Tech

Robot Reviews

Wherein we assess our electrical friends.

Oral-B ProfessionalCare 8850 toothbrush
When my wisdom teeth started coming in (agggh it hurts, how do babies live througha whole mouthful of teeth coming in at one time?), I went to the dentist to have them looked at. I was confident that I’d soon be among the ranks of my friends who got to eat Jell-O all day long while whining about something gross-sounding called “dry sockets.” Getting your wisdom teeth out is a rite of passage, and I was ready for it. But when I was lying back in the chair with my mouth cranked open and my dentist had spent a while poking and prodding at my gums, he announced that there was no need to remove any of my teeth. “Yep,” he chucked, “lots of room in there. Plenty of space for some extra teeth.” Apparently my mouth is an extra-spacious minivan, so my wisdom teeth stayed put. Not long after that, the top two grew in…sideways. The bottom of each tooth pointed straight out, horizontally, grazing the insides of my cheeks, and they remain that way today. (The bottom ones grew in the normal way.) Now, I don’t know how much experience you have with freak teeth that point literally 90 degrees away from where they should, with only one accessible facet, hidden waaaay in the back of your mouth, but they are frustratingly difficult to keep clean. My brushing skills were not up to the challenge. When I went away to college, my new dentist threatened to surgically remove my wisdom teeth if I couldn’t take care of them. BUT THERE WAS ROOM IN THERE! THIS WAS UNNECESSARY SURGERY THAT MY PARENTS WERE NO LONGER PAYING FOR!! Enter the Oral-B electric toothbrush, aka the greatest robot-invention ever. My new dentist recommended this magical machine, which speed-cleans your teeth, no matter how crooked, with thousands of microwhirls every minute. This is a toothbrush, friends, that costs $100. But I bought it. My sideshow wisdom teeth were saved. And there has never, never been a clean like this before. Every day feels like the day you got your braces off—your teeth are that clean and shiny. I am obsessed with my Oral-B electric toothbrush, and it has the added humbling benefit of daily making me feel like a douchebag who paid $100 to have a machine brush your teeth for me. I love it so much that I will let you try it. Next time you come over, just ask. —Krista

My Little Sister’s Flat Iron (aka CHI Air Expert Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron, 1 Inch)
In its natural state, my hair causes me endless amounts of grief. It’s curly but in a frustratingly noncommittal way, frizzy, and generally shaped like a wack triangle. I hate it, so I blow-dry and straighten the hell out of it twice a week. Most flat irons just barely do the trick, but, as I discovered on a recent trip home from college, there is one hair tool that rules them all. The CHI Air Expert quickly transforms my tangled mane into a shimmering blond sheet of silk, and it stays that way for days. It’s miles better than any other hair-straightening tool I’ve ever come across in just about every way. Problem is, it belongs to my possessive, neat-freak little sister, whom I have to beg and beg to let me near it. She only relents after asking me, “Did you wash your hair recently?” and I mumble “yes” (usually a lie, SORRY MADDY) in order to get my mitts on it. I seriously need one of these of my very own, but since quality flat irons are so expensivo, I can’t justify the purchase until my current, lesser-grade Chi bites the dust. Maybe I should accidentally drop mine in the toilet in order to speed the process along? Or should I just say screw it and swipe Maddy’s next time I’m home? (SORRY MADDY) —Amy Rose

Keurig Elite 40 Brewing System
Before the Elite 40 came into my life, I had a regular coffee machine—the kind that brews a pot at a time. It was a disaster. No matter how many adjustments I made, the coffee always tasted like garbage. It was too strong, or too weak, or—thanks to the person I share a house with—too hazelnut flavored. The Keurig has solved all of my coffee problems, as it brews one cup at a time using these things called K-Cups, which come in a billion different flavors, meaning I can brew a cup of French vanilla (or hot chocolate, or tea) and ol’ Hazelnut can brew his favorite, too. The machine can be loud, and the cups it brews aren’t enormous, so you may want to upgrade to a model with bigger mug capacity (or just brew more than one cup), but it works for me and, I’m sure, millions of others who otherwise wouldn’t be able to brew a decent cup of coffee to save their lives. —Pixie

