Apr 032018
 

Black Lelo Sona Cruise on a gray knit backgroundYears ago I swore I’d never review another Lelo sex toy, but my commitment to trying most of the Womanizer and Satisfyer toys meant that I had to try the Lelo Sona Cruise, much to my dismay. For now, I can’t compare the Lelo Sona Cruise to the regular Sona but I feel like my assessment of the Sona Cruise is going to be enough and I really don’t want to go through the rigors of testing two of these horror shows. I’ve disliked my experience from first to last.

I was so extremely skeptical of Lelo’s claim to be doing the pressure air technology different – by incorporating sonic waves, aka sound waves – that I had to feel it for myself. Let me be clear, though: I still don’t support Lelo and I never will – I broke up with them years ago and my decision has been reinforced by their marketing choices and that terrible, troubling condom. I 100% feel that you can get an equal or better identical product by choosing Womanizer or Satisfyer over the Lelo Sona or Sona Cruise. Yet I’m still spending nearly 2,000 words talking about an inferior product that has made some people bleed because I’m thorough, damn it.

The Lelo Sona Cruise is…Sonic?

EffinBirds: "I read some shit on the internet, I'm an expert now" Lelo’s ad copy says: “SONA Cruise is a sonic clitoral massager. That means it doesn’t rely on vibrations like a conventional sex toy. Instead, it uses sonic waves and pulses to stimulate the entire clitoris – not just the external part you can see and touch.” 

I’m side-eyeing that real hard, folx. They’re right on one thing, it’s not relying on vibrations. Neither does the Womanizer brand or Satisfyer brand of pressure air pulsators. So basically Lelo is claiming to use SOUND. 

Yes, there is sound – there’s always sound. But I can see and feel the little fluttering gizmo that is producing the air pulse sensations, and it is just like the Womanizer and Satisfyer models. Do they feel the same? Mostly, yes. I think that the Lelo Sona Cruise is more intense right off the bat (not a great thing in my book) but I believe it’s because there’s less physical space between the fluttering motor and the point of clitoral contact. The nozzle is also thinner inside in width than most Womanizer and Satisfyer models; I noticed that that aspect also leads to a more intense sensation, like I saw in the Womanizer 2GO. For comparison, the inside width of the Lelo Sona Cruise nozzle is .454 inches or 11.53 mm, and it is circular – the smallest width of the oval Womanizer nozzle is 12.3mm.

Despite their “sonic” claims I cannot feel any discernible difference, other than initial intensity, from Womanizer and Satisfyer models. Yes, due to designs there is varying sensation between all of the Womanizer and Satisfyer models — some more intense, some less, some more thuddy, some more shallow/buzzy. A few people have reported to me that the Sona worked for them where a Womanizer or Satisfyer did not, but I don’t know why – maybe it’s an intensity thing? So yes, the short distance and narrow opening means the Lelo Sona Cruise is more intense right away compared to some other models, but I do not think it feels different enough to warrant the “sonic waves” claim.

What is this Cruise Control Bullshit?

EffinBirds: "Come back when you get your shit together"“Specially developed by LELO and exclusive to SONA, Cruise Control is a feature that reserves 20% of SONA’s full power during normal use, so that when SONA is pressed hard against the body and the motor begins to drop power, that extra 20% is unleashed so that there’s no reduction of intensity. It’s not a setting, it’s completely automatic, and it eliminates the single most common complaint against pleasure products.”

That…..It’s….That is not a Thing That Happens in these types of sex toys. I’ve never experienced a drop in motor power if I pressed a Womanizer or Satisfyer harder against my vulva. Not once. Yes, it feels different and maybe a little less intense but that’s not what they’re saying here. They’re saying specifically the motor drops power. Typical to Lelo’s infuriatin marketing tactics over the last 5 years they are inventing problems that don’t exist and then “solving” them. Yes, a traditional vibrator will see a power decrease as more pressure is applied but we’ve already established that this is not a vibrator. 

In practice the Cruise Control is simply infuriating and reminds me of the problematic Smart Wand’s “SenseTouch” which would supposedly increase the vibration the harder you pressed, except that many users found it would act erratically. I experienced that same erract behavior when using the Lelo Sona Cruise – sometimes it would seem to increase, and sometimes it would decrease. Sometimes the increase wouldn’t stop even when it was literally not touching my vulva, when I had it just hovering over my clitoris because the sensations were too intense.

