Drop your cell phone, camera, or MP3 player in the drink, or even accidently expose it to an ill-timed splash, and it could become little more than a pricey paperweight. But a new crop of handheld devices aims to change all that. Armed with waterproof gaskets and housed in rough-and-tumble enclosures, they claim to withstand everything from a legitimate dunking to a good old-fashioned tumble to the cockpit floor. We checked out three of the latest to hit store shelves to see how they fared.
Casio G'Zone Boulder $295; www.casiogzone.com
The Specs: Here's a flip phone with a 2" color screen that boasts 207 minutes of talk time or 212 hours on standby. It has a 1.3-megapixel camera with flash, video capture and playback, Mobile Web 2.0 with music/video on demand, an electronic compass, flashlight, and Bluetooth-enabled speakerphone.
The Highs: Casio used military specs when designing the Boulder, subjecting the phone to repeated drops and dunkings and exposing it to humidity, dust, and salt fog. Its innards are protected by a bed of silicone rubber, and it has a case made from reinforced-plastic coated with polyurethane. Water-resistant filters and O-rings allow the phone to survive up to 30 minutes underwater at a depth of 1 meter. Cool features include an electronic compass and a camera flash that doubles as a flashlight. Surf the Web, text message, download music, and enjoy GPS functions if you activate Verizon's VZ Navigator service. It has a tactile grip in wet conditions and a screen that's readable in sunlight.
The Lows: The sound quality is poor-a hint of echo and a crackle to the speaker. People we called found it better on their end. To ensure the camera's water-resistant personality, you also need to make sure two access seals, for the charger and microSD card, are in place. Like a normal phone, it sinks like a rock.
The Verdict: Despite below-average sound, the Boulder is the ideal choice for the boater who can't worry about babying a cell phone.