It's small. So small that even when we got it out the box knowing that it was going to be small we were still surprised how small it actually is. Hopefully even by now you get the idea that the new look iPod shuffle is small.
Cased in the same tough aluminium casing that Apple uses for its MacBook Pro range the small (there's that word again) MP3 player is a tough little cookie. And you won't have to worry about scratching the screen as there isn't one.
Instead the front features the players controls (identical to the first iPod shuffle) and other buttons including a shuffle/not shuffle button and the on switch. Annoyingly the new look Shuffle does lose its battery meter and the hold button that it used to have on the original version.
New and useful however is the addition of a clip on the back of the player. It's a simple addition but one that makes so much sense we are surprised no one has thought of it before, especially for the running crowd. In our tests the clip was strong enough (it's made out of the same aluminium as the case) to withstand being clipped on to your shirt sleeve on a run without falling off, and because it is so light weight it's as if it wasn't there.
Different to the original shuffle is the way the new player connects to a PC or a Mac. Because of the change of shape and size over the original USB stick styling, the unit now comes with a simple docking station. The cable is of a good length, however it would have been nice to have a little more weight in the base so it doesn't fall over or flap around your desk.
Transferring songs via iTunes is very easy with Apple optioning to keep the autofill feature. With iTunes 7 you can now also choose to have the shuffle autofilled from certain areas such as your main library or just songs you've purchased.
This small player is certainly a wonder to behold from a design perspective. Everyone we've shown it to as loved the look and feel of it. Apple know how to do design.
But, and here is the but, there are drawbacks, mainly that lack of screen and hold button, and the fact that with most mobile phones capable of MP3 playback if you plan to use the shuffle in any situation where you are likely to have your phone then we would suggest using your phone. This is likely to be even more the case if, as rumoured, Apple eventually launch its own iPhone with iTunes compatibility.
If you are looking for a miniature MP3 player this is lovely, but chances are you've already got its music capabilities already in your pocket.