100 Days with the Panasonic TS3

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: It's still the best.*

The Long Version: Digital cameras are funny things. There's no reason why one that's properly taken care of won't live for seven or eight years, but in market terms they're obsolete in a tenth of that. A compact camera has no chance to become a competent and well-rounded member of electronic society before being forced to make its way in the world, ultimately being replaced by another immature model that promises a slight improvement over what came before.

The Panasonic TS3 is the the fourth waterproof camera that Panasonic has made, starting with the TS1 which was released in 2009. We know that it's better than the TS2 because it has a higher model number, and it's more expensive than the TS10. I've been using one daily for three months now, and to celebrate I decided to hang out with it for a saturday afternoon in Coney Island. That's where I took the photos for my first look at this little camera, so redoing the twenty-three hours in transit just felt right.

I spent very little time on image quality in my first look, so that's where I'll start here. Frequently decent, typically good, rarely outstanding: the TS3 isn't designed for peak performance, and that's okay. Being happy with any compact camera is a matter of having realistic expectations. When I use it in perfect conditions and look at the photos with a critical eye at high magnifications, I'm frequently disappointed to see that the fine detail is blocky, pixelated, and smeared. In low light or bad conditions my forgiving spirit will be pleased with the successes and accepting of its failures, even though the results are still blocky, pixelated, and smeared. Happiness is a function of attitude: the TS3 isn't an SLR, and an SLR can't be thrown in a fountain for fun. At least, not multiple times.

I've owned a waterproof camera before, and then had a brief relationship with a superzoom, so I knew what I wanted this time around. But even still these past three months have been a surprise as I find new ways to have fun with the orange TS3. Plunking it down in fountains, swimming pools, and puddles has become an engaging pastime for me. I've used it for street photography, to document lawlessness, and I've even taken a few photos that I really like. I bought it to be my digital take-everywhere counterpart to my film cameras, and while I confess that I haven't always carried it, the few times that I haven't I've often regretted my oversight.

The TS3 is just a fun camera. It's not the smallest, being a boxy design that's larger than the average 4.6x zoom compact, and much larger than the cellphone that has mostly replaced them. Perhaps the future will see me using a phone in place of a camera, but not yet. Until cell phones become waterproof, develop really long zoom ranges, or become capable of actual autofocus, dedicated cameras will remain superior.

When I first looked at the TS3, the "Mode" button and the various scene selections were a big deal. I would like to say that I've come to appreciate the thought and planning that went into the cameras' interface, but, well, no.

Pressing the "Mode" key once brings up the quick-access scene modes. There are eight positions, including the one that goes to the additional scene options. These are reached by navigating with the four-way controller and selected with the Menu/Set button. I've found three modes to be useful, and will typically switch between "Normal", "High Dynamic [Range]", and "Handheld Night Shot". Moving from either of the last two to Normal takes four button presses, while going from Normal to one of the others will take between six to a dozen button presses. That's atrocious, but it's also about average for a compact camera.

Now, I'm not one to write An Open Letter To A Camera Manufacturer, or to use my Vast Internet Knowledge (meaning: none) of software and product design to insist that a problem can be solved with three magical lines of code. But the fix to this problem isn't that hard to envision. The TS3 already remembers the last scene mode that was used, and my Panasonic GH1 has a menu devoted to the most recently chosen menu items. Imagine combining those two ideas, and have the eight options on the first page be a combination of the ones that Panasonic thinks are important as well as the ones most recently used.

Intelligent Auto and Normal should always be there, the Beach and Snorkelling mode is a great tribute to the TS3's capability, and perhaps the 3D mode is important to Panasonic's feeling of self-worth. That still leaves four more slots to fill. Make the fifth Mode position, underneath the Intelligent Auto function, be the scene mode that's been used the most over the lifespan of the camera – or the past few months, whichever. The other three positions on the bottom row should be the scene modes that were most recently used, naturally without repetition if one of them happens to be the all-time favourite.

The most popular modes could then be reached in as few as three to a maximum of five button-presses, including the Mode button to start the process and the Set button to select the correct one. That's still a lot, but keeping the most popular results together will add to the usability advantage. If the desired scene mode isn't on that top screen, make pressing the "Mode" button again bring up each additional screen. There are already times when multiple presses of a button calls up additional options, so this wouldn't be violating any usability guidelines, should such a thing exist.

