Review: H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband for iPod nano 6G + iPod shuffle 2G/4G
Hot on the heels of its similarly streamlined waterproof armband for iPhones comes H2O Audio's new Amphibx Fit for iPod nano 6G and iPod shuffle 2G/4G ($50). As contrasted with the company's original Amphibx, which was thick, large, and seemingly all but bulletproof, the small hard plastic-backed, soft plastic-faced Amphibx Fit was designed to be considerably smaller, thinner, and lighter -- but still waterproof for up to 12 feet of submersion. It has just a little spare room inside when you insert an iPod nano 6G and connect the pass-through black headphone plug; iPod shuffles consume less space and move around a little more inside of the touch-through surface. H2O's revised armband is simple elastic with snaps on one side and Velcro on the other, and Amphibx Fit has a headphone port that's compatible with all of the company's oversized, water-safe plugs, while including a rubber adapter for thinner-plugged headphones.
We tested Amphibx with an iPod nano 6G and an iPod shuffle 4G. On the nano, all of the controls were fully operational; the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons were a little bit more difficult to press because of the waterproof casing, but accessible, and the touchscreen was fully responsive—even underwater. The tactile controls were equally usable on the face of the shuffle although the slider on the top was not—moving this into position before placing the iPod in the armband is advisable, just as has been the case with iPod shuffles in H2O’s past products.
Most of H2O’s waterproof headphones have specially thick headphone plugs that create an airtight seal with the pass-through ports on the company’s armbands and cases, completely blocking out water. Recently however, the company has introduced Flex Headphones, a cheaper version with thinner plastic surrounding the plug, plus an optional rubber port-sealer for times when it’s needed. With H2O’s other waterproof headphone plugs, or with Flex and the optional rubber stopper in place, Amphibx Fit’s seal worked perfectly, and the iPod remained completely dry inside. Using the Flex headphones without the rubber stopper did result in a very small amount of water entering the case during complete submersion testing—not enough to impact the use of the iPod nano or shuffle, but tiny drops that could have become larger issues during extended submersion. Users looking for submersibility should use H2O’s headphones; for simple anti-splash protection during jogging, you can do without the rubber stopper.
Overall, it needs to be said that this version of the Amphibx Fit isn’t quite as necessary as the prior iPhone model. As the current generations of both the iPod nano and iPod shuffle have integrated clips, the need for an armband—particularly a $50 version that’s as expensive as the shuffle itself—has decreased commensurately. Amphibx Fit can still be useful to re-position the device during exercise, however, and with the appropriate headphones, your iPod will be totally protected from water. We’d call Amphibx a good choice for iPod nano 6G and iPod shuffle 2G/4G use in the rain, pool, or even just the gym, but apart from these uses, athletes will do just fine attaching the little iPods to their clothes in strategically safe places.