Last week, JLab Audio sent us one of their new toys to review. The Wave H2O Music is a one of a kind wireless MP3/WMA player headset advertised to be completely waterproof and perfect for use while swimming, running, or any exercising for that matter.
While the underwater test was indeed the most anticipated, we ran the dry gauntlet with the device (literally and figuratively) first, keeping in mind the possibility of water damage halting the entire review.
First off, the Wave is really attractive. The headset is simple, black, and entirely out of the way. The plastic head contours around the back of your head with flexible plastic that has just enough resistance memory to hold onto your head, right behind your ears. This is great for two reasons. 1: You really can’t mess up your hair wearing this, and 2: Even Hurricane Irene couldn’t knock the Wave off your head when head bobbing, running, or doing the front crawl in the Atlantic. (No, unfortunately, we didn’t risk our lives in the hurricane to prove this.) In addition, this also doesn’t make it as bothersome on your ears, like many ear-supported buds.
Second, the earpieces of the headset look that of a Bluetooth you see on businesspersons daily. The only difference is that instead of blue, there is a steady green light that glows when the Wave is playing music. It also blinks when paused. Wearing this on public transit got us a lot of fun looks, most of which appeared to be from curiosity and pure (why don’t I have that gadget yet?) envy. We should also note, having dark hair makes the illusion that much cooler, because you can barely tell there’s a plastic ring behind your head. Sorry blondes.
As noted, the way it fits on your head is great. The only setback is that Wave has inner ear buds, so unless you are used to the probing manner of them, it will take an adjustment. Luckily, JLab has included seven different ear bud cushions to find a fit for your fancy.
The Wave has a lithium-ion battery and 2GB hard drive. You can charge it with the micro-USB cord included, meanwhile loading 400-600 songs at the same time. The only catch is they have to be Mp3 or WMA files. Still, for a device meant for a workout, underwater at that, it’s pretty slick. A full charge took us only about 45 minutes, and the battery did, in fact, last the 10 hours JLab claims.
The micro-USB port is hidden behind a tightly screwed plastic cap that is removed for insertion. It’s also tethered to the headset so you won’t lose it. Even if you do, JLab includes an extra cap in the ear buds pouch.
Wave has only a few buttons, including a main power/pause/play button, a volume rocker, and a next/previous rocker. Pretty damn simple; which is great. However, the power button does require a 3-5 second hold to turn it on or off (accidental push-safe), and shuffling music isn’t really an option. This can be somewhat tedious considering if you ever click the wrong direction, or try search for a song, you’ll be going right back through the lineup you just heard.
We listened to the Wave in a variety of settings, from lounging, during a loud commute, while running, and even during a long shower, and it was consistently about the same–lackluster. The volume range is good enough that you’ll never not hear your music, and if you plug the earpieces in far enough, noise cancellation is assured, but we don’t recommend this for crosswalks or running anywhere near pedestrian or real traffic. There’s nothing quite like getting run over by a cyclist. Wave’s good with highs, but the lows and bass are pretty flat, no matter how loud you blast your favorite dubstep. Keeping it in perspective, this device is for an underwater workout, so many times we were just happy it worked at all.
We did a variety of things with the Wave. We walked, we sat, we ran several miles, took a long hair drenching shower and even threw it in a glass of water. Surprisingly, we never managed to break or drown the thing. Hell, it wouldn’t even fall off our head when shaking it vigorously to death metal.
Honestly, the only distressing parts of these tests was comfort in terms of how far the ear buds went in our ears. After a while the high pitches and subtle lows became deafening. Thankfully, due to the flexibility of the ear pieces (you can move and turn them around), we found you can actually just take them out and listen to them passively. Granted, this doesn’t look as cool, but I have a feeling appearance isn’t the first thing on your mind while working out….unless it is.
Wave H2O Music lived up to the hype in terms of underwater function too. I took a 20-minute shower with the thing, and it never skipped a beat. I’m talking a drenching, high-pressure spray, hair washing shower too. After this, I threw it in a mug of water for twenty minutes while taking these press shots. See that pretty green light? That means it’s still working.
Price: Right now you can pick one of these up at JLab for a temporarily discounted $49.95, instead of the $79.95. All considering, we recommend it, especially if you hate being tethered to an iPod Nano.
Pros: WORKS UNDERWATER, hands-free, un-tethered, great battery life, lots of extra ear buds and a water tight cap included. For what it can do, the price is right.
Cons: Lackluster sound quality, high pitches can become painful after too long, inner earbuds aren’t for everyone. No shuffle option.
Rating: 7 out of 10