While all of this time spent on scene modes may seem silly to anyone who wrongly thinks that using a dSLR in Manual mode makes them hard core, they're about the only way to actually exercise any influence over the TS3. Certain modes can do things that would otherwise be beyond the cameras' capabilities, while others have some utility that's only apparent on further exploration. The manual does a poor job of explaining these, and the on-screen help is no better, but the Panasonic Imaging catalog almost verges on useful. From those sources and my own experience, here's a quick overview of the noteworthy modes. (Many Panasonic cameras share the same settings, so this actually applies to more than the TS3/FT3.)

Beach and Snorkelling is for normal use, including underwater, while the Underwater mode is intended to be used with a sold-separately diving case.

3D is only viewable on a 3D TV, which Panasonic just happens to make. Fancy that.

Self Portrait is actually useful, as the front AF Assist LED becomes a focus confirmation light. Solid is good, flashing means it didn't work.

Panorama Assist is nothing like the Sweep Panorama of Sony or Fuji fame, but instead it provides a guide for taking a series of photos that can be combined later on the computer. Canon cameras have worked this way since the start of the century.

Handheld Night Shot takes a quick series of photos and then merges them into one 3MP image. This is quite a clever trick, and it's even smart enough to handle movement reasonably well.

Baby/Pet: The Pet mode sets the iso higher, and the Baby modes soften the skin tones just in case the subject is ugly. Both of these modes can be used to keep track of how old your baby/pet is as an aid to the forgetful.

High Sens[itivity] is an iso3200 mode that automatically reduces the output to 3MP. Not bad when the Handheld Night mode isn't an option, like the times when the subject's too close to the camera. In better light it will stick with iso1600, in which case the results are still better than a 3MP iso1600 photo taken in "normal" mode.

High Speed Burst mode takes little photos (the typical 3MP) at about 7fps, much faster than the burst setting in the Normal mode. The Flash Burst mode isn't nearly as impressive, but having the camera set to Burst shooting in Normal mode disables the flash, so there you are.

Starry Sky allows long exposures of 15, 30, or 60 seconds. The time is chosen manually with no guidance from the camera, and the dark-frame subtraction noise reduction doubles the taking time. The camera uses iso100, and the results aren't bad.

Pin Hole and Film Grain allow the easy shooting of artistic photo, with the light fall off at edges, or the effect like a grain of sand. [sic]

High Dynamic [Range] is an interesting effect. The camera seems to take only one photo, but then inverts the tone curve to give an exaggerated low-contrast image that looks an awful lot like an HDR photo. The sub-mode "Art" further exaggerates the colours, making it more suitable for Flickr, while the monochrome option can be quite decent. The only thing to watch for is that transition edges are darker than they should be, but I personally find that better than the brighter halos that other methods tend to produce.

One thing a lot of people ask about is the "lens cover" for the TS3. None of the Panasonic waterproof cameras have one – in fact, it's only the Olympus SW/Tough series that do. My old Stylus 770SW has a metal cover that pivots closed over the lens, but not only would this occasionally have sand caught in it, it didn't even stop the front element of the lens from being pitted. While I do try to take care with the TS3, I've still subjected it to treatment that's scratched the rear LCD cover, but the lens remains pristine. I did manage to smear it with sunscreen when I was in Coney Island, causing some interesting effects, but that's hardly the cameras' fault.

Another consideration with all small cameras is battery life. I've turned off the GPS on mine, which helps a bit, but I use an Eye-Fi card for data transfer, which clobbers it. Having two batteries is just a sensible thing to do for any camera, and having a second BCF10 for the TS3 is no exception. It's worth including the extra cost in the budget for the camera, and remember that Panasonic locks out the generics.

Oh, and the reason for the Eye-Fi card is that every time the door has been opened – to change the battery, remove the SD card, or use the data ports – the camera puts up a nagging warning to make sure that the seals are clean. After the fifteenth time it gets a bit much.

