The Does It Work? team spent time at home and on the road to test the products for today’s installment.
We two testers — consumer reporter Betty Lin-Fisher and home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge — tried out five products you might use in your day-to-day life. Here’s what we thought of them.
This battery-operated manicure tool is sort of like a low-powered Dremel, marketed for filing, buffing and shining your fingernails.
Drum-shaped attachments work a little like fine sandpaper to smooth and shape the nails, and another attachment is supposed to give the nails a glossy shine. But in our opinion, the $14.88 tool didn’t do the job as well as a plain old emery board and buffing block.
The Naked Nails tool has two speeds, but neither seemed quite right. We thought the device was hard to control on high speed but less effective on low, and Mary Beth didn’t like the nails-on-chalkboard feel when the tool would skip occasionally across her fingernail surface at high speed.
“This is way too slow,” she said as she filed on the lower speed, “but I don’t think I’d want one that is faster because it’s kind of creepy.”
At either speed, we found it difficult to do fine work such as rounding the nail edges. We thought the tool did an adequate job at smoothing nail ridges, but we could barely see a difference when we used it to shine our nails.
And then there was the disconcerting whirring noise. “I feel like I’m at the dentist,” Betty said.
Betty: Skip It
Mary Beth: Skip It
Dash Cam Pro
Maybe you’ve seen dashboard cameras in police cars. Now you can have one in your own car, if you really think you need one to record your every move and interaction in traffic.
We bought our Dash Cam Pro for $39.98, but we quickly realized it didn’t come with an SD card. So back to the store we went for a 6-gigabyte card, which cost us another $16.99.
Setting up and operating the camera was a challenge. The menus weren’t intuitive, and the instructions weren’t all that helpful. Trying to change modes on the tiny screen is too difficult and potentially dangerous to do while driving.
And even though the camera is supposed to record audio as well as video, we never could get the sound recording to work, even after several calls to customer service. There went our dreams of doing carpool karaoke.
(Note to James Corden wannabes: You can physically turn the camera around to use it in selfie mode, but doing so loosens the screw that attaches the camera to its mount and might make it fall off. Your smartphone probably works better, anyhow.)
After attaching it to the windshield with a suction-cup mount, we tested our Dash Cam Pro during a few daytime and nighttime rides. In daylight, the camera shot a reasonably wide angle of the street ahead, but in the darkness, it could only record what was directly in front of the car, illuminated by the headlights.
The view was hard to see on the screen. We discovered the screen goes to sleep after a while anyhow, although you can choose whether you want that to happen in three minutes or five.
Betty had to keep adjusting the camera periodically, because the vibration of the car caused the camera’s view to inch lower over time.
The videos we shot weren’t difficult to view on a computer. The daytime videos were decent quality, although not sharp enough to read a license plate on a car ahead, which could prove to be crucial evidence in an accident or road rage incident. Our photographer and videographer also pointed out that the videos’ AVI file format doesn’t play nicely with Mactintosh computers.
What’s more, the camera doesn’t shut off automatically when the car engine is stopped, which would drain the battery if you didn’t want to rely on the camera’s car charger. Mary Beth didn’t trust herself to remember to turn the camera on and off every time she drove.
The Dash Cam Pro struck us as cheaply made and clunky to use. If you really feel the need for a dashboard camera, this is an affordable option, but Betty would spring for better-quality equipment.
Betty: Skip It
Mary Beth: It Depends
This product’s name is a little misleading. It’s more like a handle that fits into a vehicle’s door frame, providing something to grab onto and stabilize yourself when you’re getting in or out of the car.
You slip the handle into the latch when you need it, and you remove it when you’re done.
We paid $14.99 for ours.
To test the Car Cane, we enlisted the help of Robbie Ashe, Vi Bahm and Wanda Roberts, all residents of independent-living apartments at Akron’s Rockynol retirement community.
We tried it on both Mary Beth’s Hyundai Tucson and Robbie’s lower Volvo sedan. None of the women thought the device was very useful for getting into either vehicle. In fact, Wanda’s back bumped into it as she was trying to get into Mary Beth’s car.
But when they used it to get out, their opinions changed.
“This would be good,” Robbie said as she emerged from her car while holding onto the Car Cane. Usually she pushes on the base of her car seat to get out.
Wanda normally holds onto the steering wheel as she exits and then the seat and door, but she found the Car Cane easier to grasp.
Vi liked it, too. “I’d recommend it, but I don’t drive,” she said.
The women noticed the Car Cane wiggles back and forth a little, but that didn’t seem to make it unstable. Wanda wondered where she’d keep it when she wasn’t using it, but we all decided a car door pocket makes a handy storage spot.
Our good impressions of the product were confirmed when Rockynol employee Tosha Curren mentioned that the facility’s therapy department recommends it.
Betty: Snap It Up
Mary Beth: Snap It Up
Shiwala Spray Mop
For reasons we can’t quite grasp, floor-cleaning devices are big in the as-seen-on-TV genre. It seems everyone is searching for a better mop.
Keep looking. The Shiwala Spray Mop isn’t it.
The mop has a canister and trigger that sprays water or cleaner onto the floor and a swivel head that’s supposed to turn along the baseboard. But when Mary Beth tried it, the mop head kept tilting and was hard to control.
On top of that, the mop seemed cheaply made, and the mop head was fairly small.
“I feel like if I put any force on it, it would break,” Mary Beth said.
Betty would have been more impressed if the mop were motorized to make it spin.
For the $29.99 we paid, we’d have been better off with a regular old mop.
Betty: Skip It
Mary Beth: Skip It
Ever Brite LED light
Mary Beth was ready to give up on this little solar-powered outdoor light right from the start.
She took it out of the package, stuck it in a sunny spot in her yard to charge and then checked on it that night.
Luckily, Betty had the good sense to examine the packaging a little more closely. She found an instruction sheet hidden inside and discovered that we needed to turn on a switch first.
After that, we had better luck with our $12.99 light. It turned on at dusk and off at dawn. A motion sensor switched it from dim mode to bright when someone approached.
The beam it casts in bright mode is more like a bright flashlight than a floodlight, but it’s enough to light the way in the dark. Mary Beth wasn’t crazy about the harsh white light it produces, however.
We liked that the Ever Brite’s lithium ion battery allows the light to be mounted where you don’t have electrical wiring. But the battery is solar-charged, which greatly limits where it can go. The light needs nine hours of direct sunlight each day to recharge fully, which means you won’t have any luck if you mount the light in a shaded spot such as a porch, under a roof overhang or even on the north side of a building.
The light can be mounted with an adhesive strip or a screw and wall anchor.
Mary Beth wasn’t convinced that the Ever Brite would last long or that its plastic housing would hold up to harsh conditions. But even if you had to replace it every year, it might be a more affordable option than running electrical wiring and installing a regular light fixture.
Betty: It Depends
Mary Beth: It Depends
Have you seen an advertised product and wondered if it really lives up to its claims? You can suggest items to be reviewed by Mary Beth Breckenridge and Betty Lin-Fisher by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or calling 330-996-3756 or 330-996-3724.