Speedo Aquabeat Waterproof MP3 Player

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Speedo Aquabeat Waterproof MP3 Player

Manufacturer: Speedo

Price Range: $65.18 - $99.99

Manufacturer Description

This waterproof, MP3 player is designed for listening to music while swimming, rafting, kayaking, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, bathing or engaging in other activities that involve water. According to the manufacturer, it can be used safely up to 3 meters underwater, has a playtime of up to 9 hours, waterproof earplugs, and ergonomic buttons for easy control while swimming. The product comes with Playlist Editing Software for adding and sorting of music files and charges via USB connection to a PC or laptop.

Manufacturer Specifications

Supported formats: MP3, MP3 VBR and WMA files; 1GB internal memory (holds 250-500 songs). System OS: Windows ME/2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS 9.X or higher. Output: 10mW + 10mW. USB 2.0 PC interface; built-in 3.7V Li-Polymer rechargeable battery. Weighs 35g (0.7 lbs.); 2.4” wide x 1.8” deep x 0.8” high. Frequency range: 20Hz-20KHz. Standard accessories include software CD, waterproof earphones, USB & audio extension cable, different-sized ear buds, and carry case. Limited 1-year warranty.

ACE Expert Review

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

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