We’re well into summer weather, which means it’s time to hit the beach—but if you’ve started doing all your reading on gadgets like a tablet or ereader, you may need to make a few adjustments before you take them on your surfin’ safari. Here’s what you need to know.
Which Gadgets to Bring
The obvious contenders for perfect beach reading are tablets and ereaders. Laptops are a bit bulkier and more awkward to use on a beach towel, not to mention they’ve got more nooks and crannies for sand and water to seep in. Your phone is more likely to have a constant internet connection, so you might want to bring that too, even if you have a tablet on hand—you can always tether it to your phone for instant internet access—whether you’re on iOS or Android.
The other thing you’ll want to think about is screen type. E-Ink readers like the Kindle and Nook are much better for reading outdoors, since they won’t produce any glare and they aren’t backlit. Plus, 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 (though you can also load up on free ebooks and convert your other files to ePub format). Though if you really want the tablet experience without the backlit screen, you can always turn a $99 Nook Simple Touch into a full Android tablet with a bit of hacking.
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 polarized (and they should be, for maximum eye safety), your screen might look very dark or black when you look at it. Try rotating your tablet 90 degrees and see if that helps—due to the way polarized 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. Seriously—I just tried it with my iPad and it was like the difference between night and day (so to speak).
Accessories You’ll Want to Bring Along
Sadly, there isn’t a lot you can do to solve the sunlight problem with colored 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 things like sand and water. Buying a waterproof case will do the job nicely, but we’ve always been fans of the always-cheap plastic bag method. Just stick your device in a freezer-sized 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—it’ll keep 99% of sand and water out, and 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 pretty nicely.
- 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.
- If it’s just plain dirty: Whether it’s your sunscreeen-y fingers or just a bit of dirt that’s gotten on 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 Analog 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 (and if not, you’re only out a few bucks). The other thing to keep in mind is that if you plan on leaving your post at any time during your beach visit—whether to take a dip in the ocean or whatever else—your tech is a theft magnet. Passers-by probably aren’t going to steal your $7 copy of Twilight (we don’t judge, man), 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.