REVIEW – There’s nothing like a hot shower to wash away the day’s troubles, or simply to ease some aches and pains if you don’t have any troubles. What could make that better? Music, of course! Anything else? Sure – your old pal, Alexa, ready to do your bidding as you wash, rinse and repeat.
Wasserstein’s new Aqua Dew shower speaker with Alexa built-in wants to be your shower buddy. Is the Aqua Dew worthy enough to share your shower? Read on to find out.
What is it?
Aqua Dew is a water-resistant Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker with Alexa functionality.
What’s in the box?
The Aqua Dew comes well-protected in a sturdy box. The box proudly proclaims that it is available “in four gorgeous colors”, however, the icon to the left of that statement shows the number “3”. It is actually available in three colors, white (my sample), black, and dark blue.
Inside the box, we find the following:
- Aqua Dew speaker with strap and clip
- Suction cup hanger
- USB-A to micro-USB charging cable
- User manual
- Dimensions: 4.73″ round x 2.17″ thick
- Weight: 12.7 ounces
- Battery: 2 x 2400 mAh Lithium-Ion
- Battery life: 6 -8 hours, based on volume
- Waterproof: IPX5 splashproof (protected against low-pressure water jets from any direction)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- Colors: White, black or dark blue
Design and features
The speaker is a solid, disk-shaped speaker with an integrated strap. It is all monochrome with shiny silver trim.
The front of the speaker has five buttons:
- Power – Holding this turns the unit on and off. When on, a short press flips between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modes
- Volume up – raises the volume
- Volume down – lowers the volume
- Mute – mutes Alexa microphone. When on, holding it displays battery charge level.
- WPS (round center button) – When in Wi-Fi mode, a three-second press starts network pairing. A quick press accesses Alexa. When in Bluetooth mode, a three-second press starts Bluetooth pairing.
Two microphone openings are to the left and right of the buttons.
Four LEDs below the buttons display the battery charge level in four increments.
The speaker openings are all on the back of the speaker.
We also see the dual-mode strap.
The strap has a chromed loop that can hook on the included suction mount. The strap also can be unbuckled as I started to do above, and looped over a shower curtain rod.
Finally, at the bottom of the speaker, we find the rubber-covered micro-USB charging port.
The included suction cup mount can adhere to any smooth surface There is a bar with an indentation designed to hold the loop on the strap. The lever is used to clamp the suction cup onto the surface.
Like most app-driven gadgets, setup starts with downloading the app from the Apple or Google store.
The Wi-Fi setup is typical for a Wi-Fi device – you connect locally to the unit and then connect that to your Wi-Fi. That all went perfectly. The Bluetooth pairing went just as smoothly. The Aqua Dew can be used either as a Bluetooth speaker or as a Wi-Fi Alexa device/speaker, so I paired it both ways.
I charged up the Aqua Dew. After pressing the suction cup onto the shower wall, I pushed the lever down and it stuck to the wall like it was glued on. I put the silver loop on the mount and *boom* – it was installed.
To get started, you must turn on the Aqua Dew. This is where I found my first complaint. To turn on the Aqua Dew, hold the power button for about three seconds. The LEDs start cycling clockwise, indicating that it is powering-up. That part is OK, but as you will see in the following video, it takes a full 45 seconds to power-up and join the network. That seems excessively long to me. Perhaps in this age of instant gratification, I’m just getting impatient.
The video below shows the power-up cycle followed by the must faster power-down cycle.
Once the speaker was on and connected to my Wi-Fi network. I was able to issue Alexa commands. Everything worked just like any of my Alexa devices. “Alexa, open bedroom shades”, “Alexa, trigger open screen”, “Alexa, turn on garden lights”, all worked as expected. I also tried my flash briefing and that worked well.
Music is a big draw for this type of device. “Alexa, shuffle Garry’s playlist”, got the music going. To my ear, this speaker sounds OK, but that’s about it, just OK. This was my second complaint. There is little to no bass so the music is a little tinny. The beauty with the Alexa functionality is that all music commands can be issued once you’re in the shower. In Bluetooth mode, you would need to start music from your phone. While many phones these days are waterproof, most of us still don’t bring them into the shower.
The next complaint arose while in the shower. I had to essentially yell at the Aqua Dew to get Alexa to wake up. I’m sure this has to do with the relatively loud ambient noise in an enclosed space like a shower when a showerhead is spraying out large volumes of water. Still, having improved logic to isolate voices would be much better. I could just hit the WPS button to invoke Alexa, but it still needs to listen to the commands after that and that still took a raised voice.
Here is a short video showing that the Alexa commands do work in the shower, even if I have to raise my voice.
My final complaint has to do with the LED indicator ring. There are 18 distinct lighting colors/patterns that indicate specific states for the speaker.
I get saving money and reducing components, but wow – there’s no way I will ever keep all the colors and blink patterns straight. I have to be sure not to lose this manual.
