The kind folks over at Kohler’s bath products division (about whom I’ve had nice things to say in the past) were generous enough to recently send me one of their new Moxie wireless speaker shower heads for evaluation and review. Kohler states that Moxie allows you to “Shower out Loud” by letting you listen to music from your smartphone (or tablet, or laptop, or anything else that can play music and has Bluetooth) while in the shower — without needing to wrap your phone in a plastic Zip-lock bag (yes… I’ve tried that, and yes… it works).
Here’s their 16 second teaser spot to make you want one:
So, who’s the perfect customer for a Moxie? While geeks (like me) make up a worthy potential target market for Bluetooth shower heads, I thought of at least one other market segment that might want this product even more: teenage girls who listen to One Direction… all day… every day. And since my 16 year-old daughter Brooklyn happens to fit that description perfectly, I enlisted her help in testing out the Moxie for this review. Normally, Brooklyn plays her music via her iPhone’s built-in speaker, and rests her phone on the bathroom counter during her showers. So when I asked her if she’d be interested in letting me install a shower head in her bathroom that actually let her play One Direction in her shower, I got an enthusiastic “YES!” in reply.
Let’s get some standard product review stuff out of the way first. Kohler’s part number for the 2.5 gallon-per-minute Moxie is K-9245, but you can also pick one up that’s rated at 2.0 GPM. The Moxie retails for $199, but you can find them on Amazon for around $150. The shower head portion comes in four available finish colors, none of which will surprise you: oil rubbed bronze, polished chrome, vibrant brushed nickel, and white. However, the Moxie is actually made up of two separate pieces: a shower head with a concave void and a “sound capsule” that’s the actual speaker (which magnetically fits into the concave void in the shower head). The sound capsule’s standard color is white, but you can coordinate your bathroom with four additional sound capsule colors, which you can see in this 30 second spot. But before you press play, I triple-dog-dare you to crank up your computer’s speakers all the way and press your nose right up to the screen. Unless you’re prone to seizures from Wang Chung videos, in which case you should keep your distance.
As with most Kohler products, the shower head has a lifetime limited warranty (and Kohler has never let me down with their warranties in the past), while the sound capsule only comes with a one year warranty (and that’s probably because it’s a speaker that lives in your shower).
Before diving into the guts of my review, I couldn’t help but post some of Kohler’s marketing photos for the Moxie. It’s clear their messaging is that the Moxie will turn your shower into a full on dance party, and that if you’re really cool, you don’t shower nude:
Clearly, this photo confirms that you can indeed rock out to Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil at full volume in the shower, but you’ll make a huge mess if you don’t rinse out all the conditioner before you commence with the head banging. Unfortunately, Brooklyn was unwilling to re-create the above shot for our review, so my product photos of the Moxie are much more boring:
Oh, and those channel lock pliers don’t come in the box. I just had them handy in anticipation of my install, and they snuck into the photo. So to apologize, here’s another look at what Kohler says “shower time” will look like with Moxie installed:
And here’s what I say your “shower time” will look like with Moxie installed:
Also, keep in mind that you should always coordinate your hair color, watch, towel, and shower graphics:
OK, I’ve poked enough fun at Kohler’s marketing team, which I probably shouldn’t do since they hooked me up with a free shower head.
Removing our old old shower head (which was also a Kohler) and installing the Moxie was a 5 minute job with my channel locks (although a Crescent wrench would work fine, too). I made sure to reapply fresh Telfon tape before attaching the new shower head to reduce the chance of a leak. Once in place, the shower head portion looks and works pretty much like a regular shower head, with the spray pattern providing good water pressure.
