Nov. 21, 2006 -- With people starting to make their Christmas lists, now is a good time to rate some of the "miracle" products you might see pitched on infomercials.
"Good Morning America" technology contributor Becky Worley tested several popular infomercial products to see whether they stood up to their claims.
The infomercial claim: "With the new vacuum-sealed space-saver tote from Space Bag, I can easily store all this bedding in one single tote."
Cost: $19.95 (None of the prices include shipping and handling.)
Worley says: This is an awesome space-saver. It really reduces the size of things that you would commonly store. I tried to store some pillows and clothes in a garbage bag under my bed, but they wouldn't fit. I took the same items and put them in the space-saver bag, vacuum-sealed the bag, and the items fit easily under my bed. One drawback is the zip lock, which is key to sealing the bag. It's difficult to seal and can be ripped open. Calls to the company for comment were not returned.
One-Touch Can Opener
The claim: "The One-Touch can opener is totally automatic. Just place it on the can, press the button, and your can opens in seconds."
Worley says: I thought this can opener was great, and yes, I was able to operate it with just one touch. The only drawback is that it does not come with rechargeable batteries, but it has a money-back guarantee. This would make a great Christmas present for busy cooks.
The claim: "The Shedender removes that shedding hair all at once before it ends up on you and all over the house. And pets enjoy it."
Worley says: I tried the Shedender out on my dog, a lab. The product worked, but the teeth on the comb are so small, it took a long time to brush my dog. I think this is a good product for small dogs with finer hair, not good for big dogs with lots of hair, especially if it is coarse. But it should OK on cats.
"GMA" called the company that makes the Shedender, which said the product works best if you brush your pet with a regular brush first so that it does not pull and can reach the underhair. They also said they have a larger brush available for larger pets, but we were not able to find it online.
The claim: Contours to the shape of your head to give you a "customized sleep."
Worley says: I found the pillow uncomfortable. My head kept feeling like it was falling backward. I tried to change positions, but I never really got comfortable. The pillow is contoured to your head and neck to give a so-called customized sleep, but I never seemed to get it right. The pillow has a bizarre smell. "GMA" called the company, and they said that they do warn consumers with a note in each box about the unusual smell. Company officials said the smell should go away after a month.
Stick-Up Light Bulb
The claim: "It's that easy. There's no wires and no complicated installation. Now you can have light anytime, anyplace, anywhere."
Worley says: This is a cheaper solution than wiring, and the bulb does stick in some hard-to-reach places. I found the bulb to be a bit dim even in small closets, and the holder is not completely sturdy. One of the best elements of the bulb is that you can take it out of the holder and use it close-up. The light bulb also stays cool to the touch, so you can remove it for close-ups. And unlike regular bulbs, these bulbs won't break if you drop them.
The product has a 10-year warranty. It comes with an AC adapter, but that is an extra $9. It would be a better value if that was included. "GMA" called the company, which said that the adhesive it used was 3-M tape, a leading brand, and that it never had any complaints about it not sticking well.