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Release Date: September 29, 2009
Genre: Rock
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Discover New Music

  • Guero

    • 10 out of 10
    • Beck
    • Beck is the modern master of the groove, and Guero is merely the latest example of this. From the opening power chords of "E-Pro," to the Pac-Man cuteness of "Girl," to the dirge-like lullab

  • Is This It

    • 10 out of 10
    • The Strokes
    • The Strokes set the music world on fire with this 2001 album, with headlines declaring that the New York band was here to save Rock and Roll. While the band hasn't made as much of a splash since t

  • Velocifero

    • 6 out of 10
    • Ladytron
    • "Back to the future" isn't the right turn of phrase for Ladytron's newest album,

  • Kind of Blue

    • 10 out of 10
    • Miles Davis
    • The jazz album to end all jazz albums. Miles Davis and John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly and the list goes on. The who's who of who's who in jazz have assembled for this monumental record. Get this
  • 2112

    • 10 out of 10
    • Rush
    • We all know it, right? Well, ya just gotta have it. 2112 finally showed Rush out on their own, doing their own thing, and doing it well, IMHO.

Reader Specials

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In-Depth Review

iPod shuffle 3G

It’s an immutable law of nature… As time passes, iPods get bigger in capacity, smaller in physical size, better in features, and (usually) cheaper. The new 3d generation iPod shuffle (iPod shuffle 3G hereafter) is all of that and more. Or less.

For perspective, here’s some history: The first iPod shuffle (2005) was smaller and lighter than a pack of gum, and came in $99 (512MB) or $149 (1GB) models that held 120 or 240 songs respectively. It was all-white plastic and had a neck lanyard.

The second-generation (2006) iPod shuffle was half the size of the first and provided 1GB of storage for $79. It was made from silver aluminum and an integrated clip replaced the lanyard.

In 2007 the second-generation iPod shuffle became available in 5 vibrant colors, still with 1GB of storage for $79.

In 2008 the size, shape, and colors were unchanged but the price dropped from $79 to $49 for 1GB and a 2GB model was introduced for $69.

The new third generation iPod shuffle, introduced last week, is half the size of its predecessor — noticeably smaller than an AA battery. It’s made of aluminum, has a built-in clip, and is available in either black or silver. With 4GB of storage it holds up to 1,000 songs for $79.

shuffle 3G in silver and black

Do you remember back In 2005 there was a Saturday Night Live parody with a fake Steve Jobs introducing the miniscule iPod micro, which was made obsolete a few seconds later by the even smaller iPod picanyo, which, seconds later, was superceded by the iPod invisa, an iPod so small it couldn't be seen with the naked eye.

You can watch the sketch here: SNL little iPod parody 

That's what it was like when I showed the shuffle 3G to my teenage son and a couple of his friends... I held it in front of them and asked, "know what this is?" They all looked at it and shook their head. I told 'em it was the new iPod... "Nuh huh. No way." I assured them it was and showed them how it worked. One of them replied, "No way... that's sick."

I'm not sure I would call it that but it's incredibly cool.

shuffle 3G in a hand

Unlike earlier models this iPod shuffle has no buttons on it. Rather, its controls are located on the right earbud cable, which makes them easier to use without unclipping the iPod from your clothing.

shuffle 3G earbuds

But the coolest new feature is that this iPod talks to you. Just push a button and your iPod shuffle tells you the song title or artist name, or recites the names of your playlists. It even tells you when its battery is running low.

Since one distinguishing feature of the iPod shuffle since time immemorial (or at least since 2005) has been its lack of a screen, this new feature, officially known as, “VoiceOver,” is a welcome and ingenious touch.

I have but one gripe: Because the controls are integrated in the earbud cable you are stuck using Apple’s earphones, which, as you probably know, I find mediocre sounding and more than a little uncomfortable. While I really like the iPod shuffle 3G's size, durability, controls-on-the-earbud-cable, and VoiceOver feature, I really dislike being forced to wear the Apple earbuds. Within a few minutes of inserting them they either fall out, begin to hurt my ears, or both.

The good news is that third parties including Klipsch and Scosche have announced earphones with controls for this iPod shuffle and/or adapters that will allow you to use your favorite earphones. The bad news is that none are available yet and when they are, they’re going to cost extra.

The Bottom Line

Aside from the earbud thing, the new iPod shuffle is gorgeous, sounds fantastic, and its unique new VoiceOver feature makes it the best shuffle yet. If you're among the many who don't mind the Apple earbuds, or you don't mind spending a few dollars more for a third party adapter or headset when they arrive, I recommend it without hesitation.

Just The Facts

iPod shuffle from Apple, Inc.



Tiny, handsome, all solid state, durable, reasonably priced, VoiceOver.


Requires use of Apple earbuds; costs extra if you don't care for them.

4 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

Luis said:

Actually I think the name in the SNL parody is “iPod peque?o” as in Spanish for small rather than “iPod picanyo”.... Picanyo… whoever came up with that?!?!?! LOL


DoctorMac said:


Must have been some idiot who didn’t speak any Spanish, thought it was a made up word, and tried to spell it phonetically.


that idiot


vasic said:

And TMO’s comment section apparently doesn’t support UTF8, otherwise, ‘pequeno’ would show up properly with a tilde above the n, rather than a question mark.

One could always sell the original factory-sealed earbuds on eBay for about $10 or so (plus s&h), offsetting the price of some better ones.


Lee Dronick said:

I bought one last weekend. I like it a lot, I really am liking VoiceOver and the inline controls.

The only thing I don’t like is the earbuds that fall out too easily. I have been shopping for Griffin EarJams, and/or silicone covers for the earbuds, but I can’t find any in the local shops. I will could order them online, but I may just wait it out for a 3rd party to start selling them. The only thing I can find locally are foam covers, $1.25 each, talk about a mark-up.


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