Atlantic's EGO Waterproof Sound Case for iPod double-dog-dares you to toss your beloved music player into the nearest swimming pool.




Yikes. Would you place your iPod in the protective custody of this translucent polycarbonate shell, knowing one cannonball by an overweight American could wipe out a year's worth of tunes while destroying the player?




Atlantic calls its dual-speaker case waterproof but cautions against submersion, adding a curious asterisk to the centuries-old definition of "waterproof." So, yes, Elvis (and your iPod) might get all shook up if the EGO falls below the surface.




I wouldn't trust the $150 EGO with my Nano until it was tested under strict laboratory conditions. So I flipped back the iPod storage compartment, inserted a piece of tissue, snapped the EGO shut, then ran it under cold water in a bathroom sink. The tissue remained dry.




Next, I filled the sink with water and, when no one was looking, submerged the EGO for about five seconds. Still dry.




Based on that empirical evidence, I flipped back the kickstand and placed the EGO dangerously close as we washed our cars in the driveway. Again, no trauma, only music.




On dry land, the EGO cranks out more sound than you could imagine from two 1.77-inch neodymium speakers. It's tuck-under-the-arm tiny, about 10 inches long, less than 7 tall and not quite 2 deep. It weighs 2 pounds with four AA batteries in a rear compartment. Just under the right speaker is a plastic on-off button and volume control &

both in iPod white. The only vivid color: a tiny blue light when the EGO is turned on.




The EGO comes with inserts for various iPods, including a foamy spacer for larger models like 5-gigabyte video model and rubberized cradles for the iPod mini and Nano. It is not designed for the iPod Shuffle, but it will accommodate other music-player brands in the cradles. All of the music players connect to the EGO with a basic minijack connector. A synthetic-rubber clickwheel membrane allows easy access to the iPod controls.




The EGO operates only on batteries and has no radio. It comes with a carrying bag, wrist strap and an awkward shoulder strap. If it ran on electrical power, too, the EGO would be a land-water double threat.




With its see-through design, it's easy to see how the EGO gets an extra sonic kick. Below each speaker is a little tube that leads into a chamber fronted by rubbery ripples on the EGO's face. This "passive radiator" absorbs, then releases some of the internal energy created by the speakers, so they can play louder and with greater clarity.




The EGO finally went for a swim at a Fourth of July picnic. Mostly, it did the backfloat. Water easily collected around the speaker driver, muffling the sound &

when Cat Power started gurgling, it sounded as if the EGO might need CPR &

so I didn't trust it very long with a rambunctious crowd. Really, is there any need to have music in the pool instead of — feet away on dry land?




The EGO's sound, ruggedness and water resistance make it a better candidate for poolside, on the beach, in rugged weather or even in the shower. It would be much more appealing, too, if it also worked with electrical power.