The Clapper
I once got the clap from Santa. JK, I didn’t get an STD from the wholesome old man who spreads happiness to children; I won the Clapper in a game of Dirty Santa. At first, I was ecstatic. Finally, I had an excuse to own something that lame, something I had always secretly wished for. Queen of the lazy ladies, I envisioned a life where I no longer had to get out of bed in order to turn my light off at night. Nor would I have to grope about in the dark to find the light switch when my room was dark. I took the device home and set it up, and for a while, we were happy together. I loved how the Clapper made me feel like a magician. Lumos, I whispered to myself the first time I used it. Unfortunately, our honeymoon period lasted only a few hours. I soon discovered that getting the Clapper to respond to you is actually pretty difficult. I clapped my hands raw trying to get the stupid thing to listen to me. Family members grew frustrated with my repeated, noisy attempts to get the Clapper to turn off the light at night. What’s more, if someone shouted in the house, if I dropped something, if I played my flute, or if anyone made any noise louder than a whisper, the Clapper would flick the light off or on, plunging me into darkness or startling me with light at the worst moments. I’m sure there’s someone who’s perfectly suited to the Clapper. Someone who’s pretty graceful and quiet and has a special talent for clapping. In general, though, the Clapper is a moody asshole and not as fun as it seems. Avoid it like the clap. —Katherine

The smell of a vacuum cleaner
I absolutely adore the smell of of a running vacuum cleaner. My mother thinks this is nuts. So do my father, my brother, my best friend, my best friend’s mom, and, I just learned, my boyfriend, who made a very confused face when I told him yesterday. I can’t pinpoint what exactly makes the scent of vacuuming so lovely. I used to think that the smell simply coincided with the feeling of comfort I get when a room has just been cleaned, but this theory was ruled out when I went to Home Depot with my dad a million times when I was like seven and it smelled like vacuums and sometimes I hid in the store so I could stay longer. The only way I can explain it is that maybe when dust and dead skin and hair and food crumbs come together in a weird bag in a big geometric plastic thing with a hose on it there is some sort of chemical reaction that was made personally for me. —Olivia

SodaStream
I used to buy so many bottles of seltzer. Pellegrino, Perrier, cheap ones from the deli, it didn’t matter. My recycling bin was overflowing, and my wallet my empty. Then the SodaStream soda maker came into my life. There are different models—even one that looks like a penguin—but I bought the most basic model. Had I known then what I know now (that this machine completes me), I would have gone for the top of the line. It’s very simple to use: you fill up a resuable plastic or glass bottle with water from the tap, screw it into the SodaStream, push a button on top until it makes a really loud farting noise, and then voilà! You have bubbly water. You can make the water as fizzy as you want: one or two farts for less fizz, five or six farts for more. There are different flavors you can add to make your soda taste like Coke or Sprite or whatever, but I like it au naturel. Best of all, you are never out of seltzer, and the only thing you have to buy are recyclable carbonating cartridges every few months. Way cheaper than buying six months’ worth of bottled soda! Truly—fun for the whole family. —Emma S.

AT&T U-Verse DVR
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, my life was changed in such a massive, mind-blowing way that I still can barely get my mind around what happened. A technician named Mike from AT&T U-Verse came to my house and spent four hours installing their cable and internet service. Then, he called me out of my office, handed me a remote, and said, “Would you like me to explain anything to you about your new service?” I’d been waiting for this moment for months—no, years. “Yes,” I replied. “Can you show me how to work the DVR? I’ve never had one before.” Don’t laugh. This was not a choice I’d made on purpose. My previous cable provider had told me I would have to pay huge set-up fees and sign a contract to get a DVR, so I waited patiently till U-Verse was available in my area to switch. Meanwhile, I relied on that old, complicated, and unreliable robot known as a VCR. Yes, until THIS YEAR. If you are too young to have ever used a VCR, which you probably are, I can’t tell you what a pain in the ass it is, especially when you work most of the nights your favorite shows are on and have an addiction to the afternoon soap General Hospital. I had all these videotapes—some labeled GH, others marked Mad Men—I had to keep them all separated because otherwise it was a huge hassle to get to a Mad Men episode if I hadn’t watched the whole week of General Hospital yet. You can’t skip ahead on a VHS tape—there was fast-forwarding, rewinding, the ever-present possibility of accidentally recording over something. And the quality of the recordings got worse the more I reused the tapes, but it was so embarrassing going to Walgreens and actually buying VHS tapes. Also, I had to remember to change the channel to the one my show was on before recording and forbid anyone else from watching TV, or else so much for that episode of Portlandia. But now! Now my shows just record. By themselves. And if I want to save up half a season of Treme so I can binge on it later, it’s totally fine. I can also take a risk on a show I think might be too scary for me, like American Horror Story (so far, so good, I’m dealing), because it’s not like I have a limited number of tapes to record on. And my beloved but cancelled One Life to Live re-airs on SoapNet, so I can stockpile old episodes on my DVR for days when I’m feeling nostalgic. Yes, there have been a couple hiccups, like when it cut off the last two minutes of Sons of Anarchy and how it kept recording every rerun of Treme (HBO shows it like five times a week), but once I learned some programming tips (record for five minutes after the show ends, and record only new episodes), I was golden. Sorry, VCR, you just can’t compete. But don’t worry, I’ll still watch Clueless and The Breakfast Club with you. Wait, are those on Netflix Instant? —Stephanie

