.

SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

CES: It’s OK to Drop Your iPhone in the Toilet

iStockphoto

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Accidental water exposure has long been the bane of gadget owners: it ruins devices and often isn’t covered by warranties or extended service plans. So few things are as attention-getting as watching someone toss an iPhone into a tub of water and pull out the somehow still fully functional device a good five minutes later.

Yet that feat may soon be less noteworthy. For $60, Liquipel promises to waterproof a variety of gadgets. To hear president Kevin Bacon (not that Kevin Bacon) describe it, the company’s machine sucks a special blend of vaporized chemicals through the device, coating every component with a layer “a thousand times thinner than a human hair.” The coating isn’t apparent to the naked eye, he says, but the result is that it’s now waterproof.

Well, within limits. The coating can’t endure submersion of more than six feet, and it’s not meant for prolonged submersion either. The company says larger devices such as tablets would be spill or splash resistant after the process, but still shouldn’t be dunked. Potentially more troubling: although the company tests the results to guarantee its process, there’s no guarantee for consumers that it works. So, consumers who have been longing to talk on their phone while in the shower or risk splatters to cook along with food tutorials on their iPad may still find themselves in for a hefty repair bill. (N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, which sells service plans, estimates the average repair cost for a tablet at 50% to 100% of its original purchase price.) Bacon says Liquipel is working with insurers to provide a more comprehensive guarantee.

There’s also the little matter of timing. Liquipel coats the gadgets on site in its Santa Ana, Calif., office, meaning someone sending in their cellphone would need to shell out for overnight shipping or — gasp — go unconnected for a few days. Bacon says the company is working on partnerships with manufacturers that would allow gadgets to get waterproofed before making it into consumers’ hands.

Comments

We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (3 of 3)

View all Comments »
    • A dunk off would be epic. Too bad HZO can’t get a product out because their stuff is a hazardous substance in the U.S. and P2i only offers their service for manufacturers. Neither company is waterproof though, they’re still only “watersafe” like Liquipel.

      I got Liquipel on my iPhone 4 back in June and it’s saved my phone from getting destroyed at least three times. I even dropped it in a bubbling jacuzzi and it survived. I’ve been a believer ever since. You can’t tell anything has been done to it either, it comes back all clean in a nice metal container with a microfiber pouch. None of the water sensor stickers changed color when it got wet so even if it fails I can get a new phone on Apple. All in all I’d say its worth the $59. You no longer have to worry about losing a phone over a spilled drink or a little rain. Just makes you feel good.

      Liquipel is going to be at CES again this year can’t wait to check out the show, I hear rumors of a machine doing free treatments at the show. Heck yeah!

    • Kelli, you need to do your homework. There are other vastly more superior products in the water resistant, water proof, space being featured at CES. Did you ask Liquidpel to compare its technology to HZO or P2i, both of whom are real waterproofing systems rather than a simple guard against a drizzle? Liquidpel voids warranties and does not protect against total submersion. P2i and HZO work with manufacturers, and HZO can even play totally submerged for hours even with the back off of the phone. Let’s see Liquipel do that. Kelli, you should challenge them all to a dunk off! Now, that would a good story.

    • Mr. Bacon needs to make money, really fast, to be bold enough to put this crap on the market knowing that it is not a guarantee. And, his location is the only location to get your phone coated. Sorry…buster, go back to the drawing table.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

.