Do you get bored in the swimming baths? Of course you do, which is why Speedo – of skimpy trunks fame – has come up with this waterproof MP3 player that easily meets its, err, brief. Something of a novelty item despite its lofty price, the AquaBeat delivers on its main promise of being waterproof, but is fit for purpose all over.
This 35g soft black (or green, or pink) plastic gadget has a capacity of just 1GB, which will accommodate up to 1000 songs, depending on the bit rate you’ve saved them at.
Normally we’d berate an MP3 of this price for such a derisory capacity, but the AquaBeat is an ‘occasional’ player for the specific purpose of water-based activities – and for that, it will enough music for all but the cross-channel swimmer.
Built for the water
Whether you get on with the over-the-ear scaffolding that accompanies the cone-shaped earphones is another matter entirely – but do bear in mind the AquaBeat’s special duties.
As well as keeping water out, those ridged cones are joined by a design that sees this lightweight player best paired with goggles; there’s a goggle strap-shaped pass-through at the back, while the exceptionally short headphones cable is just long enough to meet the main unit. It’s a little time-consuming to configure in the changing room before you swim, but at least there are no trailing cables. Unless you want some, that is; a 60cm waterproof headphones cable extender ships in the box along with a small nylon netting bag if you’d rather swim with a cable attached to your trunks’ side pocket (there’s a clothes clip to stop you getting in a tangle).
What’s it like?
After connecting the AquaBeat to a netbook using the 3.5mm stereo cable, it appeared as a drive and we dragged a collection of MP3 and WMA music files onto the device while it charged up – a process that took less than 30 minutes (it stayed alive for almost seven hours).
That’s excellent, though the system is rudimentary; a green LED flashing throughout (so swimmers behind you can see you’re busy?), the AquaBeat doesn’t even shuffle your music – it simply plays each track alphabetically or numerically.
What controls there are, are simple, with chunky buttons for volume and tracks skipping/pausing/stopping. Tugging the headphones out of the unit shuts it down automatically.
Our only concern was sound quality, though it largely depends on which shape of earbud you go for.
Two sizes of cones are provided, but both delivered a muffled, clipped sound that was plagued by hissing and lacked detail. Much better – for our ears – were the more standard-shaped headphone buds, which worked just as well in the water while delivering a much fuller, bassier sound.
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- Perfect for swimming and other water-based activities.
- Rudimentary controls and features; sound quality isn't great.
Not an advanced MP3 player by any means, the AquaBeat's simple operation and waterproof design is welcome in the water though 1GB is exceptionally small for the money.
Slightly cumbersome to strap-on to goggles it might be, but the AquaBeat does its job under the waves - and just about makes the grade for the walk back home, too.