There are a boat load of craft ice makers available on the market. Amazon seems to offer all of them. If you’re interested in any of these, it’s probably because of the lovely effect that large spheres of nearly clear ice have in your glass. So, don’t settle for the smaller sizes. Anything under 2.4 inches in diameter isn’t going to cut it. I know, I started out with the cheapest I could find, and quickly became dissatisfied, although a glass full of smaller spheres has it own nice impact. If you want smaller spheres, this is a popular choice on Amazon. If you want that single MOAB sphere, it needs to be as close to 2.5 inches in diameter as possible. It may not sound like much of a difference, but 2.1 looks nowhere near as nice as 2.4.
The Tinana and Berlinzo are essentially the same ice maker with two different labels. But there are some differences between the two, and to my mind, they do not favor the nearly twice as expensive Berlinzo:
1. Physically, they are 98% identical. The only physical difference between these is that the Berlinzo is sheathed in a hard plastic outer casing with a satin black finish and some small, but nice, graphics. Between the two, this gives the Berlinzo a more “formal” and “classy” appearance. Seriously, it looks nice. If that matters to you, while it sits in your freezer, then it’s your ice maker of choice. Or, perhaps you want to give one of these as a gift; the Berlinzo does look nicer. [FWIW, their exterior shipping boxes are both nice, but to my mind, the Tinana is nicer in its simplicity.] Other than the Berlinzo’s outer shell, they are identical, and their parts are interchangeable. However, I think this outer shell contributes to difference #2.
2. Per their instructions, the Tinana should be allowed to freeze for 30 hours, while the Berlinzo requires 40-48. If you’re on any kind of clock, that’s significant. Other than the thin satin plastic shell on the Berlinzo, I can think of no reason why the two devices should have such significantly different freezing times. Interestingly, the Berlinzo instructions specifically state that you should not freeze it for more than 50 hours, else there is a risk of cracking the shell. That strikes me as a disadvantage, or at least a risk of disadvantage. I found the freezing times for both devices accurate.
3. The Berlinzo comes with a nice plastic bag in which to store your spheres. Unfortunately, it’s not really big enough to hold more than one batch at a time. Ziplock is your friend here. But I decided a locking plastic bin was still the best bet.
4. In all other respects, the two devices produce identical, almost entirely clear ice spheres when you follow the instructed times for freezing. And if you don’t, they also perform similarly. Pulling either device out of the freezer six hours ahead of time will reveal a not-fully-frozen base, and partially formed (about 75%) spheres. Also, if you decide to use warm or even hot water to slow the freezing process further, you’ll need to adjust your freezing time accordingly. I do, and have found an additional six hours (for a total of 36) in the Tinana works well, while the Berlinzo requires its full 48.
5. The spheres from both devices also benefit from tempering. Without tempering, they didn’t always crack, but they did sometimes. And with tempering, none of the spheres cracked when room temperature whiskey was poured on them. Most people recommend five minutes for tempering, and that makes sense if the spheres are kept in an ice bucket or bowl. I found that when placed in individual glasses, 2-3 minutes seemed sufficient to avoid cracking. YMMV.
The pics in the gallery below show the spheres side-by-side. They are indistinguishable. I also did a 90-minute melting test, with images taken at 00:00, 00:30, 01:00, and 01:30, with a sphere from each maker in a glass containing 2 ounces of water. Granted, water and booze are not the same thing, and holding a glass will speed the ice melting process. But all I wanted to do was compare how a sphere from each maker would perform in the same environment. Short answer: they melted identically. And that’s no surprise since they are almost identical in their construction, and entirely identical in their method. For me, the performance of both the Berlinzo and the Tinana are 5 stars, with the Berlinzo docked one star for value and the additional 10-18 hours of freezing time.
Over on Amazon, there are some complaints and nits; that’s what’s great about the Amazon community. But I think some are a bit off the mark:
1. Yes, it’s difficult to remove the rubber molds from the freezing box. It gets easier after first use, but they’re tight for a reason. I’m older, and my finger strength isn’t what it used to be, but I managed to get everything apart.
2. It’s not difficult to fill the container or to get the molds topped up. A gooseneck kettle or a plain glass measuring cup is handy for topping off.
3. There is occasionally a little bit of excess ice around the seams (see pics), but it comes off easily.
4. Depending on your water minerality, you may find you get better results by boiling the water first, filtering it with a real filter (Brita doesn’t cut it), etc. Distilled or RO/DI water doesn’t always produce more clarity. The people who make the OnTheRocks version of this (I use their box for cubes, shown in the pic below along-side their sphere box in our freezer) have some videos with recommendations for “fine-tuning” your ice. We have off-the-charts hard water in our house, and a whole house softener that reduces, but does not eliminate, the hardness. The tap water produced quite acceptable ice spheres, but no one will mistake them for camera lens glass.
5. With respect to water “wastage,” don’t rinse that ice block down the drain. Let it thaw and use it to water plants or pets or whatever. It’s perfectly clean water. It’s only waste if you waste it. Don’t throw it away!
In addition to the side-by-side pics, I’ve also included images of the spheres in glasses of whiskey and a screenshot pf the delivered price differential between the two units. Enjoy!