Beach tech: 11 gadgets for fun in the sun

Spending a week at the beach? Or the summer sitting by your backyard pool? Here are some devices that can make your summer safer and more enjoyable.

The long winter is finally over. It's time to hit the beach or pool to cool off. But that doesn't mean you have to leave your technology behind.

In this slideshow, we feature 11 cool and innovative devices that can make a day playing in the sand or lounging around the pool a more rewarding experience. There's something for everyone -- from underwater cameras and a solar meter that tells you when to get out of the sun to an automatic pool cleaner and a sweat-proof set of earbuds.

In other words, surf's up.

Braven BRV-X outdoor Bluetooth speaker

Braven's BRV-X Bluetooth speaker has more than rugged good looks -- it can also survive being drenched. The sound system has an IPX7 water-resistance rating, meaning that it can handle a dunking of 1 meter for 30 minutes.

Audio features include a pair of 2-in. custom drivers and a passive bass radiator; it offers different modes for optimized outdoor and indoor listening. Powered by a built-in 5,200mAh battery, the speaker can even charge a mobile device.

And if one BRV-X isn't loud enough, you can pair two together using its TrueWireless technology for a truly neighbor-annoying party. It is available in gray or black.

Direct price: $200

Finis Hydro Tracker GPS

If you'd rather be open-ocean swimming than lounging on the beach with a cold one, the Finis Hydro Tracker is for you. Worn on your arm or swim cap, the 8-oz. Hydro Tracker's built-in GPS system records every stroke of your swim.

Later, back on dry land, you can use the included Streamline software (compatible with Macs or Windows PCs) to download your data for analysis and bragging rights. You can zoom in and out of Streamline's map of your swim's route as well as analyze details like speed, distance, split times and whether you've met your training goals.

Direct price: $130

iRobot Mirra 530 pool cleaner

iRobot's Mirra 530 does for a pool what the company's Roomba robot cleaners have done for floors.

The Mirra 530 automatically moves around the pool, cleaning everything it encounters. Brushes scrub the pool's walls and floor while the machine filters over a gallon of pool water a second, removing accumulated leaves, dirt and bacteria. The Mirra 530 even has a gyroscope that tracks where it's been to prevent it from tangling up in its own 60-foot-long floating power cord.

Direct price: $1,000

Liquid Image Model 305 - Hydra series diving mask/camera

Liquid Image takes underwater photography to new depths with its Hydra 305 diving mask. The included camera not only provides a 120-degree view, but works to a depth of 130 ft., making it perfect for recording snorkel dives on shipwrecks or exploring underwater caves with scuba gear.

Available in green or purple, the 13-oz. mask/camera can snap single 12-megapixel shots, a continuous stream of photos every second or 720p video at 30fps. Just press the shutter release lever over your right eye and everything you see is recorded on a micro SD card. The mask requires four AAA batteries.

Direct price: $120

Nikon Coolpix AW120 camera

A day at the beach can really gunk up your digital camera with sand and saltwater -- unless it's Nikon's Coolpix AW120. The Coolpix is not only safe from sand, dust and water, but can even work at 14 degrees Fahrenheit -- so there's no guilt if you accidentally drop it into the ice chest.

The point-and-shoot camera works in up to 6.6 feet of water and can take vivid 16-megapixel photos of a glorious sunset or HD videos of your kid swimming with a manta ray. It has GPS built-in for documenting your favorite out-of-the-way surfing beach and can wirelessly send photos and videos to your phone.

Direct price: $300; retail price: $290 - $323

Oregon Scientific EB612 personal UV monitor

Whether you're dark-skinned or pale, too much sun is a no-no that could lead to serious skin disease. Oregon Scientific's EB612 personal UV monitor has a tiny solar sensor that keeps track of how much sun you've gotten.

It offers a graphic display of the sun's current intensity and a count-down timer for how long you can safely stay in the sun based on your skin type, what SPF-factor sunscreen you're using and the intensity of the sun. It even sounds an alarm when it's time to get into the shade. The EB612 includes a thermometer and digital clock; a wrist-strap makes it convenient to wear out on the beach.

Direct price: $27

Photojojo iPhone Super Suit

There's no shortage of iPhone cases out there, but Photojojo's Super Suit lets you safely take your phone into the water. The clear and black polycarbonate plastic case weighs an ounce and protects your device from sand, dust and water while letting you use the phone's touch-screen and buttons; you can even still use the headphones and charging connectors.

Available only for iPhone 5 and 5s models, the $79 Super Suit is good for shooting pictures or videos on swims and dives as deep as 6 feet underwater. Back on terra firma, the case protects the phone from a 6-foot drop.

Direct price: $79

Plantronics Backbeat Fit

A waterside workout just got a lot more musical with Plantronics' Backbeat Fit Bluetooth headset. The in-ear earbuds weigh less than an ounce, fold open and have a P2i nano-coating that's water- and sweat-proof (although they're meant for running, not swimming).

The Backbeat Fit has controls on the earpiece for playing, pausing and advancing tracks as well as for taking a phone call. Thanks to echo-cancelation and audio equalization technology, the tunes come through, even while you're jogging. The headset's iridescent green or blue plastic coloring is not only stylish but reflects light, making you more visible at night to drivers.

Direct price: $130

Pyle Aqua SunBlast floating pool speaker

Why leave your sound system behind when it's time to go in for a dip? Pyle Audio's Aqua SunBlast floating waterproof Bluetooth speaker is buoyant enough to float and rugged enough for hours of water sports.

In addition to being able to connect to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth, the sound system can play tunes from a micro SD card; or just tune in your favorite station on its built-in FM radio. With four speakers, Aqua SunBlast delivers 360 degrees of sound and its battery can be charged with the system's built-in solar panel or a USB cable. Available in blue, white or black.

Direct price: $115; retail price: $106 - $112

Sony Xperia Z2 waterproof tablet

Sony's Xperia Z2 tablet may look like just another cookie-cutter Android tablet, but it's pool- or beach-ready. It has an IP58 rating, meaning that it's both dust-resistant and waterproof, and can survive immersed in up to 5.5 ft. of water. This is the one to take to shoot photos of fish or show a dolphin the latest video of your baby.

The tablet weighs 15 oz., has a scratch-resistant 10.1-inch HD display and comes with Android 4.4 (KitKat). Other features include a 2.3GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM. You get 16GB of storage space for $500 and 32GB for $600.

Direct price: $500 for 16GB storage; $600 for 32GB storage

Brian Nadel is a frequent contributor to Computerworld.

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