From reading news stories and reviews, it seems that some things have changed. Among the good changes are the improved sound quality from the 2G iPod shuffle. Using the stock Apple earbuds, I can hear a audible hiss. It's annoying, but nothing major. In any case, this is a plus. I also like the "VoiceOver" feature that reads song/artist titles and playlist names. While some may find this interesting for a while and then annoying (I include myself in this number), I think it has possibility. It offers a solution to those who wondered were the screen was in 2005. I also like the new connector. I've never liked the former dock; it was too bulky and seemed out of place with the device. Increased space is always good as well. Multiple playlists are a plus as well.
With this model, Apple has made some bad changes as well. The controls are now on the headphones! While this looks good on paper at first glance, it seems the headphones are now the only way to control the shuffle. Added to this, the only headphones available are from - you guessed it - Apple. Making this worse is that the new shuffle has no buttons only the toggle switch on the top and the headphone jack. Another bad change is how small the shuffle compared to the two previous generations. I found the the 2G shuffle to be small enough. This however, is extreme. Speaking of extreme, I found the new way of using the device to be complicated. While the 2G had a tiny learning curve (a good example is the clicks on the keypad needed to return to the start of a playlist; that stumped me for a bit), this new model seems to require more clicks just to move around the playlist. For example compare the instructions for the old and new shuffles. The price is also high, but that appears to be the Apple premium we love.
Overall the new shuffle has some good things (VoiceOver, better sound, space) and some bad (headphones, lack of buttons, size). In the end, this appears to be a regression from what came before. It's Apple's idea for the shuffle and not mine. I'll just pass and take my tunes and go home.