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I broke down and got one of the last iPod shuffles - the 1GB model - at the Ala Moana Apple store. Its competitors tout radio and recording capabilities, but on such gadgets the line-in recording quality sucks and I don't listen to non-digital ClearChannel-dominated radio anyway, which is a wasteland these days (outside of college and public stations). With the Apple-supplied headphones, the bass response is great, and as usual the design is outstanding.

It's sad how behind the times car stereo manufacturers are when it comes to portable digital music. All I want is a cheap $50 preamp with a minijack line-in and perhaps a USB port to stick my shuffle in. I don't need or want a radio, CD player, or equalizer. I'd make it myself if I were any good at electronics. Is that so hard? I bet the company first to market with such a device could sell hundreds of thousands of units.

While I'm on a rant, why can't digital camera makers emulate the design of the iPod and allow charging via the USB/firewire cable? I hate having to buy a separate cradle and power brick just for charging! And I hate buying landfill-populating batteries that have to be replaced or recharged all the time! Imagine this gadget with one minijack input and volume buttons:
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