Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going for an audiable Swim

The H20 Interval case is the companies 3rd generation waterproof iPod case to enter the fairly specialised market of musical swim-ware.

As a reluctant swimmer, but one determined to put in some real swimtime in the hope that my damaged hands can recover, waterproof MP3 players now more than ever are a necessity. Swimming without music is now so tedious that it pains me to even contemplate it.

The interval is going to be my fourth waterproof swimware case that I've used.

As you can see the musical payload for this case is the 3G Apple iPod shuffle. Since this Shuffle 3G is considerably smaller and lighter than Shuffle 2G I had high hopes that the H2O case would follow the same trend.

Think again! Although more convenient than the old case (shown above) and of higher quality plastic, it is actually larger. Somewhat annoying since I went to the trouble of buying a shuffle 3G just for the swimming.

Here is a picture of the unit connected to my daily swim goggles. So how does it rate?

  • Compared to the old Interval; the 3 buttons on the top are easier to use

  • The 3 buttons are similar to the Shuffle 3G controls i.e volume up and down, and the middle button start/stop and play list selection.

  • I bought the case with a "bargain pack" of H2O swim hat and goggles. The swim hat is great (worn inside out to avoid projecting a nerdy huge H2O logo). The goggles not so great ... I used their strap and my existing goggles. I stupidly believed their straps would be customised to the Interval edges. They are not! And after about 20 uses their strap just broke! Okay, I'm supposed to be reviewing the case, but still don't you think this is shoddy?

  • H2O continue to charge us non US customers a large (not small) fortune to ship to Europe. This has knock on consequences. For example, it would not be economic to get a replacement set of Goggles straps sent to me I'm sure. (Our previous Interval was faulty and we had to post it back at our expense!)

  • The sound quality is good, however for me my left ear sound reduces to almost 10% volume after a few minutes, which severely reduces my listening pleasure.

  • The case comes with several differing sizes of ear buds. I'd hoped this would sort out the differential volume, but unfortunately not.

  • In this design as for the previous Interval should the earphones break down or deteriorate you'll have to buy a whole new unit. Other units (i.e. case and separate headphones) are more flexible in that regard but more difficult to wear. Since the Interval is so compact it can easily sit on the goggle straps, other player and separate headphone lead combinations cannot.

  • You really don't need a high capacity Shuffle. Buy the cheapest 3G one. I put only about 2 hours music onto the Shuffle, which I change each day before my swim. It could be a topical audio Podcast or some music, the sound quality is clear enough to makes sense of even complex audiobooks/ spoken Podcasts.