Plenty of gadgets claim to be tough, but how many will survive water, shock, mud and electricity? Nathan Mawby took these gadgets through a 26- obstacle, 20km ultimate gadget road test in Melbourne’s recent Tough Mudder event.
GARMIN FORERUNNER 910XT Garmin $ 399 ($ 449 with HR monitor and ANT connection)
When running endurance events or ridiculous obstacle courses, a training watch to record vital signs is a good idea, even if only for the coroner’s later use. Despite literally dripping with mud and being exposed to dangling live- wires coursing with 10,000 volts of electricity, the Forerunner survived intact. Unfortunately, a few difficulties arose with its use. The Forerunner picked up data from the heart- rate belts of other entrants, but not the one strapped around my chest. But it did record other data, from the elevation of the hill I slid down face- first to the time spent waiting in line.
OLYMPUS TOUGH TG- 820 Olympus $ 399
This isn’t Olympus’s first tough camera, but with a 10m dive resistance, 12- megapixel resolution, the ability to capture full high- definition video and grab audio even underwater, it’s probably one of the best, toughest cameras around. Even a paddle through icy water didn’t slow it down. It earned bonus points for continuing to film after being jolted out of my hand while I was sliding down a hill. But it wasn’t invincible – the protective screen cover suffered some scratching when it was crushed under me as I crawled through mud, dirt and gravel.
GARMIN RINO 650 Garmin $ 599
The Rino aims to combine easy, reliable communication through a twoway radio system with in- built GPS to let you know where you are, and where friends using the same device are. Sadly, it doesn’t like cold water, which wasn’t ideal given the fifth obstacle in the course included a short submersion in almost frozen water. The device went into a hibernation mode. It did come back online later in the course, though water presumably got to the speakers because the walkie- talkie was so quiet voices couldn’t be understood. With more time, voices could be heard more clearly. It will survive, but don’t plan on using it at short notice if you fall into a river during winter.
HUAWEI DISCOVERY Vodafone, $ 199
There are plenty of tough phones on the market, but this phone is the telephonic equivalent of Chuck Norris. Huawei is ultra- cautious with its ‘‘ water- resistant’’ claim. Moments after a 30m swim that followed a 4m dive into a dam, Vodafone’s network had me talking with a friend waiting at the finish line. The glow from the screen could even be made out through caked- on mud. It also received the least amount of damage of any of the devices with its anti- scratch Gorilla Glass screen emerging unscathed after my 83kg weight pressed down on it. With internet access, Twitter and Facebook apps, it has everything you’d expect in a smartphone other than a touchscreen.