Small Talk is Cheap

3350076131_44a96ba0bc_oNever have I been so disappointed in an Apple product and I haven’t even had the chance to see it in person. For close to a decade, I have been using Macs and related products, and I’ve been very enthusiastic about them. I have owned a G4 tower and Blueberry monitor (beautiful display, but too heavy), an iBook, a MacBook, two iPods, a first generation Shuffle, a second generation Nano, and an iPhone. This latest version of the Shuffle, however, fails to impress me.

The Shuffle and overall surprise of (the lack of) features was a hot topic of discussion on Twitter, which led to some very funny jokes. My blog friend ThePete ripped the latest incarnation of the Shuffle apart in a post, and he’s also self-styled “Mac Head.” Then MacWorld delivered blow with their review, where they comment on the Apple’s war on buttons. It doesn’t bode well for Apple when a product isn’t well received by their core market. If we’re not into it, then how else can they expect the rest of the buying product to be on board?

Here is what’s wrong with the new Shuffle:

  • No buttons or controls (beyond the on/shuffle switch) .
  • It gets better. The controls are on one of the headset cords. This makes the user completely dependent on Apple for their headphones, and we all know how good they are. This leaves out the option of having a better listening experience with Bose or any other headset that costs more than the Shuffle.
  • The little control cylinder on the headset cord isn’t visually friendly. At least the previous Shuffle’s controls used universal symbols for “Play,” “Back,” and “Forward.” Double click to go forwards and triple click to go backwards. Quelle est le fuck?
  • Appearance-wise, the Shuffle is boring. It’s a tiny little slab of metal and that’s it. If that isn’t bad enough, the only two colors are grey and gun metal/black. The controls in the previous model added to some visual interest and helped define it. The new shuffle looks like a piece of pewter chewing gum, which doesn’t seem that appetizing.

If you thought I was exaggerating about the headset, here are the instructions visually laid out. Easy to follow, but not very practical.

3350132883_a56126ca6e_oOne new feature that would have been useful on previous Shuffle  models is the “VoiceOver,” which gives an audio ID of the song. That way, you know the artist, song name, album, etc. The only catch is that cylinder on the headset cord must be pressed in order to activate it.

Like its immediate predecssor, the Shuffle has a clip so that it can be worn on any garment. The previous model had several fashionable colors, making it the ultimate clip-on accessory. Gray and gun metal/black? Not the most exciting colors to accent any garment.

This incarnation of the Shuffle – not sexy at all. I’m not in a hurry to buy this one.

In all fairness:

Today, I went to the Apple Store in Fashion Valley to see if they had any new Shuffles on display. I wanted to do a little empirical research to see what they were like. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to check them out and all I had was all the promotional information on Apple’s website. The store, however, did have last year’s model available:

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5 thoughts on “Small Talk is Cheap

  1. I’m not surprised they weren’t in the store you visited. As a former Apple retail employee, I can tell you this is par for the course. A new (or updated) product is announced and they don’t show up in the stores for a few days. The online store itself said they ship in 3-5 days when I checked it on Tuesday.

    The previous 1GB models look like they’re still in stores for a while at least. I imagine the 2GB shuffle will surface in the online store’s clearance rack.

    Fredo’s last blog post..Myths of Credit

  2. One thing I was thinking about last night was that it might be a way to make the Nanos look more attractive to people. I mean, you spend a little more and you get a display and video and twice the storage. And with the Nano you have, you know, *buttons* and you can use your own headphones.

    Though, personally, I’d just stick with the 2nd gen Shuffle. I have a 1GB red one and it’s adorable. I think I paid $50 and don’t think I’ve ever needed to stick more than a gig on it.

    What’s even funnier is that I preferred the original Shuffle design most. It’s simple, easy to use and didn’t need any special docks or adapters like later Shuffles do. (Plus it was easy to hack so you didn’t have to use iTunes.)

    ThePete’s last blog post..My Own Battlestar Galactica Series Finale Script (New Act 1)

  3. @richandcreamy: Teens like the iPod headphones? What’s wrong with them? 😉

    @fredo: I remember that being the case with the MacBook Air. I kept visiting the Fashion Valley store for a week or so before they had them on display. I need to keep that in mind for all fairness.

    @chris: Everyone’s been comparing the new Shuffle to something edible, but you’re right. It does look like a small Zippo. Even a place to fill up the butane.

    @thepete: I still have my 1st generation Shuffle and it still works, although a second gen one would be nice. Maybe when they work out some of the kinks in this latest model will I consider.

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