Rating: 3 / 5
I received one of the early generation II AquaStars. They company seems very responsive at not just handling customer inquiries but actually fixing and evolving their product. I had issues with my earliest product and they not only replaced it, but changed the design to address the issue.
** Updated review below **
As someone who was an early adopter into UV, I figured I should throw in my 2 cents as I've had nearly every mode of failure.
Like most things, build quality is absolutely critical to having a successful product. I initially bought in with Meridian with the AquaStar. It worked fantastic for exactly three trips then stopped unexpectedly. I returned that unit, they blamed a switch failure (that was supposedly being redesigned).
I got a replacement unit and it again worked great, very fast and convenient. Until my batteries went low and the brand new off-branded ones I bought online we're dead. I ended up having to go untreated on water that was suspicious at best (didn't pack enough fuel to boil everything). Frustrated, I tossed in the back of my closet for the summer only to find that the housing was cracked between the bulb and the battery housing when I tried to use it during the fall and it was getting water in the circuits. They replaced it with a third unit which arrived with the housing already cracked.
The fourth unit has been more or less stable for four years, but I just don't trust it like I used to. I tried using it for winter camping where chems are slow and pumps might freeze, but the batteries went flat too quickly as they seemed to chill quickly when in close proximity to near freezing water even if kept in my jacket when not in use. It also seemed to occasionally lose contact for no apparent reason mid-cycle and force me to run it again, this time keeping a very close eye on the status meter to make sure it made it all the way through.
Given my communications with Meridian over the past and after doing a few reviews, they send me a Muv at one point to evaluate. I used it for a few weeks and while it seemed novel, it just didn't fit my style of use as it didn't work with the "throw away" style water bottles. While it worked great in a pot, if I was using it for cooking water, I usually had to boil it anyway - so what was the point?
Besides, I couldn't use the Muv while moving, which had been one of the major benefits of the other systems. I didn't have any major issues with this fourth AquaStar unit besides spotty connections, it wasn't enough benefits to offset the higher weight than KlearWater which was my alternate during that time (before it disappeared from the market).
All that said, my friend has one of the SteriPen Optis and I've always looked at it longingly as I remember the carefree approach of dunking my bottle in a creek and starting off the trail swishing it about a bit before drinking un-altered tasting mountain water. The allure is certainly there, and it seems SteriPen worked out their initial bugs (I can't say the same for Meridian unfortunately) but I find that I can't quiet put the past away, or at least not yet.