Rival 4-Slice Toaster
My parents have had the same toaster for a few years now. It has four slots, so you can toast four pieces of bread at the same time, which is very convenient when you are hungry. HOWEVER, the other day I was visiting my parents, and while I was sleeping in (as I am wont to do), my dad woke me up to tell me not to use the toaster because as he was toasting some bread, it caught fire. Luckily, he was able to put it out; later we discovered that if you avoid using the slots on the right side, you will probably not start a fire. So we still continue to use this toaster, and I would rate it a two out of five because, while it almost burned down my house and killed me, it still works and is good at toasting my English muffins. —Hannah

Circuit-bent Amazing Band With Animal Keyboard
Circuit bending is the mystical art of opening up an electronic device and moving its innards around, and sometimes adding switches and things, to alter the circuit. Particularly when this technique is done on a musical toy, hours of entertainment can be had creating ridiculously silly distorted sounds…as demonstrated most famously by Partyshank. I bought my own Amazing Band With Animal Keyboard from a keen circuit-bender from New York on eBay, but you can find lots of people who circuit-bend all sorts of things and sell them. Or even try bending something yourself. My animal keys make every surreal sound under the sun…pitch-shifted quacks, wobbly meows, and many a creepy, disjointed children’s melody. It’s great for people like me, who want to pretend they can make music whilst actually getting away with acting like an annoying child. —Eleanor

Dyson DC41 Animal vacuum cleaner
WHAT IS THIS OMG WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME A GIANT PURPLE MONSTER HAS INVADED OUR HOUSE AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE AND OH NO IT’S COMING THIS WAY AND WHY ARE YOU PUSHING IT IN THIS DIRECTION CAN’T YOU SEE THAT IT HAS SPINNING RED TEETH AND WHY IS IT SO LOUD AND WHY ARE YOU WALKING IT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE WALKING ME OH HELL NO THIS THING IS NOT GOING TO TAKE OVER MY HOME I REFUSE I AM JUST GOING TO BARK AND BARK UNTIL YOU TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF OH THANK GOD IT’S OFF NOW I’LL GO GROWL AT IT WHILE YOU PUT IT AWAY JUST SO IT KNOWS WHO IS BOSS I HATE THIS THING THOUGH I MUST SAY THE RUG LOOKS AMAZING NOW GIVE ME A BISCUIT I’M EXHAUSTED —Lola, Pixie’s parents’ dog

Oster 12-Speed Blender
Here is my criterion for a good blender: does it turn whatever I throw in there into a delicious mush? This one lives up to my expectations (though my roommate would like me to point out it actually belongs to her). Put some fruit and soy milk in there and you’ve got a balanced breakfast. Want guacamole? Throw in some avocados, some lime juice, maybe a tomato, and BAM. I use this blender for cooking and baking, whenever I need to make a sauce or a batter (WHY WOULD I EVER WHISK ANYTHING BY HAND WHEN I CAN JUST PUT IT IN HERE AND PRESS A BUTTON?). I had another blender before this, but it was crap and would never get anything to the right level of puree. I’m pretty sure my life can be divided into B.B. and A.B.—before and after I had this blender. —Anna

Samsung UN40D6300 40-Inch LED HDTV
When I finally replace this television, I will first take it out back and bring a hammer to its pretty, thin face. What a piece of garbage. After nine years with a modest, boxy Panasonic, I was cajoled into making the switch to a flat-screen HD TV that cost nearly three times as much. This seemed obscene, and I hated it from the very beginning. Its crazy-sharp picture quality is actually a con; it is so unforgiving that it actually cheapened everything, making whatever I watched, from How I Met Your Mother to Restrepo, look like a daytime soap. I never ended up remembering which were the HD channels anyway, and the sound seemed to be coming from under a pile of pillows. “Oh, yeah, you need a sound bar,” everyone told me. Wasn’t television’s sole purpose to project an image that corresponds with sound? How is this something I have to pay extra for? (Then again, I’m old, and I still wish you could hear people on a cell phone.) Anyway, this is all moot, because approximately one month after the warranty expired, two purple lines appeared, intersecting the left quadrant of the screen. Those are apparently “not worth the cost to fix.” It reminds me of what the guy at J&R Electronics told me when I bought it: “These TVs could be made to last forever, but they’re not.” So I am stuck with this TV until I can bring myself to buy another one. Samsung UND40D6300, I will spit on your grave. —Phoebe

