Editor's note: The following review was originally written for the second-generation Apple iPod Shuffle. The latest series of the shuffle is functionally identical to the second-generation series, although the colour options have changed -- and the shuffle now has the same lower-case name as its iPod kin.
It's true -- the third-generation iPod shuffle (1GB) is the lowest-profile MP3 player we've laid eyes on. Apple may have been slow out of the gate, but the company has succeeded in launching perhaps the tiniest and simplest player on the market -- and it sports a price tag to match: £49, down from £55 for the second gen.
The new shuffle is appealing in its elementariness, too, but the ickle device is far from perfect. Its screenless design means you get few navigational options and no extra features. And how small is too small?
At 41 by 28 by 10mm and weighing just 17g, the iPod shuffle is one minuscule music player. In fact, it's so inconspicuous that we have trouble keeping track of it -- if you're constantly misplacing your keys, this player probably isn't your best option. If you just can't help yourself, go for one of the brighter colour options. The pink, orange, green and blue models will probably be easier to spot on a cluttered desk than the muted silver one is. That said, the integrated belt clip on the back of the shuffle helps keep the player within easy reaching distance. Some users have complained that the clip isn't very durable, but it seemed sturdy during our testing.
Like its ancestor, the third-generation iPod shuffle has no screen for navigating through music or other options (of which there are none). Instead, you get a simple and ample-sized five-way control pad on the face of the player: play/pause in the centre, surrounded by volume up/down buttons and track shuttle keys. There's no way to navigate among specific albums or artists, but you can click play/pause three times fast to skip through playlists.