One Reporter's Opinion

Proud sponsor of The Partnership for an Idiot-Free America. Andy's random observations -- a potluck of politics, a mix of music musings, and whatever else transcends the transom. (Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are copyright of this blogger. Some rights reserved, subject to the terms and conditions specified under the Creative Commons license.)

Monday, March 28, 2005

In Praise of the iPod Shuffle

This very well may be the gee-whiz device of the young year.

My wife gave me one of these for a Valentine's Day gift. I've been an iPodder for some time now, and I didn't immediately appreciate how cool this concept really was. I thought, "Yeah, well, it's an iPod that you can use to get a random bunch of songs out of iTunes. Big deal."

Well, I was wrong.

Having several thousand songs ripped from my CD library, it is often difficult to quickly pick and choose among songs. I often find that I wind up listening to the same tracks if I'm selecting manually. This little shuffle function is darned swift. I should have known, really. I use iTunes shuffle mode all the time to broadcast music out onto the back porch, as well as playing my 300-CD carousel on full random. I'm continually amazed by the variety and depth of my collection, and especially when I'm at the mercy of the shuffle algorithm. "I own that???" is a common response. The only drawback to the shuffle is that it doesn't have a display. Well and good, though. It is genuinely much slicker than I had thought, conceptually speaking.

Not to mention that this device includes a battery, up to 1GB flash memory, a battery indicator, volume, play/pause and track controls, a three position shuffle switch, a USB connector, a headphone amp, and all in less than a one-ounce package in approximately the same dimensions as a pack of Wrigley's.

Holding this little stick in my hand, I'm struck by the technological marvel that it is. This much computing power five years ago was inconceivable for $149, even using state-of-the-art ASICs. The flash memory alone would have put it out of commercial reach, even if it had been small enough to fit in the Shuffle's tiny profile.

If you're even thinking about getting one, I wouldn't hesitate. This is a killer little device.

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