Cruise Control is trash, for me. I don’t want to guess at the intensity level I’ll get – I want to have control over it. That’s why there are various intensity levels! Pick the one you want! I want it to stay at a lower intensity on the lower levels until I’m ready for something more. I’m actually laughing at the disparity in their name choice for this “feature”.  Cruise control in a car means you maintain the same speed so congratulations for naming it like you’re in Bizarro World.

I would hate the Lelo Sona about 20% less because it lacks the useless, horrible Cruise Control. So if you must, just get the regular Lelo Sona. But, I mean, still don’t get the Lelo Sona.

Patterns? What Fresh Hell is This?????

EffinBirds: "You are not capable of producing a useful result"Patterns. They’re controversial but most people don’t like them. They are the bane of my existence, they are the thing I almost always accidentally turn on and then frantically try to reverse. Patterns are what I only resort to if I’m trying to fool my clitoris into thinking the vibrations are more rumbly or more intense than they are, and it nearly never works out for me.

The Lelo Sona Cruise buttons are closely-aligned and difficult to distinguish by touch alone. Given how un-ergonomic I feel the entire design is, combined with the diminuitive size I hate, I’m usually pushing the wrong buttons. Entering into patterns on a pressure air sex toy, one that is already intense, is akin to that burst of pain you feel when you consume a hot or cold liquid and you have dental pain. That sharp, wrong-feeling, nerve-zapping makeitstoppppp feeling is what I felt any time I accidentally went into patterns.

To be honest, this feature alone would be enough to make me never pick up the Lelo Sona Cruise again, but wait…there’s more.

It’s Painful

The Lelo Sona Cruise caused me pain in two unexpected ways. The first was while holding it. It’s a combination of the size, the button placement, and the weird way the body of it bends away from you where the controls are. Every press of the button would rock the nozzle away from my vulva so I needed to keep an anchor on it by pressing my fingers around the back, and lower. It is awkward to hold in ways that straight-bodied models like the Pro40 or Satisfyer Pro 2 are not. I would actually rather use the potato with the pokey button, aka the Womanizer Pro 500 Deluxe Whatever They’re Calling It now.

The second way the Lelo Sona Cruise is painful to me took some time to figure out, and I may not have understood what was happening without Aurora asking me specifically if I’d ever heard of anybody bleeding after use. By the time she asked me I’d forgotton about this thread on Reddit where multiple people reported bleeding after use, and a few others on Twitter mentioned bleeding1. I can’t say that it made me bleed because I never paid attention (and didn’t know what was happening at the time) but I know that it cut my vulva a bit or irritated it to the point of localized pain. The last few times I used the Sona I had to pee shortly after and noticed that when I wiped, it hurt. Like an open cut. It wasn’t excruciating so I ignored it. I didn’t connect the two facts until I used it again after Aurora’s question and it hit me.

EffinBirds: "Our expectations for you were low, but holy fuck"The culprit is the short distance between the exterior opening of the nozzle and the “flappy bit” motor inside the nozzle that causes the air pulsation. No other pressure-wave sex toy has this short of a distance – not even the smallest Satisfyer or the smallest Womanizer. There is, without a doubt, a short enough distance between the edge of the nozzle of the Lelo Sona Cruise and the motor to allow a clitoris or labia to come into contact with semi-moving parts. I say “semi-moving” because there is a squishy skin-like membrane over the flappy bit. It’s not like there are sharp edges but it is enough to cause irritation to my vulva/clitoris.

How short of a distance? When the motor is on, the distance is halved; if I insert my pinky finger then it’s just equal to the distance between the tip of my finger and the base of my nail bed aka 7.8mm or .3 inches. That’s it.

This is ridiculous.

How the Lelo Sona Cruise Compares to Other Brands

Effinbirds: "Basically you're fucking incompetent"Given Lelo’s penchant for drastically overpricing everything they sell I’m absolutely shocked that the most expensive Sona is still considerably less expensive than the Womanizer brand. That said even though I strongly prefer and recommend the Womanizer brand over the Satisfyer brand I still would rather see you get a Satisfyer than a Lelo Sona.

