Does it Work: Beacon Journal reviews of EZ Eyes large print keyboard, Boom Cube/Music Bullet, GoJo cell phone headset, Schticky/Sticky Buddy, Fatcat Power Bar charger

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer

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Mary Beth Breckenridge and Betty Lin-Fisher smile while testing the GoJo handsfree adjustable headset, not realizing how silly it looks. The panel says, Skip It! (Michael Chritton/Akron Beacon Journal)
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We’re back! The “Does It Work?” team is here to help you with holiday shopping, testing 17 new items to see if they live up to their claims.

The reviewers are Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham, home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge and myself, the consumer writer. Remember, these are not scientific tests. We are three people trying out these products — sometimes together, sometimes separately.

Our verdicts might save you money by telling you to “Skip It.” Or we’ll find a great product and tell you to “Snap It Up.” Other times, we neither love nor hate the product and the rating will be “It Depends.”

With these reviews, we are also including a new kind of feedback, having asked readers if they also used some of these same products and what their experience was. We’ll share a few reader comments in the paper and all of them online.

You can also see previous “Does It Work” columns online at www.ohio.com/doesitwork

Today’s reviews are a mix of consumer products. More reviews will be covered in Wednesday’s Beacon Journal Food section and Saturday’s Beacon Journal Home section.

EZ Eyes keyboard

This bright yellow keyboard says it “makes typing easy” and has “4x larger letters & higher contrast colors.” It even claims to be spill resistant.

We plugged the $9.88 keyboard into a work computer and it worked.

We were a little concerned about product quality, since it didn’t seem as sturdy as a regular keyboard.

“It’s good for hunt-and-peck typists and people with kids who might spill on it,” said Lisa.

The keys weren’t any bigger, though the letters are definitely bigger and easier to see. Once you get used to the bright yellow keyboard, it’s very easy to see the letters. We did spill some water on it and it continued to work just fine.

Verdicts:

Betty: It Depends

Lisa: Snap It Up

Mary Beth: Snap It Up

 

Boom Cube/Music Bullet

We paired two products made by the same manufacturer, since we thought they might make stocking stuffers for kids and tweens.

The Boom Cube ($10.88) and the Music Bullet ($14.88) say they are a “lil’ speaker with big sound.” We found that to be true, though we should point out the sound is probably similar to what you’d hear on a portable radio and not a full-fledged sound system.

The sound for the Boom Cube, which is attached to a keychain to allow for clipping onto things, was a little tinny. We thought the expandable Music Bullet, which comes with a retractable cord, was better.

We did find the bullet’s retractable cord a little difficult to work with, but it wasn’t enough to dissuade us. We also liked that they both were rechargable, using the provided cord to plug into your computer USB port.

“They’re awfully cute,” said Mary Beth.

The Boom Cube came in a cute blue color with a leopard print.

There are plenty of other portable speakers for iPods and MP3 players on the market and many work just as well.

“You’d be like a walking party,” said Lisa.

Verdicts:

Betty: Snap It Up (both)

Lisa: Snap It Up (both)

Mary Beth: Snap It Up (both)

 

GoJo headset

This device retails for $10. We picked it up on markdown for $5 at a local Wal-Mart. It says you can “hold your phone absolutely hands free.”

We were pretty confused with the concept or the need, since it’s basically a headband with a suction cup for your phone. Except for the price, why not just get a Bluetooth headpiece to put in your ear?

You probably won’t look as strange as with a headband and a phone sitting on your cheek. Many phones also have a built-in speaker function if you want to go hands-free.

We weren’t impressed with the GoJo cell phone headset (also not to be confused with the Akron maker of the hand sanitizer Purell by the same name). The headset seemed small and hurt my temple when we used it, though Lisa and Mary Beth didn’t find it uncomfortable.

I went to another room and called my iPhone on the headset, which Lisa was wearing. She said “you sound like you’re so far away. You sound like you’re in Europe.”

My iPhone also felt too heavy for the headset. It felt like it was drooping and didn’t hold the phone in the right place to talk and listen.

We tried it on Lisa’s older flip phone and it didn’t hold it very steady.

“If you don’t mind looking like an idiot, then this may be the Bluetooth alternative for you,” said Lisa, who gave it a Skip It verdict “more for the foolishness factor than anything else.”

Verdicts:

Betty: Skip It

Lisa: Skip It

Mary Beth: Skip It

 

Schticky/Sticky Buddy

We saw two re-usable lint removers on the shelves, so we decided to test both. The Schticky sells for $19.88 and comes with three rollers in various sizes. The Sticky Buddy retails for $9.88 and has one unit with extra “fingers” to reach deep into carpets.

Mary Beth tried the products on a throw that covers her two cats’ favorite perch on the back of her couch. Both became coated with cat hair and lint very quickly and then wouldn’t pick up anything more until she cleaned it.

“I had to wash and dry the roller repeatedly just to clean a small area. I found that annoying,” said Mary Beth.

I found the same thing. I was impressed with how well the Schticky picked up the cat hair on my couch, but similar to Mary Beth’s experience, I couldn’t clean it all up in one use. Using a disposable lint remover, I’d be able to rip off a new piece of tape, as wasteful as that seems. Lately, I’ve been finding the greatest success with a wet paper towel and I know there are plenty of other products out there that people have found success with.

I didn’t feel that the Sticky Buddy picked up lint and hair as well as the Schticky.

Both products can be reused by washing them. We were directed to just use water on one and soap and water on the other and let them air-dry.

Lisa didn’t like the idea of sending lint and hair down the drain, which is just asking for a clog, she said.

“The sticky surface on both started to peel off, so they clearly aren’t durable,” said Lisa, who was the first to use the products. By the time they got to me, I was the third person to use them and both products were coming apart in places.

Mary Beth said the Sticky Buddy was also harder to clean, even when she rubbed it with her fingers and she questioned whether she got it clean.

Verdicts: Schticky

Betty: It Depends

Lisa: Skip It

Mary Beth: It Depends

Verdicts: Sticky Buddy

Betty: Skip It

Lisa: Skip It

Mary Beth: Skip It

 

Fatcat charger

This product is a travel battery pack that will charge any mobile phone, iPod or handheld gaming system. We were sent a sample, but found it selling for $74.95 on Amazon.com.

Whether you need this is probably really personal preference. Perhaps you have a job or situation where you are often away from a plug to recharge your phone and you need a portable system.

The idea is to keep this unit charged so that when you need a charge, you plug your phone into it. The manufacturer says you need four to seven hours to fully charge the phone, though you can use the phone while you are charging it. The product also has features to avoid over-charging, over-discharging, over-current and short circuit protection.

We were able to charge my iPhone and Mary Beth’s Samsung phone, but not Lisa’s older Nokia flip phone or an editor’s older LG phone, so the included connectors didn’t work with all phones.

When the impending storm was on its way to Ohio after Hurricane Sandy, I charged up the Power Bar and took it home as an extra battery. We did lose power for a bit, but not enough where I needed to use it, though it was nice to have as a backup.

Verdicts:

Betty: Snap It Up

Lisa: Snap It Up

Mary Beth: Snap It Up

Have you seen an advertised product and wondered if it really lives up to its claims? You can suggest items to be reviewed by Lisa Abraham, Mary Beth Breckenridge and Betty Lin-Fisher by sending email to labraham@thebeaconjournal.com or calling 330-996-3737, mbrecken@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3756 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3724


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