The waterproof MP3 player H20 Audio Stream meets its specifications and offers true water resistance and underwater listening. Not only that, it’s great gear for those of us who like to be out on land and comfortable on squats and benches. The Stream’s powerful bass produces great sound from its 8GB of storage, even if it loses some of its “oomph” underwater. After a week of sweaty workouts, showers and diving excursions we were impressed, albeit a little hesitant due to the high price.
Design: light as a feather
The H20 Audio Stream is a very light device, weighing in at 3.5 grams and not much bigger than an Air pods case. The outer shell is a matte, tactical finish that looks like the plastic of a phone case, but never feels uncomfortable. This finish is easy to clean, which a good thing is considering the device is intended to be submerged as it can be submerged up to 12 feet thanks to its IPX8 water resistance.
The buttons on the front of the device feel nice, snappy and tell you when you’ve pressed a button or not. This is especially useful if you don’t have time to look at the device. The buttons get a bit clunky though, as the back and forth hops double as volume sliders, requiring you to hold them down to increase or decrease the noise. I appreciate the attempt to simplify the interface, but I would have liked independent volume buttons.
Convenience: anytime, anywhere
The Stream’s versatility comes from its 360-degree knurled mount, allowing it to be placed securely on almost anything, including hats, glasses, shirt collars, and more. We also found that it attached very well to our glasses without ever weighing us down or getting in the way. Attaching the Stream to the back of our jersey came in handy during squats and overhead presses because it never got in the way.
Installation process: lots of storage space, annoying dongle
That 8GB of internal storage is clearly the H20’s big selling point for the Stream, as one of the things they mention in all the literature about the device is that it has more storage space than the waterproof iPod Shuffle model. For those who want to transfer their songs, Stream supports MP3, WMA, FLAC and APE formats. Extra space is welcome, especially since Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater. The real issue here is that it comes with its own charging cable, in this case an extra plug that plugs into a USB connector.
This is probably due to the need to keep the device waterproof, but it’s yet another cable to keep track of. It’s a shame the H20 didn’t manage to make it any color other than the same black as all the other cables.
Accessories: H20 Audio Surge S + Waterproof Headphones
It’s worth mentioning the package that came with the H20 Stream, which includes waterproof Surge S+ headphones. These small plugs are expensive, but incredibly comfortable and do a great job of keeping the water out. It’s an expensive package among waterproof devices, but the earbuds are good. Equally important is that they are comfortable during long training sessions.
Sound Quality: Underwater Bass, Low Volume
H20 boasts 15 years of development and claims that the secret to the success of the Stream’s underwater sound is its patented low-frequency bass that prevents the sound from sounding muffled. We can confirm that the Stream sounds good in or near water, but this quality seems to come at the cost of low volume. We’ve never had the sound as loud as we wanted, especially underwater. The volume improved slightly as we tinkered with our phone’s EQ settings, but the volume always felt a little low.
Wireless: no band
The Stream was easy to connect to the phone via Bluetooth, with a single button. The distance before the joint was deformed was about 25 feet indoors or 30 feet outdoors. Of course, Bluetooth stops working when the Stream goes underwater, but the gym’s wireless capabilities are still useful.
Battery life: Long life
The Stream’s product sheet claims 10 hours of playback before needing a recharge, but we found it took about 11 and a half hours to connect. It took just over an hour to charge, which means you’ll get a good short charge in no time if you’re in a hurry.
Competition: three-way dance
Taking a closer look at the aforementioned competition for the Stream H20, a lot depends on how much you’re willing to pay and how important the extras are to you. The Swim buds SYRY waterproof MP3 player comes with nice accessories like goggles, headphones, a hair guard and something called Fit Goo. This package is affordable and well rated by Amazon customers.
Another more troubling specter is the now-discontinued iPod Shuffle 4th Generation model, which has Apple’s seal of approval and a price to match.
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Very comfortable fit, but a bit too expensive.
It can be said that during our test period we encountered no problems or malfunctions with the H20 Stream and found it to be a valuable device both on land and on water. The Surge S+ are the most comfortable earbuds we’ve ever used, and the built-in storage and Bluetooth connectivity are powerful enough to let you disconnect from your phone during your workout.