Excitement over the possibility of a pared down Mac has been nothing compared to the past month’s near-hysterical speculation over the existence of an iPod flash player. And here it is: the iPod Shuffle. 512MB and 1GB models appear to be available as of right now, with prices starting at $99 in the US. Basically, the player has been created round the Shuffle feature on iPods. The fact that so many people now use their iPods on random play has inspired the designers to come up with a flash player without an LCD screen that plays whatever it fancies from your playlist. Plug it into your USB port (you can also use it as a USB memory key) and iTunes will fill it up automatically.
If you buy an album on iTunes you can drag and drop selected tracks or the whole album and if you want to hear a whole album or playlist in order you can slide a switch on the side to "Play in Order" mode. The control wheel lets you play, pause, skip, repeat, shuffle and hold tunes and battery life is quoted at 12 hours. (Oh, and we like the "Do Not Eat" warning.)