The Drop Test | Gadget and Gizmo Reviews

RoboStir – A Robot For Your Kitchen

The RoboStir is a kitchen product “scientifically designed” to automatically stir as you cook.  The gadget employs the power of physics, “magically” moving its silicone feet around the bottom of your pots “so nothing sticks and nothing burns!” it promises.  The RoboStir can be found online for around $9.99. I was actually able to pick one up for $2.99 at a local Christmas Tree Shoppe in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Now, the concept of robots helping out around the kitchen is not a new one. In fact, as far back as the 15th century visionaries like Leonardo Da Vinci predicted engineering machines of all kinds. Leonardo himself actually drew up a humanoid robot of a knight that could sit up, wave and move his jaw, all operated by pulleys and cables. By the 1920s and 30s the first modern robot prototypes were brought into existence (most notably by the Westinghouse company), though it would take a few more years before they were found to be at all useful. That would eventually happen in the late 1950s with George Devol’s industrial robot called Unimate. General Motors would go on to adopt the Unimate, utilizing it on their production lines.

Since then we’ve seen the intelligence and capabilities of robots grow at a trajectory similar to that of Moore’s law. Smart Robots can now be found in a wide range of scenarios, from deep underwater wells to operating rooms. They become more and more human as control systems and memories become more sophisticated (see: Honda’s ASIMO robot).

Powered by four AA batteries , the RoboStir isn’t exactly out of George Jetson’s kitchen. The little robot is simply supposed to serve as a 3rd arm for its chef. It vibrates at three different frequencies, using gravity to initiate a clock-wise rotation, which does make the device rather top heavy.

I boiled some pasta to see if RoboStir held up in the heat and lived up to its claims. After letting the device run for seven minutes in the pot, the pasta cooked well without any boil-over, and the little guy survived. Yes, stirring simmering sauce isn’t quite an every day challenge unless you are say, running a soup kitchen, so most consumers will find this gadget neat but far from crucial. That said, the RobotStir comes at a very low cost, and works as advertised. The Drop Test has to give it a pass.

The InstaBulb – Can Krypton Light Up a Room?

The InstaBulb is a product made by Telebrands and pitched by famous “pitchman” Anthony Sullivan. It claims to provide us a wireless lighting alternative for any dimly lit space. Powered by four AA batteries, the bulb can be “stuck” onto a flat surface using a sticky-pad or fastened to a wall using screws.

In the world of lighting, we’ve seen a great deal of new technologies emerge over the past few years.  The incandescent bulb, which had formerly enjoyed a comfortable monopoly on the home lighting industry, has now certainly been given a run for its money. Today, when visiting home hardware stores, instead of finding a wall lined with Mr. Edison’s invention, we see shelves of compact fluorescent and LED bulbs which offer the same amount of ambient light at a fraction of the energy costs. The science continues to evolve, delivering more and more alternative options for consumers.

If you purchase the InstaBulb from its infomercial or from a store such as Bed Bad & Beyond, you will actually receive two units in the box (which does not include batteries). The product’s big selling point is convenience—you can just slap it on the wall, pull the chord, and have “instant” light without the messy wires. The bulb also boasts a patented “Krypton technology” that keeps it cool to the touch.krypton instabulb

Upon further digging, we could not find any information in regards to exactly what type of Krypton technology this gadget uses. If you recall from chemistry class, Krypton is element Kr on the periodic table with atomic number 36, and among the 18 noble gasses. For the incandescent bulb, Krypton is often added to enable higher operating temperatures while reducing the filament temperature, resulting in a brighter light. We can assume that the bulb being powered by the batteries is likely the only applied “Krypton” technology, which is already used for various lighting products like flashlights. As for the construction of the bulb’s shell, it’s not clear if or where Krypton plays a role.

We tested out the InstaBulb in our studio (my basement). We found that when sticking the bulb to surfaces such as drywall or wood, you’ll want to reinforce it using screws. The InstaBulb gave off a fair amount of light in a dark room. It was left on for 5 minutes and, as advertised, stayed cool to the touch.

We give the Instabulb thumbs up for delivering on its promise and offering a simple solution to a common problem. While it will not illuminate an entire room, it does work for small spaces—say inside an RV or a closet. To seal the deal, and see if that Krypton shell was as durable as it is scientific, we dropped the InstaBulb from a height of four feet in the video above.

