Cut to its core, the beach is a place of nature. A spare demarcation line between land and sea, where vacationers can enjoy the best of both: sun, swimming and sand.
But that doesn't mean a little modern tech can't make it even more fun.
The key to loading up on great beach gadgets is to find ones that can handle the wet and sandy surroundings (two factors that can mean death to electronics), while adding a little something extra to the outdoor experience — whether it's the opportunity to find buried treasure, or simply to lower the chances of a blistery sunburn.
Here are five of our favorite gadgets to take with you on the sand this summer.
Canon PowerShot D10 Camera ($330)
Canon is known as a cautious company, typically eschewing glitzy features and instead focusing on basics such as improving image sensors and lens glass. And while waterproof and ruggedized cameras have been around for years, the cameramaker has steered clear, until now.
This 12.1-megapixel, 3x-optical-zooming camera is the company's first waterproof shooter, and one of the toughest we've seen — it can be submerged 33 feet, fall 4 feet, fight off grains of sand and withstand temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Atlantic Ego Ice Waterproof iPod Dock ($130)
Sure, you could make your own waterproof video iPod dock — (we did!), but for quick trips to the beach, this one is a whole lot easier.
This AA-battery-powered dock floats in water and is compatible with just about any size iPod. When the summer is over, it doubles as a great shower speaker.
Oregon Scientific Personal UV Monitor ($24)
The amount of time a person can stand being in the sun before frying depends on type of skin, strength of sunblock and how rough the day's UV rays are.
This pocket device from Oregon Scientific takes all that information (the UV levels are gathered using an onboard sensor) and gives a countdown clock for exactly how much longer someone can handle exposure to the sun.
Panasonic Toughbook (Starts at $1,700)
Sure, taking a laptop to the beach might break a cardinal rule of vacation-going (thou shalt not work), but sometimes we have no choice, and we'd rather make spreadsheets on the sand than in a hotel room.
Panasonic's Toughbook line of ruggedized laptops is designed for military-grade destruction, but their splash and sandproof properties make them the perfect tool for surfing the Web just feet from the surf.
Hammacher Schlemmer Treasure Seekers Metal-Detecting Sandals ($60)
These beach-friendly sandals have a built-in metal detector, allowing dedicated combers to search the beach for buried treasure at their leisure, without all the traditional gear. (No more big headphones!)
Step on a metallic object and the leg-mounted control console vibrates or squeals (see this video where we demonstrate how the product works).
While the product is far from perfect — only one of the sandals has metal-detecting properties, and the device requires you to strap a battery pack around your leg — we found the idea to be so goofy and inspired that it's hard not to love it.