At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the themes were – as we expected – waterproof phones, smart-watches and NFC (again). Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 was a high-profile example of the waterproof trend, and the company also showed its new Galaxy Gear watch, which looks pretty neat for a giant wrist-screen. And NFC is in every Android handset these days.
But how do these themes relate to the iPhone and iPad? Let’s think about that.
How many times have you had to replace an iPod because you dropped it in water? Almost all of us have suffered the agony of liquid damaged devices at least once — but this is something you never have to worry about if you buy your iPod shuffle from Underwater Audio.
iPod shuffle by Underwater Audio Category: iPod Price: $149
Every unit the company sells is protected by an invisible coating that allows you to get your iPod shuffle wet. And we’re not talking about a few splashes here; you can literally take it swimming, wear it in the shower, and forget about having to keep it covered up when you’re out jogging in the rain — and it will continue to work just as it should.
“Our waterproof iPod shuffle will go with you from land to sea and everywhere in between,” Underwater Audio says — so of course, I jumped at the chance to put those claims to the test.
No one but actual, honest-to-God bicycle messengers had the authority to wield a Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you were an iron-assed hard case living life on a bike, you’d probably earned the right; though you might still have found yourself the target of diluted messenger disgust.
That was the pervading vibe 15 years ago when I bought my first Timbuk2 bag, a Bolo (back then, each size had a name; the Bolo was the large version). Make no mistake, these were Messenger Bags: simple, voluminous, virtually indestructible black holes, able to swallow an inordinate amount of awkwardly dimensioned deliverables, specially stabilized for use on the bike exclusively. The only grudging nods to civility were a couple of pockets sown onto the outside of the bag and an optional padded shoulder strap.
And apart from a few minor changes, it’s stayed that way. Like the coelacanth, the Classic Messenger has remained a living fossil, unchanged, while other Timbuk2 species have evolved and developed around it. Until now.
Bike2Power has just added an iPhone 5s version to their line of ruggedized, weather-sealed BikeConsole Smart Mounts for bicycles. The lineup already has a version for the 5 and 5c, but the new 5s model allows access to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
I hope you’re ready for yet another case that adds extra lenses to the iPhone’s amazing camera. This one has a twist. Well, I guess they all do, but this one has a different twist. It’s also ruggedized and waterproof.
The success of the LifeProof cases are really nothing short of a marketing phenomenon — one that’s predictably spawned a parade of imitators. This isn’t a bad thing though, as most of the newcomers are priced more competitively than the $80 and $90 LifeProof pair.
But the latest challenger — Outdoor Tech’s rubberized Safe5 — is just $50, miles below pretty much anyone else.
Pyle is definitely making some waves out in the waterproof-gadget space with their hydrophobic earphones and speakers.
We’re venturing out into deeper water with this next Pyle gadget, though, as it’s pretty unusual: The Surf Sound Talk is a waterproof Bluetooth hybrid handset-speakerphone capable of taking calls, if not actually underwater (due to the inability to conduct a conversation with one’s mouth full of water) then at least while splashing around a pool, in the drink or under a shower.
Jabra made a big show of introducing their Sport Bluetooth music/phone earbuds at CES this year, even bringing in triathlete celeb and Ironman champ Craig Alexander to flaunt the buds while he sweat away the miles on a stationary bike. Unfortunately, the Sport has been plagued by reports of abysmal Bluetooth connectivity (possibly due to range) and poor fit ever since it shipped.
Jabra’s response is their new Sport Wireless+, the successor to the Sport, which Jabra says has made everything better.
Brooklyn-based Pyle Audio has been making speakers and other audio paraphernalia for the last 50 years (if you haven’t heard of Pyle, it’s probably because they seem to spend comparatively little time or effort on marketing; just look at their website).
Pyle has a lot going on—home, car and even motorcycyle/bicycle audio are some of the pies the company has its fingers in. The company has also makes a bewildering array of waterproof audio toys, like headphones and Bluetooth speakers. While that’s nothing new, their latest gadget is a little more unusual: The SurfSound-Play is a waterproof phone case equipped with its own mini speaker.
There is an ocean of fitness trackers out there, but not many you can take into the ocean with you. There is still a large pool of sports MP3 players out there, but not many that can go swimming. We take for granted the reason for this sad set of affairs. Water may be the giver of life to this planet, but it is the supreme enemy of gadgets everywhere.
Waterproofing by Waterfi Category: Fitness Works With: Nike+ Fuelband, iPod Shuffle Price: $224.99, $139.99
That’s an annoyance even for the best of us. How many times have you been jogging, only for your MP3 player to get shorted out in the rain, or for your headphones to short out from your own sweat? And it’s doubly annoying for swimmers like me, who not only can’t take an iPod into the pool with us when we’re swimming laps, but who can’t even track our swims using fitness trackers like the Nike+ Fuelband.
That’s where WaterFi comes in. A Californian company, WaterFi specializes in taking other company’s gadgets and waterproofing them with a dual-coated, patent-pending process. WaterFi’s promise is that their process will make any gadget utterly resistent to even the most through dunking, but how well does it work in practice?