The popular iPod shuffle has been updated today with new text-to-speech voiceover technology in a reduced size. It's really cool except for one thing: It moves all controls to the headphones.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. I like the idea of having controls on my headset's cable. I use that feature every time with my iPhone. However, I've used every single iPod, iPod mini, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle ever made—advantages of being a journalist and getting evaluation units—and every one of the Apple headphones that came with them have been a failure. Invariably, I had to replace them with other earbuds.
I'm not talking about the sound quality, which has improved since the awful first generation. I'm talking about them literally failing on me, one after the other.
I don't mistreat my gadgets and the iPod/iPhone's headphones have been no exception. Invariably, however, they all have finished in the dumpster after a few months. Whether it was failing neodymium-schmdynium drivers making popping noises or cables breaking, every one of them have proved to be too flimsy, too fragile for continuous daily use.
I'm sure that there will be plenty of third-party headsets options for the new tiny iPod, so it won't be a problem to replace them. But the extra expense of having to pick up another pair of buds sort of cancels out the benefit of the Shuffle costing next to nothing. Sure, you don't need huge DJ-quality headphones for the shuffle, but what about if you want an specific kind of in-ear earbuds?
On the upside, Apple have said that they will sell an adaptor for third party headphones, meaning you can still control your Shuffle through in-line controls while using your $500 cans. [New iPod shuffle]