Product review – Freestyle Audio Soundwave MP3 player

Welcome to my review of the Freestyle Audio Soundwave sports MP3 player. The Soundwave differs from most other MP3 device on the market by offering a water and shockproof player.

In this day and age, it is hard to develop an MP3 player that actually does something no other players can offer.

The Soundwave has 2GB of flash memory and comes complete with waterproof headphones, an armband and a “floater” for keeping the player from sinking to the bottom of the ocean, should it fall overboard.

The player has a tiny OLED display which is surprisingly bright. The main portion of the screen is blue, and the equalizer line is yellow. Under the display are 5 rubber buttons for controlling the various features of the player.Because these buttons need to keep water from entering the device, they are actually quite hard to press. The controls bring me to the most disappointing part of the player; controlling this thing is harder than it should be. The basics like skipping tracks work just fine, but controlling the volume or selecting a playlist is actually quite annoying.

The Soundwave MP3 player has an internal battery pack rated for up to 30 hours of playback time and charges using the included USB cable.

Adding music to the Soundwave is as simple as “drag and drop”, so you are not required to use a dedicated media program to transfer songs. The player also supports the Windows Media Player method of transferring files.

Freestyle even provide some basic iTunes support, and they show how to convert and transfer Apple AAC files to the player. Music purchased in the iTunes store will not work on the player and will have to be copied to an audio CD and imported in order to remove the protection.

In addition to regular MP3 files, the Soundwave also supports WMA files and subscription based WMA music.

The Soundwave is not the prettiest player, nor does it have the best interface, but if you often find yourself in need of music in places where a normal MP3 player would not last too long, then the Soundwave is going to be one of your only options.

It is waterproof enough to use for swimming laps, and the included waterproof headphones sound surprisingly good underwater. My test involved sticking my head underwater in the bathtub, which shows how dedicated I am at delivering reliable reviews!

The Freestyle Audio Soundwave costs $89.99 directly from the manufacturer, or as low as $63.80 from

Product review – OtterBox gear protection cases

In this product review I’m going to introduce you to OtterBox. OtterBox has been producing cases for gadgets for quite some time, and I remember purchasing my first OtterBox case back in Europe almost 10 years ago. Their products are different from most cases you are used to, because they provide a level of protection that goes way beyond just keeping some minor scratches off your precious gadget.

The OtterBox lineup consists of several levels of protection, varying from basic scratch and bump protection, all the way up to full waterproof protection, with enough strength to survive a drop on a concrete floor. All OtterBox cases come with a no hassle lifetime warranty.

To help introduce you to their cases, I’ll give you a closer look at three different styles of OtterBox case, each with a different level of protection. First up will be an OtterBox defender series case for the iPod Nano, second is an OtterBox Defender case for the Blackberry Curve, and finally I’ll show you my 160GB iPod Classic underwater in the sink in an OtterBox Armor case.

OtterBox Defender series case for the 3rd generation iPod Nano

The OtterBox defender series cases are designed to protect your device from the kind of mishaps that happen when you carry your device. The case consists of three parts; 2 form the shell around the iPod, and the third is a rubber “jacket” that slips over the shell. The rubber protects the device, plus it guards the ports from letting any dust in.

Unlike most cases, the Defender case does not leave the scroll wheel unprotected; OtterBox has developed a patented “thin film membrane” to keep dirt and dust out, but still allow you full control of your player.

OtterBox Defender cases for the iPod are available for the 3rd generation Nano, the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, the iPod Touch and the iPod Classic. The cases cost $29.95 for the iPod, and $49.95 for the iPhone. OtterBox also make 2 iPod Defender cases in pink, to benefit the Avon breast cancer crusade.

OtterBox Defender series case for the Blackberry Curve

The OtterBox Defender series case for the Blackberry Curve consists of 5 separate pieces; the first piece is a plastic film that wraps around your Blackberry, 2 parts form a hard plastic shell for around the device, a rubber bumper fits around the entire case, and finally, the whole thing fits in a holster with rotating belt clip. This case turns your fragile little Berry into what can only be described as “a tank”.

Despite being encased in layers of plastic and rubber, you can still access the keyboard, trackball, USB and headphone ports and there are even special dust filters protecting the earpiece and speakerphone from the elements.

The phone slides into the included holster with a reassuring “click”, and the holster even has a magnet embedded to activate the Blackberry sleep mode.

Defender series Blackberry cases are available for the Curve, 8800, Pearl and Bold smartphone lineup. They cost $49.95 each.

OtterBox Armor series case for the iPod Classic

The final case in my review is also the toughest. The Armor series cases provide the most protection in the OtterBox lineup, and have been rated waterproof up to 3 feet/1 meter. Of course, this review would be worthless if I didn’t put that to the test! I put my faith in the designers at OtterBox and submerged my $350 iPod Classic in the sink. Thankfully they were not lying, because my iPod came out of the case bone dry.

The Armor series case has a similar thin membrane as on the Defender series, so you still have full control over the device, but in order to plug your headphone in, they have included a headphone pass-through jack inside the case. When you slide your iPod into the Armor case, the iPod plugs into a headphone jack, and on the outside of the case is another headphone jack, ready to be used with suitable waterproof headphones.

On the back of the case is a removable belt clip, which doubles as a headphone cord wrap.

The Armor case has a silicone seal and a pretty sturdy clip to hold the hinged portions together. With this kind of protection, you’ll be able to take your music to the beach, and not have to worry about sand, the ocean or sun block getting anywhere near your iPod.

The Otterbox Armor series cases are available for the 3rd generation iPod Nano ($29.95) and the iPod Classic ($39.95).