Sports Gadget Review: Finis XtreaMP3 Wayerproof MP3 Player

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Active lives and MP3 players don’t always mix. After all, the iPod touch wasn’t exactly designed to be a ruggedized device was it? That’s where the Finis XtreaMP3 comes in. The XtreaMP3 is a waterproof digital music player that is specifically designed to be worn and used during physical activity. It is waterproof, holds up to 250 songs and comes with an arm band.

Let’s take a look.

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From Finis:

Whether you?re surfing, kayaking, or even snowboarding, the XtreaMP3 waterproof MP3 player keeps up with your lifestyle. With a neoprene band that securely straps to the arm, the XtreaMP3 supplies music during any adventure. Waterproof, airtight ear buds provide superior sound quality, and the 1GB memory stores around 250 songs on the device. The XtreaMP3 is compatible with MP3 and WMA files, and is convertible with iTunes. A built-in USB plug and software playlist functionality make uploading songs to the XtreaMP3 quick and easy. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides over 8 hours of playback per charge.

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Multi-Sport: Waterproof MP3 Player is perfect for surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, rafting, and winter sports

Waterproof Ear buds: Airtight ear buds provide superior sound quality in any extreme environment

Neoprene Arm Strap:Comfortably mount player on upper arm; adjustable to fit most arm shapes

1GB of Storage: Stores Approximately 250 songs or 15 hours of music

MP3 and WMA Compatible, iTunes Convertible: Listen to Music, Audio books, Podcasts and more with incredible sound quality

Playlist Functionality: Build music folders that easily drag-and-drop onto device

Built-in USB Plug: Upload music and charge quickly without additional attachments

Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery: Provides over 8 hours of playback per charge

Includes: XtreaMP3 Player, Waterproof Ear Buds, Neoprene Arm Strap, Instruction Manual

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The XtreaMP3 itself is small; about the size of a silver dollar. It is made of plastic and has a relatively light feel to it. I’m tempted to call it cheap but won’t since something like this needs to be light enough to comfortably wear during exercise, yet strong enough to withstand activity. Plastic is the logical material for striking a decent balance between weight and strength.

The buttons are raised just enough from the face of the device that you can feel them without lowering your eyes to look at it. In addition, each button ha a slightly different shape and feel. After you become familiar with it this design feature lets you control the device sight unseen .

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On the back of the MP3 player is a short wire that ends in a square tip that is held securely in the device. To charge the XtreaMP3 or add tracks to its 1 GB of storage you simply pull the square out and slip off the protective plastic shield that is on it.

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That reveals a standard USB plug. You then plug this into you computer and, within a few seconds, the device appears as a USB storage device. While the device specs do not mention support for OS X I had no trouble using it with my MacBook Air.

You need to make sure you replace the plastic shield over the USB tip since this is what makes the device waterproof. While the description says nothing specific about it, I have to believe that since the USB is only protected with this sleeve this device is not intended for use at any depth that applies more water pressure that might force liquid into it. Translation — this is for surface use only.

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The XtreaMP3 can ONLY be used with the included headphones since they have a unique, waterproof connector. Since this connector is specifically designed for use with the XtreaMP3, I’m not quite sure when they didn’t just hard-wire the headphones to the device. All this seems to do is add more weight, complexity and expense.

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When the USB plug is in place and the headphones connected you get a fairly simple package. The device ships with a host of different earbud inserts which ensures that you will find the right fit for your ears. As Elana noted when she tried them on, “This would help with one issue when I swim, since I hate getting water in my ears.”

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The XtreaMP3 comes with an armband so that you don’t have to search for a way to secure it to your person during any given activity. The mechanism for attaching the MP3 player to the armband is simple but effective; it clips in place using two plastic clips on the sides of the MP3 player.

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Here’s the XtreaMP3 all set up, charged and ready to go.

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In all the XtreaMP3is a well-conceived gadget that does what it promises to do- it lets you listen to tunes during outside activities that, due to water, snow or the roughness of the activity are “iPod-unfriendly”. I found the sound quality to be just acceptable but nothing to get excited about. I also found the XtreaMP3 to feel a bit cheap. It isn’t that it will fall apart after a few days, I suspect it won’t but it just doesn’t have the kind of refinement I have come to appreciate in most 2011 gadgets. I know that might sound a bit shallow but for close to $100 I would hope for something that doesn’t feel like a kid’s toy. A final criticism is the fact that it only has 1GB of storage. (After all, for $129 you can get a refurbished iPod nano with 8GB of storage!) That’s plenty of music for a workout but feels a bit skimpy by today’s standards.

That noted, it DOES do as it promises. If you do a lot of outside activities, are satisfied with just 1GB of music and can’t live without your music this is worth a look.

$89.99 (Just $67.38 through our Amazon Affiliate Store)

What I Like: Waterproof; easy to add music; comes with an armband; does as promised

What Needs Improvement: Feels a bit cheap; only 1GB of storage; sound quality is passable

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.