We know you’re wondering.

Is that gadget in the loud-talking commercial as good as it sounds? Does the product on display in the store really work?

Today we Does It Work? testers — home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge and consumer reporter Betty Lin-Fisher — answer those questions about a few products you might use around the house.

Selfie Snap

Taking a clear selfie can be challenging. That’s why Selfie Snap caught our eye.

Selfie Snap is a wireless remote control for a mobile phone camera. The $9.99 gadget operates the shutter release so you don’t have to reach out to tap the button on your screen while you’re concentrating on keeping your eyes open or holding your head at the right angle to disguise your double chin.

Unfortunately, the Selfie Snap doesn’t eliminate the need to hold the camera at arm’s length. It’s not like a selfie stick, which extends the camera for you and also can have a wireless shutter release.

You have to use a special app with the Selfie Snap, and we discovered it was clunky to use and displays only the most recent photo you’ve taken. If you want to see earlier versions, you have to go to your phone’s gallery or photo roll.

The gadget comes with a stand you can attach to your camera using what is essentially a thick rubber band, but it was difficult to put on and remove.

The Selfie Snap does have a couple of benefits: It’s small enough to toss into a handbag or backpack, and it makes it easier to keep the camera steady when you’re taking a selfie. “But I could just get a selfie stick,” Betty said.


Betty: Skip It.

Mary Beth: Skip It.

Shower Wow

Shower Wow is a shower head with flashing, multicolored LED lights, sort of a party in your privy.

It sure got the attention of Betty’s 12-year-old son, Sam.

“Whoa, I’m going to take a shower in the dark!” he said when he found out he’d be testing the gadget. “Disco shower!”

His excitement, however, wore off fast.

Sam soon discovered it was too dark to shower by only the light of the Shower Wow, but turning on a bathroom light diminished the light show’s effect.

Betty’s 15-year-old daughter, Becca, was unimpressed. Although she thought the water pressure was fine from the Shower Wow, she wanted her old shower head back — something she reminded her parents daily until they switched it back.

Neither of us noticed any leaking from the Shower Wow connection, although Mary Beth thought the connector’s smooth surface would make it hard to tighten with a wrench, if that was needed. We did notice that water pooled just behind the nozzle and continued to drip out after the water was turned off.

Bottom line: Shower Wow is a cheap plastic shower head with lights. At $14.99, it’s a novelty item that younger children might enjoy, but it’s probably not going to keep older kids or adults entertained for long.


Betty: It Depends.

Mary Beth: It Depends.

Engrave-It Pro

Engrave-It Pro is yet another example of a perfectly good product marred by exaggerated claims.

We probably would have liked this $9.99 engraver better if its marketers had promoted it just for marking tools and other utilitarian uses. But they claim it can be used for decorative purposes such as engraving picture frames and jewelry, and that’s where it comes up short.

We tried the Engrave-It Pro on a variety of materials — even a balloon, because its promotional video claims the device is gentle enough that it won’t pop one. It did, almost immediately.

Another thing became clear quickly: Betty is by far the better engraver.

Mary Beth’s first attempt to carve her initials into a wine glass looked more like a monkey holding a fishing pole. The second attempt was shaky but at least legible.

“For goodness’ sakes, this is awful,” she said. “This looks like I had three glasses of wine.”

Betty’s came out noticeably neater. So did her attempt to engrave a brass bottle. But she still didn’t produce professional-looking engraving.

Engraving plastic cups, a leather belt and a faux leather desk set proved more problematic. In fact, we flat-out ruined the desk set.

Even the artistically superior Betty thought the device was too hard to hold steady to take a chance on decorating anything of worth.

Use it to engrave your name on your electronics in case they get stolen? Great. Use it to make pretty personalized glasses as gifts for your friends? Forget it.


Betty: It Depends.

Mary Beth: It Depends.

Star Shower

Betty’s husband hates hanging Christmas lights. So she was hopeful about the Star Shower, a spotlight-size laser light that casts colored dots onto a house or other surface.

She was so eager to try it, in fact, that when she turned it on to show her family, she fell into a bush as she rushed to her front yard. She even pulled a burr out of her knee a few days later.

Clearly, product testing has its perils.

Her kids thought the lights were cool. She thought they weren’t bad. (Maybe that sore knee dampened her enthusiasm.) Her husband just scoffed.

“It looks like the house has measles,” he said.

Mary Beth sided with Betty’s kids.

While she wasn’t wowed by the Star Shower’s effect on her own house, she loved the way it made her clumps of ornamental grass glisten when she shined the lights at them. And when she aimed the Star Shower into her backyard, she thought the effect was magical, like pinpoints of light suspended in the air.

Her only hesitation was the $39.99 price, especially since two would be needed to cover most houses. Betty also discovered a potential annoyance when she noticed dots of light shining through gaps in her bedroom blinds onto the ceiling.


Betty: It Depends.

Mary Beth: Snap It Up

My Cleaning Secret

This powder is supposed to clean all sorts of surfaces, from barbecue grills to bathroom tiles.

We tried it on a brass pitcher and a stainless steel spoon, both of which were fairly badly tarnished. It removed the tarnish without a lot of effort, although it did take more rubbing than the product’s promotional video implies.

The “secret” is oxalic acid, an effective cleaner that works well on rust. It’s also the active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend cleanser.

We would be careful about what we cleaned with My Cleaning Secret. As the label says, it can etch or dull delicate surfaces and shouldn’t be used on silver, gold, polished stone and a few other surfaces.

At $9.99 for 14 ounces, it’s not cheap, but a little of the cleaner seemed to go fairly far.


Betty: It Depends.

Mary Beth: Snap It Up.

Sonic Breathe

The Sonic Breathe is a humidifier that uses a bottle of drinking water instead of having its own water chamber. It’s small, so it’s easy to pack for traveling.

When we tested the $29.99 Sonic Breathe, we found it produced a good amount of cool mist. It makes a slight hum and periodic dripping sounds, which would probably constitute white noise for most users but might annoy some folks at night.

We tested it with a standard half-liter bottle of water, which is roughly equivalent to 17 fluid ounces. The humidifier used about two-thirds of the water in less than three hours, so it was clear one bottle of water wouldn’t last overnight. The unit does, however, shut itself off when it runs dry.

When we ran the Sonic Breathe on high, some of the mist condensed on the table top, which would be a problem on a wood surface. We also discovered that water remained in the unit even after all in the bottle had been used up, and it spilled out when we picked up the humidifier.


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 mbrecken@thebeaconjournal.com or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com, or calling 330-996-3756 or 330-996-3724.