Speedo is a big name in swimming and water exercise gear and apparel, and the waterproof MP3 player is a recent addition to their collection. This product is touted as a way to enjoy any water, snow, or dry land sport while enjoying MP3 music.
According to the manufacturer’s website, the MP3 player comes with Playlist Editing Software that “enables easy adding and sorting of music files.” We loaded the software onto a laptop with a Windows Vista operating system, and our experience with the software was frustrating — instead of simply dragging and dropping music files from iTunes into the Aquabeat Playlist Editor as noted in the instructions, we had to drag and drop them to the laptop desktop and then upload them to the device, one file at a time. After loading the music, we could sort it — but only into one list. Creating multiple playlists wasn’t an option.
While the product is compact and lightweight as advertised and attached easily to the goggle strap, the one-size-fits-all headphone earpiece did not meet expectations. Advertised as being “designed for comfort and fit — stay in place no matter how extreme the activity,” they kept slipping off while lap swimming — an irritating distraction that required frequent stopping for readjustment. And the “waterproof” earphones never created a good enough seal for quality sound — even though we tried all three included in the product package. As soon as the ear canal filled with water, the sound was muffled. During the rare times we experienced decent sound, it was mono — never in stereo. Due to the poor sound, there’s a distinct risk of users increasing the volume to levels that could result in hearing loss over time.
Music is an important workout element for many people — for entertainment, motivation, and pacing. Swimmers are often at the mercy of the pool staff for music to accompany their workouts. If it’s available at all, the sound quality of music blasting from a poolside boom box or overhead speakers is very poor. A waterproof MP3 player is a terrific idea — but Speedo has some additional research and development work to do to make the Aquabeat worth the price. Our advice? If you can’t wait for a better-quality model, try a friend’s Aquabeat to determine if it’s a good fit for you — or purchase one from a dealer with a reasonable return policy.
What we liked:
- The idea of a waterproof MP3 player to use while lap-swimming
- Lightweight, compact size
- Easy-to-use controls and swim goggle mount
- Device floats if it falls off
What we didn't like:
- Cumbersome music upload process
- Ill-fitting headphones that tended to slip off in the water
- Ear buds that did not create a good seal, resulting in sound distortion
August 24, 2010