Waterproof mp3 Case/Speakers by EGO: The Soundtrack to Your Day Race

A portable, watertight, mini boom-box for iPod or other mp3 players. "Gear Up" from our June 12, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

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The accessory market for Apple's ubiquitous little jukebox has reportedly surpassed the billion-dollar mark, which is no surprise, really. There's everything and anything to keep the fragile iPod either protected or playing, but the only waterproof iPod sound system we know of is EGO's waterproof sound case with speakers. We learned of this slick device through Mini 6.50 sailor Clay Burkhalter, who's been using one while training in Europe for this year's Mini Transat. After dousing and frying his iPod last year, Burkhalter vowed to keep it dry, and the folks at Atlantic Inc, of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., put an EGO case in his hands. Burkhalter spoke highly of it, so naturally we had to try one out for ourselves.The EGO's clear polycarbonate case acts as a watertight compartment for an iPod or other similar size mp3 player. A rubber membrane on the unit's face allows you to work the iPod's click wheel and includes an on/off button and volume control. Audiophiles will no doubt scoff at the amplifier output (3 watts), but considering the system's compact size (9.8 x 1.8 x 6.5 inches) and the fact that the 45mm speakers are powered by only four AA batteries, it's hardly fair to expect the proverbial "wall of sound."In our unscientific testing, the sound was good in quiet settings (i.e., at the mooring or sailing downwind), but when sailing upwind, the white noise of a combined 10-knot wind and the hiss of the bow waves made it much less audible. Still, it had enough volume to keep the background tunes going. As the batteries wore down, however, so too did the sound quality. But a fresh set of AAs had the EGO rocking again.The EGO is rated for more than 30 hours of playing time, and in our test, with a fresh set of Duracell Alkaline batteries, it outlasted that mark by nearly four hours of medium to high-volume playback. So as to not keep filling our landfills with batteries, and save money in the long run, we'd definitely recommend a set of rechargeable batteries.For those of us who enjoy having a music player onboard, the 2-pound EGO finally lets us bring it without fear of destroying it. Plus, the EGO's much lighter and less expensive than installing a stereo system with cockpit speakers. It's the best option out there to bring music to any dinghy, and it could easily stand in as a sound system on a keelboat-stick it in a sheet bag and let it play. $149, www.lovemyego.com or www.atlantic-inc.com