Okay, so you’re off on hols but chances are you’ll still be thinking work when you’re by the pool or on the beach. Water and sand can kill phones, cameras and speakers so hooray for new technology such as nanocoatings that seal gadgets from moisture and dust, says our techno wizard Chris Partridge
How can you tell whether your expensive new gizmo can be taken deep sea diving or will only survive a bit of a splash? The answer is the IP or ‘ingress protection’ code.
Most IP codes consist of the letters IP followed by two numbers which indicate the level of dust and water protection, respectively. The rating for dust starts at 0 (none) and goes up to 6 which indicates the casing is totally dust tight.
The water protection rating starts at 0, rising to 4 for splashes, 7 for immersion up to 1m and 8 for immersion up to a depth specified by the manufacturer.
If either digit is replaced with an X, it means there is no data to base the rating on.
In practice, an IP67 rating will mean any gadget will survive being dropped in a swimming pool for half an hour, which is probably as much as you need.
Most new high-end smartphones including the Apple iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S10 are now water- and dust-proof to IP67, which is reassuring. However, one of the things they don’t tell you about smartphones is that the touch screens are almost impossible to use when wet, however waterproof the phone might be. For some reason, wet fingers just don’t work very well.
For sailors, surfers and others who might rely on their phone to get help when floating in the briny, a phone with old-style pressable keys might be the answer, working even when wearing wet-suit gloves. So, keep your phone in your beach bag, and have a towel at the ready to dry wet fingertips.
Another of life’s great pleasures is relaxing in a deck chair on the beach, reading, but water is almost as bad for paperbacks as it is for electronics.
Which makes Amazon’s decision to leave waterproofing off the feature list of the new entry-level Kindle (£70) really annoying. It has a fancy front-lit screen but that is helpful only in the dark – for reading on the beach you will have to fork out for the IPX8-rated Paperwhite ((£120) or Oasis (£230).
The Oasis has a sharper screen and a lovely balanced design with physical page-turning buttons.
Traditional cameras are delicate bits of kit – watch a group of professional snappers hastily pop their SLRs in their bags when it starts to rain. Nowadays, cameras that can withstand the elements are usually not very capable in comparison, with smaller image sensors and shorter zoom lenses giving less than sparkling results. And most of them feature action-man styling that will mark the user as more Bear Grylls than David Bailey.
Filming action footage as you surf or dive has long been owned by the GoPro Hero 7 camera, with its iconic big lens on a small body. Now, however, it has a rival in the new DJI Osmo Action.
DJI is best known for its drones, but many of its drones have cameras built-in and the Osmo Action borrows many features such as auto-stabilisation from the drone technology.
It may look a bit like the GoPro but it is fully waterproof to a depth of 11m without a case. Its most notable external feature is a small colour screen on the front that helps frame selfies (and which sportsman, or holidaying business owner can resist taking selfies with sharks?)
The video stablisation is on a par with the GoPro, but it lacks features such as GPS and the social media options are a bit klutzy. But the price is right – at £330 it is significantly cheaper than the GoPro.
Less athletic but more aesthetic photographers still need their cameras to withstand ordinary outdoor conditions while producing top notch images, and the new Lumix G90 does just that. It is a mirrorless camera that mounts Micro Four Thirds lenses, but with seals on all the buttons and openings to make it splash- and dust-resistant.
The latest battery powered Bluetooth speakers can pump out extraordinarily good sound wherever you or the kids decide to party.
Kitsound’s Diggit XL speaker is stylish in its bamboo and fabric covering – you wouldn’t believe it is water- and dust-resistant to IP66 standards, making it ideal for outdoor use, using its attachable stake to dig it in to the sand or turf. It even has a downward-facing led light that makes it into an attractive garden feature.
You can daisy-chain several speakers to cover the garden with music and really paty on the summer beach. The Diggit XL costs £80.
Chris Partridge has been writing about technology since the days of wireless sets with real mahogany cases with glowing valves inside, mainly for newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer and the Sunday Times.