For my readers who are picky, yes… you can see in this shot that the existing shower hardware is brushed nickel, and my review Moxie was polished chrome. I wasn’t about to call up Kohler’s PR group and complain that the free shower head they’d sent me didn’t match my existing hardware’s finish, so let’s ignore that minor cosmetic detail and focus on the actual product. 🙂
Before popping in the sound capsule and cranking up the tunes, we needed to plug the capsule in to charge. The Moxie sound capsule’s mini-USB charging port is hidden on the rear of the unit, under a round rubber cover. The charging cord is a standard USB to mini-USB cable, which came in the box. The box didn’t contain an actual plug that goes into a wall, but that’s not really a big deal, since you can charge it from your computer’s USB port, or from any USB charging plug… of which most potential owners of this product probably already have a plethora. I plugged mine into an Apple wall charger, and after six hours, the blue indicator light on front of the sound capsule (which doubles as a power and sync button) was still flashing, indicating that the unit was still charging. I left it overnight, and the light was solid blue (indicating a full charge) in the morning. So I don’t know exactly how long the initial charge took, but just be prepared to plug it in overnight the first time, or if it ever goes completely dead.
Once the sound capsule was charged, syncing it with a Bluetooth device was as straightforward as any other such gadget: hold down the button until it beeps, look for “Moxie” in your device’s Bluetooth setup screen, then connect to it. Then, if you’re using an iPhone (as we did), you can press the AirPlay button to select the Moxie as an output device.
As far as music quality goes, it’s fine… as long as you set your expectations reasonably. It’s a single speaker, and you’re playing it in your shower. Audiophiles are not the intended customer. It sounds way louder and better than your phone’s built in speakers, and can be heard easily over the spray of the shower head. Also, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t take the sound capsule out of the shower and use it like any other portable Bluetooth speaker… except that the conical design makes it prone to rolling around on anything other than a perfectly flat surface.
After letting Brooklyn “shower out loud” with the Moxie for a couple of days (emphasis on the “loud”), I asked her for her feedback. “It’s cool” were the first words out of her mouth, which is high praise from any teenager. However, not everything was perfect, and she did have some suggestions for improvement.
First, Brooklyn didn’t like the fact that the Moxie has no volume control. The volume can be controlled only via the playback device (an iPhone, in her case), and so changing the volume involves getting out of the shower and handling your smartphone while you’re wet. She also didn’t like that it had no track selection abilities. You can’t skip tracks or fast forward with the Moxie, since the only button on the device is the power/sync button. And speaking of the power button, if you forget to turn it off when you get out of the shower, the Moxie stays on until it runs its battery dead (which takes about 7 hours per our testing). A device like this really should have an auto-off feature when it senses no audio source for a few minutes. Finally, Brooklyn wasn’t crazy about the fact that you have to remember to remove the sound capsule to recharge it. I explained to her that any in-shower speakers were probably going to require the same… but my fellow geek and buddy DaveQ had another suggestion. Dave wondered why the Moxie couldn’t have been designed to allow the pressurized water flowing through the shower head to charge the device hydro-electrically, like water flowing through a hydro-electric dam. Of course, that would increase the price of the Moxie, but it would solve that problem… and raise the Moxie to an even higher level of geeky “wow” factor. Version 2.0 maybe?
Bottom line, the Moxie is a shower head with a Bluetooth speaker. It will allow you to sing in the shower with a better background track, practice your close-quarters dance moves, or not miss a single second of your favorite “Morning Zoo” radio show.
But if I’m being honest (and my reviews are always honest), I wonder how many of them Kohler will sell at its street price of $150. That’s a big jump up from devices such as the AquaAudio Mini Ultra, which costs less than $20, sticks onto the wall of your shower with a suction cup, has 6 hours of play time, allows you to skip tracks and adjust volume directly on the device, plus includes a built-in microphone to act as a hands-free device for your phone.
Kohler’s plumbing products have always been considered on the high end of performance and customer service, and have traditionally come with a deservedly premium price. And while the shower head portion of the Moxie is exactly what I’d expect from Kohler, the sound capsule is lacking. At this premium price, volume control, track selection, and auto-off really should be standard features. And if Kohler ever makes that happen, I’ll gladly shell out some of my own money to replace this 1st generation sound capsule with an updated one. In the meantime, Brooklyn continues to blissfully sing along with One Direction in the shower thanks to Moxie, just like I’m sure you will if you decide to pick up a Moxie of your own.
Before any dancing, however, I highly recommend some aggressive use of these non-slip shower treads. 🙂
As always, I welcome your comments below!