Home / TVs & Audio / Portable Audio / iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)

iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010) review



1 of 5

iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)
  • iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)
  • iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)
  • iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)
  • iPod shuffle 4th Gen (2010)
  • iPod shuffle MC585BT 2 GB Pink Flash MP3 Player (AAC, MP3, Audible, AAX, Lossless, AIFF, WAV - 15 Hour)


Our Score:


It's hard being the runt of the litter, and the iPod shuffle knows it. When your bigger siblings are the iPod nano and iPod touch, it's hard to impress anyone if you're little more than a piece of flash memory with a headphone jack. Not that there isn't a market for the iPod shuffle's class of player, but it hasn't had the easiest development.

If we were being generous we might argue that the world just wasn't ready for the groundbreaking and innovative removal of controls from the third generation device. If we were being realistic we'd point out that that it was an ill-considered and unwelcome move for Apple. Suffice it to say that the re-addition of controls to the body of the fourth generation iPod shuffle tells us everything we need to know about the reception received by the last one. Attractive it may have been, but it was definitely flawed.

Fortunately for the iPod shuffle, despite the presence of volume, track selection and a play/pause buttons on its face, along with a three-way selector and a small VoiceOver button up top is far from ugly. And though its larger than its predecessor, the 29mm x 31.6mm x 8.7mm, 12.5g device is still small and light enough to be barely perceptible when attached to your clothing using its built-in clip.

The VoiceOver button takes the place of the press-and-hold action on the in-line remote of the previous iPod shuffle - although if you have a compatible headset, that still works. A press has the iPod shuffle pronounce the currently playing song and artist to you, while a hold cycles through the available playlists, with a further press selecting the last mentioned. Because this control no longer doubles as the play/pause and track-skip button as it did with the in-line remote it's much easier to navigate between playlists now.

You probably won't have all that many playlists on your iPod shuffle, though, because it now comes exclusively with 2GB of flash storage - your only options are what colour you decide on. However, considering how portable the new iPod nano is, the issue isn't the lack of a larger capacity but equally portable player in Apple's iPod line-up, but rather that of pricing. The gap between the 2GB, £39 iPod shuffle and the £129, 8GB iPod nano is enough that we doubt anyone looking at the shuffle would consider making the jump.


September 20, 2010, 11:58 am

7/10? Purleeease.

Please scratch off the Apple logo and review again.

8/10 for features? There's no display for f*s sake!

Try 2/10 for value, 4/10 overall and you're nearer the mark. £25 would be less of a piss take, but come on £40 for a display-less 2gb player with average sound and 7/10 overall?

Michael 2

September 20, 2010, 12:11 pm

this is my favourite design of iPod Shuffle and am therefore very pleased to see Apple return to it. The simplicity is what sells it to me.

And in terms of other 'much-lauded' 'cheaper, more capable alternatives' I think one needs to remember that this is a clip on MP3 player which makes it a fashion accessory too. The Sansa clip fails there.


September 20, 2010, 2:07 pm

It seems like you need to do two reviews for each Apple product.

One for true believers, and one for heretics.


September 20, 2010, 2:12 pm

what's up with the value ratings? Shuffle at 5/10 and nano at 6/10. No wonder Apple will keep selling at these ridiculous prices.


September 20, 2010, 2:34 pm

Fashion accessory? You're joking? You can't even tell it's made by Apple when it's clipped to your belt or wherever these fitness types clip it! You can even get a knock off clip-on MP3 player which looks close enough and has the well found mini usb connector and has drag n drop and even sounds ok with a decent pair of 'phones.


The Sansa clip is better tho and I reckon looks better than the Apple anyway. So there.


September 20, 2010, 2:41 pm

All I hear is "rabble rabble rabble." If you're going to moan about the scores at least back it up with a reason why they're wrong. And no, "I don't like Apple," and "iPods suck lol" are not reasons.


September 20, 2010, 2:43 pm

I can't believe anyone would buy this over a clip+. Actually, I can, but I feel sorry for them!


September 20, 2010, 2:58 pm

OK, I will (try to) back it up. I was in the Apple store the other day to have a look at the new iPod range. I looked at the Touch and Nano. I quite like the Nano but think it's too expensive. My wife agrees. Then she spotted the Shuffle, saying that it does not cost too much. And that's how Apple does it. It prices one product *relatively* cheaper than others, which are priced extremely high, making it look like good value. I guess that most people won't even be concerned about any differences in features etc. "I buy it because I can afford it"... value does probably not even come into the equation. Don't get me wrong, Apple built quality is great and I generally like their products. But this is a 2GB player with a design previously developed... it is not a brand new product that required extensive R&D.

Glenn Gore

September 20, 2010, 3:21 pm

Exactly how is it frustrating to use iTunes with this device? Or any iPod for that matter? I have a Shuffle that I clip to my clothing when mowing the yard. I simply plug it into a USB port and click Autofill. That's it! How difficult is that? I am tired of reading reviews that say iTunes is a terrible piece of software and saying nothing else; no evidence, no instances, no details.


