Tech in the Tub: An E-Reading Field Study
August 14, 2012 | 5:01 pm
By Joanna Cabot
My Beloved often extols the restorative powers of a good bath. Following a night which could have been better, a morning of tedious errands in grey, wet weather and a bus ride home shared with a gaggle of noisy children on their way to the bowling alley, I needed some restoring. I was already wet anyway from the stormy weather, decided to test out this bath business … and to take some techy toys along with me for the ride.
I’ve heard that a simple Ziploc bag is all I would need to keep my e-book readers safe, dry and happy. But would they perform? Would the Ziploc shield protect my reader, not just from the water, but from my hands as well? That was the question! I answered it by outfitting a Kindle Touch, Kobo Touch and iPod Touch in full Ziploc armor, and taking them into the tub with me. Here are the results:
THIRD RUNNER-UP: Kobo Touch
Even with the Kobo encased in Ziploc, I was able to select a book and get it open. Still, I tapped in vain and could never get it to turn the page for me. I might have experimented for longer—I am sure others found the sweet spot on their devices to get it working—but I had two more options, so I put the Kobo aside.
SECOND RUNNER-UP: Kindle Touch
I had mixed success with the Ziploc-protected Kindle Touch. The touchscreen recognized my taps, all right. But it didn’t always translate them into the action I wanted to perform. A few times, the page did turn. Other times, the font would randomly go up or down, odd things would get highlighted, and so on. It worked, but not reliably.
FIRST PLACE: iPOD Touch
Oh, iPod Touch, what a champ you are! My little iPod veritably swam in the sandwich-size Ziploc bag, but I could run the full monty here: open the app, choose a book, turn pages, go back a page and so on. It was business as usual for Mr. Touch. I don’t find the iPod Touch as good to read on as the big boys while on dry land, but as far as my bathtub experiment goes, he was the clear winner.
As far as dryness protection, I had no problems with the Ziploc bag, and I anticipate that it would work quite well for non-touchscreen devices. You could easily slide a Kindle Keyboard in there and use the buttons to read and relax.
Have you ever tried to read in the tub or the pool? What were your results like?