Another interesting quirk about the TS3 is that it can be turned on in Playback mode by holding down the "play" button. This might be a concession to usability, although it's an odd place for them to choose to cut out one button press (power>play). I suspect that it's a carryover from a generic firmware package, because being able to review images without extending the lens mechanism is very useful for most cameras – but not the TS3. The compact camera market changes quickly and these little devices are never given the chance to mature, so again, although this may show a certain lack of craftsmanship, it's no different from every other little camera on the market.

When I first wrote my thoughts on the TS3, I was leaving the camera set to five megapickles in the reasoning that it saves space on the card and computer, while not reducing its image quality for any practical purpose. Looking at photos taken with both settings, I find that the down-sampling that the camera does isn't particularly good. I haven't really found any conclusive difference between the 5MP at 1:1 and the 12MP setting at 1:2, and certainly can't see any difference between them at web sizes or in small prints, but I've switched back to the full-size images because it's the only way to defeat the digital "EZ" zoom. A 12MP file is about 5MB, 5MP is 3MB, and the 3MP setting results in files around a megabyte each.

I've taken almost 2500 photos in the 100 days that I've owned the TS3. I can't say that any of them have been masterpieces, but that's not what I've been trying for. Despite my cynicism and overall bleak regard for compact cameras and the market churn that produces them, the TS3 is an enjoyable little device that does what I want it to, if not quite how I want it to.

I'm happy with the TS3, and in the past few months I've seen nothing from it or any other manufacturer that makes me doubt my camera choice. If Panasonic would fix some of the usability and interface issues with the next year's model I would consider buying it as well. But with both image quality and usability, I'm willing to accept that these compromises and mixed results are an unavoidable fact of life while hoping that someone's willing and able to prove me wrong. Until that happens, my TS3 and I will be having lots of fun as we go about our daily lives, with just the occasional diversions into lakes, oceans, swimming pools, and fountains.

(*among waterproof and shockproof compact cameras, as of 29 June 2011.)

last updated 30 June 2011


Elsewhere on the Web: Rob Beschizza reviews the Energizer Flickering LED Candle

Concept: 5 out of 5
Execution: 5 out of 5
Yeah, but: Fuck it, let's review it anyway.

The Long Version: I can't think of the last time I laughed this hard at anything, let alone a product review. Rob Beschizza (of BoingBoing fame) has posted an audio review of the Energizer Flickering LED Candle.

Hear it on SoundCloud or via BoingBoing.

I have it playing in a loop through iTunes, and I can't even begin to choose my favourite part. It's a must-listen.

last updated 28 June 2011


The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Why was I surprised?

The Long Version: The "President's Choice" brand is one of the major successes of marketing. Dave Nichol made himself a household name and completely changed the perception of store-brand food, something that many companies have tried since but without being able to match Loblaw's resounding success. "PC" products now dominate their shelves, giving them both a huge differentiator and a major advantage when it comes to selecting the competitor's brands that they allow on their shelves.

PC products remain the only reason why I go out of my neighbourhood to reach a Loblaw supermarket. Their "Memories of" line has some excellent sauces and marinades, the the Memories of Montego Bay is my favourite Jerk sauce. (It's a pity that the mild version, "Vague Memories of Montego Bay", is no longer around.) And with the striking exception of the Chocolate Black Cherry Cola, I can't say that I've ever been disappointed by something that they put their name on.

But the cookies – ah, those cookies.

Calling a cookie "The Decadent Chocolate Chip" seems a little overblown, but they are good. One of the signature products of the President's Choice line, they've been around for a very long time. When Penny saw that there's a new ice cream sandwich version, they joined the list for our upcoming Canada Day party, where they'll socialize with dozens of PC hamburgers, chicken breasts, and a handful of tubs of President's Choice ice cream in interesting flavours. Good times.

But not all of the Decadent Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches are making it to the party. I don't know why I was expecting something else, but these little 100mL sandwiches are two of the actual chocolate chip cookies, each facing out, with a thick slab of vanilla ice cream between them. The ice cream is good, too: it's a hard combination to get wrong, and they didn't.

There's a chocolate chunk cookie version with chocolate ice cream, as well – something else that may not make it to the party.

last updated 26 June 2011


11" MacBook Air

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Soon to be known as "the old model."