Unlike the Womanizer and Satisfyer products, the Lelo Sona Cruise does not have a removable silicone nozzle for easier cleaning. Yes, this means that the Lelo Sona is covered in silicone (except for the large plastic plate on the backside) but it’s not a “good feature” to me. Unlike most Womanizer models the Lelo Sona Cruise has only one opening size and that opening is pretty small. This is not a sex toy for larger clits but given it’s penchant for cutting up smaller clits, it’s not for those either. It’s for NO clit.

When we talk about the pressure-wave air stimulators we have to talk about the noise level because despite not having a vibrating motor, these can still get kinda noisy. Lelo would, of course, have you believe that theirs is superior: “It’s quiet and restrained – perfect for users who need discretion.” Strangely, unlike most other models, the Lelo Sona Cruise gets much more noisy when the nozzle is covered. With most Womanizer and Satisfyer models they are a little noisy until they come in full contact with your vulva, then they are extremely quiet. Check out the Instagram video to hear the strange noises it makes. Also note the sounds you hear after I remove my thumb from the nozzle, you can hear the motor stepping back down in strength.

You’ll get much less use time out of the Lelo Sona Cruise, as well. Nearly all of the Satisfyer models give you 2 hours, and many Womanizer models boast use times of up to 4 hours on a single charge. Womanizer also gives a better warranty – 2 Years to Lelo’s 1 Year.  I’m not adding the Sona specs to the Womanizer vs Satisfyer guide spreadsheet but you can see how they compare.   

I can’t recommend the Lelo Sona Cruise, at all. I hate every single thing about it and feel that nearly any model of Womanizer or Satisfyer pressure air sex toys is equally as good or better. 

 

Much thanks to SheVibe for providing me with a Lelo Sona Cruise in exchange for my honest review!                                                                                                                                                              

 

  1. Check out Amber’s review too
Feb 132018
 

Gaia Eco on coral photographed against a wood backgroundYou are probably wondering why a reviewing veteran like me is talking to you about a $10 vibrator and the answer is: the material, the vibrations and the sheer novelty of liking a $10 vibrator. The Gaia Eco is *biodegradeable* and *recyclable* which is rare for sex toy materials. When this first came out and we read about the starch-based plastic a number of people imagined something much more delicate and single-use; something that might be made out of “starch” more than “plastic”. Rest assured it feels like plastic and acts like plastic; it won’t be disintegrating atfer a few washes. What’s more, the Biofeel bioplastic uses less energy and creates less greenhouse gas emissions to create. 

Just because I’m recommending this as a good “first vibrator” option doesn’t mean you should expect it to be weak – too often reviewers have attempted to sugar-coat mediocre or sub-par sex toys by proclaming their weak motors as “good for beginners”. I was once that beginner who kept trying buzzy, weak motors and thinking I was broken because, newbie to vibrations or not, I needed more. I knew because fingers could only get me off maybe 1 in 15 times and tongues nearly never. I knew I needed more but every review I read on retailer sites kept proclaiming the vibrators “powerful” when they really weren’t to me – power is subjective but you can’t ask Raina in Ohio any follow up questions.

Let’s get back to this cool bioplastic for a minute. I needed to know more so I went to Ducky. Here’s what Ducky told me:

The Gaia Eco line is made from a food grade bioplastic. Like ABS plastic, our bioplastic is nonporous and compatible with all lubricants. The toys will not break down. You can not just toss it in your recycling bin and expect it to be recycled, but a person can take this product to their local recycling center and they can recycle them there.

Biobased polymer need to be proceed in industrial composing units which have a measured dose of heat and microbes. In this environment the toys will degrade in 180 days. To toss it in a landfill or your home composting bin will not expose the vibe to the right elements. City recycling facilities should also separate the metals and electronics from the casing. Can we guarantee that every consumer will follow through? No. But the vibe does encourage conversations around how to recycle and the availability of sustainable plastics. 

So yes, it can be recycled but perhaps not as easily as tossing it in your blue bin. But at least we understand more about the material, now!

