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iPod Shuffle: first impressions

Barb Dybwad
iPod Shuffle

Christopher Breen over at has gotten his hands on the new iPod Shuffle (the lucky bastard!). He can’t quite share the Shuffle with us but he does the next best thing, and shares his first impressions, which I will paraphrase here for your voyeuristic gadgety pleasure.

The Shuffle’s navigation wheel is divided into quadrants, with a Play/Pause button in the center. Depress the button for 3 seconds to switch into Hold mode. The east and west quadrants of the nav wheel are the Previous/Next functions, while north/south is volume up/down. Press and hold a Previous or Next button to rewind or fast-forward, respectively. The Shuffle also includes an LED indicator that flashes green for ‘good’ and orange for ‘Do Not Disconnect’ or ‘Error.’ Change the iPod from Shuffle to sequential playlist button via a slider on the back of the unit. This slider also functions as power on/off; slide the switch all the way up to turn off the device. So cool.

Where it starts to get really interesting is in the integration with iTunes. Plugging in the iPod Shuffle and selecting it will give you a new pane: the Autofill pane. You choose the source of your music (album, artist, playlist, etc.), and let the iPod do the rest of the work. You can have it select songs randomly, replace all songs, and choose higher-rated songs more often. Yet another ingenious way to remix your own music collection, courtesy of Apple.

Another way cool function is the ability to set the Shuffle’s preferences to ‘Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128 kbps AAC For This iPod.’ What this does is prevent the Shuffle from getting filled up with tracks ripped at higher bit rates or as uncompressed or lossless audio. iTunes will simply perform the conversion as it updates the Shuffle. It adds a bit of time to the sync, but well worth it for maximizing the available tunage on your new iPod.

Breen takes the time to make one more point: the iPod Shuffle is formatted as an MS-DOS volume, which means you’ll be able to let this fresh new device be a swinger in the cross-platform set: no need to reformat to move it between operating systems.

Thanks for the skinny, Christopher! Anyone else get their mitts on one of these babies yet? Mine will be here in 5-7 business days. ;)

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