Podcast by Anon on Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Now that the iPod is officially available in my city (albeit at a price that is more than twice that in the US), let me, as an experienced user (all of more than a month now) give an adequate review of what the hype is all about.

Basically, the gadget is too good to get even a critic like me to have an iota of doubt regarding my decision to buy it. (It is *that* good!). At this stage, some doubting Thomases would say that it lacks a display. I agree that one can get curious at times to know what song is playing (especially when one has more than 200 songs, and is not quite aware of one’s music collection), but there can be times when this curiosity *has to* be overridden by this limitation simply becoz one positively genuinely must not be distracted. Driving on the expressway @160 while listening to it, for e.g., otherwise one will end up as the proverbial cat that got too curious! (Btw, does anyone actually know that story? I keep hearing the phrase all the time, but am really ...now should I use the word here as well....curious to know what it is! Please enlighten me.)
The iPod comes with a lanyard (in form of an extra USB cap that has the cord permanently attached) that you can use to tether it to yourself, but I haven’t got around to using it yet. The USB caps have a nice [twin] ball-and-socket joint inside so I am pretty much sure it won’t become loose with frequent usage. 

The entire thing is very light, and that is a boon. Particularly when you are not wearing the lanyard and carrying it in your hand, it can sustain the weight if it slips accidentally. Yep, it has happened many times (I thought I was carrying it in the shirt pocket, and it dangled like a pendulum when I arose.) Point is, it doesn’t crash to ground. The plugs stay in your ears, and you can lift it by pulling the cord without making it come in harms way.
I have taken it jogging and exercising (yeah... woke up at 5:30 in the morning a couple of times!) and there were no issues like it slipping off the ears while doing pull ups etc. This is where it would make sense to use (all right, ‘buy’) Shuffle instead of full fledged hard disk based (and bulky!) iPods. [Even got a couple of curious stares from a few fellow joggers who seemed to be tracing the wires into my pockets searching for the instrument ...did they know?] Saw someone jogging with a personal stereo (‘walkman’ for the uninitiated) in her hands, and felt that she could do with an upgrade :)  

[We now return to the iPod Shuffle review]
Apple designers have built in interactivity without a display by way of innocuous LEDs behind the white façade...two on the front, and one in the back...which provide all the feedback that is required, and more. For instance, when connected to the comp, the front ‘status’ light will blink amber if transferring data, amber (static) when charging and green if it’s fully charged. Simultaneously, the tiny light at the back (basically for charge indication: green is good charge, amber is so-so and red is ‘will go out any moment’) will also blink to notify operation in case its front happens to be facing the other way so you don’t accidentally remove it while it is being updated.

A very thoughtful feature is book marking: it will start from the same position where you had stopped it even after switching it off (and turning back on, natch!). This is especially for those listening to audio books. For that matter, it even pauses when you remove the headphone jack...nicely indicated by blinking the green LED on the front.
I’ve read that even the Shuffle needs resetting sometimes. This is simple, and it can be done even if you want to listen to your play list from the beginning [but there’s a better way ;)]. Just switching it on 5 seconds after switching it off would do it. There’s even a ‘keypad lock’ feature. You hold down the play/pause button for 3 seconds (the green LED flashes a couple of times, before the amber one glows) and any button pressed will not do anything other than making the amber LED glow. Vice versa for removing it, (except of course, the buttons would work)

But I have saved the best for the last!

How could a gadget be cool, if it were not for easter eggs? The Shuffle has some too...and very nifty ones those.

Say, you want to play the last song in the list. And you are one of those really particular (read: finicky) people, and you won’t stop at just the last song...you want the last song on the shuffled play list! Ah...pedantic, aren’t we? Never mind, just press the play button thrice in succession (which will take you to the beginning of the list... shuffled list, if it is in shuffle mode) then press the ‘previous’ button, and there you are! Last song on your (shuffled) play list! Neat, ain’t it?
Another one is about the number of pins in the USB (9 instead of usual 4), but their utility is yet to be discovered.

Downside? Well, if you are going to travel more than a day to a place where there’s not even a remote chance of having a PC with a USB, better not take it along. This thing only charges through USB!

For me, I am charging it about once a week (draining it completely before charging it fully...increases the battery life, I’m told) and changing the songs at the same time. I listen to music every waking hour, save when I’m at my work desk, [in which case, I’m charging it ;)].

All in all, an excellent option to the pathos we call radio channels in this part of the country!

Oh, and looks like I forgot to mention that we can transfer data around (okay, steal, plagiarise...whatever). 1 GB ought to be more than enough for anybody (famous last words, I know).
Goodbye floppy disks and CRC errors, it was nice while it lasted! [I grew up booting 286s with 5 1/4th ‘bootable’ floppy disks, you know! Those were the days...*sigh*]



brijwhiz
May 20, 2005   04:30 PM PDT
 
Like the new look of the page. Also like your shuffle but still feel that it is overpriced and sorely needs a LCD screen. Well what can I say - to each his own;) Wish they come out with a Vader shuffle - all Black:D
Anon
May 20, 2005   06:17 PM PDT
 
Thanks, brij!
The Sony ones are even more overpriced.
[I distinctly remember seeing photos of black, pink (*yuck*) and some other colours for the Shuffle on engadget/gizmodo, tho they might have been 'photoshopped']

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