Episode 41: Swimming with iPhones in HawaiiIt's the ultimate summer vacation, where we test out top products in the sand and water, including rugged digital cameras, iPhone underwater cases, and the Kindle Paperwhite.
-I think it needs to cook a little longer. We should get a shave ice. This week on Always On-- -Oh, my gosh! These are spectacular. -No way! -Oh. -Oh. -Three. -Oh. A rock almost hit me in the eye. Welcome to Always On. I'm Molly Wood. -And I'm Jeff Cannata. -And this is the show where we take a look at the tech that's part of your life. -And your future. -This week, we're coming to you from the youngest and largest island in the Hawaii chain. We're here in Kona. -Beautiful Kona. A place known for its snorkeling and other water sports and the perfect spot for us to test some gadgets in the heat and sand and water. -So, let's get right to it because a lot of you have asked us to try out underwater cases for the iPhone. -We have three of them for you ranging in price, durability, and size. -Let's see how they stack up. All right. Like we said, we're gonna road test these iPhone underwater cases. We're gonna start with the BeachBuoy which is-- -20 bucks. -Right, 20 bucks. This is a $20 case. We have the iPhone 5 that we've already tortured in here. -Yes. -Then, we have this kind of voodoo daddy from Hitcase. This is $90 and that's why my iPhone 5 is in here. -Yes. -We're basically just gonna swim out. We're gonna start with this-- this, though, the third one that we'll try is the iGills. How much does-- -$330. Yeah. -330. But this is for serious business. It goes down pretty deep. -And then the one downside to this is only available for iPhone 4, 4S, 3G. So, we're gonna try that out in a minute, but first-- -We got our gear. We got our snorkel gear. -Hey, this is my phone, so you could go. -I get the [unk]. -Okay. Here's the deal with the Hitcase. Everything seemed fine under there and I can definitely operate the buttons up here. -Yeah. -Okay, watch, right. Like I go like this, I'm like, that's the camera thing. And then, I put it on camera. No biggie. And then I take a picture of you. That all works fine. I can do any of that under the water. What I had to do was basically come up to the surface, put it on video mode, and then just take a bunch of video underwater. So, for 80 bucks, I wanna be able to press the button underwater and take a picture, that seems reasonable if that's what it's for. -I gotta say a little sick-- a little sick. I'm fully functional. I could do everything I needed to do. It's superconvenient. It's just hanging out. -I know, that's really nice. -I think it's dry. There's plenty to see out there. It's beautiful. -It's beautiful and the fish-- -They were amazing. -It's time for round two. We have the iGills case which is that $330 case. This one is much more than just a waterproof case. It's all about really professional diving. -It interests me. Yeah. I mean, the fact that it has a whole dive meter thing means that it's built for much more than we're gonna use it for today 'cause we're just gonna kind of go snorkeling. The good news is I feel like there's zero chance that thing's ever gonna get wet. And then, while you're going for the Cadillac of cases there,-- -Yes. -I was so impressed with the little Honda Civic, the BeachBuoy. -The BeachBuoy. -I'm gonna take this out because the Hitcase wouldn't let me take any photos. I-- -You put your own real phone in the BeachBuoy. -I put my own real phone in the BeachBuoy. -I like their hits [unk]. -Okay. All right. Round two. -All right, here we go. -Serious business. -The big bad expensive case, we dropped it. I took lots of pictures with it. -That seems like the best thing. We need to get out there and see if there's any-- -We should take it out. -moisture inside 'cause if there is-- -Yeah. Scary. -Oh, it looks pretty dry. -[unk] sure. -It looks pretty dry. Oh, my gosh. These are spectacular. -No way. He goes right into the-- -[unk] of me. -It takes really good [unk] -It really does. -We went on back to the dive van and looked at our pictures and video. -I like to call it base camp. -I mean, I think we had a pretty good idea on the beach, certainly, in terms of underwater performance. -It's the most expensive, but you get what you pay for. -Beautiful. -But this is really designed for divers