Like the Finis SwiMP3, which has been on the market for five years, the Neptune waterproof player uses bone conduction to deliver sound to the audio canal.
In creating the new Neptune player, Finis has drawn heavily on its experience with the SwiMP3, and has redesigned all components, including the bone conduction speakers.
The new Neptune offers 4GB of memory, an integrated OLED display, improved file transfer compatibility with iTunes and is waterproof to 3 meters (10 ft).
Gizmag is currently conducting a giant underwater MP3 player comparison and has had one of the now superseded FINIS SwiMP3 players in the comparison alongside the following units:
- Audioflood iPod Shuffle
- Diver with LCD
- Finis SwiMP3
- Fitness Technologies UWater G4
- Fitness Technologies UWater K7 Radio
- H2O Audio X-1 Interval
- JLab GO
- Lavod TropicalFever
- Lavod Aquacube
- Nu Dolphin Touch Pro
- Nu Dolphin Lite
- Nu Dolphin 2.0
- Sony Sports Walkman W270
- Speedo Aquabeat LZR
- Speedo Aquabeat 2.0
- Swimpod/Swimman Apple iPod Shuffle
- Underwater Audio Apple iPod Shuffle
- Waterfi iPod Nano Generation 7
- Waterfi iPod Nano Generation 6
- Waterfi iPod Shuffle
The performance of the SwiMP3 against that list augurs well for the Neptune.
There were two distinct schools of thought surrounding the SwiMP3 – most people loved it, but some hated it.
The reason it completely polarized opinion is because it uses bone conduction to get the sound into the auditory system rather than earbuds wedged into the ear canal. The two speakers of the SwiMP3 rest on the user's cheekbones and conduct the sound vibrations via said cheekbone directly into the inner ear.
Everyone who tried it either rated it in their top three players, or bottom three players, though to be fair, eight testers rated it in their top three, while only two testers rated it in the bottom three – from more than 20 units, that's quite a compliment to the SwiMP3.
Accordingly, we expect the new three-piece Neptune design to be an improvement upon a unit which was already one of the best on the market.
Finis has a player in a courier on its way to us at present so we'll reserve judgement until we've tried it in the water, but there were a few relevant things we can reflect on so far.
Several of the testers we have used in the comparison shoot-out liked the SwiMP3 specifically because they didn't need to push anything into their ears.
Secondly, in our testing, once any of the players were in place with headset secured and working, verbal communication was impossible ... except with the SwiMP3, where conversations could be held even while the player was still playing.
This could be a significant factor if children are involved – "sorry mum, I didn't hear you."
We'll report more on the Neptune in the near future when we have had it in the pool.