The Long Version: Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I don't expect laptops to be fast. I expect them to be small. I don't really understand the whole "desktop replacement" monster laptop appeal; it seems like an expensive way to buy a computer that's neither fish nor fowl.

The 11.6" Macbook Air is definitely a fish.

There have been plenty of great reviews that look at the enclosure, construction, performance benchmarks, and all the rest of the specificity of the machine. I read them all, and now that I own one I don't care about any of it. Sure, I did spring for the ram upgrade and bigger SSD for the 1.6GHz model, but now that I have it none of the tech specs matter.

What does matter is that it's already connected to my home WiFi network by the time I have the lid open. It's usable from a cold boot after fifteen seconds. It weighs nothing, is happy in my Hadley Pro, and fits like a glove in a backpack that's so narrow that I have no trouble checking the traffic behind me when I'm on my bike. What really matters is that I consistently get five or more hours of web browsing, typing, music playing, and photo editing out of it. It's sprightly enough for any task that wouldn't be crippled by the small screen size – video editing wouldn't be any fun, for example – and although the screen is a little small, it's very good. This is no netbook.

This is the twenty-fifth review that I've written with my Air in the three months since I bought it, and it's made my prose clearer if less funny. (Editing will do that.) All of the images for my daily photo project have been run through Lightroom and uploaded from it, and I carry it with me on a regular basis. My previous laptop was a white 13" Macbook Amateur, and even though that's not a big machine, I would never have hauled around its five-pound self just so that I could do some writing during my lunch. Size absolutely matters, it's just that bigger isn't always better.

Like anyone who should consider the Macbook Air, I also have a desktop computer. It's connected to my scanners and printer, has terabytes of storage, and runs twin displays that are each bigger than my TV. No laptop is going to be a sensible replacement for that, so why try? Indeed, before I bought the Air I was shopping for one of those magical and revolutionary tablet computers, but fortunately I came to my senses in time. (No keyboard? How am I supposed to write anything?) Instead, I'm the fortunate owner of a computer that's powerful enough for me to do real work with and small enough to be with me when I need it. While putting my little AirBook next to a 17" MacBook Pro is good for a few laughs, I wouldn't trade machines.

One of those backlit keyboards would be nice, though.

last updated 24 july 2011


The Generic Folding Hand Truck

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Perhaps they're not all the same.

The Long Version: Back when I was sixteen years old, a friend of mine told me that I combine great ideas with lousy timing. Twenty years later, he's still absolutely right. Last fall I hand-carried a forty-pound printer for a kilometer before it occurred to me that I could really use one of those folding hand trucks. Great idea, lousy timing.

These little hand trucks are pretty much a generic product. I bought mine from Canadian Tire, but they're also available through the toy store Uline and at least a dozen other places. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 ) The prices and details vary, but they're typically rated for between one and two hundred pounds, and weigh about twelve to twenty. The wheels pivot out when the load platform is lowered, and while the wheels have some positive camber, the weight on the cart keeps them in place. It's an elegant little system, and when combined with the telescoping handle, the whole cart takes up very little space when it's not needed.

The typical hand truck with a short bed is good for tucking under a stack of heavy boxes, and is great for running things on and off of a moving truck – quickly shuttling boxes that are already stacked. These folding trucks have much larger platforms, meaning that they're at their best when the load is assembled directly on the hand truck. That's perfect for household use, and I've seen a number of independent couriers using them when they need to zip around quickly in little runabout vans. It's a real advantage when they can carry a couple of stacks of light boxes that wouldn't stay put on the typical design.

A big empty hand truck is nothing but a hassle, so it's fantastic to be able to carry this little cart folded up until I need it. I do also own one of those generic black plastic hand trucks that can be converted into a flatbed dolly, and when it's time to haul a couple hundred pounds, that's what I reach for. (Actually, it's what I dig out from the far end of the storage room.) But for a half-dozen little jobs, from shopping for a small potted Christmas tree to taking the 40lbs propane tanks to be refilled, the folding truck has been perfect. I've put a hundred and twenty pounds on mine and then walked it a city block without a single worry. And when I'm back home, it folds up and hangs on the wall where it's in easy reach for the next time.