The CaliBowl – It Puts Salsa On Your Chip

About 20 years ago, a surfer named Jeff came up with an idea that would challenge the way the world scoops food from a bowl. While in Mexico, Jeff became frustrated over the trouble he had eating Ceviche and decided to do something about it. Inspired by the curl of the ocean, he designed a “CaliBowl” with a “wave like transition” on the inside that guides its contents onto a chip, spoon, or finger without spilling over the edge.

Bowls have not changed much in the 18,000 or so years of their existence. Clearly, challenging this traditional hemispheric vessel with even the most novel of concepts is not a popular pursuit. Despite the barriers, Jeff stuck with his vision for the CaliBowl. In a pitch video Jeff made in 2008, he describes how his bowl is not only great for our favorite snacks such as chips n’ salsa, but also helpful for both children learning to eat and those with special needs who may have difficulty holding bowls in place. Beyond the curled lip, the CaliBowl also has an interlocking lid that can be used on the underside to fasten the bowl in place on a flat surface—somewhat like a suction cup.
calibowl

To bring the CaliBowl to the market, Jeff partnered with a 3D printing company who helped him with production and key placement, including a feature at the LA Gift Show. It was there that an editor from Oprah spotted the product, which resulted in an inclusion on Oprah’s famous “O” list. The bowl has since appeared on QVC, The Shopping Channel, Rachel Ray and can now be found in Target retail stores everywhere.

The product’s primary selling point is a patent-pending “smart lip”, and its overall composition: a “non-slip silicone” that’s shatterproof and dishwasher safe. We put this lip to the test with some chips n’ salsa. It worked just as advertised, guiding salsa right onto the chip. As a second test, we heated up some oatmeal in the microwave. The bowl had no problems in the heat and even stayed cool to the touch (on the edges) when removing.

Our take in the CaliBowl: it’s an innovative product worth putting in your cupboard for those hard to dip/scoop dishes, and also comes in handy for mixing. Drop Test Bonus Points: these bowls are made in the USA; we always like to see that. Originally the company manufactured them in China, but, as co-founder Rich Stumps told Forbes.com, this initial “Monkey See, Monkey do” strategy quickly proved unsatisfactory. They decided to come back stateside to Northern California, and sacrifice some of their margins in order to preserve quality control and inventory management.

As a final test for durability, we used the CaliBowl to make some Jell-O and then, you guessed it, dropped the dish from four feet up. Watch it bounce in the video above.

Scrub Daddy Review – Will That Infectious Smile Survive?

If you watch “Shark Tank” on ABC, you may have seen Aaron Krause in Season Four pitch his lovable Scrub Daddy scrubber to the panel of judges. Fortunately for Aaron, panelist Lori Greiner backed his little sponge company. And in short time the Scrub Daddy was out to the buying public, sold in stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond and featured on QVC.

After doing a little research on the man behind the product, Aaron’s story is quite interesting. In an interview with Pierce Marrs, Aaron describes himself as a Philadelphia local, an Engineer-by-trade (Syracuse University), a husband and father. Prior to this product, he actually invented and sold off an auto body buffing pad to 3M, and now has multiple patents under his belt.Scrub-Daddy-Aaron-Krause

According to an article on philly.com, while cleaning up after dinner one night, Aaron came across the circle of foam he had once designed as a hand scrubber. He used it to clean a pot of tomato sauce and was impressed by how “bright and clean” it looked afterward. That’s when Krause concluded: “We’re missing the boat. It’s not a hand scrubber. It’s the best pan scrubber.” And The Scrub Daddy was born!

It’s always nice to see a new take on an old product. Sponges and scrubbers and their many variations have been staples of household cleaning for decades, but this Daddy is no ordinary hybrid. The “all-purpose” gadget claims to act both as a soft sponge in warm water and as a scrubber in cold water. Additionally, its materials are designed to repel the usual odors and debris that traditional kitchen spongers often absorb over time.

To test out the product, we used it in the sink on some dishes with warm water and also on the wheels of a car with a cold bucket of water. The Scrub Daddy performed well in the sink, cleaning dishes and utensils without problem as a soft and effective scrubber. It did a pretty good job on the wheels of a car, but was not as rigid as we’d like. So for effectiveness on tough cold-water jobs, a brush pad is probably still the way to go. One great feature about the Scrub Daddy is that it rinses very easily, and also, even after scrubbing dirty car wheels, it did not stain at all.

