So here's a few more thoughts about my iPod Shuffle.
First let me say that now that I've used it for a few days, I can say the sound is great and using it with the lanyard is amazing. It's so light you quickly don't notice that you've got this thing around your neck. I was wandering around the office and my house in the past few days wrapped in my little bubble of sound.
I also really like the Autofill option. It seems something trivial, but I can easily compare the experience with my MuVo. I spent over an hour one night last week trying to figure out what to fill the MuVo's limited storage with and then because I had spent so much time, wasn't really happy with my selection later but I didn't feel like messing with it again afterwards. With the Autofill though, I just click a button and the Shuffle is filled up to the brim (no wasted space) with a random selection of songs. It's 1) super-easy and 2) ends up being a better user experience. Chalk one up for Apple, once again they've thought wholistically and it shows.
Okay, now here's some rubs.
First, I loaded up my iPod with the Autofill, which was great. But I want to throw some podcasts in there. Well, there's no real way to "place" the podcasts at the beginning of the files. There is no "beginning" in the iPod Shuffle. [Update: this is wrong. Press play 3 times to go to top of your playlist.] When you turn it on, it remembers the last song you were playing (if it was set on shuffle at some point - that spot could be anywhere) which means, you can't put audio where you want it. The solution to this is to create a playlist which will play in order, which gets rid of the cool Autofill option and still doesn't really solve the last-played position problem. There's no way to "reset" the playing the iPod from the beginning that I can find. So it seems that you're going to use your iPod for music or for Podcasts, not for both.
The second problem is with iTunes. I have two commutes, one in the morning and one in the evening. I also have two computers, one at work and one at home. During the day if a new podcast comes out that I want to listen to, I want to be able to copy it to the iPod. But if I plug the Shuffle into my work computer it prompts me to *erase* all the contents of the iPod because it was synced to a different iTunes. Huh? I've entered my username/password! It should realize I'm the same person, but it doesn't. Urgh. If I manually copy over the file to the iPod using the file explorer, it just doesn't play. There seems to be no way to snag a new podcast for the ride home.
There's other issues as well. I can't just drag/drop a new .mp3 to the iPod from outside the iTunes interface. First I need to drag it to the Library or a Playlist, then I can re-copy it over. All this is exactly what I was talking about when I reviewed the MuVo and commented on how much I liked the fact that Windows Media Player doesn't try to do any magic, it just syncs the files based on regular folders and files, so you can see and control what's happening a lot easier. iTunes sync is nice, if you don't want to do anything outside it's little world.
If you have answers to any of these problems, I'd love to hear them!