Gaia Eco Size - 7 inches long, 5.75 inches insertable, 1 inch wide, 3.5 inches circumference. The Gaia Eco is about as basic as a vibrator can get: Straight, rigid, battery-powered with a control dial on top for a range of steady vibrations. It’s slender and long enough for vaginal insertion (but not anal-safe!) and works really well as an external vibrator, too.  I personally don’t like this as an internal vibrator because I want a more girth and a lot more curve, but plenty of folks like this style for insertable use.

Here’s the kicker: the motor is actually pretty darn good. It’s powerful and fairly rumbly. A lot of cheap vibrators can be mild on the vibrations and surface-buzzy but the Gaia left me pleasantly surprised – so surprised that as it sat on my desk for months I kept turning it on briefly as if to remind myself that the vibrations weren’t something from a fever dream, they really were that good.  In fact, the power level is so good that if you have a sensitive clitoris and can orgasm fairly easily from just fingers it might be too powerful for you. The vibrations are concentrated in the tip and lower third. You do feel some residual vibrations in your hand as you hold it, but it’s not much. I didn’t find it irritating and the vibrations are definitely enough to get me off. I had a much easier time orgasming with this $10 vibrator than I did my first three Lelo vibrators.

You’d probably also expect a $10 vibrator to be loud and obvious but the Gaia Eco is quieter – and more powerful – than the Dame Fin, the JimmyJane Intro line, the Fun Factory Jazzie, or the Crave Bullet.

I’d recommend the Gaia Eco as a first vibrator because it will help you understand your body better: you’ll find out if your vagina/g-spot responds at all to vibration; you can see if you may prefer pinpoint or broad stimulation by using the very tip or the side against your clitoris and labia. You can use this to find out if any of your external parts like vibration – just don’t insert this up your butt. You’ll regret it. And hey, because it’s battery powered it makes a decent “whoops my other vibrators are in the shop1” back-up and even is good for travel – no accidental turn-ons and if you forget it you’re only out $10. It needs 2 AA batteries – I use Duracell copper-topped batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries you’ll get less oomph from the motor and, of course, as the batteries (any type) drain in power your vibrator will slow down, as well. 

 

Thanks to Blush Novelties for sending me the Gaia Eco in exchange for my honest review – you can find it for $9.99 at SheVibe in colors I can really get behind like aqua blue, spring green and coral pink. The coloring does have a lightly speckled look to it, like a robin’s egg!

  1. Because everybody forgets to charge their rechargeables at some point
Jan 282018
 

Zumio Classic Review - Zumio shown on top of multi-colored papers with craft scissors and a paint markerI don’t think I’ve ever held a sex toy as awkwardly as I hold the Zumio. It doesn’t endear me to the strange, purple antenna. Every single time I’ve used the Zumio I curse the button location. They had so much room to work with, but instead one button is nearly inaccessible to me. And so, this review begins on an ominous note. I’ll warn you right now: while many other reviewers really enjoyed the Zumio I’ve found too many quirks and problems to be able to recommend it. I’ve had my Zumio since November. Like the original Womanizer I didn’t want to like it, but suspected I would. Unlike the Womanizer I found I was different from most folks who’ve reviewed it. I consider myself to have a very hearty and stoic clitoris but even mine cowered in fear of the sometimes-painful Zumio.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Zumio

Many sex toys that I like end up being pretty versatile – you can use a lot of G-spot vibrators externally with great success, many clitoral vibes are great for perineum, penis, testicle, external anal stim, labia stim, etc. I’d say that the only sex toy I really love that is limited in use is the Womanizer and all other varitions/knock-offs. I’ve been told that it can work great applied to the frenulum on the penis but haven’t had my partner agree. But the Zumio – right out of the gate they’re telling you how it’s supposed to be held and then damn near giving you a paint-by-numbers diagram of how to use it, and what spots to hit in which order. There are literal instructions on how to achieve this supposed (not guaranteed) 60-second orgasm that the Zumio was invented to provide.

