Apple iPod Shuffle with VoiceOver
(click for larger image)
A teardown of the third-generation iPod Shuffle released this week reveals how simplicity ruled in the making of Apple's smallest portable music player.
Tech site iFixit disassembled the minidevice, which is about the size of a tie clip, and found a single integrated circuit, a battery, and a few user interface components.
A single connector attaches the logic board and battery to the rest of the iPod, and the battery is soldered to the logic board, so it can't be easily replaced. Apple offers a battery replacement service for the device, but at $49, it's hardly worth the cost for a $79 gadget.
IFixit found that the only chip in the unit is a multilayered stack containing CPU, RAM, and 4 GB of flash memory. The Shuffle comes apart in two halves, with each half weighing 5 grams, or less than two-tenths of an ounce. This means that the side with the components weighs about 10% more than a single sheet of letter-size paper, iFixit said.
Apple introduced the latest Shuffle on Wednesday. Besides being half the size of the previous model, the device is unique in that it can speak artist, song, and playlist names. With 4 GB of storage, the gadget can hold up to 240 songs.
The device has no screen, so it's only for playing audio files downloaded from Apple's iTunes software. Because of its size, Apple has placed the controls on the earphone cord. Users press a button to play, pause, adjust volume, or hear the name of the song or artist. The earphones ship with the device.
Apple's iPod line is the leading portable music player, accounting for more than 70% of the market, according to analysts. Microsoft competes with the Zune but has failed to make a dent in the iPod's popularity.
What about Apple's streaming media servers? InformationWeek has published an independent review. Download the report here (registration required).