September 20, 2010, 3:46 pm

I have a simple philosophy. If I think something is too expensive or has insufficient features, I don't buy it. If other people want to buy it, good for them AND, I won't even criticise them for their choice.


September 20, 2010, 3:56 pm

Long live the Sansa Clip! Never that thing will never die :)

I think the problem with the scores is that some people lend a lot more weight to "value" than a simple even share of the average. For example if you make value count twice as much as everything else, the total comes out as 6.6, which is neaerer the mark as far as I'm concerned.

So the moral is, look at the awful 5/10 for value and get a feeling for what YOUR score would be.


September 20, 2010, 3:57 pm

well it's almost 5 years ago that I bought the Q-Be mp3 player with OLED screen, 1GB and for £40 http://www.google.co.uk/ima...

now that was a fashion mp3 player, many a time did someone pull out their ipod shuffle (2nd gen) only to have me pull out the Q-Be for all heads to be turned to me, I would say I felt sorry for the poor ipod users I shamed but style and desirability takes no prisoners


September 20, 2010, 4:30 pm

@Glenn Gore: The trouble is, if you explain every element of everything you mention in a review it will make every review long, repetitive and boring. The issues with iTunes are well documented so it's something only to mention in passing here. Incidentally they are: it's slow operation running on Windows, a lack of basics like live folder updates (change something in your music folder outside of iTunes and it remains oblivious), the fact that you're tied to using it when using an iPod when you may prefer a simpler program that doesn't run other programs in the background and force you to install Quicktime as well. If you're entirely happy using it as the only way to manage your music, it's okay, but some of us don't want to - and no this isn't the realm of super geeks here, just basic stuff.

@piesforyou: I hear what you're saying and agree in principle. However I would just like to point out that 6.6 rounds to 7, which is what Hugo scored this. Whether it should in fact average even lower that 6.6 is quite another matter.

@Jay: Let's face it, though, the Q-Be is a silly device. The Shuffle may be a fashion accessory but it's also practical where it counts. You can hardly clip the Q-Be to your clothing and go for a run, can you?

Tim Sutton

September 20, 2010, 4:36 pm

@Glenn Gore

iTunes is a chore to use. It just is. Certainly compared to the drag and drop system that every other device employs. And don't get me started on the whole re-encoding infuriation. Or syncing. Augh. Anger. Anger.

The article does say that those who already have had iTunes forced upon them won't care overmuch. The point was that for people who don't have iTunes already to have to install and use it just to fill a minuscule 2GB device is frustrating in the extreme.


September 20, 2010, 6:05 pm

@Tim Sutton: iTunes is a chore to use.

Not sure what you think is so hard.

Want to add some existing music to your library, browse to a directory and select.

Want to put some music on your IPod, easiest way create a playlist and tell iTunes to sync this playlist, or if the device has limited memory you can create multiple playlists and select the ones you want depending on mood.

And apart from anything else, there are alternatives like copytrans etc.

I personally like the idea of having one Application that handles all my media needs, movie collections, Podcasts, Music Syncing, IPhone backup, IPhone Upgrading etc etc.

If you really think iTunes is a chore, then your IT skills are very lacking.


September 20, 2010, 6:18 pm

@Keith: "If you really think iTunes is a chore, then your IT skills are very lacking."

As an overarching statement, I'd say almost exactly the opposite.


September 20, 2010, 6:18 pm

The Shuffle makes the most sense for someone who is already tied into the whole iTunes system. Many people are: they've got a significant investment in music bought there. The lack of agility of iTunes is a non-issue to them, and so is managing music you got via other means. The shuffle is a relatively cheap way of getting that music on the go without spending any time thinking about it. And face it, at less than 40 quid this is well into impulse buy territory for many people, at that price level the value score loses most of its meaning.


September 20, 2010, 6:19 pm

@Glenn Gore et al:

Drag and drop may be the most lightweight method of transferring music to a device, but it doesn't offer any of the management features that iTunes offers. No playlist management, tag editor, autofill, firmware updates, device management, integrated playback or automatic syncing. In short, iTunes is the only sync method that I would teach to my parents, who constantly confuse Internet Explorer with Windows Explorer.

As for performance, I find the experience on any remotely modern PC to be fast and responsive. Admittedly, slower PCs with large libraries are more sluggish than they should be, but that's becoming less of an issue as performance improves.

That said, I find it infuriating that Apple force you to install such a bloated piece of software before you can even transfer a single track to your device. Apple should really provide drag-and-drop transfers in addition to iTunes compatibility, as both methods have their advantages.

Of course, Apple aren't about to do that as that would place the customer one step farther away from the iTunes Store and its one-click-impulse-buy integration with iTunes...


September 20, 2010, 7:24 pm


I agree with your comments on iTunes being great at what it is (i.e. a central collection for all your media) and I use it quite a lot, but it is definatly more for the non-techy as opposed to the techy person.

I think thats kind of why I like it and am also planning to use iTunes to drive almost all of my media collection/distribution by having an iPhone and an apple TV, I know that XBMC does a very good job and ive dabbled with it quite a lot but there is something quite appealing about how buying content on iTunes and/or ripping content using Handbrake is in comparison to the tweaking that I always seemed to do when using XBMC...