It wasn’t until I really poked around the website that I realized why it’s so awkward for me to hold and use the Zumio – I’ve been holding it “wrong”. They’re holding it like a paintbrush and I’m still holding it like, well, a vibrator. With the buttons facing me and the body perpendicular to my vulva. So I tried to hold it their way and it was worse – the power button is the most obvious to my fingers so I kept accidentally turning it off because I just couldn’t remember that the other buttons are that damn far down the body, so close to the tip.

Folks who are flatter in chest and tummy and can easily see what they’re doing, folks without reach issues and “short arms” will find this less awkward. Folks with less pubic mound padding and less labia may not have a problem accessing the top-most1 button but the top-heavy feel of it in your hands, the overwhelming feeling that you’re not about to buzz your way to orgasm but paint your clitoris, may deter you like it’s deterring me. Those with wrist/hand pain/arthritis may also find that holding the Zumio is painful.

I also want to address another aspect of Zumio’s prescriptive stance: their early marketing “studies” and ridiculous “proof” of the ultra-quick orgasm that is supposedly the hallmark of the Zumio. Early on they kept throwing around these comparisons and percentages that, frankly, are a terrible way to market. You end up alienating people for whom your product doesn’t work. You may make people feel broken. I repeatedly called them out on this and pressed for more details; it was then we found out that this study they’ve been touting like it’s a religious tome was based on a mere SIXTY FOUR SUBJECTS. That’s it. 64. They claimed a wide range of participants but they eventually stopped using these numbers and claims. It also took them awhile to “gather the responses” to give me more data. Can you feel my side-eye from there? I haven’t seen them trot these percentages out in awhile and can’t find them on their site anymore. Hmmm…

But Lilly, Don’t You Love Pinpoint Stimulation?

I agreed to review the Zumio because it’s supposed to be the be-all end-all pinpoint sex toy2 and we all know how much I love pinpoint vibrators. Except Zumio isn’t really a vibrator, technically speaking, it oscillates3. And despite the company’s ridiculous claims and promises of a quick orgasm, I had problems and found that, perhaps, there was such a thing as too pinpoint for me. Quelle surprise!  Sometimes I was able to orgasm in a few minutes  – but I can with the Womanizer, too. Sometimes I wasn’t.

Every other pinpoint vibrator I’ve tried and liked was pinpoint, yes, but they also provided just enough extra surface area to stimulate more than the exact spot they were honing in on, not to mention stimulating the internal clitoris legs to some degree. Not the Zumio. For once I had trouble finding my spot, that one spot on the right side of my clit, because the tip of the Zumio is so precise and rigid that I simply don’t feel much pleasure until X marks the spot. It was a frustrating game of pin-the-tail-on-the-clitoris. Zumio acknowledges this on their site, buried in the FAQ. If you look at the question “Is Zumio as strong as a vibrator?” you’ll see that they say no, it is not. “Vibrators shake everything that touches them including the clitoral region, hand and arm and even the entire body. Your body is full of nerve endings. All of them pick up these energy pulses in some form and can be overwhelming signals to your brain. It’s like a sledge hammer to drive a tack!”

Your entire body? Really?

It is a big pet peeve of mine when a sex toy manufacturer puts so much emphasis on putting down other, similar products. You don’t need to be like “Vibrators? PAH. THEY SUCK. TRY ZUMIO” to get sales.

The Zumio claims to replicate the feeling of your finger circling your clitoris – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It feels exactly like what it is – a vibrating plastic tip. It’s intense. It feels a lot like if you took the vibrator motor – the kind with the off-balance head that wobbles around – and applied it directly to your clitoris. I would know, I did that once with my first sex toy.

I’m also usually a person who needs pressure – whether it’s applying pressure to my clitoris or needing a vibrator that won’t be diminished under the “pressure” of my surrounding labia. When I apply a very light amount of pressure, the sensations change and feel less intense and almost more rumbly, if that’s possible. But when I apply a little bit more pressure the Tip stops moving completely although the motor is still going. A number of times during use as I tried to find the right combination of my spot and Zumio placement and intensity I would apply enough pressure for it to stop moving. 

A Strange Orgasm

I can orgasm, but not in 60 seconds, on the lowest setting of the Zumio if I’m aroused or watching something erotic on Tumblr. The resulting orgasm is mild and feels like nothing within seconds. It takes awhile, anywhere from 10-20 minutes.The Zumio is too intense, too direct, for me to continue to use it for additional orgasms like I can with the Womanizer, so if I want another orgasm – because the first one was disappointing – I have to wait a little bit.

