My new H20 Audio Interval and iPod Shuffle
Today I was in Target and I was surprised to see a small display with H20 Audio products. They had their headphones, cases that attach to goggle straps, and arm bands. I’ve always wanted to try out some of the latest generation waterproof music devices but I’m highly skeptical of how well they work. A long time ago I had a late 90′s Speedo brand waterproof radio that was a total hunk of crap that kind of soured me to the whole idea. Anyways… I saw their display and my impulsive nature started to kick in, I decided that this would be a belated birthday present to myself. The H2O Audio Interval itself is $79.99, not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but much less than a lot of the other aquatic MP3 players… The catch is that it does not come with the MP3 player! It’s just a waterproof case with integrated headphones, you need to supply your own 2nd Generation iPod Shuffle. At the moment you can pick up a Shuffle for under $50, I got mine for $48.79. So total price was $128.78 plus tax which is about par for the course when you compare it to other systems.
The Interval System
With iPod installed
When I got home I opened everything up and read all the directions. I didn’t want to make a dumb mistake that cost me an iPod, even a cheap one! The Interval’s directions recommend doing a soak test to make sure the unit works before you insert the iPod. So I got a small container and filled it with water and left the Interval in there while I loaded up the iPod. I made sure to hold the Interval underwater for a while (it floats) and play with all the buttons. After about 30 minutes of messing around with iTunes I took the Interval out of the water. After drying off the case I opened it up. Totally dry. No leaks. Now that I knew it actually worked it was time to take it to the pool.
At the pool I got the unit strapped to my goggles (TYR Socket Rockets with a regular flat rubber strap) which was pretty easy. I did have to tighten up my straps quite a bit however to ensure the Interval wouldn’t drag my goggles right off my head. The buttons on the back of the unit are very easy to manipulate, I got the music playing, and jumped in the pool hoping for the best. I hit the water without incident. Everything was working and the music was pumping. Phew!
I wanted to swim all strokes at a variety of speeds. Although the Interval didn’t hold perfectly still it did hold up just fine to flip turns, butterfly and anything else I could think of. It did tend to move down the back of my head to a lower position that I usually wear my straps, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Midway through I switched to a pair of goggles with a silicone strap and the unit still drifted downward a little bit but held much better than my plain rubber strap did.
The sound quality was far beyond my expectations. The headphones make a really solid seal with your ear canal and the sound is very clear. Obviously it’s not as good as what you’d have on dry land, but it’s not bad at all. The only downside I found to the headphones is that you can’t really hear anything else. Even if you turn off the music it would still be a struggle to hear someone talking to you, but I bought this for the days that I work out by myself so that’s not really a problem.
Another major bonus for the Interval is that since it uses an iPod it is iTunes compatible. No messing around with other software or changing file formats required! In online reviews of other waterproof MP3 players I’ve seen compatability issues to be a major gripe.
rear view on my goggle strap
Side View on my goggles
Overall I dig the H2O Audio Interval. Honestly I didn’t think I would, but it really surprised me with how well it worked. It’s not perfect, but it is very good. I wish it weren’t as bulky, but the newest iPod Shuffle is much smaller so if they develop a case for that I think it will be awesome. Longevity is another matter all together. I’m totally stoked with it on day one, we’ll see how long it really lasts. If I have a major failure I’ll make sure to update my review with it, but the design is so simple I don’t really see any problems in the near future.
You can get your hands on the H20 Interval in person at Target like I did or you can order it online.
**UPDATE 17JUN09: I came up with a fix for holding the unit in place. A latex swim cap does wonders. Read more
**UPDATE 18AUG09: I have been having problems with one of the earbuds staying in place. When they are firmly in the ear they sound pretty good, when the seal is broken… not so much. I’m experimenting with some different sized ear pieces to see if I can get this problem fixed.