Overall, we give the Scrub Daddy thumbs up! This sire of scrub makes for a great everyday household tool. While it has its limits, the product performs well under intended use. We found it to be valuable and an all-around a joy to clean with.

And of course, this wouldn’t be The Drop Test if we didn’t test the Scrub Daddy’s durability with our trademark four-foot drop. See the video above.

Grill Daddy Review: Can you really steam clean your barbecue?

Food has been grilled over flames since the dawn of time… or at least since man first figured out how to make a spark. As for more modern breakthroughs in grilling, we can thank industrial pioneers Henry Ford and E. G Kingsford. Ford is famously responsible for the assembly line, which, in addition to revolutionizing the automobile industry in the early 1900s, created large amounts of scrap wood giving Kingsford the inspiration to mass-produce into charcoal briquettes at a plant near by.(1) Then in the 1950s there was George Stephen. As a metalworker for steel buoy company Weber Brothers, Stephen created the first hemispheric grill. Called “The Sputnik” (2) early on by neighbors, and first sold as “George’s Barbecue Kettle”, the grill eventually became a household name as “Little Weber”, gracing backyards everywhere.

The Olde Brooklyn Lantern Review

If you have seen “The Olde Brooklyn Lantern” on TV, your reaction was likely: give me a break!  The name alone doesn’t even seem to make sense. However, upon doing a little digging, it turns out Brooklyn, NY (now home to the NBA’s Nets and thousands of hipsters) was once headquarters for the famous R.E Dietz Lantern company. Founded in 1840 by 22 year-old Robert Dietz, the company was known not only for being the “hurricane” lantern company, but also for developing the first road warning lights, and automobile lighting into the 20th century (via). Unfortunately for Brooklyn, the company moved to Hong Kong in the 1950s (probably thanks to Edison and Tesla), then to mainland China in the 1980s. Still to this day though, the company manufactures fuel burning lanterns and, coincidentally, LED lanterns!

In no place on Dietz’s on website could a connection be made to The Old Brooklyn Lantern, and in all likelihood there is no connection between this product and the company, but they do offer LED Lanterns.

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Grip Go – Cell Phone Accessories

Interestingly enough, beyond use in our favorite cell phone accessories such as, the “Grip Go”, suction cups have actually been around since 4 BC. It is believed Hippocrates used gourds as suction tools for drawing “bad” blood from his patients… which was proven later in history not to be a medically sound practice. In the late 19th century, modern day suction cups were invented initially to assist in developing photography plates and adopted later for other industrial applications (via). If you have ever wondered how strong a suction cup is, you can calculate strength of the vacuum seal using the formula F=AP, where F = force, A = area, and P=pressure.

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Hand Protection from The Ove Glove

Kevlar and Nomex fibers were developed by the Dupont Company in the late 1960s and beyond The Ove Glove’s hand protection, these materials serve a variety of industrial purposes ranging from insulation suits to body armor. Classified as Aramids, “fibers in which the chain molecules are highly oriented along the fiber axis, so the strength of the chemical bond can be exploited.”1, these fibers offer a great deal of protection and even more importantly, serve as an alternative to asbestos (a well known carcinogen).

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IMAX Home, iphone powermat, Top Nielson Breakthrough Products and Berry Recall

This week in the consumer product world IMAX announced a 20 foot (min) new home edition labeled Imax home. But, don’t get too excited, the company says they only plan to sell 10-15 units next year imaxas the installation comes with a $2,000,000 price tag and you can expect to pay up to $500 for same-day movie releases. According to the article in Bloomberg thus far, Seth MacFarlane and Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger are rumored to be considering the new IMAX in home theater.

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The Fat Magnet Test

As we all know, the fats in our foods are mostly full of artery clogging cholesterol and calories. While delicious, the ergonomically designed Handy Gourmet Fat  Magnet  is a product that claims to help us remove those unwanted fats using a frozen metal surface that causes congealing. This is the opposite of how most products we’ve seen on TV attempt to accomplish this same goal, Such as the George Forman Grill which “knocked the fat out”

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