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A new $100 SodaStream model has one noticeable improvement

We reviewed the new easy-load SodaStream model that'll save you oodles on your monthly sparkling water spend.

terra
SodaStream

A home sparkling-water maker is an obvious choice for the CO2-dependent among us looking for a way to reduce both our carbon footprint and our monthly beverages bill. SodaStream is the brand you've most likely heard of and it just launched an updated version of its popular slim bubbly water machine called the Terra. The $100 SodaStream Terra has one discernible improvement to the CO2 canister mechanism over its predecessor, the Fizzi. I got my hands on a Terra to see how much that helps.  

8.2

SodaStream Terra

Like

  • Does what it's supposed to and makes sparkling water consistently
  • You can tailor the fizz level to your liking
  • New Quick Connect feature makes loading the CO2 canister even easier
  • Slim build won't take up much space on your counter

Don't Like

  • Plastic frame feels a bit flimsy
  • SodaStreams often break after two years of steady use
  • This and other models are a bit overpriced for what they are

Here's the skinny on the brand-new SodaStream Terra.

What's new about the Terra?

If you've used any of SodaStream's previous models, you know they're already simple to operate, but the Terra employs a new Quick Connect system to take one step out of setup. Instead of screwing the CO2 canister into place up through the bottom of the mechanism, you click the can into place directly through the back. It's a small improvement and time-saver but an improvement nonetheless. 

soda-click

The CO2 cartridge now clicks into place with one swift motion.

David Watsky/CNET

How well does the SodaStream Terra work?

SodaStream machines, in general, are refreshingly simple and the Terra is no departure from this. Once you lock the CO2 cartridge in place, you just fill your plastic water bottle up to the fill-line with tap or filtered water, snap it into the front snap-lock and push down on the top button to pump as much or as little carbonation into your water as you like. 

That's it. You're done.

For those who think most canned seltzer is a little too fizzy or like to have the option of less fizzy water, a SodaStream is ideal since you can easily adjust the gas. Two or three pumps will give you something akin to a San Pellegrino or Perrier, while four or five pumps will result in a more LaCroix-like sparkle.

I've been using the Terra daily for a week now (I'm a four-pumper) and it's produced consistent sparkling water with no mechanical issues in loading the CO2 canister or water bottle into place.

How long do SodaStream CO2 canisters last and what do you do when you run out?

A SodaStream cartridge will carbonate roughly 60 liters of water, depending on how fizzy you like it. That should be good for two months for the average regular seltzer drinker. When it runs out of gas, you can bring it to a number of brick-and-mortar retailers to exchange for a new one or use SodaStream's mail-order replacement program to snag a new cartridge for $15 a pop. 

soda

The SodaStream Terra doesn't seem that sturdy but it won't take up much space on the counter.

David Watsky/CNET

A bit of a flimsy build

My one beef with SodaStream products, the new Terra included, is that they have a bit of a flimsy build. $100 isn't a huge sum of money for a frequent soda drinker to lay out considering the money you may save on the canned stuff, but for that price, I do wish the machines were made of a slightly sturdier grade of plastic. The SodaStream Terra looks nice with a sleek and slim frame but it feels a little cheap and flimsy to the touch. 

There is a premium SodaStream model called the Aqua Fizz that sells for $160 and uses glass carafes instead of plastic bottles. There's also an electric version of the Terra called the One Touch for $130. While I haven't tested either of those yet, I plan to and will update this review with my thoughts.

The life span of a SodaStream is about two years

I'm not a longtime user of SodaStream products but a source (friend) of mine and his partner have been regularly SodaStreaming for close to a decade. They tell me that the machines break fairly regularly after about two years of steady use. They've had SodaStreams that stop carbonating, or a piece of plastic will come loose rendering it mostly unusable. The good news is that a few of those times the machine has still been under warranty and the company has been good about getting a replacement out with very little hassle or questions asked. 

can

Only time will tell if I'm able to kick the can.

David Watsky/CNET

How much can you save if you switch to a SodaStream Terra?

Let's use the rough estimate SodaStream gives of getting 60 liters out of each $15 cartridge. That breaks down to about 25 cents per liter. The average cost for a 1-liter bottle of soda water is about 80 cents. 

But you still have to recoup the cost of the machine...

If you were to go through six cartridges over the course of a year ($90), plus the cost of the SodaStream Terra ($100) that would be $190 total and about 52 cents per liter. Still significant savings over store-bought seltzer. These calculations are based on drinking 360 liters per year which is about 33 ounces of soda water per day -- or a little less than three cans. Of course, the more carbonated water you drink and the longer you use your SodaStream, the more you'll save versus paying for the canned stuff. 

The new SodaStream Terra is not a dramatic reinvention of the ones that came before it, but it's a solid sparkling-water maker, and if you're accustomed to the older machines you'll appreciate the click-lock cartridge. Couple its ease of use with the above savings and the fact that you'll be putting as many as 1,800 fewer aluminum cans into the recycling system each year, for a regular seltzer drinker, that's a bona fide win-win-win.

Correction, Sept. 20: A previous version of this article wrongly noted the Terra comes with a CO2 cartridge that generates 130 liters of carbonated water. This model comes with the standard SodaStream cartridge, which is good for roughly 60 liters of carbonated water.