If you watch television, especially early in the morning, very late at night, and definitely on weekend mornings, you can’t help but find plenty of “paid programming.” These are info-mercial programs that are really long, sponsored advertisements hawking everything from a glue that will never let you down, to pillows, filled with something supposedly better than down! These fast-paced info-mercials often feature a “studio audience” and a “host” to demonstrate the products and work up approval from the audience. A timer often appears telling you how much time you have left to get in on the deal, and often, the deal is doubled or bonuses are added.
Although the approach is cheesy and perhaps a bit deceptive, often the products are the same. But personally, I find info-mercials to be more clever and entertaining than a lot of what’s on television. If I had a choice between watching The Jersey Shore or an info-mercial about a juicer (that you could certainly take to your shore house) I would definitely pick the latter! When I watch, however, I always reach for a regular reality check. These programs are designed to make you excited about a unique and clever product you never knew existed or needed, and they might have you reaching for your telephone to “order now” before you’ve really thought it through. And do the as-seen-on-tv items really live
If you’re wondering, as I often have, whether or not as-seen-on-tv these products live up to their larger-than-life claims, read on:
One company famous for as-seen-on-tv products is TeleBrands. They also have a web site that displays quite a few products that look clever, useful and almost amazing. When I approached by someone from TeleBrands to check out some of their products, I figured it would give me the opportunity to find out how at least some of these products perform. I said: “Sure. Send some!”
The first product I tried was the Slice O Matic. It is supposed to slice entire fruits & vegetables, effortlessly (it says so right on the carton). All you have to do, according to the TelBrands press, is simply put a fruit or veggie in the top hopper, push down on the handle, and slices thick or thin fall neatly and easily into the clear bin below the slicer, ready to serve, cook, garnish, etc. I’ve cut myself more than once trying to slice or dice, so I instantly liked the idea of the Slice O Matic.
The Slice O Matic does slice fruits and vegetables, and will make paper thin slices that some people might find difficult to accomplish with just a knife. I sliced an apple wafer-thin in less than 30 seconds. The unit features a “30 point gear system” (I’m not sure what that means but it sounds good), plus stainless steel blades, and a large, clear catch container for the finished slices. The machine is relatively simple to assemble and use (read the intructions once, and you’ve got it). Cleanup is easy as the unit dis-assembles into pieces. The slicer has two blades, a straight blade and a julienne blade. Several adjustments on the Slice O Matic let you select the thickness of the slicer. But the blades are a little tricky to change, and to select just the right slice thickness without already slicing into your food. As to durability, I doubt it. The entire unit is plastic except for gears and blades, it isn’t really substantial. The blades may be sharp, but you have to push down definitively and hard on the plastic handle to get the unit to slice, and it feels awkward and jerky. The slices were even and impressive if you pushed the handle down with enough force, but the I could tell after a few tests that the handle wouldn’t stand up to a repeated beating, for long. For those with large kitchen, storing the bulky Slice O Matic won’t necessarily be a problem, but for anyone who has a small kitchen, it will be. The bottom line is that if you have a sharp knife and minimal knife skills that you exercise with caution, you can slice and julienne just about anything, without having to store and clean the bulky Slice O Matic. At s $19.99 (*plus $7.99 shipping–watch those charges when you’re ordering online or from the television), I’m opting to keep my knife!
Another interesting item from TeleBrands is the AlumaWallet. It’s touted as “indestructible aluminum.” At first glance it looks just like those pricey “clam shell” cases made for computers and cameras. It’s lightweight and relatively slim. It is supposed to be crush resistant and while I didn’t tromp on top of it, the skin of the case did seem substantial. You can get this wallet in black, blue red and a nice, high-tech brushed silver. Actually, it’s attractive, and water-resistant. I immersed the Aluma Wallet in water and ran water over it, but the cards inside stayed dry. This could be a particular plus for boaters and fishermen and people who must might, by some dumb luck, find themselves in “dunked in the drink.” Another supposed plus is that the Aluma Wallet shields credit cards that have RFID chips from identify theft. An RFID chip is often embedded into credit cards. I didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up. A radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer data from an electronic tag, called RFID tag or label. It is attached to an object, through a reader for the purpose of identifying and tracking the object. Credit cards use it regularly. However, with a simple skimmer device, a thief can supposedly read information off some RFID tags even if they’re not looking over your shoulder, and even if they are beyond your sight line. The Aluma Wallet supposedly stops the skimmers from getting your information. But what I learned about skimmers is that they cannot read the three digit code on the back of your credit card, even if they can get information off the front, so a real identify theft action is still fairly unlikely with or without an aluminum wallet. But actually, for $10.99 plus $7.99 shipping and handling, the wallet still seemed like a good buy, especially if you plan to fall into water or need a wallet that won’t crush cards and cash in your pocket or purse. Alas, the Aluma Wallet’s interior doesn’t match it’s exterior. The accordian files that are supposed to hold your money and cards, are paper thin plastic that don’t look like they’ll last a week, and they look cheap. And the wallet has a plastic rim and plastic push-button clasp that couldn’t stand up to much use for long, either. And if you’re the kind of person who over-stuffs their wallet, you aren’t going to be able to stuff as much into the Aluma Wallet since the outside skin doesn’t “give.”
TeleBrands also offers beauty and health related products. I was actually excited by Snap on Feathers. These hair enhancements are the hottest thing around, and you can find them in all types and price points. Even if you live in a small town, it’s likely that your local salon can supply you with some feather extensions. But in-salon extensions are sometimes non-remove-able (and expensive), which means you’re facing a few weeks of wearing them whether you want to or not. If you work in a conservative office where feather adornments on a daily basis might be frowned upon, a temporary treat of Snap on Feathers is a good choice. The TeleBrands Snap On Feathers set comes with a few small and long feathers attached to a cord, and affixed to a simple clip of the type often used for small, temporary, hair extensions. The Snap on Feathers come in 10 different colors, including the “eye” of striking peacock feathers, and all are 100% real feathers. If there is a downside, it is that the non-slip clips really are not as easy as they look to simply snap them into your hair. Mine bent and wouldn’t hold. And watch the “deal” that offers three sets of feathers for just $10.00. With the shipping and handling of $6.99, you probably can get something similar, locally and for less. But if you really can’t find these types of temporary snap in, fun to wear, feather accessories in your area, Snap on Feathers is fine.
My conclusion is that “as seen on TV’ products, at least the trio I tried from Telebrands, is like life: there are good aspects and bad aspects. The info-mercials are fun to watch, but before you reach for the phone and your credit card, ask yourself if you could find something similar, faster, cheaper and closer to home. If not, dial before the deal gets away!
You can find the products above, and other as-seen-on-tv products on television info-mercials and on the Telebrands Web Site