Apple iPod shuffle (4th generation)

9.0
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Reviewed by ThaddW (Currently owns)

The iPod Shuffle (4th Generation), is one item that I could not easily go a day without. I load it up with podcasts in the morning, take it to the gym. Afterwards, it’s clipped it to my belt loop; where it serves as my audio buffer to the world (throughout the day).

For a use case like mine, the 4th Generation Shuffle, is very nearly a perfect product. It’s weight and dimensions are ideal. It’s build quality, is largely beyond reproach. The hesitation I have in that regard, is the same I'd apply to all iPod products; none of them are designed with moisture protection in mind.

To be fair, the 4th Gen Shuffle, is – perhaps – as close to water-resistant as any Apple product has ever been. There are only two potential vectors of entry, after all: the headphone port, and the ‘off, play, shuffle’ switch. In over a year of workouts, and a lot of perspiration, my Shuffle has yet to falter. That said, would I take it outdoors for a run on a rainy day? I would not. Although, my reservation comes from having inadvertently killed a 2nd Gen Shuffle that way; not from applied practice.

I've often heard/read people complaining about it's lack of screen. That has never once been an issue for me. When working out, or on a run, having to stop to futz around with a GUI is less than optimal. The brail of tactile controls are – in so many ways – the best interface for active use. Plus, the 3rd and 4th generation Shuffles have VoiceOver; which, not only provides effective audio descriptions, but deepens the overall functionality by enabling multiple playlists.

As far as the Shuffle's operational software is concerned, it does its job well enough. There is one ‘feature’ though, that existed on the 1st and 2nd gen Shuffles, that is no longer present.

The Shuffle, used to have a five second ‘safety buffer’ that it now sadly lacks. It made it so you could get back to the place you were (in a podcast, or audio book), if you accidentally toggled the back button. Providing you were quick enough, the Shuffle would take you back to where you were in a track.

Now that feature is gone. So, if you mistakenly press the wrong thing, you’re either resigned to starting from zero, or to holding down the forward button to scan to your last position. (This sort of issue is always a case of user error, but it was still nice to be able to rectify the matter without so much fuss.)

It seems unlikely that future iPod Shuffle’s will address these two niggling complaints (If Apple continues the line into the future). Still, I would be hard pressed to find a better audio product. I love the Shuffle.

The Breakdown

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  • Design 9
  • Software 8
  • Performance 9
  • Battery life 10
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