Sure, the talking-menu feature of the new iPod Shuffle is kind of cool, but if you don’t want to use the earbuds that come bundled with it, you’re going to have to buy an adapter, and “assuming the adapter will cost between $20 and $30 like most other Apple accessories, you’re looking at minimum $100 outlay for the new shuffle.” [Engadget]

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  1. VidaBlueBalls says:

    So $100 for a music player that holds 1,000 songs and is the size of a house key? Um, sold.

    • noone1569 says:

      @VidaBlueBalls: uh, you can do much better than that for 100$ unless you are a fanboy . . .

    • MikeGrenade says:

      @VidaBlueBalls: For $100 you can do a hell of a lot better. Shuffles are a bad joke that keep getting worse. If it had, say, Creative or SanDisk’s name on it, it would be dismissed on its face as garbage. Only Apple can manage to out-do an Onion parody of themselves and not get laughed out of the room.

  2. ShachiAssaracus says:

    Oh noes! Maybe I should buy the 2nd gen shuffle which Apple is still currently offering. Or maybe I should just buy a completely different digital music player. I dunno, Davey–it’s just too difficult a choice to make!

    • TVarmy says:

      @ShachiAssaracus: Yeah, Apple’s losing their lock on the iTunes/iPod ecosystem now that they dropped the DRM. AAC’s a common format, so now iTunes songs are portable on other players. Apple is now competing on merit, rather than keeping people from playing their music on third party devices.

      I still think Apple will lead, though, as their iPods are probably the best players on the market in terms of ergonomics, interface, and aesthetics. There are better players in terms of features/capacity/sound quality, but Apple has the brand and the quality to lead the pack.

  3. Vanilla5 says:

    Y’know – I’m an Apple fangirl to the core and gadget junkie to boot, but I really find this new Shuffle to have some completely unnecessary features:

    1) The voice feature: That voice is the same one on the Mac computers and I still find it slightly creepy. The purpose is to strip it down to not have all the bells and whistles (no screen, apps, etc.) to make it more affordable and just super easy to use. I really think this is excessive and a “just because we can” addition on their part.

    2) The headphones have the buttons: No. No. No. Not everybody can WEAR Apple’s headphones – like me and plenty of other people I know. What happens if you get a short or it somehow comes apart (like the sync cable for the iPhone does)? Sure, everybody should properly wrap their headphones and other gadgets but they don’t and shorts happen. They should’ve left the controls ON the device.

    I do like the ability to have multiple playlists. That’s very nice of them. They could’ve just added a tiny button that lets you shuffle between playlists or add that function to another existing button.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Vanilla5: Well, they do have the in-ear headphones that use the same switch on the cord.
      I think they struggled mightily with a form factor that’s smaller than a key that still has 4GB for $70 and realized, “Uhh oh, not enough space”.
      I have one of the in-ear types, though. They’re pretty snazzy. It’s super light, and the switch works well (pause/play, fwd, review) and the volume switches are at a different, more intuitive location so that there’s a minimum of finger-fumbling.

      It’s for the Nano, but I find myself using the cord switch a lot, and the wheel less.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Vanilla5: Oh, one really snazzy touch. If you use the voice feature, and it is for an Edith Piaf song, it will speak in French. Or Mandarian, Spanish, Greek… as appropriate. It’s the little, unexpected, delightful touches that warm my heart. :)

    • TVarmy says:

      @Vanilla5: Personally, I think there’s probably much better interfaces available. I think they’re doing the best with the space that they can at this price, but they could offer touch contact controls on the face of the key-sized player, which is thinner than a button (like what’s on a microwave), and add a small speaker or vibration motor to provide tactile feedback.

      Or they could have just had it use bluetooth out of the box and bundle in bluetooth headphones with the larger capacity versions. In that case, it’s more convenient, as the headphones now get rid of a cord and the user doesn’t need to find the player to change the track, great for running. I bet there will be a bluetooth adapter dongle for these within six weeks, which plugs in to the headphone jack and copies the remote commands from a stereo headset to the jack, and uses the USB 5v rail shoehorned in that jack to power the adapter.

      Or, I’d like to see them add voice control. The processing might not be there yet, but it’d make the player much more useful when you want a specific song/artist/playlist. They could support the iPhone headphones and offer a new version of them that include the buttons of this player. That way, you can do simple commands by touch for when speaking is weird or inappropriate (the bus), and use voice when you want the song faster, which would be really great while driving. They could probably at least program this for the iPhone/iPod touch. I’d like to see a third party app do this, actually.

      Apple’s done speech recognition research in the past, so I could see this working out. With the iPhone, they could offload the recognition to a server.

