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How Waterproof Are Your Gadgets?

It's summer, and that means the beach, the pool, or the lake! While water may be great for us, it's not always so good for our electronic gadgets. So here are my top tips for how to protect the gear you already own, plus the best waterproof gear to buy new.

Protecting the Gear You Own
If you keep your phone in your pocket, it can get really sweaty, especially in summer humidity. Moisture can seep into the phone and damage it, but an easy preventative measure? Put one or two desiccant packages, like the ones you get in a new pair of shoes (or you can buy these online for about 50 cents), in the back of your phone case, and it'll absorb some of the moisture.

But if you're on a boat or at the beach, you'll need to protect your gadgets from more than just sweat. Here, you need truly waterproof solutions:

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  • For phones and tablets, I recommend Dry Case. They are waterproof to 100 feet and you can still use the touch screen and the camera. Cost: about $30.
  • For Kindles, Nooks, and tablets, I tried cases by TrendyDigital. They were inexpensive, and still made it easy to read the protected eReader.

New Waterproof Gear
Your summer vacation won't be complete without pictures to prove you were actually there. Good news: there are cameras specifically made for water that don't cost a lot more than their non-waterproof cousins. Nikon's COOLPIX AW100 costs about $270, and it takes nice pics and video both above and under the water.

For a splash-proof, poolside speaker, I like the G-Go ruggedized Bluetooth speaker. This is my new favorite summer gadget. There are more expensive, fully waterproof options, but for $70 this thing lets you remotely control the music on your phone or iPod with wet hands.

If you're going to spend a lot of time out on the water, consider a waterproof phone — like the Samsung Rugby Smart, which can be fully submerged up to a meter for a half an hour.

Finally if you are a serious water enthusiast, there are some awesome audio products to make your swim workouts more enjoyable.

  • Waterfi makes both a waterproofed iPod Nano and a Shuffle. Costs as little as $134 and you need waterproof headphones. Best part is that it is a true iPod, so you just plug it into iTunes and you are good to go.
  • If you already have an iPod, H20 Audio makes waterproof cases — just make sure you get the right one so all the buttons line up; they are model specific.
  • And I was most impressed by the Finis SwiMP3 bone conducting MP3 player. Get this: no earphones. Instead, the device clips onto your goggles and conducts vibrations through your jaw to transmit sound while you swim. The sound quality is excellent, which is pretty awesome; if I'm listening to books on tape or podcasts while I swim, I tend to last longer and get a better workout. The only downside is that the transfer process between my computer and the device (getting music on the Finis) was kind of a pain, not as easy as just syncing iTunes.

[Related: How to Rescue a Wet Cell Phone]

After-market Waterproofing?
HZO technology to waterproof phones and iPods AFTER you purchase them made a big splash (sorry couldn't resist the pun) at the Consumer Electronics Show in January but it has not been released as a public service or product. The HZO folks told me they are working with major electronics manufacturers to add the feature to products during assembly, before they ever hit the stores or customers hands, but no definitive plans or products are available for release now.

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