THE PROBLEM with the world today is that finding a simple piece of technology is extremely difficult. Manufacturers seem unable to fight the urge to add on superfluous functionality to every device they produce, even if they know that nobody will ever use it.
However, there are some shining exceptions – examples of focused design that stand out from the multifunctional crowd. Both the Tivoli radio (5 April) and Apple’s iPod shuffle show the joy of focusing on getting the simple things right rather than overcomplicating the process of designing new products.
While the shuffle has been on the market for some time, we were only sent one recently for review – but it was well worth the wait. The iPod shuffle differs from its larger brethren in that it has no screen and has been shrunk down to the size of a small belt buckle. That includes a built-in clip that lets you attach it to your belt, shirt or shorts pockets.
Inside this Apple has managed to squeeze 1GB of memory, which is just enough to store around 250 songs. The concept behind the shuffle is that you’ll load it up with the music you like and then plug in your headphones and let it go. The shuffle then randomly chooses what song to play and will continue playing until the battery runs down.
The shuffle connects to your PC through a special dock, meaning that should that go missing or be chomped by the dog, you have to buy another one from Apple. That’s different from the previous generation shuffle, which plugged right into the USB port on your PC.