George Foreman grill
For some reason, everything tastes better with grill marks on it. And barbecue sauce. But what if you don’t have a backyard or a patio or it’s winter or it’s summer but it’s too hot for grilling and you’re sorta afraid of fire anyway? The solution, of course, is the George Foreman grill. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it makes everything delicious. Instead of shelling out six to eight bucks for a panini, I can make one at home without a stove or even a toaster. And there are like a billion models, depending on your needs. Want to make cheesy garlic bread? Get one of the models with floating/lockable hinges. Want to make hash browns and eggs? Get the one with the griddle. There are even fancy high-tech ones that can bake and MAKE WAFFLES. The lower-end ones, like I have, can be a bit of a pain to clean, but whatever—for the many grilling/melting possibilities it has given me, it’s totally worth it! —Stephanie

Electricity
Because of Hurricane Sandy, I have been living without power since Monday. That means no heat, no internet, no lights, no television, no fridge, and, in my building, no running water. I realize that this is how about a billion and a half people in the world live day in and day out, but I am a big baby who’s used to conveniences like being able to flush my toilet. I am dirty, cold, cranky, and exhausted from running around trying to get internet access for long enough to do my job every day. My husband and I keep getting into dumb fights. My dog is freaked out. My face is breaking out for the first time in years, and I’ve developed a persistent twitch in my right eye. So, when you have a choice, I would definitely recommend having electricity! (If you want to be horrified, fast-forward to minute three of this video to watch the substation explosion that wiped out power for me and hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers.) (And, Con Edison, thanks for all the hard work you’re doing to restore power in the city; now please hurry up and give me back my ultimate robot.) —Anaheed ♦

28 Comments

  • Claire November 1st, 2012 11:10 PM

    Hahaha the George Foreman grill always reminds me of that episode of The Office. “No, Michael, I didn’t tell them that you cooked your foot.”

  • Xanath November 1st, 2012 11:15 PM

    one time i saw a guy making hot dogs on his george foreman grill at school. in the hall.

  • Dylan November 1st, 2012 11:16 PM

    I die. KatherIIINEEE!

  • kittenmix November 1st, 2012 11:35 PM

    oh hey stephanie i have the cheap george foreman too and to clean it, basically, I…uh…I dont. I’ve never cleaned it BUT no one has died and it smells ok?? i guess?? anyway give up cleaning and you will be chuffed!!!!

  • jenaimarley November 1st, 2012 11:50 PM

    I LOVE MY SODASTREAM!

  • Tyknos93 November 1st, 2012 11:50 PM

    Oh no Anaheed I sincerely hope things get better for you! I hope everyone is safe and you get to take a nice 30 min steaming shower soon :)

    @Olivia does it make me also strange that I get your weird smells thing…I mean everyone likes the gasoline/makers/project glue smells too… Right?

    http://blazoningpens.blogspot.com/

    • jenaimarley November 1st, 2012 11:53 PM

      SEWER SMELL!
      I think it’s because my neighborhood often had that smell and so it’s like home! Haha super weird…

      • Anaheed November 2nd, 2012 12:31 AM

        When I got back to NYC from the Rookie road trip this summer the first thing I smelled was garbage rotting on the street — and it smelled like HOME.

  • jenaimarley November 1st, 2012 11:52 PM

    Also Anaheed! You are awesome for surviving’ without electricity! Hope it comes on soon! I lived in China for 2 months and my host family’s house often didn’t have any power. I definitely missed the luxuries!

  • raggedyanarchy November 2nd, 2012 12:02 AM

    ANAHEED! Being without power SUCKS. Good thing I have power then. But I’m sorry about your electricity withdrawal. Can’t be fun.

  • I.ila November 2nd, 2012 12:04 AM

    I feel you Anaheed. I thankfully have electricity here on the UES, but my mom’s friend has been coming over to our house to shower, buy food, and recharge his phone for the last three days… my best friend lives in SoHo where there are no trains, electricity, heat… another friend isn’t actually allowed to go back into her house, because the area is completely flooded. and the basement of my school was flooded on monday. But be thankful that neither of us were very horribly hit. If there are any rookies that really got hit hard, i hope that you are doing at least a little better now!

