iPod shuffle 2012 - Accessories, Sound Quality and Verdict

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iPod shuffle Accessories

Apple recently unveiled its new EarPod headphones, which sell for the same price as the previous earbuds, £25. However, Apple’s dinkiest media player sticks with the old style earphones. These produce significantly poorer sound than the new EarPods, and should ideally be replaced as soon as possible. They also leak sound terribly, and offer virtually no isolation.

The iPod shuffle also misses out on the new Lightning port, which has replaced the traditional proprietary 30-pin adapter. Like the 2010 iPod shuffle, the player is still charged using the headphone jack.

A special 3-band 3.5mm cable is used to plug into a computer for charging and sync. It’s only around 10cm long including plugs, as the shuffle is light enough to leave dangling from a USB port without causing damage.

The iPod shuffle battery lasts for up to 15 hours, which is roughly on-par with most rivals at the price, including the SanDisk Sansa Clip and Sony NWZ-B173. With no screen or additional connectivity to drain the battery further, the battery life quoted is pretty accurate.

iPod shuffle Sound Quality

As an extremely simple music player with a basic set of features on-board, that the iPod shuffle doesn’t offer any control over sound quality should come as no surprise. Beyond volume, there’s nothing. You can apply equalisation manually to your tracks before they’re transferred to the shuffle, but it’s hardly an elegant solution.

Base sound quality of the iPod shuffle is comparable to Apple’s other mobile devices. It’s clean and it goes plenty loud for just about any portable pair of earphones/headphones. Apple is regularly criticised for the supposed poor sound quality of its players, but any sound roadblock here is much more likely to be down to the quality of your headphones than the player itself.

And if you have £200 headphones, we think it’s unlikely you’d use an iPod shuffle as your main music player.

iPod shuffle Value

For a player that has been around in the same form for several years, the iPod shuffle has aged extremely well. It’s a device that has aimed itself at a particular casual or sporty usage, and as such has protected itself from the aging influences of the tech innovations of the last few years.

The iPod shuffle is not a player we’d recommend serious fans use as a main music player, and most casual listeners would be better off with something like the SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip if it’s to take on daily duties. The lack of a screen is a huge drawback in this sort of situation. However, as an MP3 player for runners or gym fans, there are few better choices, at any price.

iPod shuffle Verdict

Apple did not make any grand functional changes to the iPod shuffle in 2012. But in keeping things simple, Apple has ensured the continued longevity of this postage stamp-sized player. If you want a day-to-day workhorse music pal, this is absolutely not what we’d recommend. But if you want something that will provide tunes while you’re out exercising, it’s one of the very best options around.

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Score in detail

  • Design 9
  • Sound Quality 7
  • Features 5
  • Value 7
  • Usability 8