iPod Shuffle G4 vs. Sansa Clip+

Our phone system has the ability to add music on hold, so why not?  With Apple being the leader in music playing devices, I looked to them first. We don’t need anything extravagant nor lots of storage.  The iPod Shuffle looked perfect with 2GB of storage at $49.

I usually do a lot of research before buying hardware, but this was Apple and only $49.  What could go wrong?

The one requirement I overlooked was the device needs to be able to charge while playing.  The iPod shuffle does not have the usual Apple dock interface, rather, it charges via a proprietary 3.5mm plug which doubles as the headphone jack.  This thing has to be able to play while charging I said to myself, so I started checking Apple’s support pages and Google, but no definitive answer.

Apple’s web site says “Get answers before you buy.  Call 1-800-MY-APPLE to talk with a knowledgeable Specialist.”, so instead of spending more time looking for an answer, I decided to call them and ask if playing and charging at the same time was possible.  First off, I could not speak to a “knowledgeable Specialist” until I gave them a Serial Number.  Fine.  Before I could ask my question, I was hard-pitched Apple Care which I declined.  Who is going to get Apple Care for a $49 product?  I just want an answer to a technical question which should be posted on their site in the first place.  Finally, I talk to someone and ask the question… Can the iPod shuffle charge and play at the same time?  I asked if using a 3.5mm Y-cable to two females would work and was told “Maybe”.  So I got off the phone to try it.  No worky.

At this point, I’m a bit annoyed.  No way I’m the first person to ask this question.  So I call Apple back, same must give serial number and Apple Care hard-sell before talking to a knowledgeable Specialist.  This time, I’m a bit more direct.  “Is it technically possible to charge and play an iPod shuffle” I ask.  I’m put on hold.  The Specialist gets back on the line after a few minutes and tells me she’s been googling for an answer and possible accessories to enable me to do this.  Are you kidding me?  I’ve already spent a good hour doing the same.  I called Apple for an answer since it’s an Apple product. I’m put on hold again while she finds a senior engineer.  After a few minutes, she returns to tell me, No, it is not possible to charge and play an iPod shuffle at the same time.

You read it here: It is NOT possible to simultaneously charge and play an iPod shuffle. Apple, is it really that hard to put such a nugget of information somewhere on your Web site?

Kudos to Best Buy for taking back my defeated iPod Shuffle.  On the way out, I look at other inexpensive MP3 players and see the Sans Clip+.  Same price, but 4GB storage, expansion slot, FM Radio Tuner, LCD display, AND it can be charged while playing!

Look Ma, I can walk and chew gum at the same time!

So now we have music on hold.  I suppose I could have stepped-up to an iPod nano for $150, which, in theory, can charge while playing.  Why spend the extra money?  For an entry-level, inexpensive MP3 player, the Sans Clip+ beats the iPod shuffle in every way.  The only reason one might prefer the iPod shuffle is if their entire library of music is purchased through iTunes and they don’t care about not being able to use it while charging. To be fair, I mean listening from the headphone jack while it is charging. You can still play music through your computer while the iPod shuffle is charging.