The iPod shuffle is the best gadget I have ever owned
The 2GB Apple iPod shuffle is the greatest gadget I own, and its discontinuation marks the decline of simple, elegant, single-use pieces of personal tech. I bought my iPod shuffle over four years ago, and, as far as I can recall, I paid R500 for it. My “Space Grey” 2GB unit has outlasted so many things in my life – multiple failed relationships, several small flats I rented in Johannesburg, and at least four pairs of earphones which were used in conjunction with it.
I treat it well enough that it has stayed with me all this time, but it has taken its fair share of knocks, drops, exposure to sweat and water, and being left in the washing basket – only to be saved at the last minute. Despite the trauma inflicted upon it, it only has a few small scratches along its edges. It is one tough piece of metal.
Every day we’re shuffling
My shuffle is my gym buddy and flight companion.
For gym, its small, lightweight design means the only way you know it is on your body is because there is music playing through your earphones. It built-in clip and simple hardware buttons allow it to sit on a waistline, pocket, or sleeve with ease – letting you operate it without looking. And if you roll or fall with it on, the worst case scenario is that your song might change.
On a plane, it is equally effective. Nothing removes the sound of crying children or the so-in-love honeymoon couple better than a Tiesto mix and in-ear buds. It’s not only the body of the device which has aged well – the battery on my shuffle has not faded with use, and I still get many hours of music from a single charge.
One of the things which makes the shuffle great is its simple and robust design. You have a low-profile switch at the top which lets you turn it on, play songs in order, or shuffle songs. There is also a voiceover button, which tells you how much battery life your player has left.
On the front you have volume up and down, and go back/skip buttons. Holding these buttons in lets you rewind or fast forward a song. Throw in the headphone jack, and the clip on the back, and that’s it – brilliance in simplicity.
For those of you who are wondering how you load music onto the device: the headphone jack is the only port. It acts as an output, letting you listen to music, and doubles as the charging and data-transfer port. Adding songs and charging is done via a USB-to-headphone-jack cable – arguably the coolest connection you will ever see.
Buying an extra one
With Apple deciding to discontinue the iPod shuffle and nano – leaving only the iPod touch available – the tiny music powerhouse will eventually disappear from retailers’ shelves. Sure, the iPod touch keeps the iPod flag flying, but the shuffle was the brand’s footsoldier, fighting a war against multi-function devices which consider the ability to play music a pathetic footnote. My advice: treat your existing shuffle well and buy a new one today as a backup should the tech gods decide your device must go to circuit board heaven.
I ordered a new shuffle last night – I can’t see myself ever going to gym without it. I don’t want to wear those lame armbands which hold your 5.5-inch smartphone, and I am definitely not wearing those Bluetooth earphones with that weird band which goes around the back of your neck. It’s a shuffle or nothing.
This is an opinion piece.