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BETTER LOOKING, BUT INFERIOR TO ULTRA... HERE'S WHY
on February 16, 2014
UPDATE JUNE '17 I'm sorry to say that my review below may no longer be valid. I recenly saw and handled a Waterpik Ultra at Costco, and while it still has the same model number and general appearance of an Ultra, the build quality and weight felt much cheaper and toy-like compared to the older model I have at home. So I defintiely can't claim that the Ultra I handled is any better--and who knows, it might actually be worse--when compared to the Aquarius. Very disappointing for Waterpik to keep the name and model number, while changing the build quality. So in the toss-up between Aquarius and Ultra now, I'd go with whichever one was cheaper, and if prices are similar, I pick the Aquarius for its better appearance.
UPDATE OCT '14: The Aquarius has dropped significantly in price since my original review, and is actually slightly cheaper now than the older Ultra. So, with prices so comparable, which unit should you buy? Unless you're really in love with the updated look of the Aquarius, the Ultra still remains the better choice for the reasons I mention below. Also take a look at the video in the "Most Helpful Favorable Review," where you can really see the cheap construction of the Aquarius, and how sloppily the hose holsters into the unit compared to the Ultra. This sort of negates its one advantage--the cleaner-looking design--and you'll be wrangling to holster that hose on a daily basis. No thanks!
ORIGINAL REVIEW: Let me not waste your time and cut right to the chase: if you're thinking about buying your first Waterpik flosser--or wondering if it's time to upgrade your Ultra model--there's only one reason to consider the pricey WP-660 Aquarius: it looks nicer and more modern than the now dated design of the Ultra. So if appearance isn't important to you, stop reading right here and just go buy the cheaper Ultra, which (as I'll get to in a moment) is better in just about every other way.
As it so happens, an attractive, modern design IS important to me, especially in an appliance that I'm going to look at all the time in my bathroom. But even in this regard I'd say the Aquarius is good but not great. It is definitely NOT an improvement in design that will have you looking past its ergonomic flaws vs. the Ultra.
First, the on/off water flow switch is less user friendly in operation than the on/off button on the Ultra. Admittedly, there were issues with button failure at one time on the Ultra, but the replacement handle I received from Waterpik has been working for over a year now with no problems, so this seems to have been resolved.
Second, getting the handle and hose "re-holstered" on the Aquarius is more finicky than it is on the Ultra--plus the hose never seems to sit in the unit as neatly.
Third, the Aquarius weighs A FULL POUND less than the 2.5 pound Ultra, and you can't help but think that the weight was trimmed by using a lighter and less durable pump mechanism. Time will tell if that's really the case, but I've also found that the lightness of the Aquarius causes it to shift around too easily on my bathroom counter.
Fourth, only two tips can be stored in the unit vs. all the tips being storable in the Ultra's lid. Waterpik has probably learned that its customers are fine with more limited tip storage, but again, this is no step forward.
Fifth, the dual modes on the Aquarius--which could be seen as its only real advance vs. the single mode Ultra--are just a marketing gimmick. If you just want to massage your gums with the Ultra, simply dial down the water flow pressure and massage away. There's no need for a special mode to do this.
Bottom line: water flossing is a mature technology, and there are few if any "functional" reasons to introduce a new model. So it's a shame that Waterpik didn't make more of an effort to at least achieve better ergonomics in a killer new design with the Aquarius. You can pay 20%+ more than the Ultra and get the somewhat nicer looking but ergonomically inferior Aquarius. Or you can just buy the Ultra and not bother to upgrade if you already own it. Both units will give you the same 5-star flossing ability. The Ultra will let you hang onto some extra cash while doing it.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review and I hope you find it helpful in making a buying decision!