I got myself an iPod Shuffle for christmas. My previous mp3 player was an aging FrontierLabs NexIA, so the gift was a welcome surprise.
The iPod Shuffle is a tiny 1GB mp3 player. It has shuffle and sequential modes, no screen, and options for play, pause, forward, backward and volume up/down. To add mp3 files to the player, one can only use iTunes.
The player does exactly what it says on the package, and does it so well that I’ll have to declare it the best dedicated mp3 player of its size. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was iTunes only, it would get six hearts.
iTunes is Apple’s main music application. It plays music, creates playlists, subscribes to podcasts and of course it gives you access to the iTunes Music Store, which sells both music, videos and iPod games.
I have learned, that one either loves or hates iTunes. Both feelings, I believe, are grounded in the fact that iTunes does things differently than most other media players. This goes for handling music, managing playlists, syncing players and subscribing to podcasts. The latter, podcast subscriptions, it does particularly well. The former, not so much.
It may be that iTunes doesn’t work as well on Windows as it does on a Mac, but for me, playing music in iTunes is slow and bulky – the forced-upon chrome skin feels like it’s simply slowing down things. Playlist creation feels like an exact science in iTunes. Syncing the iPod works well, once one gets the hang of it, but I really believe this feature would be more worthwhile had I used iTunes as my primary player and hence gotten the benefit of statistically created playlists I could sync to. Basically, iTunes does most of what I would want from such an application, but does none of it as simply, quickly or easily as alternatives such as Winamp or Foobar2000. For me, the podcast area is where iTunes really shines. For that, I give 2 hearts. For the lack of global hotkeys, the annoying background services and general bulkiness, I’m keeping the remaining 4 hearts, at least until version 8 comes out.