Waterproof Cameras Reviewed by PCMag

11 09 2009

Another waterproof technology article popped up last week on PCMag, this one a review of Cameras You Can Swim With by Zack Honig. The subjects of scrutiny are true waterproof cameras — no normal cameras stuck in waterproof cases, no disposables.

Canon PowerShot D10The best review goes to the Canon PowerShot D10 ($329.99 list, pictured), which is rugged and easy to navigate and offers excellent image quality.  As the only camera  in the test group with an external lens, it’s also the bulkiest.

Other models reviewed include:

Check out PCMag’s side-by-side comparison to compare features.

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Waterproof Your iPod Shuffle 2nd Generation

7 09 2009

SwimMan Waterproofed Apple iPod ShuffleJust came across a post on on Markus Weickenmeier’s blog about a new waterproof technology solution from a company called SwimMan.  For $250, they will sell you a genuine new 2nd Generation Apple iPod Shuffle which has been treated with SwimMan’s proprietary internal waterproofing technology, plus a waterproof headset manufactured by SwimMan which clips onto the strap of your swim goggles.  The waterproofed iPod Shuffle is available in silver or colored versions, and the package includes the original iPod packaging and accessories: charging dock, non-waterproof headphones, foam earbud pads, manuals, etc.  (SwimMan will also sell you the waterproofed iPod Shuffle without the waterproof headset for $150, or the waterproof headset alone for$100.)  This is not the first iPod Shuffle solution for swimmers, but it appears to be the only one that actually waterproofs the gadget rather than putting it in a waterproof box.

If you already own a new or nearly new iPod Shuffle 2nd Generation (1GB or 2GB), SwimMan will waterproof it for you for a fee of $100 and offer a one-year limited warranty from your purchase date if you can provide your original receipt.  This service does come with a warning that your buttons will work a little differently than they used to:

Please note that due to the waterproofing process, the on/off button and the shuffle button will be stationary.  The functions of these two buttons are controlled either by iTunes on your computer (shuffle feature), by simply disconnecting your waterproof headset (Off), or pushing the center button of the wheel for On.  The forward, reverse, volume increase and volume decrease, as well as the On center button will be slightly stiffer than your non-waterproofed iPod, but still fully functional—and completely waterproof!  Guaranteed.

On reading Markus’ post I immediately headed to SwimMan’s site to see what other products they might be able to waterproof for me, but unfortunately they seem to specialize just in the 2nd Gen Shuffle at present.  I’m no closer to my waterproof laptop, but hopefully I can be of help to fellow swimmers whose heads are actually the right size and shape for the swimming goggles these waterproof headsets attach to.

Interval Waterproof Headphone System from H2O AudioAnother all-in-one waterproofing solution for the Shuffle is the Interval Waterproof Headphone System ($80, pictured at left) from H2O Audio, which consists of a waterproof case for the Apple iPod Shuffle 2nd Gen and attached waterproof headphones (5 sizes of earplugs provided), all designed to clip to your swim goggles.   Waterproof to a depth of 12 feet, the Interval system also includes a  carrying case.  Unlike SwimMan, which actually waterproofs your player, H2O Audio simply provides a waterproof case for it, which adds a little more bulk.  However, the control pad on the outside of the Interval case allows push-button operation of the Shuffle’s existing controls, which should allow a little more functionality.iS2 Waterproof iPod Case by H2O Audio (See a full review at iLounge.)

If you already have waterproof headphones or are looking for a less expensive solution, you might try H2O Audio’s  iS2 Waterproof iPod Case (Shuffle 2nd Generation) ($40, pictured at right), which attaches to an included  armband and allows you to use the control pad on your player by pushing through a flexible case.  This product does not include earphones, but is compatible with any 3.5mm set and at the moment is being offered free with the purchase of Surge Waterproof Headphones ($60).  (See full iS2 review and Surge headphone review at iLounge.)

Note that all three solutions offered above are only compatible with the 2nd Generation Apple iPod Shuffle.  If you own a more recent Shuffle, a different model iPod, or another brand of MP3 player, there’s still hope: H2O Audio offers a whole line of waterproof armbands and cases for various sizes of MP3 players.  Another company worth checking out is OtterBox, which offers protective gear for your iPod, iPhone, BlackBerry, GPS or PDA.  Although most of their products are geared more toward the accident-prone non-athlete than the serious swimmer, their Armor Series cases are waterproof to a depth of 3 feet.  OtterBox would also be happy to sell you a set of H2O Audio’s H3 Waterproof Headphones (review at iLounge).

