Inventors come up with new products every single day. Many of their inventions end up making our lives easier. Many turn out to be real duds. Having worked with inventors for 10 years, I know everything that goes on in the invention process. Oftentimes, multiple prototypes are developed before the actual product finally comes to fruition. It is not an easy nor an exact science.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the steps an inventor must go through on the way to product development, it is complex. It involves not only conception, but also design. Then it moves to product protection via copyright and/or patent. Next it goes into prototype development, which can take several times to perfect. Then there is market research to determine who the customer is. Then comes product testing and sometimes product redesign.There is packaging, labeling, and instruction. And there is product placement. The process goes on and on.
The point is, that it often takes years to get a product from an idea to something that can be purchased. Most inventors spend years and thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get their product to the marketplace. Most of them do this because they believe they have a valuable product; not because they want to rip off consumers. Still, unfortunately, the occasional failure manages to make its way through the system. For that reason, I’m going to be your personal product tester and share information with you on the products that work and those that do not.
With each article I’ll try to include a good cross section of different types of products. But if you have something that you specifically want reviewed, drop me a line and I will do the research and post the results right here.
For the first article in the series, I’ve chosen a few more kitchen gadgets; some more exercise equipment, and a few other miscellaneous “fun” items. So here we go, starting with my personal favorite:
Eggstractor. This product does work, sometimes; but not always. Plus the process you must go through is a bit complicated and time consuming. First, you must boil the eggs exactly as directed. If you over boil them, they will not work in the Eggstractor and if you under boil them they will not work. They must be perfectly boiled.
The instructions that come with the machine advise you to put the raw eggs in a metal pot; not a Teflon or otherwise coated pot, but a metal one. Add a bit of salt, put on the burner, and turn the heat to high. You must stand there and wait until the water boils into large bubbles. Once that occurs, start a timer and leave the eggs boiling for five minutes only.
Drain the water and poor cold water over the eggs or place the eggs into a container with ice water and let them cool down for 15 second. Then puncture a small hole in the top of the egg – – the small end – – using the pin on top of the Eggstractor. Crack the large end by tapping it a few times. Make certain to fully crack the large end of the egg.
Place the egg on the machine with the small end pointing upwards and the fat end on the base. Put the bellow over the egg, criss cross your hands over the top of the Eggstractor and and give it a good fast push. If you have done everything exactly right, the machine will remove the eggshell. If not, you can try realigning the egg on the machine and try again.
I tried the machine on three separate occasions, using three eggs each time. The first time, it appeared that my eggs were over cooked and the shell was too adhered to the inside egg for easy shell removal. Therefore the machine did not work. The second time, it worked well on two of the three eggs, but tore the third one into unusable pieces. The third time, it didn’t work because I purposely undercooked the eggs to see what would happen. Again, it tore all three eggs apart.
For me, the Eggstractor simply takes too much time and effort for it to be useful. Assuming I had that much time to spend, I don’t know why I would need the machine. I have to call this one a dud and give it two thumbs down. It’s just not worth its price tag of $9.99 or more.
GT Xpress 101. This product works well for certain items but it does not do everything exactly as advertised on its television infomercials. It claims to cook delicious meals fast and without added fat. Supposedly, all you have to do is place the food into the preheated cooking wells and close the lid. The dual cooking wells and controlled temperature cook both top and bottom at the same time to prevent burning or the need for turning.
The hinged top is guaranteed to prevent spillovers and the coated grill surface is supposed to ensure easy cleanup every time, even if you leave the food in too long. Wrap it will a clean, damp cloth and it’s done. It even comes with its own spatula to aid in food removal and cleanup.
My husband and I have successfully cooked several things in our GT Xpress. I particularly love it for making omelets. I also love it for making cornbread with sausages inside. I’ve even used it to make cupcakes for my grandson. It is quick as promised and, for the most part, food does not stick inside even when not using extra fat to coat the surface.
Where the machine doesn’t quite live up to its infomercial hype is in the area of spillovers and occasional cleaning. Despite claims to the contrary, you must be careful not to overfill the machine or it will spillover, causing a huge mess. And certain items will stick if you do not use something like PAM before inserting the food. Cheese is one such item that I have found. These items will not wipe out with a clean, damp cloth.
I sidelined any future spill over problems by carefully measuring what I put into the machine. As long as I followed the guidelines as outlined in the instruction, I had no problem. I avoided the sticking issue by gently spraying a small amount of PAM into the machine before inserting my food.