As to the shuffle, im a big fan of the form factor and the ease of using of this clip version (i use it for rowing training and clip it to my lycra), the thing is I strongly feel that the nano design is what the shuffle should be now, so I cant help but feel a bit disappointed in this generation of the shuffle


September 20, 2010, 7:34 pm

@Keith: I'll give you an example. I just bought a bunch of songs from mostlymusic.com. On my bog-standard ancient-but-still-going-strong iRiver, I simply plug in the player, select the songs I wanted and drag and drop them onto the player. To put them on our iPod using iTunes, however, I have to first open iTunes, then import the songs into iTunes' library, then create a playlist with the sub-set of songs I want to transfer, then select the playlist, then plug in the iPod, then sync. This *is* a chore, and it's a mighty irritating one each time I have to do it.


September 20, 2010, 7:56 pm

@ hubbabubba

I don't think Apple's MO is downselling like you describe. If anything, it's upselling. The Shuffle is so barren of features with only one capacity option, that they're trying to shift your focus to the significantly dearer iOS players. Or take the Touch - at the entry level, the price is really justifying the full iOS alone but they only include the smallest amount of storage they can possibly get away with (8GB) and if you wanted to store a reasonable amount of video (and as soon as you use Handbrake, you will) you have to move up to products priced at £249 and £329.

At this stage, I'm with everyone else who finds the Clip+ an exponentially superior low end player. As it happens, they just added two more colour options and incidentally this is a genuine example of downselling, where the four alternatives to black are only available in 4GB but not in 8 - a very irritating and unnecessary decision, in my opinion.

@ Hugo

You know, the most annoying thing about this review isn't the scores this time, but this line here : "It's unlikely that most users would be unable to find a computer and sync some new playlists across in between gym sessions."

Um, I don't know about anyone else but I'm not sure I want to be syncing multiple times in the average busy weekday. And I'm no fitness freak, but I figured that even if you do exercise multiple times in the day, most people only want to sync once at the start of the day before they go out, since you'll have many more important things to get on with to stop and reconnect your MP3 player (one of which is stopping to type lengthy reactionary comments to TR).

I don't actually think the battery life itself is that much of a problem, but it's an annoying assumption, and if you are going to make it then it then the case for the convenience of a drag and drop becomes all the more compelling.


September 20, 2010, 8:02 pm

@GoldenGuy: The thing about that is I'm surprised people sync them even once a day. I've got a Shuffle and it's had the same music on it for months (possibly a year) now - a selection of fast tracks for when working out - and I don't have any desire to change them. I'm intrigued to know how many people do differently? Then again I've not really had a home computer in that time period either.


September 20, 2010, 8:37 pm

If music you have bought is worth it's salt, then surely adding it to iTunes isn't that much of chore. Complaining about syncing music, because you have to do this & that, good grief. You then don't need yet another program to manage your playlists (M3U) files, that seems a chore to me, and easily broken when it comes to drag'n'drop. Tagging is built in, no need to go to that other program again if some Tag information is slightly wrong etc.etc.. And if you don't mid buying music from iTunes everything is even less of a chore.

And if your using a device like this with limited capacity, been able to sync playlists surely is a must. eg, you might currently be in an 80's mood this month, but next month might fancy some 90's. Or this month Rock, next month Techno etc. Now you might not be that sort of person who syncs different playlist depending what sort of mood your in, but because you have synced to iTunes that option is no more complicated that just creating another playlist.


September 20, 2010, 8:49 pm

I have a Sansa Clip + and I think it's a superb player.

It's the most feature packed player in its class.

Having said that, I do think the iPod Shuffle is a decent player.

First off, the price is ridiculous. It's too high; but then again that's how Apple does things.

I think on its own merits the Shuffle is a good player. It looks good (better than the Clip) it's wearable (like the clip), and it does what it's meant to do well. It plays music.

You put it on, turn it on and go. Nothing to fiddle with.

I can of course do the same with my Clip.

But for some, the look and the fact that it used iTunes is a deciding factor for a lot of people.

I use iTunes to purchase music, and I have to convert the music to mp3 seeing as how the Clip doesn't support AAC. It's a p.i.t.a. I hate doing it, I have to buy my tracks, then convert and then drag all the files over to my player.

There's no Amazon mp3 here (Canada), and iTunes has easily everything I want.

I'm looking at the iPod Nano actually for a replacement for my Clip. I can give my Clip to a family member.

I find a screen useful for getting to those specific tracks, but the price difference between the Nano and the Shuffle ($100) is huge.

So we'll see.

People complain about the iTunes software, I'm on Windows 7 and it is laggy and slow. But I still have to use it anyways for my Clip so I might as well get an iPod right?


September 20, 2010, 9:12 pm

Ultimately, you can argue that iTunes is good enough all you like but that doesn't change the fact that there are other programs out there that do aspects of what it does better, it's restrictive, and it's bloated. That's not opinion, that's fact.

comments powered by Disqus