and I feel like if you're a diver, the device is [unk]. I don't know why you wanna bring your iPhone and turn your iPhone into a diving device. -Well, I will say that, even in the BeachBuoy, I got a text while I was underwater. That was kind of awesome. -But you couldn't respond to it. -I know, that's true. Because I couldn't make any buttons work. So, the biggest bummer for me about both the BeachBuoy and the Hitcase, maybe, it's the saltwater, the conduction of the touch interface 'cause it worked fine above, but it didn't work underwater. That was just kind of a letdown overall. -Yeah. I think the BeachBuoy is great if you're just looking for something to protect your phone and keeps you accidentally dropping it in the water if you're on a boat somewhere, whatever. But as far as like taking pictures underwater-- -Yeah. -it's not gonna do the job. -Hitcase video quality since that's all I could take was really good and the Hitcase has something going for which is that is an all-around tough case. -Yeah. -So, if you wanna use it for any adventure, it's got a cool wide-angle lens on the back and you can take it underwater. So, there's a lot to recommend this at 90 bucks. -If I really had to choose between one of these three-- -Uh-huh. -and the one I think you're most likely to buy, BeachBuoy. -Yes. -I think for most people who are just gonna use it once and really wanna take that thing in the water, spend your 20 bucks wisely. -But if price is no object-- -Nice pictures -Nice pictures. -I have to say each one of those cases has something to recommend it depending on what you wanna use it for. I just don't think you're wrong with the $20 bag. -That's right. A $20 bag is a great way to put it. I'm just still gonna look out for that perfect underwater iPhone case that lets me take great pictures and is in that sweet spot of price. -Me too. I think we're just gonna have to come back next year and-- -Twist my arm. -keep trying. -Twist my arm. -Keep trying. All right. We're gonna take a quick break. When we come back, we will chill out on the beach while we heat up the Kindle Paperwhite. -And then later, we have two very rugged cameras that we're going to road test with some underwater wildlife. -Some friends. Welcome back everyone. Now, when I look around a beach or a pool lately, all I see is Kindle's no more trashy novel romance covers. -Well, I'm one of those guys that has a Kindle Paperwhite and I love it. I love bringing it to the beach, but I'm always worried about dropping it into the sand or in the water. -Everyone is and that's why we're gonna torture test one, but not his. -Thank you. -Time for our beach side torture test of the Kindle Paperwhite. -Yeah, it's going in the sand, it's going in the sun, and it's going in the water. -All those things. Let's get it going and let-- You know what, I think I could easily imagine just leaving it on the towel in the hot sun while we frolic in the cool, cool water. Shall we? -Let's put it there. Let's frolic. -Hey, I bet that thing seems pretty hot. -Yeah, we should probably check it out. -Yeah. All right. 132. I think it needs to cook a little longer. We should get a shave ice. -Okay. -Care for a shave ice? -Cheers. -Cheers. -Oh, poor Kindle. -Poor Kindle? -Look at that thing. -Been hanging out in the sun. It's a beautiful day. -It's got a nice tan, I bet. -That's-- I hope so. -Let's find out. We flipped it over because it just wasn't heating up enough when it was faced up. 140. You know, I'm saying this thing has been out here about two hours. -Yeah. -I feel like that's about as hot as it's gonna get. -I agree. I mean, that's a real world situation. -Yeah. -Out in the sun, two hours. It's a-- -Oh, oh. Oh, here, why don't you take that? -Yeah, that's really hot. -That's hot. -Very hot. All right. I'm gonna turn it on. -Swipe to unlock. -Swiping to unlock. -Still perfectly responsive. -No problem. -Wow! -It's still Paperwhitey. Look at that. -Not so bad. -I mean, we were having a hard time sitting in the sun. -I know. The Kindle was like-- -But Kindle could handle it, no problem. -Okay, Kindle. All right. What do you say if we drop our Kindle on the beach here? -It's time for the Kindle to get it from here to eternity moment. -That's right. -Ready? -Yup. Oh. -Oh, no. -Oh, Kindle. Oh, no. It's so-- That's some dirty water. Hey, let's