A year ago when we reviewed the 1 GB iPod shuffle, we noted that it was the cheapest, lightest and smallest MP3 player from Apple. This year’s shuffle (a.k.a. third generation) is still the cheapest, lightest, and smallest. In fact, the device itself is about half the size of last year’s model. It is not just small. It is amazingly small. And new features have made it do more than just shuffle music. It actually talks to you. So we set out to find out just how this new shuffle works and how it has improved.

Apple is known for their mininalistic simplicity of design and that shows in both the packaging and the shuffle itself. The shuffle comes in a small, simple, clear plastic box, as shown in Figure 1.

Talking iPod Shuffle ReviewFigure 1: The box.

Inside the box (Figure 2) you find the shuffle itself, a three-inch USB connector, headphones with an in-line control, and a small “Start here” guide. The dock that was included with previous versions is not included and the USB cable is, as you can see in Figure 2, much shorter. The shuffle comes in two color choices: black and silver.

Talking iPod Shuffle ReviewFigure 2: What’s in the box.

As you can also see in Figure 2, the shuffle itself is very plain. The size and shape reminded us of a short stick of gum. It is made of aluminum. The front is brushed aluminum. The back, shown in Figure 3, is almost completely covered by the shiny stainless steel clip which can be used to attach the shuffle to your clothing or other possessions.  Because the shuffle is now much smaller than previous versions, the clip is also smaller and therefore not as strong. Although the clip is adequate, it is not one of the toughest on the market.

Talking iPod Shuffle ReviewFigure 3: The back of the shuffle.

When we say that the shuffle is tiny, it is no exaggeration. It measures 1.8 inches (45.2 mm) by 0.7 inch (17.5 mm). It is only 0.3 inch (7.8 mm) thick including the clip. And it weighs 0.38 ounce (10.7 grams). To give you an idea of just how small the new shuffle is, we have photographed it next to a pair of nail nippers in Figure 4. As you can see the shuffle and the nail nippers are of similar size. Figure 5 shows that the shuffle is also about the same thickness as the nail nippers.

Talking iPod Shuffle ReviewFigure 4: The shuffle compared to nail nippers.

Talking iPod Shuffle ReviewFigure 5: Side view of comparison.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.