John has opened a whole new frontier in the gadget war. After a recent visit to the Apple store in London, he gave me a gift of an iPod Shuffle. This means that he not only has technical superiority, but the moral high ground as well! I suspect he sleeps with a copy of The Art of War under his pillow…
Now, when the Shuffle came out, I must confess to thinking that it was a cute toy for those who couldn’t afford a real iPod, and I didn’t feel the least bit tempted. But having owned one for a few hours, I must say that, much to my surprise, I’m entranced! It’s just beautiful. I love the fact that it feels too light to actually contain any components, let alone a battery.
I love the fact that I can slip it in a pocket and still have room for other things. I love the way it sits, apparently lifeless, on my dashboard or desk, while pumping out high-quality music into my speakers. I love the fact it’s less than half the size of the dock for my regular iPod. I love… well, you get the idea. It’s not going to replace my big iPod for car use or for taking on trips with me, but as an everyday way of carrying music around, it’s great.
Now here’s an interesting thing. A USB plug normally has 4 connections in it: power, ground and two data lines. The iPod Shuffle has some extra lines slipped in between the usual ones, and nobody seems to know quite what they are.
They may be there simply for high-speed programming during manufacture, but I rather hope they have extra functionality, such as audio out, and control signals. I’m dreaming of plugging it straight into the front of my car stereo or my home amplifier.