Our panel tried these 6 products to see if they're worth buying.
American celebrity chef Alton Brown hates kitchen tools designed for only 1 job. “For years I have railed against the use and manufacture of what I call ‘Unitaskers’ in the kitchen,” he says. “You buy these items, use them once, then they simply pile up.”
Alton would flip his lid if he saw the Kleva Range Essential Bundle ($50 plus $11.90 P&H from the TV Shopping Network). It boasts 6 gadgets aimed at slashing your prep time in the kitchen. Kleva’s an Australian brand of infomercial/mail-order products (think: magic dusters and the “world’s best knife set”) reaching our shores in growing numbers.
We convened a panel of 9 Consumer staffers, ranging from an ex-chef to rank amateurs. They graded each gadget for performance and ease of use, before being asked if they’d shell out for it.
Probably its best known product here, the Kleva Seal is sold in Countdown supermarkets and flogged via primetime infomercials. Powered by 2 AA batteries, this gadget uses heat to seal plastic and foil bags. Our triallists weren’t fans. Its issues included struggling to seal the starting edge of the bag, meaning at least 2 passes are required, and it can inadvertently cut thin plastic.
While most panellists eventually managed to seal both chip packets and plastic salad bags, they questioned the need for the Kleva Seal when cheap zip-lock bags are widely available. It’s a good concept that doesn’t live up to the hype.
Kleva reckons this is the “world’s best can opener”. It’s pitched at those with dexterity issues, with the ad claiming it is “perfect for those with weak joints or arthritis”.
While it generally produced clean, rounded edges, a majority of our panel said the handle was stiff and took considerable pressure to turn. Some complained the handle (annoyingly shaped like a large “K”) was uncomfortable and awkward to use. We reckon the best option if you struggle opening cans is to opt for an electric can opener.
Essentially a manual food processor, the Rapid Chop uses a pull-string to spin 2 stainless-steel blades inside a plastic pottle. Our panel found it a breeze to use, but said it took longer than the claimed 3 pulls to produce finely chopped onions. There were also noticeable differences in size between onion pieces.
Some users said that because you need to chop veges into relatively small pieces before placing them into the device, it’s not really a timesaver over manual chopping. It’s also a hassle to clean. The general verdict was, unless you’re hopeless with a knife, it’s unlikely to speed up your cooking, though it largely performs as claimed.
However, the Rapid Chop will appeal to those who can chop an onion into quarters but lack the dexterity for fine dicing.
“Good god, terrible thing! Sides were difficult to hold as the metal handles have sharp edges. I now have a bleeding thumb!” This was the verdict of Consumer’s market researcher, as recorded on a blood-stained assessment sheet. Others also said they felt unsafe using this vegetable “pasta” maker, since the blades inside the plastic cones are too exposed. Its performance left the panel cold – most found it crushed courgettes instead of spiralising, while it was only marginally better with carrots.
Kleva says this “perfect slicer” will see you “stop struggling with plastic peelers or cheap blades that simply don’t cut!” Our panel disagreed, finding its performance and ease of use no better than a bog-standard $2 peeler from Briscoes. Despite Kleva's claims, most found its blade wasn't delicate enough to peel soft tomatoes. A very poor result for a $35 utensil.
Claiming to offer the performance of “13 knives at once” to create perfect julienne strips, we found the Kleva Julienne Slicer was even more of a lemon than the Power Peeler. “Produces less strips and more pulp. Only useful as a zester,” reckoned a panellist. “Would have more luck with a soup spoon” said another.
Note: pricing for these items, like most products bought from infomercials, is difficult to pin down. While we bought all 6 items for $60 including postage, the individual price of each item can vary widely. We’ve included the most common individual price(s) we could find. Scores are averages weighted equally between each panellist.
First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.
By George Block