Innovation

Geek Gifts 2011: SodaStream Genesis soda and sparkling water maker

The SodaStream Genesis Seltzer Starter Kit comes with everything you need to make fresh soda and sparking water at home. Read Nicole Bremer Nash's take on the eco-friendly appliance.

The average (non-diet) soda has about 27 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of liquid. Nutrition experts tell us the average person drinks more than one soda a day, and that sugar really adds up. Ask most soda drinkers, and they'll tell you that they prefer the fresh, extra-bubbly taste of fountain drinks more than the bottled and canned beverages most people stock at home. Then there's the problem of soda cans taking up valuable fridge space, and all those cans have to be recycled. All in all, that yummy, sugary goodness comes with a higher price than what you pay at the register.

The SodaStream Genesis addresses many of these issues. This small kitchen appliance allows you to make fresh soda and sparking water at home, with minimum need for storage space and recycling. The one-liter bottles are reusable, so the only waste is the small, recyclable flavoring pouches. Plus, SodaStream flavors are generally healthier than most off-the-shelf varieties; 8 fluid ounces of SodaStream Cola has just 8 grams of sugar. SodaStream doesn't use high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame, so the type of sugar is generally better as well.

Specifications

  • Product: SodaStream Genesis Seltzer Starter Kit
  • Price: $99.95
  • Colors: Red or black (A special edition pink SodaStream Genesis Seltzer Starter Kit is available for a limited time and is more expensive. 5% of the purchase price from each sale of these items is donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.)
  • Where to buy: Various retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Best Buy, and Macy's.
  • The SodaStream Genesis takes up about one square foot of counter space and is just short enough to fit under most cabinets.
  • Light-weight aluminum CO2 carbonators
  • Variety of flavors that range from regular cola to sparkling teas
  • SodaMix flavors start at $4.99 for enough to make about 12 liters of soda
  • Refillable bottles

What I like

  • Easy to use: The SodaStream Genesis is easy to put together and easy to use. Just fill a SodaStream carbonating bottle to the fill line with plain, cold water, screw the bottle onto the machine, press the button until it "sounds" three times, add the flavor and enjoy. Very fast, very simple.
  • Taste of the specialty flavors: The specialty flavors are pretty good. There are also recipes to make sparkling juices from water and juice concentrate, or you can use a SodaStream sparkling juice flavor. Nutritionally, the SodaStream flavors really are healthier than most sodas. For those who are partial to pure cane sugar sodas, SodaStream offers an assortment of flavors made with cane sugar.
  • Eco-friendly: Perhaps the best thing about the SodaStream is that the company really strives to deliver on the promise of being eco-friendly. The carbonating bottles are reusable, the packaging is minimal, and you can swap out used carbonators via mail order. The only waste comes from the SodaMix bottles, which are small and recyclable.

What I don't like

  • Flavors: If you like the flavor of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, the SodaStream Cola flavor just isn't the same. In fact, all of the flavors that are like other brands' sodas just taste different. It's not bad, but for the die-hard Coke drinker, it will be a difficult swap.
  • Reusable carbonating bottles: The reusable carbonating bottles keep soda fresh in the fridge, but they can't be put in the dishwasher, and they do have a limited lifespan of up to 2 years. The concern about the limited lifespan is that the company may change the machines and the bottles, and you wouldn't be able to get replacements. This is not currently planned, but consumer experience tells us to never expect that product will still be available two years from now.

Geek bottom line

The SodaStream is a neat little eco-friendly and cost-efficient machine that doesn't take up much counter space and offers a healthier selection than most people drink on a regular basis. However, if you aren't already a big soda drinker, then you aren't likely to use the SodaStream to its potential. It is a worthy purchase for somebody who drinks a lot of soda and needs a healthier alternative.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: **
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: ***

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.

About Nicole Nash

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

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