After more than 30 industrious years, my dad just retired from a career in IT. To celebrate, he bought himself a well-deserved gift: a jacuzzi for the back yard. Now he spends many a sunny Southern California afternoon sipping margaritas in the hot tub while my mom gardens and the dog dozes nearby.
To help keep dad entertained during each hot-tubbing sesh, I bought him this waterproof case for his iPad. It works perfectly for general browsing—all the ports remain completely sealed, while the touchscreen is still operational—but he quickly discovered that the device’s built-in speakers couldn’t be heard above the roaring din of the Jacuzzi jets: that meant no Netflix streaming while taking a dip—a first world problem if there ever was one.
Since the headphone jack is covered up by the waterproof case, I quickly realized that the solution to this conundrum would lie in waterproof Bluetooth headphones. Delving into research in this area showed that there aren’t many such devices on the market. Here are my top five choices, winnowed down to one birthday gift for dad after accounting for features like comfort, price, water-resistance and audio quality. Perhaps one of them will bring enjoyment to the hot-tubber in your life, or the beach bum, recreational swimmer, and bathtub audiobook listener.
1. Arriva Leo Headphones, $89.95. By far the most interesting design of all the headphones I looked at, the Leo gets excellent marks for comfort due to the flexible band. It is rated “water-resistant” but not waterproof; I had some concern about their durability if dunked repeatedly underwater. Reviewers said they performed well in the rain, however.
2. Audiosync Mini Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds, $59.99. These are the most affordable option I encountered, and they get great reviews, too—but, again, they’re not quite as waterproof as I’d like.
3. Jaybird Bluebuds X. $169.99. These are probably the best sport-oriented Bluetooth headphones that money can buy, but they were outside my budget. In addition to a nice design and comfortable fit, they also have the longest-lasting battery life.
4. Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, $89.99. These headphones have good battery life, wireless range and design, but some users didn’t like the fit or sound quality. I wasn’t able to find them in a store to try out, but they’re highly discounted at online retailers.
5. Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Headset, $99.99. This is the pair I ultimately bought, due to their sturdy behind-the-ear fit combined with flexible wire around the back of the head. I knew my dad had good experiences with a single-ear Jabra Bluetooth headset. He reports excellent comfort, audio-quality, and isn’t afraid to drop these in the jacuzzi once in awhile.
(Images: Rachel Rosmarin, as linked above)