lecturing his companion about the superiority of the RISC “supercomputer” processor within his laptop, and how it ran “compact machine code” whereas the Intel processors in plebian PCs used a complicated intermediate format that “wasn’t real machine code” and “had to be translated on the fly” which made them so much slower.

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 11 years ago

            That was probably Adisor, by the sounds of it.

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            Bought my first mac in 2005 (a mini), so no, that couldn’t have been me, but good guess none the less 😉

            Adi

            • paulWTAMU
            • 11 years ago

            I thought even you weren’t too fond of this one?

            • DrDillyBar
            • 11 years ago

            I was buying a bottle of wine or three one day a few months back and the people behind the counter were just sitting around talking (admittedly a slow time of the day) and this one guy was talking up the power of OSX and his new notebook and how fast it was (while his coworker helped me out). I felt the need after listening for about 45seconds, to point out that it’s the fact that they switched to Intel processors, and not just the “magic” of the Apple implementation of Unix that made it way faster then his G# desktop from the old days. I then quickly excused myself and went to my party. XD

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          “He justified it by saying that the MacBook’s key’s lit up and some other non-whimsical garbage.”

          Have you EVER used a laptop with a back lit keyboard ? While it’s not worth 800$ (Dell charges 50$ for it on the E6400), i’d easily pay 100$ for it and would not even buy a laptop that doesn’t have one. Just because your ignorant self never used one to know the advantages that it brings to you, doesn’t make it “non-whimsical garbage”.

          Also, was that Dell laptop that you priced, 1″ thick or more like 2″ ? Ya, i thought so..

          Adi

            • DrDillyBar
            • 11 years ago

            You my friend are Crazy. It’s a Perk, if that.

            • adisor19
            • 11 years ago

            I dare you to go war driving at 2AM with a non back lit keyboard on your laptop ! Trust me, it’s not just a Perk.

            Adi

            • DrDillyBar
            • 11 years ago

            I guess.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            Have fun paying 800 dollars for it while the rest of us care for our families with what we earn.

            • eitje
            • 11 years ago

            Oh! You’re Right! That Is Important!

            • Flying Fox
            • 11 years ago

            Ever heard of the ThinkLight? 😛

            Well, the ThinkPads are not exactly cheap either.

            • moshpit
            • 11 years ago

            Ummm, I’ll take a $3 dollar reading light from walgreens that clips to the screen and shines down on my keys over $800 backlit keys anyday. And what are you doing wardriving? Cops have a very negative view of that, and rightfully so.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            You’re referring to piggybacking, not wardriving. I’m not even sure why he would actively need the keyboard for wardriving, though, thus making backlighting useless with it..

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            Where’s the fun in Hunt-&-Peck if the targets are lit up?

            Me, I touch-type.

        • cocobongo_tm
        • 11 years ago

        Man…this is like that scene from “The Matrix” where Cypher sits in a restaurant with Agent Smith and while eating a steak, he says “[..]I know this steak does not exist. I know the matrix makes my brain believe that it is there and tastes good[..]” Just like “I know Apples is putting both hands inside my pockets, but they do it in such a nice way, I actually like it!”.

        What a waste!

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    Thus Apple earphone sales increase.

      • Flying Fox
      • 11 years ago

      Or the adapter, or 3rd party “native support earbuds”. The accessories makers are salivating now too.

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