    • Anaheed November 2nd, 2012 12:29 AM

      Yes, I am so thankful that the worst I got is a week of inconvenience. So many people have it so much worse.

  • marineo November 2nd, 2012 12:05 AM

    Ugh VCRs are the worst. We still have one and it is literally the hardest thing in the world to use. :P I don’t think i have ever recorded something completely successfully.

  • IAmBowieCakes November 2nd, 2012 12:22 AM

    It’s okay, I love the smell of vacuums too! There’s just something about it. I didn’t know that anyone felt the same way! I’m not alone!

  • ivoire November 2nd, 2012 2:07 AM

    Anaheed! I hope you and all the eastcoasters are alright and your place isn’t too messed up!

  • noquierodecir November 2nd, 2012 7:44 AM

    It’s funny the penguin is on here! My dad used to drink around five plastic bottles of fizz water a day in the summer, and one to three in the winter.
    My mom bought him the SodaStream for Christmas way back when, three or four years ago. It still works, but just barely–part of the plastic is broken.

    We’ve found out since buying the Penguin, though, that it’s made by an Israeli company that produces stuff (illegally!) on Palestinian land. My dad isn’t anti-Israel or anything, but now he refuses to get it fixed….ahaha.

  • Mary the freak November 2nd, 2012 11:10 AM

    Ahh those reviews are so cute, they made me laugh so much. Especially this doggy thing with the purple monster :))
    You know what the best robot is, actually? Those little child toy computer boards, you know, when you squeeze this thing, there will be a song, or birds whistling when you press a key with a little bird on it. I loove them, they are so amazing! :)) (No, I don’t think fourteen is too old to freak over this stuff?! :DD)

    http://birdiewearsatie.blogspot.com/

  • Kaetlebugg November 2nd, 2012 3:15 PM

    George Foreman grills RULE!!! and they are super easy to find at thrift stores in perfectly fine condition for super cheap! once I went to a thrift store in Arlington, VA where they had 3 shelves full of George Foreman grills. Heavenly.

  • emilycarolina November 2nd, 2012 6:14 PM

    I love the smell of vacuum cleaners too! I agree with everything Olivia said, she took the words out of my mouth.

    And when I read the review about the SodaStream and read ” 1 or 2 farts for less fizzy, 5 or 6 for more,” I was drinking tea and choked. I’m so immature, but I just died right then. So funny!

  • soretudaaa November 2nd, 2012 6:31 PM

    As a former dental student, wisdom teeth that grow sideways are surprisingly extremely common! Also with the proper technique (which should be taught EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME, TO EVERYBODY and it would save people sooo much pain and money and cavities), a normal toothbrush keeps your mouth just as clean.

  • Moxx November 2nd, 2012 10:04 PM

    Yesssss I also like the smell of a vacuum cleaner!! It’s like something burning
    but not really
    and it’s great I don’t knowwww

  • jeans kinda girl November 2nd, 2012 10:45 PM

    I think my favorite kind of article that Rookie does is reviews-and this is no exception.

  • click November 5th, 2012 7:16 AM

    Seeing this article, I can’t help but think of the Gary Numan/Tubeway Army Song “Are Friends Electric?

    And I’m guessing the vaccuuming smell that you like so much is from the ozone that’s produced by the electric motor of the vaccuum cleaner.

  • mouthfur November 6th, 2012 10:54 AM

    That coffee maker looks so insanely wasteful, I want to cry. Get a french press, PLEASE! It uses minimal electricity (one burner on a stove to boil water), you don’t have to buy filters or, worse, tiny plastic cups EVER, you can dump your dregs straight int your compost (or toilet!) and the coffee will taste better than any machine will ever make it I PROMISE I PROMISE I PROMISE

  • janegrnisppl January 3rd, 2013 4:04 PM

    I was just thinking I might mention that the smell of a vacuum cleaner would be dust and such that is really small blowing out through the air filter. And dust is something like 90% dead dry skin… so Olivia, you may love the smell of dead dry skin. Plus 10% of something else.

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica January 14th, 2013 1:30 PM

    This is hilarious! One of my favorite reviews ever on Rookie <3

  • Molly February 16th, 2013 11:43 AM

    *gasp* the poor electricity! That truly was the most horrifying thing i have ever witnessed. I can relate.

  • Molly February 16th, 2013 11:48 AM

    When I was a kid I hated the smell of a vacuum cleaner but this just made me realize how much I miss it since I, like, never clean. I have other people do that for me. jk. I’m poor and my room is an absolute mess.