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Product: H2o Audio Interval Headphone System for iPod Shuffle 2G (also made for 3G)
A new year’s resolution of mine is to do at least one long (which I’m defining as 2+ hour) swim each weekend, so to garner motivation, I gave myself an H2o Audio waterproof 2G iPod Shuffle headphone system as a Christmas gift, courtesy of my longtime-accumulating AmEx points. I spent 50 minutes trying it out today, and I’m sure glad I did. Though I was pleased with the system, I encountered several surprises, which I’ll discuss below.
The kit includes five sets of earbuds, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them not fitting. I fit the earbuds to my ears before hitting the pool, and left the rest at home so I wouldn’t lose them. This turned out to be a mistake. The manual says, “Some users may find it preferable to use different size earplugs for each ear,” and I concur. The left earbud stayed in without discomfort almost the entire 50 minutes, but the right earbud kept falling out. I guess my ear openings are different sizes! Putting my cap over the earbud helped at first, but eventually jammed the earbud farther in my ear canal, and then I couldn’t hear anything.
The manual also states: “Larger size earplugs may be preferable during active or in-water use as they may offer more contact with the ear and may improve the watertight seal.”
Bottom line: Bring all of the earbuds with you during its first use, because earbuds may fit you differently when underwater. The system comes with a nifty little (waterproof) case that’s plenty big enough for the housing and all 10 earbuds.
The unit has two clips on its backside, which rest over the goggle straps. The manual shows a photo of the unit placed in the center of the head. The plastic adjuster clip on my Speedo Women’s Vanquisher goggles also lies directly behind the center of my head, so I tried placing the unit to the side of the clip. Unfortunately, the wires connected to the earbuds turned out to be too short for this to work successfully. Perhaps the short wires minimize the risk of getting them caught on something. But if the unit was not resting directly in the center of my goggle strap behind my head, one wire would become too taut, causing its earbud to fall out of my ear.
After I moved the goggle-adjuster clip to one side of the goggle strap, I slid the unit to the middle of my head. The earbuds stayed in place, though the end of the strap poked my temple at first, so it took some tweaking to get it right.
I don’t know how the wires would be long enough to fit a person with a large head, though.
The sound quality was excellent. The instructions recommend playing the iPod inside the case for 30 minutes before using it in the water (to eliminate a vacuum that may have formed during shipment), which I did. Upon my very first use of the unit, before the 30-minute play, the sound was crystal clear — but I wasn’t underwater.
I used the set while swimming freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. When I pushed off the wall rather forcefully, particularly in backstroke, it would slide down. Maybe I have an odd-shaped head, but tightening the goggles seemed to help. Unfortunately, I was near the end of my workout when I realized this, so I’ll have to test this hypothesis some other time.
The buttons on the case mapped directly to my iPod. I found they worked well, though I had to press the buttons much harder than without the case. I’m not sure if this was due to the case being brand new, or because the stems behind the buttons had a long way to poke. Once I got used to this, it wasn’t a big deal.
Was I worried about my iPod getting wet?
Not really. The case contains a removable silicone seal, which protects the iPod from the water, and I made sure the case was sealed tightly without any silicone hanging out before using it. All the raving Amazon and Apple Store reviews also helped me put my faith in this product.
The instructions strongly suggest submerging the case sans iPod in a glass of water for 30 minutes, then opening it up to check for water. Because I was too eager to get my unit to the pool and try it out, I didn’t do this. If for nothing else besides peace of mind, I’d highly recommend the test before putting your iPod inside.
My iPod didn’t get wet. I didn’t open the case until it was completely dry and I was far away from the pool, and my iPod emerged unscathed.
Registering my product doubled my warranty to two years, so I’d say that’s a good deal. The warranty covers material and workmanship defects — so if you forget to close your case (which I’d say is really hard to do) before you swim, you’re out of luck.
If you’ve purchased one of these, I’d recommend a trial swim for experimentation before plunging ahead into using it on a long swim. I wouldn’t use this while swimming with a group for similar reasons to why I wouldn’t recommend cycling with headphones. All in all, it was neat to swim with music. Next time, I’ll have to work on (and post) my playlist.
Do you use waterproof housing for your mp3 player or own another type of underwater mp3 player? What has been your experience? Please leave your opinions in the comments.