Many of us are dependent upon a variety of mobile electronics devices. Perhaps it's our cell phone which allows us to keep up with work and home all at the same time. Or maybe it's that GPS device that keeps us from getting tied up in traffic or lost when we leave home. In any case, these devices play an important role in our day-to-day activities.
Unfortunately, electronic devices and the outdoors often don't mix well. These gadgets are somewhat fragile. They don't take a fall well, they cease to function when moisture enters the picture, and too much heat or cold stalls them out completely. Dust and dirt can do more than make them grimy, it can work it's way inside and create permanent damage or scratch a lens or screen.
Luckily however, unlike the typical gadget, there are a handful of models of each of our most common electronic devices that are built specifically for outdoor use.
- There are a number of cell phones that are built to tolerate a dip in the water, a drop, or extreme temperatures. Some don't give in to being crushed or exposed to solar radiation either. While many of these specially designed phones will withstand exposure to fog, high humidity, and even rain, some will withstand being submerged in up to 3 feet of water. Perfect for taking along when hiking, kayaking, or just relaxing on the beach. One of the biggest attractions of a cell phone is that they make help available no matter where you are. With these more rugged phones, you can get help in those situations where you are most likely to need it; when you are out in a remote or rugged area, exposed to the elements.
The Samsung Rugby, Motorola Tundra, Barrage and Adventure, and the Casio G'zOne Boulder are just a few of the options for a rugged cell phone.
- There are also a number of rugged digital cameras. These cameras will have automatic lens covers to protect it from dirt and scratches. It will also have special seals to keep dirt and moisture out of the body of the camera as well. Some of these cameras in fact will operate in water as deep as 33 feet, making them a good choice for taking shots in the swimming pool or while snorkeling. Of course, they also have to be able to tolerate greater pressure and they do; sometimes up to 220lbs of it. If they get dropped from a back pack or pocket, there are no worries as they can tolerate the shock from 6 feet high as well.
Olympus has several Stylus Tough models that suit the needs of outdoor sports ethusiasts. However, Casio also has the EX G1, Panasonic has the Lumix DMC TS2, Sony has the Cybershot TX5 , Fujifilm has the XP10, and Canon has the Powershot D10 among others.
- There are also a few waterproof camcorders available at the consumer level. They aren't super rugged overall, but they can be used for filming underwater. They aren't appropriate for diving, but some can operate at depths as low as 10 feet. So, this means they're ok in the pool or when snorkeling. It also means they're probably safe to take along when you're going to the beach, tubing down a river, or fishing, as a drop in the water or some splashing shouldn't bother them at all.
Sanyo has a number of Xacti models that are waterproof but the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 is one of the newer options. It's one of the "pocket camcorders" that are simple to operate, affordable, and create reasonable looking 720p video.
- Of course GPS devices are also extremely handy if you're going to be in remote or unfamiliar areas. Some GPS devices are designed specifically for outdoor use; for hikers, boaters, and so forth. The maps are designed with this in mind. For instance, a map for hikers would include points of interest such as campgrounds and restrooms in addition to natural features such as rivers and ponds, as well as elevation changes. To be suitable for outdoor use, they need to be small enough for a pocket, have screens that are readable in sunlight, and be durable enough to withstand rain, a dunking in a stream, or a fall. Features like a barometric altimeter and compass can help plot course and predict weather conditions.
Garmin offers a variety of GPS devices that are appropriate for outdoor use; the Oregon 400T and eTrex Summit are just two examples. There are also devices that are designed specifically for marine use and even for golf.
- There are also waterproof MP3 players. Most of these are designed for swimmers. Sound quality in those conditions of course is limited. But, some use bone conduction which improves the audio. The Finis SwiMP3 is one example but they are designed for wearing with goggles.
Some other waterproof MP3 players are designed to be worn on an arm band. This would probably be more functional for using in other sports, while assuring that the music player survives any moisture. The Speedo AquaBeat and Freestyle Audio Soundwave are two of the possibilities.
Enjoying outdoor sports no longer means that technology can't be there to assist you or to provide entertainment as desired. With these more rugged and waterproof models, the outdoors isn't too imposing.
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