  4. HogwartsAlum says:

    I saw this online last night…it’s ridiculous. Some other commenters on the article I read said something about their kids always losing headphones, also not being able to control it in your car unless you pony up for a bunch of accessories, etc.

    • esd2020 says:

      @HogwartsAlum: I don’t get all the criticism. If you want replaceable headphones or easy car controls, then buy one of the other models.

      I’d bet that, historically, the vast majority of people who bought a Shuffle only used it with Apple’s headphone and never hooked it up to their car. This is what Apple does well; simple products that make most people happy.

      If you want lots of whiz bang features, check out one of the Korean import MP3 players. They do all kinds of crazy stuff these days. But you better read the manual, because they ain’t easy to use.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        @esd2020: Some have trouble understanding that different people have different cost functions. We could apply Jobs’ comments on the MacBook Air here:

        Responding to a question about [how the Air’s small hard drive could handle] the growing array of media, including digital photographs, movies and music, that now swell most users’ hard drives, Mr. Jobs said, “Maybe this isn’t the computer for you.” [www.nytimes.com]

        The shuffle costs $50 less than the nano even after including the third-party headphone tax. If size is important to me and a screen is not, why pay extra for something I don’t want?

  5. edwardso says:

    I had a “wearable” mp3 player years ago. The controls were in the lanyard that you wore around your neck which was also the headphones. I didn’t like that you couldn’t change the headphones, or even put it in your pocket and listen comfortably. I still use it as my flash drive but I lost the lanyard a few years back.

  6. Outrun1986 says:

    I put hot glue (from a glue gun) on my headphones to keep them from shorting out. It holds the connections together when they can easily be ripped out from a single tug. So far its been working great for me but it does look ugly. I got the idea when I opened up a pair of busted MP3 player speakers and saw that the cord was just held in by a drop of hot glue. I also put some hot glue on the outside my new speaker dock so I don’t pull out the wire. I have already pulled the glue off twice and had to re-glue it so I expect this thing would have broken quickly had I not done this. This won’t compensate for lost headphones though.

    The last thing I want is to be seen in public talking to my MP3 player, that could be quite embarrassing and I don’t think it would be able to pick up the names of the type of music I listen to either.

  7. Michael Belisle says:

    Sometimes Apple makes me wonder if they pick up on the sarcasm in The Onion’s MacBook wheel:

  8. TouchMyMonkey says:

    So if you were to re-integrate the controls onto the device, you’d have a gadget about the size of, uh, the previous generation Shuffle? Where’s the whiz-bang progress here? I think Apple has reached a plateau here.

  9. uncle moe says:

    and from what i understand, you’ll need to learn morse-code to understand how to use the thing too?

  10. Mario Romero says:

    Hay, look at this:
    [www.amazon.com]

    It’s tiny, has 4GB internal storage, and it’s exceedingly more functional than the new iPod Shuffle.

  11. Mario Romero says:

    Also, half the price and you can use any headphone you want without having to buy an adapter.

  12. esd2020 says:

    Um, no, $100 is not the “minimum outlay.”

    The minimum outlay would be to use the headphones it comes with and not buy an additional pair or an extra adapter. Duh.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @esd2020: Don’t be confused by Chris’s epic run-on sentence. “If” still qualifies “minimum outlay”, even though it’s 37 words away.

  13. Vanilla5 says:

    @ Trai-Dep (because replies are still broken) – I hear you but those in-ear ones are exactly the problem for people like me. They just don’t fit and I practically have to jam them in to get them to say. I wish they’d make some over-the-ear ones and I’d be happy.

  14. nakedscience says:

    Bug But, Mario Romero! That’s totally a cheap imitation knock-off!!O*!&$!!!!

    I kid, I kid! I love Sansa <3.

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    Chris, coincidentally, if you don’t like the ear buds w/ remote, there’s another option that doesn’t involve fugly adaptors/splicing/DIY “Look, ma, I made it myself!” maneuvers.

  16. IT-Chick says:

    Never owned an iPod, so I don’t understand the greatness. I just picked up a 16GB Zen for $115. Seems like money better spent to me.

  17. icruise says:

    I personally hope they start using these headphones with all iPhones and iPods, so you can finally control the volume without touching the actual device again. The original remotes had this, and it was a step backward to get rid of it.

    As for all this handwringing about being forced to spend money on an adapter — you’re not forced to do anything. The headphones are part of the overall package, and for most people they’ll be just fine. If that doesn’t work for you and you don’t want to get an adapter (assuming there will be one), then get one of the dozens of other iPod models.

  18. shepd says:

    I don’t get it. For the crowd that wants more simplicity, you can get by without the stupid dongle “that’s only the size of a key” and pay only $20 with the special headphones included. How about “the dongle just doesn’t exist”?

