Home Product Infomercials: We Try Before You Buy

Some products look good on television, but how do they do when we try them?

March 12, 2010 — -- They look great on television. They say they will make your life easier. But how well do they work when we get them home?

I tested five infomercial products to see how well they worked for me and found mixed results.

After you finish reading, CLICK HERE to see my previous report on the skinny on spa infomercial products.

Advertises: "Perfect for soft, medium or hardboiled" eggs, according to its Web site.

Becky's Grade: B

Price: $ 19.99

It sounded great to this egg eater: the Egg Genie is a plug-in egg cooker that you can use to cook hard boiled, soft boiled and even poached eggs. While boiling water isn't that much of a pain, watching the pot of water and timing it right to make sure your egg is cooked to your liking is a challenge. I screw that up all the time.

To get eggs to the desired consistency, you put more or less water in the Egg Genie's boiler pan. Sure enough, it cooked soft eggs runny, medium a little runny and hard-boiled were just that: hard. The poached eggs were perfect and I even tried poaching just egg whites and they turned out great.

When making eggs in the shell, there was no clean-up and, with poached eggs, the clean-up was minimal. My only complaint is that you have to physically turn off the device when the eggs are done. It does not have automatic shut off so you can't start your eggs and then go jump in the shower. You have to stick around until they are cooked.

Advertises: "Paint an entire room in less than one hour" and "get perfect results every time" according to its Web site.

Becky's Grade: D

Price: $19.99

The infomercial says you do not need to tape your molding or cut in (use a little paint brush to do the laborious painting strokes around the molding). But when I wet the applicator with paint and tried to paint flush to the corner of another wall, there was a considerable gap in the paint application. In order to cover the ¼-inch to 1/8-inch gap, I would have had to get a traditional paintbrush and methodically fill the space.

If I wanted the wall to look finished, I would have to use a fine brush or even go back and tape the edges, then repaint.

Point n' Paint did not give me the control I wanted to work around light fixtures and doorknobs in order to reach into the crevasses when I would normally be painting with a fine brush.

I did like the Point n' Paint roller pan because it worked well on big flat areas with nice coverage and uniformity. I also had good luck priming open areas of wall with the Point n' Paint because it is very fast and easy when it's working away from edges and corners.

Overall Assessment: although the device claims "no tape" and "easy to paint edges," I couldn't get a professional or even passable result.

Simon Wright, the president of Eagle Eye Marketing Group, said that his company stands "100 percent behind our products in a way all businesses should do. If a customer is not 100 percent satisfied, they are free to return it for a refund. We cheerfully refund the purchase price, no questions asked."

Advertises: Snap Capps for "anywhere your canned drink might be in danger of spilling...will help your keep your drink from going flat," according to its Web site.

Becky's Grade: B

Price: $9.99 for a 12 pack

The resealable plastic covers easily snap onto soda cans and then open to allow you to drink or pour out the contents.

They promise to keep drinks fizzy after they've been opened, and who doesn't want eternally fizzy soda? So I tried a very informal comparison. I took two cans of soda and opened them up, then poured half of each soda out. I then put one soda back in the refrigerator with a Snap Capp and one in the fridge with no top. I taste tested both sodas 24 hours later and then again another 24 hours later.

In my personal assessment, the Snap Capp did not make much of a difference in the level of carbonation in my soda. Both sodas seemed to have the same level of carbonation (or lack there of) both one and two days later.

But one thing I did like is that this is a good product for taking soda in the car or covering it from the elements (keeping bugs out). I can see this being great for children, too, because it helps prevent spilling.

Infomercial Products

Advertises: "It can clean all types of surfaces without the use of smelly harsh chemicals, using just ordinary tap water," according to its Web site.

Becky's Grade: B

Price: $60 to $80

A handheld steamer is a nice addition to your cleaning arsenal if you have a lot of food messes and germy areas. I found that the Monster Steamer softened caked-on dirt and loosened oily dirt before I scrubbed. I also used it after one of my children got sick to sanitize all the door handles, cribs and mattresses.

The product was also very useful to help get stickers off of windows (and tables, and cabinets, and every other area where my kids feel compelled to decorate).

On the downside, a large pool of water formed when I steamed a particularly messy area, so I had to follow up and clean the pool of water with a towel. Also the Steamer comes with attachments that work well, but you should expect to use a secondary brush to really scrub areas that have been just steamed.

My real reason for grading this in the B range was that I found $80 a little pricey for an item I used once or twice a month..

Ontel Dryer-Max Lint Removal Kit

Advertises: The product can cut "drying time and increases dryer performance," according to the product description on Amazon.com. Becky's Grade: B+

Price: $19.98

You may religiously empty the lint catcher in your dryer, but wads of lint build up all through the dryer and in the exhaust tubes that vent air from your dryer to the outside world. Keeping those areas free of lint makes your dryer more efficient (uses less energy and thus costs less to operate). And more importantly, keeping lint in check helps keep your fire risk down (click here for a consumer warning about dryer fires).

To really clean inside the dryer, in your vent and in that shiny metal tube that connects your dryer to the wall, you need a set of very specialized brushes. In the past you had to find them in appliance or specialty stores, so it's great that the Dryer Max kit is available online, via phone or in stores that sell "As Seen on TV" products.

I found most components of the product to be very functional. But the hose that attaches to the vacuum is wound very tightly in the box causing kinks and tight points. When I tried to use that attachment, I had a few blockage problems. Nothing major, but it seemed to me like a slightly bigger box would have been a simple way to avoid damaging this component of the system.

Have an infomercial product you'd like Becky to review? Post your request in the comments sections on this page.