My Finis Inc. Neptune (which I was never that crazy about design-wise) was starting to fail and I wanted to replace it. I started noticing which waterproof audio devices people were using in the pool and did some research. I didn’t want another Neptune, and I kept seeing people with little ipod shuffles clipped to their goggle straps. Seemed like a good idea. Until I got one (see review below). Then I looked at the Finis Inc. site and HEY! they developed a new device, more like the low-profile SwiMP3 that I used to have. And since I had an old Neptune, I could send that back and upgrade to the DUO (for a small fee, of course – $75).
Here are my completely unscientific, totally subjective findings, written in a somewhat stream of consciousness fashion.
Finis: I’ve been using their devices for years, from bulky to sleek, back to bulky, and now the sleek DUO (I don’t have a picture of the original unit, but it was cumbersome, even bulkier than the Neptune. I like the blue one below best).
- Pros for the DUO: comfort, nothing in my ears – ear paddles rest on your cheekbones and conduct sound through bone, short cable between ear paddles, good sound quality, I can still hear what’s going on around me, fine customer service. Holds plenty of music.
- Cons: the clip (where it attaches to your goggle strap) on the ear paddles seems like it’s designed for flat goggle straps.
It works on round straps but it’s not as easy to attach or adjust, for in-water use only, notification lights are not quite as advertised – blinking green when charging? No, I only saw solid green when charging – or nothing. Blinking red when low on charge? No, I saw steady red and it was still playing. Whatever. When I asked about charging, I was told to plug it into a wall charger for best results. It doesn’t say anything about a wall charger in the info and doesn’t come with one, so … really? The connection on the charger might be a little iffy. I say that because when I had it plugged in (using the wall charger), the light was green and then blinked a little and went off, indicating a lost connection. It actually seems to work better plugged into my computer. A charge is supposed to last for ~7 hours of playing time. The red light came on after 2 swims (a little over 2 hours), but the device was still playing, so I don’t know how long it will really hold a charge. I’ll be sure to charge often just in case 7 hours is optimistic!
Underwater Audio: I was skeptical because I don’t like things in my ears, but I’ve been seeing so many more of these lately. I thought I’d give it a try (pictured below with upgraded earbuds).
- Pros: IF a good seal is obtained, I imagine the sound would be great. Small waterproofed lightweight genuine ipod shuffle, can be used in or out of the water, short earphone cord doesn’t get in the way, comes with an extension to lengthen the cord, many earbud options, great customer service. Holds plenty of music.
- Cons: I couldn’t get a good seal so water pretty quickly got in my ears and rendered the device useless – I couldn’t hear the music. When I spoke to a customer service rep, I learned that the earbuds that come with the unit apparently AREN’T that great when doing flip turns (although the info says they’re fine), and upgrading the buds supposedly costs another $70 (I fought not to pay – like I said, great customer service). The better earpieces still didn’t work for me. Vaseline is recommended to get a good seal. I feel slimy just thinking about that, but I tried it. Yuck, and it didn’t help. I just ended up with gooey ears. The function buttons are stiff due to the waterproofing process – not a huge deal, but worth being aware of.
The takeaway: I really, really don’t like things in my ears, and I really, really do like hearing what’s going on around me. This type of device is not a good choice for me, but it appears to be good for others. It’s not returnable so now I have a waterproof shuffle that I don’t need. The DUO is a better option for me.
[*update: the charger that came with the DUO is crap. After some back and forth with customer service, I was informed that there is now a charger that attaches more securely, and one is being sent to me. Isn’t this something the company would know without me bugging them?! Like a recall that owners are contacted about? We’ll see how the new one works… an annoyance, but I still like the DUO well enough. 7/12/16]