Senior Editor
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This is not me. But look how much fun he’s having! I almost had that much fun.


The Inertia

I noticed something recently about surf webcasts. Whenever there’s a lull in the action, shots of surfers “in the zone” or “getting amped” or even “maintaining their focus” take center stage. The earmuffed, wetsuit-clad surfers gaze fiercely out at the waves, doing lunges, deep knee bends, and sun salutations. Downward dogs, unite! They’re always bobbing to an inaudible melody pulsing from the heavily branded headphones enshrouding their ears. It makes me wonder what they’re listening to, which I suppose, is a not-so-subtle tactic to make me buy those headphones. Perhaps, the headphones – not the music or the athlete’s hard-won skill–will make me a better surfer. But, being a broke, wannabe writer, I cannot afford them. I make do with the white ear buds that came with my Christmas present mp3 player.

So when I had the opportunity to get a free waterproof case from H2O Audio to do a product review, I leapt at the chance. It’s a free thing! So I leapt.

But first, a little background on my relationship with sports and music. I used to ride a snowboard and listen to music. I mostly did it because I saw guys in contests doing it. I didn’t really like not hearing what was going on around me. Trees whizzed silently by, children soundlessly shrieked. I always felt like someone was yelling at me to watch out. So eventually, I got over my teenage desire to look like the coolest guy on the hill and stopped wearing them. But I will never get over my desire to get free things.

Yup, it works for phones too! Now you can have that business meeting you always want to have while you’re surfing.

H2O Audio makes a nifty little device that straps onto your arm. It’s a waterproof case that holds your mp3 player and comes with a pair of surprisingly high quality earphones. It enables you to listen to your music while you surf. It’s not often that I surf by myself. I have more fun when I can watch a friend get a wave, and in a more selfish vein, when they get to watch me get a wave. Admittedly, they are never impressed, but I still like it on the off chance that one day, by some freak occurrence, they will be. I like laughing or yelling or merely sitting in silence. Like Depeche Mode (which would NOT make good music to surf to), I enjoy the silence.

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So when I took my (free!) H2O Audio device out into the water, with my Christmas present mp3 player snugly tucked into its plastic envelope and headphones plugged into my ears, I felt a little odd. I felt as though everyone thought I was taking myself a little too seriously. I have a few major disputes with this device.

1. There is a good chance of dropping in on someone without knowing it. This could lend itself to a particular type of conversation, depending on who you’re dropping in on (“I’m going right! HEY! I’M GOING RIGHT! WHAT THE F#$K? I SAID I’M GOING RIGHT!!”).  I can only imagine his displeasure were I to paddle back out bobbing my head in time with a large smile on my face, completely oblivious to my offense.

2. I fell on a wave. The ear buds popped out. My suit has a hood on it, but I rarely wear it, because like I said before, I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me, and the hood muffles things. The neck wrap ear buds came out of my ears when I fell, and got hung up in my hood. If I hadn’t had a hood, I’m reasonably sure they would’ve tangled around my neck and arms, like a tiny squid. I don’t like having squids on my face.

3. I was leery about putting my precious mp3 player in the water. Electronics don’t normally work after submersion in water. But, after voicing my concerns to the H2O Audio lady (who was incredibly friendly–I felt like we would be high-fiving if we ever met), I received an email warning me that, while their products are all 100% waterproof and tested before leaving the factory, I should “open the hatch on the armband, put a piece of tissue inside and put it in the sink for 15 minutes.” I realize that this is sage advice, but it is not a trust-winning sentence for a broke guy about to completely submerge something he cannot afford to replace. Fortunately, the inner workings of my mp3 player were unaffected.

This is not me either. But if I were the pushup type, this would be another use. Casual beach pushups. Photo: Fernando Cazaes

Despite all my misgivings, this product works incredibly well. I surfed and listened to music at the same time. I have since listened to music in the shower, just because I could. I plan on taking it to the pool with me and doing laps (read: sit in the hot tub until I can no longer see straight), and I wore it to a wet t-shirt contest, which I lost. I blame it on fact that I was dancing to Depeche Mode, instead of what the contest directors were playing.

The problems I had with H2O Audio’s product were entirely personal. It does exactly what it is meant to do, namely, keep your mp3 player dry. I just don’t like listening to music while I surf. But for those who do, give this thing a shot. It won’t ruin your music or your day. And if you’re the type that gets “in the zone,” or “amped,” or even “maintains your focus,” H2O Audio makes something that might help.

For more information on H2O Audio, check out their website H20audio.com

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