So you need a new appliance. You go online to do your research about both reliability and price. It’s easy to compare prices but more difficult to access reliable information on whether the product is actually any good. Why? Too many reviews that have been bought not offered.
That’s where consumer advocate CHOICE comes in. Its lab experts review thousands of products each year to find the best – and the worst. They help to weed out dodgy manufacturers, though that’s obviously an ongoing mission.
CHOICE has revealed the ‘cream of the cream’ – the biggest duds in a year of testing.
1. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (expert rating 41 per cent)
CHOICE says they may be beautiful to look at, but the in-ear headphones are all style, no substance.
“They perform terribly with the noise-cancelling feature turned off, and even worse when it’s turned on,” the tester says. “At $319, they’re not a great deal cheaper than Apple AirPods Pro ($399), so if you have that kind of money to spend on in-ear headphones, maybe save up a little more and buy yourself something that works well.”
2. Coffee grinders
There are two types of grinders – blade and burr. Blade grinders tend to be cheaper and can be used for spices, but the coffee blend is likely to be uneven. Burr grinders produce an even grind (and a better coffee) but are more expensive.
The shocker: Smeg 50s style CGF01PBAU burr grinder (rating 64 per cent)
This $369 grinder failed to outperform a $50 Breville blade grinder. CHOICE testers found it couldn’t give a grind fine enough for a true espresso.
Expert tester Adrian Lini said: “This was definitely a ‘style over substance’ marketing move.
“The Smeg machine could only grind the beans fine enough for the more consumer-friendly machines while still charging you the same amount you’d pay for a barista-level grinder.”
CHOICE says the $14 Kmart Anko blade grinder scored 63 per cent, so save your $369.
3. Guardian Safety Pendants Lingo (rating 39 per cent)
CHOICE gave the Lingo a score of zero for tracking. Tester Scott O’Keefe says: “Once I left home, it never once reported my location correctly for the entire day.”
He suggests consumers avoid personal alarms altogether, adding: “We no longer recommend any personal alarms, following feedback from members about products that were faulty or didn’t work as advertised.”
4. Orbit Stick-on Bluetooth tracker (rating 41 per cent)
Advertised as a solution to losing your keys, CHOICE found the Bluetooth signal was affected by walls, vehicles, buildings and even people and had an outdoor range of just seven metres.
It also uses button batteries, which have caused many deaths and serious injuries in small children who have swallowed them.
5. Radic8 Hextio H-100 air purifier (rating 27 per cent)
The testers said the unit was very poor at removing dust, smoke and ‘volatile organic compounds’ from the air and was terrible on energy efficiency and very noisy even on its lowest setting.
Basically, it’s a $500 paperweight that will keep you awake at night and inflate your electricity bill, they said.
The shonkiest of them all?
That ‘honour’ goes to a $499 composting machine that “uses electricity and frequently requires replacement filters to achieve the same result as a worm farm or compost bin” and an ineffective bladeless fan that’s sold under a range of names.
How to you go about researching a product before you buy? Do you believe reviews? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?
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