$99 iPod shuffle fits college budget

Meranda Watling

Credit: Andrew popik

It’s not a pack of gum. But it’s about the size of one. And compared to its bigger siblings, the price tag of the new iPod shuffle shrunk considerably, too.

For a measly (compared to other iPod prices) $99, anyone can be a card-carrying member of the iPod revolution.

The new price tag was made possible by scaling back some of the iPod’s features.

For starters, there is less space. The $99 model has 512MB, or enough space to hold up to 120 songs. A $149 model will hold 1GB, enough to hold up to 240 songs.

Opting away from the small hard drive found in more expensive iPod models, the iPod shuffle relies on flash-memory instead. It can be plugged directly into any Mac or PC USB port for instant access and automatic recharging. It can also be used as a flash drive to carry and transfer data, such as documents, from one computer to another.

The $99 price is impressive when you factor in its potential as a flash drive. Many 512MB flash drives retail at about $60 and range well above $99.

Sophomore architecture major Dan Sekerak wishes he had known about the new iPod before buying his 128MB MP3 player for $150.

“If I wouldn’t have bought mine,” he said, “and I had known there was a smaller one that has an armband and is cheaper and holds more songs, I would definitely have bought that.”

Former and current iPod users also will notice the missing scroll wheel they’ve come to know. The iPod shuffle instead features a circular control pad with basic buttons. A switch on the back of it allows users to switch from shuffled to ordered songs or turn the player off.

Another feature downgraded on the new iPod is the display screen: There isn’t one. In a press release Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained: “With most flash-memory music players, users must use tiny displays and complicated controls to find their music; with iPod shuffle you just relax, and it serves up new combinations of your music every time you listen.”

The lack of display screen doesn’t matter to junior nursing major Beth Benik.

“When you’re working out, you’re not looking at it,” she said.

The random music selection is a product of the shuffle feature. And with iTunes new “AutoFill” feature, iPod users don’t even have to choose which songs to put on their iPod. AutoFill will randomly select the exact amount of songs to fit your player.

Benik said she likes the idea of having a random playlist.

“It’s good you’re not hearing the same stuff over and over again, that it’s different songs every time,” she said. “I doubt someone will listen to a whole 120 songs and start over again at one time.”

In addition to the free lanyard included in the box, the iPod shuffle has several accessories already available: an arm band for exercising, a protective sports case, a USB power adapter to charge when away from home and an optional dock to sync and charge. Each costs $29.


For further information, visit http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/.

Contact technology reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].