do that thing we're not supposed to do. -Turn it right on. -Turn it right on. Oh, no, Kindle. Oh, no. Oh, don't go. Oh, no, Kindle is-- Oh, oh, mayday. No. How are we doin' here? Yup. -So what's happening? -The touchscreen is freakin out a little bit, but I wouldn't say it's terrible. -Yeah. It's still working. -It's working. Upon further reflection-- -It won't come back to life. -It won't come back to life. I think we may have actually killed it when we did that thing you're not supposed to do, turn it back on. -Yeah. It was working fine, but then when we tried to turn it off and turn it back on, didn't-- it didn't survive. -Not so good. So, we'll dry it out on the sun for a little while. We're still gonna drop it, but hopefully, it will recover later. -Yeah. -Yeah. We'll see. So, we're on a very windy beach off the Kona Highway. -It's kind of post-apocalyptic. -It's pretty crazy. One of the locals told me that he calls this Turtle Beach, like I don't see any turtles, but I do see a lot of dangerous-looking lava rocks. -Yes. -It would be a shame if the Kindle fell on one of those, don't you think? -I do think. -Three, two, one-- -Oh! -Oh, I miss the rocks completely. How about you have a jolt like that? -You missed the-- You missed the jagged rocks. -Oh. I can't watch. I can watch, though. I can watch. -And one, two, three. -Oh. All right. We have some scratching. -The screen held up though. -With a moisture screen, it's okay. Oh, but it's sharp to the touch. -Sharp to the touch. -What do you think? One more? -Okay, go for it. Maybe, a little height this time. -Three, two, one. -Oh. -Oh. A rock almost hit me in the eye. -[unk] -It's beat up plenty, but the screen is okay. -I mean, that's what you get with that plastic backing. It really can handle it. -Yeah. I would say, as far as the drop goes, it's pretty tough. We can't really see it, but it'll come on, though, 'cause of the saltwater. Sorry to see you go, Paperwhite. At least, it wasn't yours. -Yes. Thank you for not using mine. It looks like I could finish my books. But we have lots more to see on the island including some places to take some excellent photos. -Oh, yes! We have two rugged cameras and we're going to pit them against each other in our first-ever Always On underwater road test. Welcome to the funniest road test that I think we've done yet. -Yeah. -Maybe, even better than the skydiving. -Yeah. We're on a boat with a whole pod of dolphins surrounding us and taking pictures with our new action cam. -I know. We're so old school. We're actually using cameras instead of phones. So, I am gonna try out the hopefully waterproof and otherwise rugged Fujifilm FinePix XP200 and you have the Olympus Tough TG-2. -Indeed. -Now, both of these are supposed to be good underwater, up to about 50 feet. -Uh-huh. -We're gonna test it with just snorkeling in the water and then we're gonna hand them off to some divers to try to take them just a tiny bit deeper. -Yeah. -Tiny bit deeper. Oh, my God. Look at this, Jeff. Like there was something right there. -It's so cool. -Wow. -Look at that shot. -Dude. -Pretty good, huh? -Yeah. That's outstanding. All right, I have to say, so far, our cameras are holding up pretty well. -Yeah. -It's gonna come down to image quality. Okay, so, we have the two Tims here. -Yeah, we wanted to make it fair. So, we got two Tims. We don't wanna have-- -Because that makes them more awesome. -Exactly. -And the Tims are divers. We are not. Neither Jeff nor I are dive certified. So, we're gonna go ahead and give each of you a camera. -Tims, are you ready? -Ready to rock. -All right. -Let's do this. -Good luck. -Nice. -Tims down. -Two Tims in the water. -Two Tims in the water [unk] in the water. -I think one thing we can guarantee is that Tim will-- Hey. -Hey. Welcome back. -The Olympus might be done. -Oh, no. -The Olympus might be done. -It was on all the way to 130 feet and lost focus around 80. -Okay. -And then, just when we're sort of coming up, she shut off. -Really? She has the vents. We need to get one of those chambers. -So, we went to 100, it was fine. -Yeah. -And far and far, still taking pictures with [unk] at 130. -Wow. -Wow. -Very sweet. It's got me much more [unk]. -Oh. We've got problems. -Only the-- -Yeah. -So, I'm assuming there may be some water in here. So I've dried mine off