Review: Hidrate Spark 2.0 Smart Water Bottle | iLounge

Review

Review: Hidrate Spark 2.0 Smart Water Bottle

B-
Limited Recommendation

Company: Hidrate

Model: Hidrate Spark 2.0

Price: $55

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Jesse Hollington

Hidrate's new Spark 2.0 is another new smart water bottle that promises to keep track of your water intake through a companion iPhone app, as well as reminding you to stay hydrated throughout the day. While the smart bottle concept isn't entirely new — we reviewed Thermos' Connected Hydration Bottle last year — Hidrate has done some interesting and unique things with its smart bottle that warrant a closer look and serve to make it at least slightly more appealing than the other options we've seen.

Hidrate Spark 2.0 is available in six different colours, each featuring a frosted translucent bottle with a colour-matched lid. While aesthetics are subjective, it’s definitely a sleeker and more streamlined look in our opinion. The inside sensor rod also detaches from the lid, and the Spark 2.0 is powered by a pair of CR2032 batteries, which Hidrate promises will last for “up to several months” — considerably better than the twelve days that Thermos’ rechargeable battery offers, and avoids the inconvenience (and oddness) of having to recharge your water bottle. Hidrate was also thoughtful enough to include an extra pair of batteries in the package. Spark is otherwise what you’d expect from a water bottle; a spring-loaded lid covers the drinking spout, which is popped open using a button on the front. An included lanyard can also be attached to the rear of the lid.

Getting up and running with Spark 2.0 involves ensuring the sensor rod cap it screwed on tightly and then snapping the sensor rod onto the lid, and then downloading and opening up the Hidrate app to pair the bottle to your iPhone. Hidrate’s iOS app is well designed and neatly walks you through the process of setting up a user profile, finding and pairing the bottle, and then calibrating it. Location services can also be enabled, allowing your iPhone to keep track of the last place the bottle was connected — a useful feature if your prone to accidentally leaving your water bottle behind.

Once calibrated, Spark works transparently in the background to record the amount of water that you’re drinking. You can also refill the bottle at any time, or even pour the water out of it without affecting your readings — as long as you remove the lid rather than pouring the water out through the spout. The only caveat is that Hidrate cautions that you’ll need to let the bottle rest in the upright position for a few seconds each time you refill it or drink from it as there’s an orientation sensor involved. In our testing, this only took a second or two, and to be fair it sounds like more of an inconvenience than it actually is in practice — even if you don’t set the bottle down right after you drink, you’re really only delaying the reading until the next time you do set it down, so at most you might find your hourly graph to be a bit off when you’re out for a long walk or run, but it’s not like you’ll miss tracking your hydration unless you never set the bottle down in the upright position at all. On the other hand, it is more important to set the bottle down — or at least hold it upright — for a couple of seconds after you refill it to ensure that it reads the new, higher water level, before you start drinking again. Spark 2.0 stores up to about two days’ worth of data in the bottle itself, so you’ll need to open the app at least that often to ensure that your data gets synced back to your iPhone.

The Hidrate app will automatically set a recommended daily goal for you based on your personal profile — age, gender, height, weight, and declared activity level — along with other factors such as temperature, humidity, elevation, and your actual activity data, although you can override this and set a manual goal if you’re so inclined. Weekly and monthly charts are also presented in the app using a ring design reminiscent of Apple’s Activity app for the Apple Watch, and a daily status screen shows your progress toward your goal along with an hourly chart at the bottom showing the amount of water consumed throughout the day. If you have friends or family members with their own Hidrate Spark bottles, you can also share your details with each other. There’s also an option in the app to manually add water intake, so you’re not stuck drinking all of your water from the Spark bottle just to keep track of it. Hidrate also provides an Apple Watch app for viewing goal progress and manually adding water intake, which is a nice bonus.

One other cool feature in Spark 2.0 is that you can only not get push notifications on your iPhone to remind you when to drink some water, but the bottle itself actually glows, thanks to a set of multicoloured LEDs in the sensor rod. Both push notification and glow notifications can be configured separately to remind you each time you need to drink, or only if you’ve fallen behind in progressing toward your daily goal. A “Celebration Glow” can also have the bottle light up when you meet your goal, and there are eleven different glow patterns to choose from. Wake and sleep times can also be set in the app to ensure that the bottle only glows when you’re awake; these settings also impact how your progress toward your daily goal is calculated.

Hidrate has also gone the extra mile here in terms of third-party integrations, offering not only a full tie-in with Apple’s HealthKit, but also support for Fitbit, Under Armour, Withings, and Jawbone Up. In the case of HealthKit, Hidrate will write water intake data into the “Nutrition” section of your Health app and read step tracking information to help determine your activity level to recommend hydration goals for each day.

Hidrate Spark 2.0 definitely sets a new bar for smart water bottles, and it’s clear that the company has put a lot of thought and effort in here — it’s a well-designed and attractive solution with a great app, and we have no hesitation that if you’re looking for a smart water bottle, Spark 2.0 should be at the top of your list. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t admit that it’s a pretty big “if”; we’re still not really convinced that smart water bottles even need to be a thing, especially at a $55 price tag compared to a $10 water bottle and a sub-$3 iPhone or Apple Watch app. That said, however, if you’re concerned about keeping track of your water intake, or need to for medical reasons, and willing to spend the money, Hidrate Spark 2.0 is definitely worth a look, and therefore worthy of our Limited Recommendation.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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