Our nerdy cousins over at Consumer Reports had their technicians put some “as seen on TV” products to the test as part of yesterday’s edition of the ABC News magazine “20/20.” Among the tested products were two designed to get you in shape (Belly Burner and Shake Weight) and three aimed at making cooking easier (FlavorWave Oven Turbo, Magic Bullet Express, and Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004). So how did they do?
Here are a few:
The FlavorWave Turbo “combines the speed of a microwave, with the . . . taste of a gourmet restaurant” with no need for defrosting or preheating, according to its infomercial. Celeb pitchman Mr. T calls the FlavorWave easy to use, saying you just set it to cook and “you’re off the hook.”
We cooked a variety of foods in the FlavorWave oven, including fresh and frozen whole chickens. In both high- and low-temperature settings we measured the FlavorWave’s energy use and recorded the corresponding temperature readings.
With its combination of halogen, infrared, and convection cooking, the FlavorWave cooked faster and used less energy than a regular electric oven. The countertop oven worked very well for cooking meats and roasting vegetables. The meat came out browned and juicy, even without defrosting or preheating. But, the FlavorWave didn’t make the A-Team for crisping frozen pizza crusts.
The manufacturer also claims that FlavorWave provides easy self-cleaning, but that might be a stretch when it comes to getting baked-on fat splatters off the glass lid.
And how about the Ninja Blender?
In our recent review of food choppers, the “ancient Asian metalworking secrets” described in an infomercial for the Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 helped the combination food chopper and processor earn the top score among tested models.
The Ninja, which comes with a 2-cup chopper bowl and a 6-cup blender vessel, did a very good job of chopping vegetables and nuts, crushing ice, and purÃ©eing soups, even though the device has only one operating speed; many of its competitors have several. The Ninja was relatively quiet, the push-button control proved to be easy to use, and the blade removed easily for cleaning.
One drawback: the Ninja can’t slice or shred, so you still might also need a food processor in your kitchen.
For the rest of the products, including the Shake Weight, check out the full article on ConsumerReports.org.