Sometimes I marvel at my little folding hand truck, and wonder what I would do without it – but the answer to that is simple. If I didn't have it, I'd go out and buy one.

last updated 12 june 2011


Abstract Expressionist New York at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Everything's bigger in New York.

The Long Version: I've always wanted to be able to say: "Well, when I saw this show in New York, ____________" and now I finally can. Almost. While they're both called Abstract Expressionist New York, the AGO exhibit has the tagline "Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art". That's a subtle but important difference between the Art Gallery of Ontario and the MoMA show, from which the AGO takes all of its multimedia. I'll return to that at the end of this review.

The AGO's AbExNY show is nicely put together, with large information cards at the base of each painting. These can be read from anywhere in front of the art, and provide information about the artist and perhaps a bit about their work. This is a vast improvement over the little 5x7" cards on the wall that need people to come right up to read them, and must be a huge part of why the AGO's guards were so relaxed. Now I wonder why it hasn't always been done that way.

The larger rooms have carpeting with a metre-wide hard border on their perimeter, which is a nice way of enforcing a respectful distance. Smaller rooms with wooden floors have the traditional calf-high rope barrier to identify the art – a cue that's often appreciated for modern works – and ensure that it remains unperturbed. Photographing any art is explicitly prohibited by the AGO, but I didn't see that ban enforced in any of the many times that I saw it being broken.

The two biggest stars of abstract expressionism must be Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Rothko is represented by two of his surrealist works, three of his brighter paintings, and three from his darker period. The lighting in his room was nicely done, with a lower ambient level that let the colourful paintings be brightly lit while the more somber ones were allowed to be darker. It was both sensitive and suitable. It's just a pity that the seating in the centre of the room is too uncomfortable to spend quality time on.

Given Rothko's appeal – his was by far the most crowded room, both in Toronto and New York – and the scale of his work, it makes sense that these are among the largest canvases in the show. It was Rothko's work that first caught my interest and introduced me to colour field art, and it is worth the price of admission just to see these six paintings.

The other headliner of the collection, Jackson Pollock, is likewise given a room to himself – his wife is left to wait outside – and is also represented by a good range of work. My tastes have always run toward minimalism, so Pollock's not a good fit for me, but this is still a room that's worth spending a lot of time in. The seats here are considerably more comfortable than those in the Rothko display.

The AGO's AbEx exhibit spans from the late 1940's to the end of the 1960's, and while the headliners of Rothko and Pollock are clearly the stars of the show, there's a sampling of other works from their contemporaries as well. Some of these stray into surrealism or recognizable subjects, but for the most part the focus is confined to a slice of time and geography that won't disappoint anyone looking for the popular abstract expressionist art. If this sounds like you, and you're within striking distance of Dundas and McCaul, it's worth spending an hour or two at the AGO.

And really, that concludes my review of AbEx:AGO, and writing it has stressed my knowledge of art far too much already. If what I've already written sounds good, you will like the AGO's Abstract Expressionist show. It's the reason why I bought an AGO membership, and have gone to see the collection three times in its first two weeks. I've been quite happy with the AGO's accomplishment of having the art moved to Toronto for the summer, but that's not quite my only reaction. What follows is merely a wildly impractical and personal reaction, unfounded supposition, and general nonsense.

When I saw the Abstract Expressionist show in New York, it was huge. An entire floor of MoMA had been devoted to it, where the art spanned a wider range and went into a greater depth. On my first visit to the AGO's AbEx show I found myself looking for the rest of it. ("Nope, that's the gift shop.") The AGO exhibit, as exceptional as it is, is clearly a travelling show. I can't help but feel that display space, transportation, and insurance value all played a huge part in the art selection process.

The exhibition in New York gave Barnett Newman a room to himself that was dominated by massive canvasses, while the AGO has only a few of his smaller and narrower paintings. As good as Abraham is, it's no substitute for Vir Heroicus Sublimis. In Toronto Jackson Pollock is also represented by mostly smaller canvases that simply don't convey the same impression as the bigger paintings carry in their home city. Perhaps perversely, I found myself disappointed that one of Rothko's smaller peices from MoMA's display – an untitled work in grey and black, with a white border – didn't make the trip. Some people are just never satisfied.

