Nov. 7, 2008 -- Those infomercial products always look cool, but the promises can be pretty sensational.
"Good Morning America" technology contributor Becky Worley tried out four of the gadgets in her home and reported back with her grades for each of them.
$19.95 plus shipping and handling
The claims: Quickly and easily prepare all your favorite potato dishes with Tater Mitts, an effortless way to peel potatoes safely without sharp knives or blades.
Becky says: If you are a professional potato salad maker, then you should own a pair of Tater Mitts. Otherwise they are a buzz kill. First you have to boil the potatoes, then run them under cold water. When you rub the gloves on the potatoes, they do take the peels off fast, but keep in mind you have to go back and remove any eyes or blemishes from your potatoes after you peel them. The cool part is that the Tater Mitts make you feel like you're a superhero ... with gigantic hands.
My biggest complaint is that it's really hard to clean the potato peels out of the Tater Mitts. The gloves have little abrasive granules on the palms to rub the skins off, and the parboiled skins get stuck in between the granules, so you really need to brush and scrub the gloves to get them clean.
Becky's grade: C-
$99 (3 payments of $33 plus shipping and handling)
The claims: Called the world's ultimate cleaning solution -- lightweight and easily maneuverable. Requires almost no effort by harnessing the power of steam to get floor surfaces super clean and sanitized.
Becky says: I used this mop on my tile bathroom floor to see if it would help with a mysterious smell that has existed there since we bought the house. I think the smell is in the tile grout and no amount of Clorox, disinfectant or scrubbing has budged the odor.
I spent a good 25 minutes steaming this problem bathroom floor and, hallelujah, the smell was gone. It came back about a month later, but then I just steamed again to get rid of it.
I used the mop on my wall-to-wall cream carpe. Between babies and dogs, I have some stains that were resistant to carpet cleaner sprays and elbow grease. The H2O mop did an amazing job on the stains, but it worked better on deep spots than it did on overall dinginess in high-traffic areas.
The bummer with this mop is that it uses a terry-cloth pad that you cinch onto the mop head. It gets very wet during the steaming process, and it pushes water and dirt around. You have to wash and wring out the pad a few times if you are cleaning a large area of floor. After you are done cleaning, throw the terry-cloth cover in the wash, or future cleaning forays will result in a wet dog smell that is not pleasant.
Becky's grade: B+
$19.99 plus shipping and handling
The claims: PediPaws is the revolutionary nail trimmer for your dog or cat. It's the newest and fastest way to keep your pet's nails trim, rounded and smooth with no mess and no pain. The secret is PediPaws' precision emery filing wheel that gently removes thin layers of nail to leave your pet's paws soft to the touch and your home safe from scratches. The unique protective cap catches filings so there's no mess.
Becky says: Like many people, I hate clipping my dog's nails. Your pet is squirming, and it's awkward to restrain him and make sure you're not hurting him by cutting the nail below the quick.
The rotating grinder on the PediPaws very gently flattens the point of the nail. This is helpful for dew claws on dogs that get really sharp, because they aren't worn down when the dog walks.
But here's the downside -- the friction caused by the grinder can get the claw really hot, so you can only grind for a few seconds before you need to move off the claw. If you really needed to take off a significant length of nail, it would take 10 to 20 minutes of on-off grinding. One of my dogs was OK with the noise and sensation of PediPaws, but the other hated it (even following the instructions to gradually introduce the dog to the device, she still hated it).
Ten or 20 minutes of wrestling with my dog to grind down her paws was way more miserable than just clipping the nails quickly and being done with the job in a few minutes. If you have a small, mellow dog that just needs the sharps of her nails filed down, this is great. But if you have a bigger dog that needs nail trimming, this isn't the right device for you.
Becky's grade: B+ for small, mellow dogs; C- for big dogs
PediPaws Response: "When it comes to grooming, every pet reacts differently. Some are easygoing while others take more time to become acclimated to the process. Since coming to market, PediPaws has become the best-selling grooming product in the country. By following the directions provided in the brochure and on our online video demonstration, TeleBrands is confident that you and your pet will have a positive experience."
Set of four is $14.99 plus shipping and handling
The claims: As soil becomes dry, it releases oxygen into the Aqua Globe, which in turn releases the exact amount of water your plant needs. It automatically waters house plants for up to two weeks, and the hand-blown glass designs add beauty to your plants.
Becky says: I wanted to love the AquaGlobes. I am a plant killer, so anything that helped to keep my plants alive seemed like a great product.
The pros: The AquaGlobes release water at a measured pace, so you don't overwater your plants, and some people find the colored glass attractive. If you are good at keeping plants alive, these help you if you're on vacation or away from the house for a few days.
The cons: They are glass. I put one in a smaller plant and it tipped over breaking the glass. You have to notice when the AquaGlobe is empty and then refill it immediately. I don't notice when my plants are dry, so why would I notice that the AquaGlobe was dry? Sure enough, I killed all the plants I used the AquaGlobes with even though I refilled the bulb every four to seven days.
Becky's grade: B-
* "GMA" reached out to the three other companies and have not received a reply yet.