Best and worst infomerical products for holiday gifts

By Maggie ShaderConsumer Reports

With only a limited number of buying days left until Christmas, you probably need to grab a few last-minute gifts. Those as-seen-on-TV products might catch your eye when you're at a chain pharmacy or a retailer such as Bed Bath & Beyond.Or maybe they stop you when you're flipping through the channels and come across one of those silly-yet-captivating high-energy infomercial ads during which a frenetic pitchman or pitchwoman tries to sell you on the fantastic claims about a product that will change your life—and all you have to do is buy in the next 10 minutes!

Check the items below as well as our other reviews of as-seen-on-TV products to find out which ones live up to the hype and which aren't worth more than a lump of coal this holiday season.

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Lint Lizard

Can a $10 "magic wand" make clothes dryer lint disappear? “It’s like a magic wand!” says the website for Lint Lizard, a clear, flexible tube designed to suck up dryer lint, which can cause a fire if too much accumulates. You thread one end of the tube through the dryer’s lint-trap opening and attach the other end to your vacuum cleaner.

Bottom line. It’s almost like a magic wand! Our reaching hands removed 8 grams of lint; a vacuum cleaner and crevice tool managed to suck up another 4 grams. And the Lint Lizard? Another 15 grams. Read more

Ninja Master Prep Professional

The Ninja Master Prep Professional claims it's an all-in-one kitchen appliance that can chop, blend, grate and more, so we put it to the test. Turns out, it can do a number of chores well, including chopping, blending, and grating.

Bottom line. This $60 combination food chopper and processor earned top scores among the models we tested. Note: This bargain buy's design differs from other blenders—the motor is on top in a separate housing. Watch video


The oddly named "Ooma" is a (voice over Internet protocol) phone device and service. Though your calls will be traveling over the Internet, you need a computer only once, to register with Ooma online. After that, you just talk on the phone.

Bottom line. Ooma is a standout among VoIP phone services. It's reliable with very good voice quality, and gives you free domestic calls and dirt-cheap international rates. Setup is easy. The device costs $200 ( and Costco), which breaks down to less than $6 a month when amortized over a three-year period. Watch video

Check our infomercial product guide for more reviews and our holiday guide for more great gift ideas.

Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair

The Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair has two lint-collecting, fabric-covered rollers that work together to "grab, lift, and trap hair inside." They're designed to work on pillows, bedspreads, car interiors, chairs, and such. We paid $5.59 for ours.

Bottom line. Take the Pledge. It worked fast to push lots of hair into the chamber behind the brushes. The other devices required constant stopping and replacement of sheets, and no single sheet collected much hair. Read more

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