    For the crowd that just wants the small size, I don’t even need to bother posting any links. There’s been MP3 players way smaller than this thing without the dongle forever.

    So, please, explain it to me? :) I really don’t get it. Then again, I don’t get most of the Apple hype.

  19. TVarmy says:

    Here’s the thing: It’s an iPod. Every counterfitter and generic electronics factory is going to be making their own sub-$5 adapter for it. Just try looking for iPod accessories/car chargers on eBay. You’ll find hundreds of sub-$.99 with sub $5 shipping on the kinds of accessories that would be $20-60 at a big box store.

  20. Chris Walters says:

    @ Michael Belisle: I do enjoy the long sentences.

  21. Chris Walters says:

    @ Trai_Dep: I have a Shuffle I stopped using a year ago. Now I convert all my songs to aac+ using WinAmp on XP (can’t find a way to do it neatly on OS X), which cuts them down to approximately 25-30% of their original file size, then load them up on my phone. I realized one day that I always have my phone with me, and it’s like a “free” mp3 player.

    Shuffles or other single-purpose music players don’t make financial sense to me anymore, except maybe at the gym. But even then Bluetooth might solve that problem.

    I think Apple has an internal mandate to refresh their iPod product line regularly to drive sales, and that’s as much a reason for this latest “innovation” as anything. Plus I really do think that the adapter issue gives them a way to sneak a bit more profit into the Shuffle lineup for customers who are determined to customize.

  22. TWinter says:

    @Mario Romero (threaded reply doesn’t seem to be working) I saw those Sansa clips at Best Buy recently – very slick, it actually looked better than any of iPod products they on display.

    I’d love to get one, but I can’t really justify it since my old Sansa is still going strong after three years. It’s too bad I didn’t buy an iPod, I’m sure it would have given up the ghost long ago.

  23. spittingangels says:

    This is the lowest tier of iPods.

    For majority of people that get this, their reason will be because they don’t have a lot of money but want an iPod. Those are also the sort of people that frequent Wal-Mart, aren’t that internet savvy, barely managing iTunes, Youtube and MySpace and maybe even take out a payday loan once in a while and are still getting plenty of use out of their PS2 or original XBOX systems. They will not even think about the possibility of using a different set of headphones other than what came with the device.

    For the rest of you, there will be a $20-30 dollar adapter that will let you use your $150-200 headphones.

    I do agree, however, that the more recent Apple earbuds are pretty uncomfortable, particularly the ones that came with the iPhone3G. I started with the original shuffle and have also had a nano, an iPod 5G and a second gen shuffle. I could tolerate the earlier earbuds but my latest ones hurt my ears after a few minutes.

  24. HogwartsAlum says:

    esd2020
    4:12 PM said:

    @HogwartsAlum: I don’t get all the criticism. If you want replaceable headphones or easy car controls, then buy one of the other models.

    I’d bet that, historically, the vast majority of people who bought a Shuffle only used it with Apple’s headphone and never hooked it up to their car. This is what Apple does well; simple products that make most people happy…

    Oh, I like iPods just fine; but their headphones don’t work for me. Also, the other poster I mentioned had a point about their kids losing headphones and not wanting to have to pay $30 to get new ones so they could work the player. I took that as their rationale why they would say “No” when their kids begged for it.

  25. SlappyFrog says:

    Do. Not. Buy. It. If. The. Earbuds. Matter.

    This is not rocket science, my goodness!

  26. nocturnal99 says:

    Phones are the new Shuffle; why concern yourself with Apple making their shuffles smaller when you can just keep carrying your phone with you?

    Buy a 4GB microSD for $10. If you’re afraid of running low on battery, buy a backup battery for $10 on eBay (and maybe a battery-only charger for another $10) and carry the second battery around with you. Still smaller than the new shuffle, and you’ve only spent $20-30…

  27. kityglitr says:

    For everyone complaining about this gadget, simmer down now. It’s for the visually impaired, people. Now the blind can also have an ipod. Chill, already.

  28. P_Smith says:

    One can buy an iPud for hundreds of dollars and pay another 10% for an adapter, or buy an MP3 player – even a generic one – for about $50 and not need an adapter.

    I don’t care what the hype is, the iPud just isn’t worth it as far as I’m concerned.

  29. the lesser of two weevils says:

    It’s way too small, as if it wasnt small enough already. It’s like Apple intentionally wants it to get left in someone’s pocket and go through the wash.

  30. Sean Gamble says:

    Why doesnt it surprise me that apple would come up with another way to make more money off of an item that shouldnt even exist in the first place ! epecially when, like my fellow commentors already pointed out, there are a million better and less expensive alternatives