Honey, I shrunk the iPod

March 12, '09; BANGALORE:  The world's smallest music player, just became even smaller.. The new -- third avatar -- of Apple's iPod Shuffle, doubles storage capacity to 4GB and halves the size to almost pen torch battery size. ( 1.7 cms by 4.5 cms to be exact). The main body has just two controls: the on-ff and the shuffle/serial play. All others go into the headphone cord. A click on the centre switches between play and pause; a double-click goes to the next song; the plus/minus sign controls volume.

With such a tiny player, it could have been a hassle trying to figure out what music you are playing -- something Apple solves by having the iPod talk to you about song title, artiste etc -- and battery status as well. The voice over is available in 14 languages -- but only English will be meaningful to Indian users. It can also ' find' the play list of your choice. The play-pause button on the headphone cord if held down, goes into play list mode and reels of the lists till you press again to select one. In other words the days of trying to peer at a microscopically small LCD display are over.

More than the average young user, we believe these voice features -- whether intentionally or not -- have made the latest iPod Shuffle the most user friendly music player for the visually challenged. The 4 GB capacity will allow them to load a number of ' talking books' or podcasts.

A battery life of 10 hours is promised and a song capacity of 1000. That is a number that should be treated with scepticism especially by Indian buyers since file size depends on the type of encoding and in any case Indian film songs tend to be much longer than the western pop variety.

The aluminium body in black or silver and the steel clip, gives this the appearance of a small cigarette lighter -- if it is not politically incorrect to talk about such items these days! To link up with iTunes ( and activate the Voice Over) you need to attach Windows Vista or XP PC or laptop via USB.

The 4 GB iPod Shuffle will be available in India for Rs 4900 ( internationally, $ 79). If you remember, the 2GB version ( which will no longer be available), used to sell for $ 69, while the 1 GB shuffle set you back the equivalent of $ 49, so GB for GB the new iPod can be considered paisa vasool which for non Indian readers is our earthy way of saying ' VFM -- value for money).