My husband and I love this machine. It is perfect for the two of us. It is small, easy to store, and easy to maintain; all positives for our busy lifestyles. However, I can see where it would certainly be less convenient for use by large families. You would either need multiple machines or spend extra time in preparation. At its price tag of $39.99 and up for each machine, it probably isn’t cost effective to own multiple machines. And families that purchase the GT Xpress do so because they don’t have time for extra food preparation.
This product is a toss up. I think it is perfect for couples who live alone, but its less suitable for large families. So this product is a wash; one thumb up and one down.
Suzanne Somers Grill. It you want a quick and easy indoor grill that is simple to clean, you can’t go wrong with Suzanne’s. Like the GT Xpress, it has dual cooking capability, top and bottom. This allows for even cooking throughout. It also means that you can open the grill fully and use it as a flat grill. Its removable grill plates also make it easy to clean. No muss; no fuss.
I love my Suzanne grill because it requires no PAM, although I will sometimes use it for cooking sticky food items like cheese just as a precaution. It cooks quickly and evenly and it’s great for frozen foods that I forget to defrost. I also like that the outside cover does not hold in as much heat as other standard grills, making it safer should I accidentally touch it.
This grill is not a bad option for $39.99; about the same cost as some of George Forman’s models that do not come with removable grill plates. I have to give this one two thumbs way up.
Ginsu Knives. To say these knives are a rip-off would be a minor understatement. I believe them to be the worst knives on the market – – for the price. They claim to cut through anything, even tin cans. I’ll be honest and say I have not tried to cut a tin can with my Ginsu knives, but I have tried chopping vegetables and cutting chicken; both of which I feel they do poorly.
I suppose it is possible that I just purchased a couple of bad sets of these knives, but at an average cost of $39.99, I personally can’t afford the continued replacement. I consider this product a dud and give it two thumbs down.
Sauna Belt. All right, I admit it. I went there. I purchased one of these types of products a few years back when I was desperate to get rid of excess weight left from having children. I feel pretty stupid about it now, of course, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. What was I thinking?
The Sauna Belt fits around the waist via velcro closure. You are supposed to wear it during exercise or other strenuous routines like house cleaning. There is no real scientific reason why this product should work any better than others that are designed to produce sweat which will, in turn, cause “minor” water loss which might equate to a tiny amount of weight loss. However, I didn’t see any muscle improvement at all.
Sorry, guys, this one is a dud, especially for its costly price tag of $39.99 to $49.99. I give two thumbs way down.
Tae Bo. These tapes/CDs are terrific. Billy Blanks is entertaining, informative, and actually does a pretty good job of explaining each exercise movement. The music is excellent and energizes the workout well.
Tae Bo is an aerobic exercise routine, which combines tae kwon do and cardio-boxing. The name Tae Bo comes from those two forms, but is also stands for Total Awareness Excellence Body Obedience. It includes many of the same punches and kicks as karate aimed at increasing body flexibility. It also includes aerobic exercises for strengthening of muscles. The high-intensity workout has been proven to increase cardiovascular fitness, strength, and muscle endurance, as well as flexibility.
In addition to his original Tae Bo and Advanced Tae Bo series, Blanks has developed a new line of videos and CDs known as the Believer’s series. These products introduce Christian elements like prayer into the workout with the intent of full body and soul motivation.
Blanks has also launched a successful program called Bootcamp. These videos dove into combining original Tae Bo moves along with the rigorous training common in military bootcamp environments. His Bootcamp Elite followed the original Bootcamp, but added the use of bands, which wrap around the feet and hands to create more resistance for a better workout. His latest Amped edition, adds an exercise bar designed to help increase body flexibility.
I own the original Tae Bo and Advanced Tae Bo series. I loved to use them when I was in my 40’s. However, I find them too difficult for me now that I’m in a 50’s downward spiral (just this side of 60). I, therefore, would not encourage anyone to enter into any of these rigorous exercise programs without a full physical and approval by a physician.
At a cost of about $39.99 per series, I do believe that any of Blanks products were well worth the price IF the individual in question is in good enough condition to make full use of them. Still, they are not usable by everyone so I have to give them one thumb up and one thumb down.
Walk Away the Pounds. Everyone recognizes that there is no better exercise that walking. However, a lot of people cannot walk outside and don’t have a gym membership where an inside track is available. Therefore, they require an alternative method.
