By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Apple’s new iPod Shuffle flash MP3 player, which Apple claims is the world’s smallest digital music player, is ready to hit Australian stores.

Announced over a month ago, the Shuffle is the last of Apple’s new iPod range to hit the market following the roll-out of the 80GB video iPod and a new line-up of iPod Nanos in mid-September.

The second-generation Shuffle player is roughly half the size of the original, measuring eight cubit centimetres and weighing 14 grams, and features an integrated belt-clip and an aluminium outer-casing.

Apple will release the new Shuffle in just one size – 1GB (RRP $119) – which the company will provide storage for up to 240 songs (four minute tracks recorded at 128Kbps in the iTunes AAC format).

“With its ultra-compact design and built-in clip, the new iPod shuffle is the most wearable iPod ever,” said Apple worldwide vice president – iPod product marketing, Greg Joswiak.

“The new iPod shuffle completes our all-new line-up of iPods for this holiday season and beyond, and we hope it’s going to be a huge hit.”

The new Shuffle features 12 hours battery life through the built-in rechargable lithium-ion battery and the same shuffle mode playback feature as the first-generation player, which plays songs in random order.