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Gadgets

Testing the Aquabot bottle, my new water blaster and friend maker

CNET's Michael Franco gets his hands on a tricked-out water bottle that made him the most popular guy at the music festival.

We spend a lot of time here on CNET's Crave blog talking about cool gadgets trying to raise cash on crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Sometimes those campaigns work out, but sometimes they fizzle out and the promise of the Next Big Thing never materializes.

I'm glad to say the Aquabot is one product that did see the light of day. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer, the Aquabot is now for sale through the company's website, where I recently purchased one. I'm also glad to say the gadget works really well.

Aquabot is a water bottle lid with a built-in pump that essentially turns a water bottle into a spray bottle. It has three settings -- shower, jet and mist -- and can fit on lots of 63mm wide water bottles out there, like those from Nalgene or Camelback. You can also order it with its own bottle, which I did for just $7 more than the $20 sale price (about £13, AU$28) for the 32-ounce size (about one liter).

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The author, self-misting with the Aquabot. Michael Franco/CNET

Operation is simple. You just fill the bottle up with water, leaving about 15-20 percent of space in the top of the bottle, and move the pump handle up and down a few times (I found that about 10 pumps did the trick.) Then you twist the knob to the type of spray you want, press a lever and blamo -- you get pressurized water at your fingertips.

I took the bottle to a music and camping festival recently and it came in super handy. At our campsite, I used it on its jet setting to spray peanut butter off dishes and clean my toothbrush. I used the same jet setting as a water weapon to surprise people about 20 feet (6 meters) away with a friendly squirt. I took the cap off completely to get the "shower" setting and hosed mud off my legs. But without a doubt, the best part of the gizmo was its mist setting, which you get by leaving the nozzle almost all the way closed.

It was a hot weekend and I walked around the festival offering people free mist from the Aquabot. Needless to say, it -- and I -- was huge hits. A blast from the bottle was incredibly cooling and refreshing enough to keep me cool through dancing to at least one full song before needing another blast. A bit of confusion did ensue once during the weekend when my wife tried to give a friend some mist in the face but didn't take the bottle off its jet setting. Good thing it was only water.

I spoke with Aquabot founder Nick Rhea, and he told me the company has two new related innovations coming up. One will be a hand strap that lets you hold the bottle in a more intuitive way and the other will be an extender tube that will let you put the Aquabot down on a table or in a backpack and then operate its functions from the end of the tube. Both add-ons should only make a good product better so keep an eye out for the crowdfunding campaigns that will launch them both.