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Keep your gadgets safe from summer elements

Consumer Reports News

Are you planning to hit the beach or pool during the Fourth of July weekend—along with your favorite portable device? Water and sand can ruin gadgets, so you'll want to protect them. Here's how.

You can buy bags that makers claim offer maximum protection against these elements, some with features such as headphone jacks. The bags we tested last summer—from DryCase, TrendyDigital, Seattle Sports, and Lavod—stayed dry inside when we gave each a brief dunking in water. They also kept out sand sprinkled along their seals.

Out of curiosity, though, we also did the same tests with a humble Hefty Slider Bag. And guess what: It did just fine in our tests, too.

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All the bags let us control the key functions of the devices inside. We could swipe and press touchscreens, for example, and adjust volume and brightness controls. We were even able to shoot photos from the enclosed devices, though the images were cloudy (especially when shot through the thicker bags). The bags' shiny plastic also increased glare, so you may want to use them in the shade.

The tighter the bag, the easier the device was to use. If your bag's a bit baggy, try to create a vacuum seal by nearly closing it, pushing the air out of the bag, and then closing it completely.

Bottom line. We recommend that you bag your gadgets for the beach or any other place where they might be ruined, say at a pool or on a camping trip. Any zipper or slider bag will probably provide passable protection, and the price is certainly right.

Go for bags that fit your gadgets well. Consider replacing a bag periodically, particularly if sand has scratched its surface. Place your device in a bag before you leave home, and try not to remove it until you're back home and have brushed sand and water off.

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