You've received a shiny selection of gadget gifts, and with summer upon us chances are you'll be hitting the beach soon. If you've started doing all your reading on a tablet or ereader, there's a few adjustments you need to make before you take them on your surfin' safari. Here's what you need to know, and what to do when sand and sea threaten your shiny toys.
Which Gadgets To Bring
Tablets and ereaders are the obvious contenders for beach reading. Laptops are bulkier and more awkward to use on a beach towel, and more significantly they have numerous nooks and crannies where sand and water can seep in. Your phone is more likely to have a constant internet connection, so you might want to bring that along even if you have a tablet on hand. After all, you can always use your phone to tether the tablet for instant internet access -- whether you're on iOS or Android. You can also use your phone as a music player if you wish. That said, if you want to maximise battery life, a standalone MP3 player such as the iPod is also a contender.
The other issue you'll want to consider with your reading gadget is screen type. E-ink readers like the Kindle are much better for reading outdoors than tablets such as the iPad or Nexus 7, since they won't produce any glare and they aren't backlit. You can send anything to your Kindle for later reading, whether it's an article on the internet or a PDF you had lying around. You can also load up on free ebooks and convert your existing files to ePub format to ensure a plentiful supply of reading material.
One thing to keep in mind: if you do bring a tablet like the iPad outside, you may have a lot of trouble reading it with sunglasses on. If your sunglasses are polarised (which they should be, for maximum eye safety), your screen may appear very dark or black when you look at it. Try rotating your tablet 90 degrees and see if that helps -- due to the way polarised sunglasses work and the way your tablet's pixels are arranged, your tablet could be much more readable in landscape mode than portrait mode, or vice versa.
Accessories You'll Want To Bring Along
Sadly, there isn't a lot you can do to solve the sunlight problem with coloured screens. You can pick up an anti-glare screen protector like the Moshi iVisor, but it isn't going to help all that much. You'll be spared the mirror-like qualities of a glossy screen, but it's still going to be a little difficult to see what's on the screen if the summer sun is high in the sky.
You'll also want to protect your device from sand and water. Buying a waterproof case will do the job nicely, but we've long been fans of the always-cheap plastic bag method. Just stick your device in a Ziploc bag and you'll be good to go -- they're water-tight, and you can still use the device's touch screen through the plastic. You may have to leave a small spot open for your headphone cord (if you're using headphones), but that shouldn't be a big deal -- the bag will keep 99 per cent of sand and water out. If you're so close to the water that a tiny hole is an issue, you're holding your tablet too close to the water.
How To Clean Your Device If It Gets Dirty Or Wet
No matter how careful you are, sometimes the worst happens and your device falls right into the sand, or worse, the water. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to clean it up:
- If it's full of sand: If you've gotten sand in some of your device's nooks and crannies, the best way to clean it out is with a small can of compressed air. Just point it at the device and start blowing -- you should find that most of the sand comes out easily.
- If it's gotten wet: We've talked about this many times before, but putting your wet gadgets in rice can be a lifesaver. Get your gadget out of the water and into a bowl of dry rice as soon as possible, pulling out the battery if your device allows for it. Leave it in for as long as you can (up to a few days, even) and you may be able to save its life. Kitty litter also works well
- If it's just plain dirty: Whether it's your sunscreeen-y fingers or just a bit of dirt that has attached to your hardware your hardware, there are a number of things you can do. Cleaning the screen depends on what type of device you have, so check out our full rundown on how to clean your gadgets if all you need is a little touch up.
Sometimes, It's Just Better To Go Analogue Instead
If this all sounds like a hassle to you, remember that there's nothing wrong with reading a regular ol' book once in a while (believe it or not, they do still sell them at bookstores). They're cheap, you can see them in the sun, and if you get them wet, you can usually still read them.
The other thing to keep in mind is that your tech is a thief magnet. If you plan on leaving your post at any time during your beach visit for a dip, a snack or a toilet visit, take your device with you (or lock it in a car or give it to your companions to mind). Passers-by aren't going to steal your copy of 50 Shades Of Grey, but they'll be a lot more tempted if you've got a Kindle or iPad lying unattended.
Got any of your own tips for keeping your tech clean and safe during your summer adventures? Share them with us in the comments below.