Crystal Home Sparkling Water Maker Starter Kit
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- Turn water into soda quickly and easily More than 30 flavors at the touch of a button Leaves virtually no clean up No heavy bottles or cans to carry or store at home Great for gift giving
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Turn water into soda quickly and easily More than 30 flavors at the touch of a button Leaves virtually no clean up No heavy bottles or cans to carry or store at home Great for gift giving
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The other issue I have, and this may be one of personal taste, is that the carbonation is not fine enough. i.e.: the bubbles are larger than I like. My favorite carbonated water is what comes in the smaller glass bottles by Schweppes and Canada Dry. In defense of the Sodastream, the difference may also have something to do with the other ingredients in those brands of water.
I have not yet contacted their customer service, but I will do so and update this review afterwards.
Update: Contacted customer service via their 800 number. Long wait on hold, but the CS rep ws very helpful and they are replacing the machine.
We replaced a second Sodastream Penguin with this unit, which uses the same carafes and gas containers. The build quality and design was disappointing with the Penguin. The Crystal improves on the design considerably, which helps circumvent build quality that appears to be similar to the Penguin. The gas valve is operated with a button instead of a lever, which makes the Crystal less cumbersome to operate, and also makes a better fit between the counter and cupboards. The excess gas release is integrated into the removal of the carafe rather than requiring a second button push. Loading and unloading carafes is also more elegant than with the Penguin. Like the Penguin, the back cover and latch that contains the canister feels chincy. The toot noises that indicate gas pressure are funkier and less shrill than the Penguin. All that for 10% lower price. Just finishing the first gas canister so we'll see how it holds up. Although it's a terribly subjective judgment since we didn't keep any records, this canister seems to be lasting longer than previous ones with the Penguin.
That said, we love the sparkling water and drink up quite a bit of it. Delicious yet simple with fresh lemon or lime. Just plain is fine, too; so much better than still. We've never bothered with any syrups.
Update 1: 15 months on, the soda maker still works. The twisting tab to lock and unlock the unit for charging can be a little stubborn, but thus far has not failed. It's as essential to us as the coffee maker, even though we just use it primarily for plain sparkling tap water. For two adults and a toddler, we keep five carafes in rotation, which helps ensure we always have some cold ones on hand, even if we let a few empties stack up before refilling. Although five carafes is a lot to manage, the container size is probably ideal at two servings each. The gas disperses rapidly once the cap is opened, so larger containers would just go flat after the first serving and waste the gas, even at the rapid rate we consume the water. We also have five charger bottles, so we rarely run out of gas before remembering to grab a few of the empties when we go to the mall, where there are two stores that will exchange them, as well as other options around town. It's a small hassle to haul more than a couple of chargers to the store and back, but beats schlepping the equivalent amount of bottled water for sure. And it encourages us to drink a lot of water. Definitely a good value, despite the bizarre campaign to discredit the product lines by an Amazon reviewer with dubious motives.
Update 2, August 2016: The Crystal finally broke. The gas charges started to force the top of the unit upward, to the point I had to hold it down with my palms while I pushed the button to get it to work. The twist lock also became very rough. Eventually it would just spray the water out of the bottle rather than infuse it with gas.
I shopped around and found this still near the top of the sodamaking charts, so I bought another. Since I bought the first one, SodaStream changed the bottles and caps to threaded design rather than the original twist/plug that was prone to failure. I'd invested in five of those carafes and twice as many caps, all of which eventually failed, and caps were no longer in production. I contacted SodaSteam, and it sent me two new bottles and caps for free. I also have five of the gas containers (now six). Clearly I'm invested in the ecosystem, which motivated my repurchase.
My original Crystal lasted five years. I probably averaged a carafe a day or more. Not a stunning achievement in durability, but hardly shoddy. It's a very physical device; not sure you could design it much more rigorously without sending the cost up too much. The break-even on pre-bottled soda is no slam dunk, but I still prefer it over hauling cases of sparkling water around.
One usage note, the manual suggests chilling the water before making soda and serving it straightaway, which does make sense, but we still make the soda first and store it in the fridge. It'll go flat quickly once opened like any bottle of soda, but I usually get through an entire bottle quickly once I open it. I can fit an entire bottle in an imperial pint glass (I can even carry it if a sip a little first).