SwiMP3 (v2) by FINISAnd for the ultimate in swimming technology?  The SwiMP3v2 player by FINIS ($150, pictured at left) throws headphones to the wind and instead uses the sound conduction of bones. Wear this player on your cheek (clipped to your goggle strap) and your cheekbone transmits the vibration to the fluid of your inner ear.  Cool.  (See a full review at PCMAG.com.)

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8 Reasons Computers are Cooler than Crayons

20 08 2009

CrayonsRecently a visitor named Jake left an interesting query after reading my bio:

Why don’t you hire a stenographer? Then you can just write like scuba divers do, with a crayon on plastic, and have them transcribe it for you – might be easier than worrying about waterproof WiFi.

I’m ashamed to say that I had not even thought to research scuba diving as part of my quest for the best waterproof blogging technology before I saw Jake’s comment.    Now that I’ve done some research, here’s my initial take on the crayon versus computer debate:

1. Crayons are too big. Yes, I know, crayons are much smaller than laptops and are perfectly sized for human kids, but they’re not terribly practical for turtles.  (Disclaimer: I have never met a sea turtle, but hear they’re at least as large as some human children.  I can only speak from my own experience.) My hands happen to be perfectly sized for computer keyboards (with a whole hand per key), but they aren’t big enough to fit around standard crayons.  I looked into toddler crayons, but apparently the smaller the kid, the bigger the crayon.

2. Dive slates come with pencils, not crayons. Still working on confirming this, but it appears that most dive slates come with pencils attached.  Disappointing news, since I’d rather use a little color.  However, I should mention that there are glow-in-the-dark slates available, and anything that glows in the dark is inherently cool (e.g. laptops).

3. Slates are small. Pencil versus crayon distinction aside,  divers have a very small area to write on, so they either need to have tons of them on hand or deal with the hassle of copying their notes to paper or computer on dry land before wiping their slates clean to reuse them.  At least one diver is now using waterproof paper because slates are such a hassle.

4. Labor leads to lag time. I know, I know.  I’m a turtle.  Why should I care about lag time?  But I’m also a blogger, and bloggers are supposed to be able to provide breaking news to the masses, which is hard to achieve when you have to struggle to get your hand around a pencil, surface with tons of little slates, and then wait for someone else to interpret your sloppy handwriting and copy the previously fresh news onto a non-waterproof laptop to post.

5. No money for a stenographer. Poor dexterity, slate size, and lag time are all moot points in my case, as I’m presently between acting gigs and don’t have any money in my budget for a stenographer.  Unless someone offers me either a feature role or a free stenographer (hint, hint), it looks like Jake’s suggestion won’t work for me, and I’ll be continuing the hunt for waterproof PCs.

6. Dive computers aren’t, you know, computers. While checking out dive sites (the Web kind, not the underwater kind), I ran across someone discussing dive computers, and a great wave of excitement hit me.  If scuba divers are using PCs, I figured, there has to be a waterproof computer out there for me!  As it turns out though, these gadgets called computers are just decompression meters, which won’t help me at all with my shallow-water technological pursuits.

7. Computers are my connection to the world outside my tank. Last time I checked, neither crayons nor dive slates could offer me the latest tech updates or the world’s funniest pet videos.  So without a computer to surf the Web on, I wouldn’t have much inspiration for my posts.

8.  The best things come in small packages. There’s something about a laptop that appeals to my inner nature…fitting as much brain as you can in as small a shell as possible is a cause close to my heart.  (Yes, crayons are small too, but short on brains.)

It boils down to this: Crayons are colorful and creative, but laptops are just inherently cool, enough so that I’m happy to keep crawling out of the tank to use them until I can find the perfect one to join me in the water.

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“Total liquid submersion” sounds waterproof to me!

11 08 2009

ReactorAs my followers know, I’ve been scouring ebay for a submersible laptop with wifi to make posting easier.  Still no luck with used machines, but I just found this blog post about a PC that uses total liquid submersion technology to keep cool.  The way I see it, if they intentionally wrap it in liquid, it has to be waterproof, right?   You can get it with wireless, and the thing is gorgeous, but there are a few issues to work out…

  1. Not a laptop, therefore I’d have to find a submersible monitor
  2. Can’t find the dimensions of the case on the website, but guessing this is too big for the tank, so would probably have to move into it instead of moving it in
  3. Will need to star in a few more films before I can afford it

I promise you, one day I will own one of these beauties!

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