Likewise Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns are nowhere to be found, and while I recognize that Johns mostly lies outside of the scope of abstract expressionism, his gesture paintings were included in New York and would have been a great challenge to the Pollock/Rothko pairing. At the same time, the AGO has devoted two large walls to small framed photographs from Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, and others. While these are worth seeing, they're not why anyone is coming to Abstract Expressionist New York. On the positive side, they're framed with such reflective glass that looking at the photos is a great way to see the rest of the show.

While it may seem churlish of me to compare an exhibition drawn from MoMA's vast collection to the display that they sent to another nation, the AGO invites the comparison by using the multimedia from the MoMA exhibit. Have a look at those videos for a glimpse of the scope and depth that was offered in New York – the "Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art" isn't quite the same. I'm thrilled to have such a great collection so close to home, even if it's only for the summer, but doesn't replace a trip to New York and its many exceptional galleries. My advice: do both.

last updated 7 june 2011


Apple iPod Shuffle (4th Generation)

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The Long Version: One of the best thing about Apple is that they're willing to admit when they're wrong. Really. A perfect example of that is the 4th generation of the iPod Shuffle, which looks nothing at all like their dysmal third attempt at a basic and cheap music player. That change had to come.

The only carryover from the third generation is the "VoiceOver" speech system, which adds the significant ability to choose playlists in addition to hearing the name of the artist and song. Physically the fourth generation Shuffle is essentially the same as the second, with a body that's more square and a larger control panel, which is a clever way to make it look like it couldn't possibly be miniaturized any further. Otherwise the design is similar enough to the second generation that people can completely forget the rev.3 model, erasing that unpleasant blip from the pretty Apple world.

The Shuffle mk IV remains the only iPod without Apple's 30-pin connector, meaning that most accessories and docks aren't compatible, and there's no way to get a proper line out audio signal from it. The 3.5mm (1/8") jack provides all of the I/O for headphones and data; it's also used for charging via a powered USB port or adapter – not provided – so it can't be charged and used at the same time. All of this combines to make it pretty useless as part of a larger sound system. In exchange for that it's really, really small. The Shuffle takes up less room than a decent pair of earphones, and because there's no screen to protect there's no need to fuss with a case.

I was initially doubtful about the voice-over feature; after all, it was what enabled the third-generation Shuffle to be such a resounding flop. While I don't miss it on my bigger iPods, I've come to appreciate it as part of the Shuffle's charm. Pressing the button ducks the volume and speaks the name of the song and artist – press again to cut it off mid-sentence – and holding down the button starts it going through the playlists. It starts by announcing the current one, goes to "all songs", and then recites the rest alphabetically. It skips the current playlist, which is a nice touch, and returns to it once it's completed the list if the play button wasn't pressed to select a new one.

I can't imagine using the Shuffle without playlists to manage the 400+ songs that I keep on it, although the logistics of cycling through all of them has taught me to use short titles and pare them down to the bare essentials. I mostly use smart playlists to group my most-played and most-recent music, and keep a manual collection of favourites as well. I've also been playing around with the different language settings, so now sometimes it speaks in an Australian or French accent, and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. It's an entertaining quirk.

The controls of the Shuffle make me happy. As cool as touch screens are, I need to be able to control my music player with my eyes closed on a crowded bus in the middle of the night. All of the buttons can be identified by feel, they behave predictably, and the headphone jack provides the vital orientation cues. The clip on the Shuffle is a little odd to use, as there's really no way to get enough leverage to open it elegantly, but I'd miss it if it wasn't there.

I reluctantly bought the fourth-generation iPod Shuffle because my iPod Classic is too big and heavy when I travel with a small camera bag, and I thought I would only use it to solve that particular problem. Instead I've discovered that it's not just some inferior or cut-rate substitute for a better iPod, and its simple controls make it a vital alternative to the doohickery of the touch-screen iPod Nano. Now I carry the little Shuffle with me even when I never expect to use it. It takes up no space in my kit bags, I don't worry about breaking it, and it's relatively cheap to replace if it wanders off. I really didn't expect to like the Shuffle as much as I do, but like Apple, I can admit when I'm wrong. Really.

There's a lot to be said for doing a simple job simply.

last updated 3 june 2011

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