With Leslie Sansone’s tapes you can achieve the same exercise right in the comfort of your own home, rain or shine. The system is designed to help you get fit, lose weight, increase your energy, and change your lifestyle in a positive way. It is the most gentle and effective form of exercise for conditioning and weight loss. With it, you can burn fat and calories naturally and tone your body all at the same time.
Best of all, this system is great for all fitness levels. All you have to do is walk and you can do it at your own pace. And Leslie will motivate you every step of the way.
Sansone offers several different exercise packages, all designed to be done in the comfort of your own home. These generally include three tapes for a one-mile, two-mile, and three-mile program. Some include extra pieces of equipment geared toward improving the cardiovascular benefits of the program. Others help mold specific body parts.
Sansone’s tapes average about $29.99 per set. I love mine. It is easy enough for my knees that were damaged by years of high-impact aerobics programs in the 70’s and 80’s. This is one program I can easily recommend; two thumbs way up.
Ab Force. This small, compact ab wheel machine has four in-line wheels on the underside that look sort of like the wheels on an in-line skate. It also has rubber grips on the handles to prevent the user from slipping while using the machine.
The machine works by the user kneeling on a padded surface, gripping the handles with both hands, and rolling the Ab Force out away from the body and then back to the beginning position. The user is supposed to exhale while rolling out and inhale while rolling back. It is imperative for each user to roll out only as far as is comfortable for their individual bodies.
The advantage to the machine is that it is relatively inexpensive at $29.99 to $39.99. It is also small and compact and, therefore, easy to store. Although it may not feel like it is working while you are using it, the machine actually does work if you use proper form. You must concentrate with each roll to avoid sticking the backside up in the air, negating the machine’s effects. The farther out you can roll, the better the machine works.
The drawback, however, is if you use it improperly, you may feel no affect what so ever. In fact, if used improperly, the use of AB Force could actually damage muscle or hurt the spinal column. I also couldn’t stand the squeaking of the machine. It drove me crazy.
This machine is not an instant cure for rock hard abs and it is, by no means, a miracle machine. In order to get defined abs, one must burn the fatty layer on top of the abs. There is no resistance spring to help get you back to the starting position, so it is tougher to use than the more expensive ab roller gadgets, particularly for those people who do not already have a strong core.
I couldn’t recommend this machine for people over about 45 unless you already have a strong core. I worry that it could do more damage than good. However, it isn’t a bad piece of equipment for those who just want to maintain an already healthy abdominal area. I call this one a wash, as well. I give it one thumb up and one down.
Toni Brattin’s spare hair. With a full line of hair products from simple clips to updo curls and even full wigs, Toni Brattin offers women a quick hair fix any time of the day or night. With 13 colors ranging from platinum blond to black to deep red, there is something for almost every woman. She uses multple color strands in each piece so that they blend well with almost every hair color and type.
I own several of Toni’s products, which I wear regularly. Although she uses synthetic hair, her products are high quality and come with locked in curl (on the curly styles). They wash easily and all you have to do is shake and finger comb them to style.
There are short styles to long hair extensions; think inserts to thick waves; something to fit everyone’s style and taste. Plus many of Toni’s products are much less expensive than those of her competitors. This is particularly true with regard to her clip in hair extensions which average around $49.
I love these products and highly recommend them. They range in price from about $15 for hair twists to $99 for full-head wigs. I give them two thumbs up.
Paraffin Baths. I have extremely dry skin. It started when my hormones took a nosedive during menopause. I swear that there is no moisture left in my body. Consequently, my skin cracks and tears easily which is very painful. And my skin feels like shoe leather. It’s awful.
I purchased a Homedic paraffin bath for my hands, hoping it would at least soften the skin slightly and maybe improve the appearance of my skin. It did. It also hydrated and smoothed my cracked hands and, as a bonus, soothed and relieved my joint pain.
Most paraffin baths work the same way. They heat and melt the paraffin for use on the hands, elbows, and/or feet. Some come with gloves and booties that help lock in the heat of the paraffin for a longer amount of time to allow for maximum effectiveness. Generally, the paraffin can be used several times before it needs replacement.
At a cost of about $29.99 to $39.99 per bath machine which comes with enough paraffin for the first few uses. Refills run about $14.99 each. I love my bath and have to give it two thumbs up.
So there you have it, my latest round of “As Seen on TV” products; many of which work and a few of which do not. Ultimately, how you spend your money is totally up to you. However, hopefully this article will help somewhat in making your decision.
Again, if you have products that you would like to have tried out and reviewed, drop me a note and I’ll try to include your suggestion in a future article.