Q:

Finis SWIMP3 X18

The pool bores me. But I swim a few days a week during the winter to stay fit. Is there any waterproof gear that can make it more interesting?

Finis SWIMP3 X18 Audio Player outside gear guy bob parks

Finis SWIMP3 X18 Audio Player.     Photo: Bob Parks

A:FOR FLIP-TURN LISTENERS

Finis has a whole different take on audio for swimmers. Its SWIMP3 X18 conducts the music into your ear through your cheekbones. You merely place them under your goggle straps, resting the transducers against the sides of your face, and suddenly you hear music inside your head, whether Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring or the Japandroids. Elite swimmer Kevin Doak found the X18s delivered the best sound for the least hassle while performing flip turns and fast maneuvers. I found it made my Yo Yo Ma sound echoey and muddled. It wasn’t as rich as the iPod Shuffle and X-1 heaphone combination, and didn’t create the same, ahem, immersive experience.

But the X18 is easier to use in the pool. My wife often tries to pull me into quick conferences mid-swim, reporting such things as “There’s a strange man in my lane. Can I swim with you?” With the bone-conduction device, you can have a conversation without rearranging the whole setup each time. The second-generation Finis product is also easier to control and you can upload songs right from your computer. It has the same capacity as the Shuffle (2 GB) and is sells online for $144.99.

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