This is the first iPod I've owned, having dithered around for ages put off by the high prices of all the other iPod's, their relatively large sizes and not really seeing the need to have 5000 songs in my back pocket. After an age of reading reviews on the net, both glowing and critical, I decided to take the plunge and buy one. And I'm very happy with it.
Having used iTunes as my default player for awhile, I can say that 99% of the time it's in shuffle mode, which made the shuffle a logical purchase for me. Added to that, the main selling points were its cost and its uberly small size. You really won't beleive how tiny this thing is when you first take it out of the package. And whilst I hate the 'iPod as a fashion statement' school of thought, it really does look like a nice piece of kit.
Having read lots of contentious arguments about the product before buying, It's pretty obvious that you either love or hate this thing. The main point of hatred for the shuffle is its lack of screen and therefore song selection ability, which seems to be missing the point of having a shuffle. As I don't tend to have music that I don't want to listen to on my computer, not having a screen doesn't bother me in the slightest, indeed it's the lack of screen that means the shuffle can be as tiny as it is. If you really can't bear not having a selection screen, don't buy this. However, it holds 120 songs, and remembers where you were when you turned it off, meaning you rarely have to suffer repetition. Mine is for day to day usage, meaning I just whack it in my PC every night and shuffle in another 120 songs for the next day. Roughly eight and a half hours of music is more than enough for a couple of days journeying to and from work, uni, and friends houses.
There are only a couple of slightly annoying things about this product. When you are charging it from your PC, it doesn't tell you when you've achieved a full charge, which makes it a matter of guesswork more than anything else. Also the algorithim that dictates the shuffle seems to play the songs in a pre-set random order, much like the one on iTunes, which defeats the random concept a little. However, I have never found this to be a problem. The iPod does scratch pretty easily, and you will also get pretty pissed off pretty quickly with how twisted the headphones get.
Many people will tell you that there are better mp3 players out there, and denigrate the shuffle for it's lack of features and the fact that it is simply a release so that apple, who monopolise the high and mid range mp3 player markets to monopolise the lower, cheaper end too. Well, it probably is, but I don't really see why that's a problem. Whilst I can accept that many people only buy an iPod "Because it's cool", the main reason that apple has made a killing on the iPod is because it's simple to use and comes with easily usable and manageable software. Before you buy anything like this, given the amount of choice on offer, you should really do your homework and get the product that best suits you. For me, the shuffle does exactly what it says on the tin, is unobtrusive, and is a fraction of the cost of other players. I hope you found this review useful.