One of the greatest features of iPod shuffle is that is uses a rechargeable battery. Everyone who had an MP3 player that uses AAA batteries know how fast they run out and if you used it a lot you had two options, buy rechargeable batteries or help Duracell to increase their earnings. In both cases you needed to physically replace batteries, a hassle you don’t need to go through with iPod. So connecting your iPod to the PC has two functions: transferring files and recharging its battery.
Shuffle comes with a small docking station, allowing you to connect your iPod to any empty USB port. Several MP3 players are connected directly to a USB port without a cable, but for this the player needs to have an embedded USB connector, which takes a lot of room, making the player bigger.
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Figure 8: iPod shuffle docking station.
On the back side of this docking station there is a grey rubber with Apple’s logo, which allows the docking station to stay still on top of your desk or computer case without slipping.
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Figure 9: Rubber that prevents the docking station from slipping.
After buying your iPod shuffle the first thing you need to do is to charge it. For doing this simply install your iPod on its docking station (keep the on/off switch on “off” position) and connect it to any empty USB port (the port must be USB 2.0 for a faster file transfer). If you have iTunes software already installed, it will detect your new iPod and start copying your songs from your computer to it, at the same time that your computer will be charging your iPod.
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Figure 10: iPod shuffle installed on its docking station.
The little LED present on iPod shuffle will be green if your iPod is fully charged, orange if it is charging and blinking orange if it is transferring files. Do not remove your iPod from its docking station if its LED is blinking. Wait until all files are transferred or stop the transferring process (on iTunes this is done by clicking on the eject button).
You can use your iPod with or without iTunes software (which is free and can be downloaded here). If you choose not to use it, your iPod shuffle will be recognized as a new drive on your system and all you need to do is copy your audio files to it, like you would copy files to a folder on your hard drive.
iTunes software provides several advantages, because with it you can manage all your songs from a central location. With so many press releases about iTunes success many people think that iTunes is used only for buying digital music online, which isn’t the case: shopping is just one of the options provided by this program. This program also allows you converting your CD collection into compressed audio files for playing on your iPod – what you will probably be doing a lot, especially if you don’t have MP3 files in your hard drive yet – and also works as a regular MP3 player.
After you install iTunes, however, your iPod won’t be listed as a removable drive in My Computer or Computer anymore. To make it to be showed again there you will need to change a configuration on iTunes, selecting your iPod on the left hand side pane, clicking on the Settings tab, scrolling down, checking the option “Enable disk use” and then clicking on “Apply.” Notice that after doing this you will need to use the “Safely Remove Hardware” wizard that appears next to Windows’ clock before removing your iPod from its docking station (an easier way to accomplish this is to right click your iPod on My Computer and select Eject), otherwise you may end up with corrupted files in your iPod.