This is our fourth SodaStream review and over the years we've witnessed the company refine, add new features and, of course, new flavours. We love the SodaStream concept and a huge amount of consumers clearly do too. But as SodaStream evolve and make their designs easier to function, the price of the newer appliances has been on the rise. Which is why we're happy to see the SodaStream Play: it has a lower price, plus new and borrowed characteristics from other machines in the lineup that are more expensive.
The price point of the SodaStream Play is £69.99 within the UK and $89.95 within the USA; this is £10/$10 less than the plastic variant of the SodaStream Source. After using the new SodaStream machine we could see exactly where the savings have been made. The most obvious is the SodaStream starter carbonator that has enough CO2 to make 15 litres of carbonated water. Usually SodaStreams come with a carbonator with the ability to make 60L of fizzy water, so this is quite a large reduction and will diminish in no time. However, when it comes time to change the carbonator, you only have to pay the cost of the gas and the SodaStream Play takes the whopping 130L carbonators and the 60L capacities too.
Renowned designer Yves Béhar was brought in to design the Play. He previously designed the clean and modernist SodaStream Source which we reviewed last year and we thought it was the best designed SodaStream yet. Pleasingly, the SodaStream Play is near identical in appearance to the Source, you have to really study the appliance to spot the differences.
The biggest changes is the new blocky theme, that incorporates gloss and matte finishes and the other dramatic change is notably the useful LED fizz level indicators have unfortunately been stripped from the front. But because it's entirely constructed from plastic, it weighs a lot less than our metal variant of the Source, so it's really easy to whip outside on a hot summer's day. White, black, red, and yellow make up the colour options. We have the black and it looks particularly sleek and understated in the kitchen environment.
Usability & Performance
The Play comes with a rounded 1L plastic bottle with cap, that we found held its fizz for over 14 days. The bottle snap-locks onto the machine, which is seriously convenient so no screwing or anything of that nature is required. Now all that is needed to get fizzy water is to press down the carbonation slider. The Play doesn't give a reading of how fizzy your water is becoming as it's being carbonated like the Source does, and this is a feature we would have really liked, because it allows us to customise the fizz easily.
Although one new and improved design incorporation the Play has over the Source is that the carbonation slider automatically lifts back up to where it starts, whereas on the Source it has to be manually pulled up. This was something about the Source that we didn't think was much of an inconvenience, but it's nice to see SodaStream refining the user experience like this. The maximum fizz we could achieve is on par and probably in some instances more intense than the main popular pre-bottled sodas.
The SodaStream Play comes with a sample pack of six flavours. Each time we review a new SodaStream machine we see new flavours added and further commitments from SodaStream to make them healthier. In the USA SodaStream have removed aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup from all their 60+ flavours, so in some instances they're healthier than the main brands. However, within Europe Aspartame is still prominent within all the core flavours, which we find odd. Flavours come in bottles and in new SodaSteam Caps that spray just the right amount of flavour for 1 litre of soda. The debate of whether owning a SodaStream is cheaper in the long run than going out and buying bottled carbonated drinks is relative. Retail outlets off and online, including SodaStream, offer attractive multi-buy discounts that can dramatically undercut the RRP of a single bottle or pack of caps. Plus, for folks who like to make or buy their own cordials and such, it's just a convenient way to carbonate fresh water and customise the strength and fizz to their liking.
SodaStream have brought some of the latest and greatest of their design features together for the Play and are charging less for it, and this likely means outlets like Amazon will charge even less. The only niggle we have with the SodaStream Play is that we would have liked to have seen a 60L carbonator included. Other than this we believe the minimal design and bold colours of the Play, coupled with the lower price, is a good option for people looking to jump into the convenient and increasingly health conscious SodaStream ecosystem.