One thing noted in the manual is that the Aqua Dew should be located above the showerhead since at only IPX5, it isn’t waterproof, just splashproof.
Here’s my installation. The Aqua Dew does look nice in my shower.
I also tested it in Bluetooth mode. It worked perfectly as expected. I did a distance test, and out in the open, I was only able to move the speaker about 35 feet from my phone before it started cutting out.
As far as the app goes, it is pretty basic, and not really documented.
It shows the connected speaker. The “LR” button toggles between “L”, “R” and “LR”, indicating that the speaker can play left, right or both stereo channels. I assume you can add another speaker and pair them as a wireless stereo pair.
It seems to support playlists, but there isn’t anything showing how to add them.
You can connect additional music sources when you’re on Wi-Fi – a nice touch.
Additional configuration options exist:
The Preset Content option indicates that you can have presets, but nothing shows how to add them.
The options show an alarm clock, which seems to be of little value since the battery is only rated for up to eight hours.
The sleep timer can be set for between 10 and 90 minutes and powers down the speaker when the timer expires. I plan to use this by setting the timer before I get in the shower – perhaps for 10 or 20 minutes. Then, I can enjoy music before and after my shower without having to step into a wet shower to turn the speaker off.
I think the app needs some included documentation to be useful.
I had completed my review. I happily used the Aqua Dew several times during showers over a week or so. Then, as we were waking up in the morning – *CRASH*. I took a quick trip to the shower where I found the Aqua Dew and its suction mount on the shower floor. The mount only held in place for a week. Every time I used the shower, I felt the mount and it was solid every day. In fact, I tested it just the day before the crash and it was mounted quite solidly.
The Aqua Dew did not survive the six-foot drop well.
The cover and decorative ring both popped off. I figured that I could just pop it back in place, but nope. There are four rubber glue-like seals that appear to hold everything together. They all separated, so there’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together.
In addition to simply being split open, something inside is loose.
This black thing behind the circuit board now rattles around and doesn’t appear to be attached to anything.
Still, I pushed everything back together as best I could and tried powering it on. Much to my surprise, it did power-up. Once on, I noticed a hiss – like white or pink noise, that the speaker now continuously emits. It isn’t loud, but it definitely wasn’t there before the fall. The speaker successfully joined the network and Alexa responded to commands. Music sounded much like it did before the tumble, even with the constant hiss. But, no matter how I pressed and pushed, there is no way to reattach the cover and trim ring to the main speaker body.
I decided to take it apart as best I could to see what exactly happened in the fall. Here’s what I found.
The design of the unit has the entire front of the Aqua Dew secured from the back of the speaker.
This shows the four mounting locations from the back of the speaker as they pass through the circuit board. The black pieces you see in the holes were formerly attached to the front of the speaker.
The screws from the back of the speaker are supposed to screw into stands on the back of the front of the speaker, circled in red.
As you can see, none of them are intact. The fall and impact on the shower floor snapped all four off the front of the speaker. Without those stands, there is no way to draw the front of the speaker onto the trim ring and speaker, forming the water-resistant seal. In addition, without those stands attached to the front, there simply is no way to attach the front (containing the buttons and microphone) to the speaker body.
As for the mysterious rattle – mystery solved. More brittle plastic is to blame. A cover that goes over and secures the battery, attaching to the back of the speaker in two places – one on the right side and one of the top. There are (were) two tabs on the cover. A screw through each tab secures the cover to the back of the speaker.
Here are the two screw locations with the cover removed.
This photo shows the tab on the right sheared off of the cover. The tab itself is still under the screw.
Here is the former location of the tab on the top of the cover. Like the side tab, it also sheared off and remains under the screw. With nothing left to secure the cover, it just rattles around freely inside the speaker.
It appears that much of the plastic used in the speaker is quite brittle and not designed to withstand any impact whatsoever. I would classify this speaker as “fragile”.
What I like
- Water resistance
- Alexa functionality
- Overall attractive design
- Suction mount works very well
What I’d change
- Speed up the booting and network joining process
- Improve the bass response in the speaker
- Have better voice isolation so I don’t have to scream in the shower
- Simplify the light indicators
- Provide some documentation for the app – in-app would be fine
- A little more durability would be nice
The Aqua Dew was a nice addition to the shower. My workflow was to first turn on the Aqua Dew and then the shower. By the time I had hot water, the Aqua Dew was ready to entertain. Having tunes in the shower was nice. Adding in Alexa and the ability to listen to my flash briefing or other news was a nice feature, as well. Using the sleep timer to turn off the speaker after the shower certainly improved the after-shower experience.
With some fine-tuning and a little more bass response, this could be a terrific speaker. For now, it does an adequate job and would have had a place in my shower until it shattered like an egg.
After the tumble, while it technically still works, it certainly isn’t water-resistant. I might try sealing it up with silicone caulk. If I do, I won’t be using the suction mount. I would purchase 3M command strip hooks for wet environments and hang the speaker from that.