and opened the battery compartment, but-- -Yeah. Unlocking it and opening the battery compartment-- -Yeah. -and there's definitely moisture in there. -Oh, no. Oh, yeah, I can see a little water in there. Oh. -Yeah. I can see droplets. Yeah. -So that might be what happened to it. -Okay. Just because my camera doesn't work anymore and every glass surface has a moisture under it,-- -Oh. -it doesn't mean, the pictures might not be amazing. So, let's check them out. -Okay. Oh, nice shot, though. -Thanks. Wow. Wow. Oh, wow. -I know. -Isn't it awesome? -That was great. Wow. -That was the best moment ever. -That's a great photo. -That's-- You gotta print that. -Yeah. -You're gonna put that on the wall. I have to say, though, I'm thinking the image quality is on the straw at this point. -I agree. -Unfortunately, for your camera, that does not appear to be the deciding factor. -It was fine down to 50 feet, but below that, it's not so much. I think that both of these cameras did a great job with pictures and video both. -Absolutely. I would feel perfectly comfortable taking any of these on a snorkeling trip. I just think if you're gonna mess up, maybe go a little more rugged-- -Yeah. -then ultimately, the Fujifilm stayed strongest. It's a little unfair. It says right on the front, 50 feet. So, we did exceed that, but if you're gonna award a winner, the guy that can go beyond and still hold up is gotta be the winner. -Yeah. I mean, I think it's clear that even in nonoptimal circumstances, the Fujifilm FinePix XP200 is the ruggedest. So, that was kind of like a tough 10 day in life. -Yeah. Being that close to that many dolphins, it is really quite an amazing experience. Exactly the kind of thing that you wanna be able to record forever with a camera. -Seriously. Oh, my God. -Yeah. -That was incredible. Okay, but it is time to move on now and read some of your mail. -We got a great torture test idea from Tyler who writes, "You should do a torture test where a dog chews the phone. My phone has many holes in the screen protector from my dog chewing it." -That's hilarious. Maybe, you should take your dog in a training school. -Or maybe, you should buy a less delicious phone. -Oh, I think that's the key. You know, we've had-- someone suggests that we do like hook up with SPCA and do kind of a puppy bomb, wrap a phone in bacon. -I like it. -We just need to make sure that it's safe for the doggies. -I think this is what happens when Android makes operating systems like Jelly Bean and-- -It's true. -sweets. You know, dogs love them all. -They're irresistible to the doggies. Oh, I am so grateful for this e-mail because we have been having this conversation on the show for ages now. "You are driving me and every other electrical tech crazy-- -Oh, oh. -when you say milliamps per hour. The correct term is milliamp hours. It is similar to man hours. Since batteries can and do supply power at varying rates, the capacity waiting takes time into account. The 2200 milliamp-hour battery can supply 2200 milliamps for an hour or 1100 milliamps for two hours and so on. This efficiency does decrease as the battery wears with age and can vary with temperature charge-discharge cycle and discharge rates. Always On is our favorite tech show in our house. Keep up the great work." That one comes from Nathan who sent us three references. -I love that. That's actually very helpful. I got a personal e-mail from somebody else that said the same thing. -I know. -I was clueless about it. I'm glad to know. -I mean, I know I couldn't have been bothered to look it up, but I have wondered about it and I'm glad that, Nathan, you were there. -This is why we have awesome fans. -That's right. And awesome fans like you should keep e-mailing us, AlwaysOn@cnet.com. You can also reach us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. -Aloha. -Aloha. Thank you. -Thank you. Well, sadly, that's it from Hawaii for this week. I know. But next week on Always On, the fun continues. We are headed to Vail, Colorado to get dirty with the Fitbit Flex. -And to torture test the Samsung Galaxy S4 in some extreme sports competitions. -Oh, yeah. Until then, thank you for watching Always On everyone. -Aloha. -Aloha. -Yeah. It's-- -Totally dry. -totally dry. -Safe and [unk] -So, I'm not worried. -Yeah. -[unk] -[unk] -[unk] -Thank you. -[unk]