Think iPod shuffle and the first thing that comes to mind is "small". Despite the main feature of the player being the ability to shuffle songs, the iPod shuffle has always been known for its small size, which has kept getting smaller with successive iterations. With the previous generation model Apple seemed to have broken all laws of physics to come up with a model that looked more like a hair clip than a music player.
The third generation model was very small but perhaps a bit too small for its own good. Having a player that small means the buttons had to be relocated elsewhere and the only location where they could be placed was on the earphones. This also meant that the earphones became an important part of the player and you could not replace them with anything else without losing a means to control the player.
Apple realized their folly, so in the fourth generation model we get the playback buttons that we all know and love back on the player and in the same circular pattern as before. The design of the new model mirrors that of the second generation model, however, Apple being Apple, has managed to make it smaller this time. So even though it is bit bigger now compared to the previous generation model, it is far more practical.
The new iPod shuffle is cute as a button. It's also only slightly larger than a button. Unlike the previous generation model, it is instantly recognizable as a music player (for those who aren't into technology as much as some of us) and by the reaction I got from some of our female colleagues, it is going to be a hit with women. And it's not just women but everyone who saw the new shuffle liked it. The small dimensions and the simple design makes it appealing to anyone who would lay eyes on it. And while you appreciate the design, don't forget to marvel at the amount of engineering that must have gone into making it that small.
The fit and finish is superb as usual and the new shuffle has a glossy surface on the front and back, and matte on the top and bottom. The aluminum enclosure does have some sharp edges but aren't lethally so there is no need to worry about them. On the top you have the sliding power button on the right , which turns on the player when moved to the halfway position and goes into shuffle mode when slid all the way to the left.
In the center is the VoiceOver button. The 3.5mm headphone jack also acts as the USB port with the supplied USB cable. There is a small status LED as well. On the front you have the familiar track skip buttons on the sides and the volume control buttons on the top and bottom with a large play/pause button in the center. All the buttons offer a solid feedback and work well.