A little more than a week ago, we found ourselves gawking at the new Hydra LED fixture that AquaIllumination snuck onto the market. At the time, we found what little info we could from the product pages of an online vendor who just so happened to put the light up for pre-order. Whether that listing was by accident or by design is still a little bit of a mystery to us, as AI hadn’t even officially released that info on their site or through mailing lists, and no other authorized AI dealers had them listed. Fortunately, that’s all a moot point as the new Hydra went live on AI’s website very recently, and it gives us more info that shines a little more light on what we can expect in terms of performance. As we mentioned in the previous article on the Hydra, the new fixture isn’t much different than its Vega brethren, but AI makes those few differences really count. For starters, the LED color offering has been revamped. Where the AI Vega Color offers six different colors, the Hydra offers seven. In addition to one more color, there are a couple of different emitter brands that have been brought on board. These include the SemiLED 415nm Violet and Edison Opto 400nm UV LEDs, which expand the color spectrum of the Hydra beyond what any of the other AI products use. Glancing at the image of the Hydra above, another difference that jumps out at us is the orientation of the LEDs. The clusters have been rotated slightly, which coupled with the modified lenses, provides for a better color mixing for a more uniform light output. The lenses are 80 degrees and use a TIR (Total Internal Reflection) optical design with a diffuse exit surface. Given the fact that the LEDs are the same wattage as those found in the Vega, we assume that the diffuse surface of the optics will spread the light out at the cost of depth penetration, though its probably only slight. Taking a slight detour back to the similarities, the AI Hydra will sport the same built-in wireless control technology found in the Vega. It is compatible with both the New Controller and the more advanced, web-based Director software. The new AI Hydra is not a replacement for the Sol fixture, but instead another key product to the AI product line. It might cause a slight price drop in the Sol and Nano fixtures, but that’s a guess on our part.