Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/13/review_h2o_water_powered_radio/

H2O water-powered shower radio

Pump out the volume

By Giles Hill

Posted in Hardware, 13th April 2011 06:00 GMT

Review Produced by Vivian Blick, a man who helped launch the wind-up radio, this shower-powered version is due to become the new must-have amongst ‘eco-trendies’ everywhere. The fact that shower-radios probably make you spend more time in the shower – thereby using more clean water and power – is an eco-flaw we’ll just have to ignore for the moment.

H2O water-powered radio

Plumb and play: the H2O water powered radio

The concept of the H2O is gloriously simple – water flows through a patented micro-turbine and generator that, in turn, charges a Nickel-metal hydride battery and thus powers the radio. The minimalist, retro design incorporates just a few buttons for radio tuning and volume; a mono speaker dishes out the perfectly acceptable, if a little tinny, audio.

Barring a few leaks – fixed with the bundled washers – installation was stress-free; the H2O screws between your shower unit and hose with a neat little plastic bracket and, handily, the only tools required are fingers.

The H2O will continue to pump out sound after you’ve turned the water off – handy for that mid-wash lather or post-shower towel session. The pressure of your hose dictates the amount of charge retained by the battery; yet after just a few showers there was enough juice for a good hour of listening without shower power.

As long as you don’t completely drain the cell, it will also remember volume level and radio station between uses – nigh on essential for the quick and convenient blast of a morning shower.

H2O water-powered radio

The Ni-Mh battery slips in under a metal screw-cap and will need replacing over time

What’s great about the H2O radio is the way its ecological credentials positively enhance its usefulness. No expensive, water-corroded batteries to change; no plugging it in for a charge. In fact, it’s so self-reliant it should happily keep you singing in the shower ad infinitum although you will need to change the rechargeable battery every few years. Oh, and do give it a good wipe-down once in a while.

Piped music

While it pains me to say so, the H2O is unfortunately not eco-perfection. Horizontal shower connections (such as branching off taps) may not be suitable. I tried the H2O on my brother’s shower, and while it screwed in just fine, a rough crackle was the best sound it would manage. Still, such setups are not especially common and any shower with a vertical outlet should produce the required pressure just fine.

H2O water-powered radio

Yet it’s the quality of reception that’s the real glaring, annoying clanger. Unlike standard radio sets that can be placed in a favourable spot, with extendable aerials for further accuracy, the H2O is, unfortunately, clamped in one spot. If radio reception is shoddy in your shower, then it’s a hissy, crackly wash for you. Out of frustration, I customised my H2O with a wire coat-hanger – hardly an elegant or especially satisfying solution – yet it did provide a significantly better signal.

H2O water-powered radio

Even the most convoluted of plumbing can accommodate the H2O, but the pressure might not be sufficient

So the H2O is conceptually excellent. It is British too, and the eco-outlook make you want it to succeed. At 35 quid it certainly won’t break the bank, but you could end up, bizarrely, giving it away to someone whose shower cubicle offers better reception.

Verdict

Hopefully an H2O mark 2, complete with small retractable aerial, will appear sooner rather than later. I appreciate it may look marginally less neat and tidy, but there’s only so much radio fuzz one can take. Anything else? DAB would be lovely (but power hungry, alas), MP3 even better.

More Eco-Friendly Gear Reviews...

Nokia
DC-14
Scosche
Solbat2
Etón
Soulra
Vexia
Econav 480
Solar
Freeloader Pico