Apple’s perverse obsession with miniaturizing the iPod Shuffle doesn’t seem likely to stop until they bring it down to the size of a nanoangstrom, but one of the biggest drawbacks of making a music player smaller than the controls needed to use it is that the user interface needs to be offloaded to a peripheral: in the third generation iPod Shuffle’s case, the stock ear buds.
It’s a bad approach. The Shuffle was already small enough, and since ear buds tend to be easily damaged, it meant that anyone who owned a Shuffle who lost or damaged their stock ear buds would have to lay out for a replacement pair instead of just plugging in another set of cochleal cans.
From Apple, though, comes slightly encouraging news for third-gen Shuffle owners: they will replace your ear buds free of charge for up to two years if they stop working. Just call up Apple or drop by an Apple Store and they’ll send you off with a new pair of ear buds.
Personally, though, I’ll stick to my second gen Shuffle: an MP3 player the size of a box of matches (as opposed to the matches themselves) is plenty small enough for me already, thank you.