I can increase the speed on the Zumio – I can only go to 3 or 4 because any higher than that and it’s even more sensitive to whatever pressure I am trying not to apply – and the resulting orgasm is stronger but afterwards I still don’t feel like anything happened, if that makes sense. At level 3, the Zumio did force an orgasm but it was an empty orgasm. It left me as quickly as it started and I don’t feel it bodily – it’s like the orgasm and its aftershocks are strictly located in my clitoris and I just don’t feel it anywhere else.

Every time I’ve used the Zumio I looked longingly at my Womanizer Pro40 and wanted to abandon ship for it, but “I must continue on. For science.”

A Few SpiroTIP Warnings

FYI, the following is not mentioned in the manual. I’d assumed that the Tip was purely ABS plastic, through and through. But one weekend I was carrying the Zumio in my handbag. When I finally removed it I panicked because the Tip was bent at almost a 75-degree angle. I thought I ruined it completely. It seems that the top half of the tip is bendable wire covered in a plastic of some type? After I accidentally bent it once it was easy to accidentally bend it again, and now the purple plastic in the spot is lighter, showing signs of stress. The moment there’s a break in that covering, the Zumio won’t be safe for use anymore4.

Zumio only gives you a standard-issue drawstring pouch for storage so I feel like this damage to the Tip could happen to anyone, whether they’re carrying it in their pocket, their handbag, their suitcase or even if it’s just in a jumbled nightstand drawer.

This second problem happened as I was preparing to take a photo of the tip to show the damage to the plastic. As I was cleaning my Zumio I noted that a not-inconsiderable amount of dried lube/fluid had congregated in the space between the base of the plastic-covered tip and the silicone of the body. I gently ran my fingernail along the seam, like you do. This caused the plastic portion of the Tip to pop out of the body. I was able to eventually work the tip back into place, as the silicone covering is flexible around the joint of the tip, but the damage was done. My Zumio is now completely dead. The tip is covering a metal rod which feeds into the motor – the metal rod isn’t fixed into place so when it was lifted up along with the plastic SpiroTip I couldn’t get it back into place again so that it works.

Close-up image of the broken Zumio - the plastic tip slightly separated from the body, with a lighter purple spot in the center of the tip, indicitative of where it bent

And this part leads me to concerns about their Limited Warranty…

Notes on the Zumio Limited Warranty

The warranty only covers any defects in material or workmanship under normal use during the warranty period of 1 year after the date of purchase. Is my accident with the bent SpiroTip considered a defect? I spoke with a rep from Zumio who said that no, it’s not considered a defect5 and probably wouldn’t be covered under warranty. Yet they do not warn about this and give you no way to to prevent it happening during travel. I haven’t bothered to ask if my second, and fatal, break would be covered under warranty – I doubt it. At this point, I have serious concerns about the build quality and their warranty.

I would also like to note that despite their constant claims of a 60-second orgasm on their site and social media there is no “satisfaction guarantee” and if this product doesn’t give you the 60-second orgasm they talk so much about don’t expect to get your money back. You wouldn’t expect that with any other sex toy, I know, but this feels like a weird juxtiposition to me.

It’s also noted that, according to the manufacturer, the average life span of the Zumio is about 2 years, which may vary with usage patterns. I suppose this might mean that if you apply a little pressure and if you really love it and use it a lot, it probably won’t last you two years. While the Zumio is 10 times more intense than the Eroscillator, to me, the Eroscillator has a much better track record for longevity even though their warranty period is the same.

An Exceedingly Long Charge Time

It’s not noted on their website but it is noted on the SheVibe page that charge time is “16 hours, from low battery to full battery” and this charge time gets you up to 4 hours of use, but as little as 75 minutes of use if you apply pressure and use it on a higher intensity setting a lot. Since applying pressure dampens the action considerably, you probably will have to increase the intensity, like I did. I can tell you I got nowhere near 4 hours of use on a full charge. I never ran a stop-watch while I was using it but if your use time on a full charge is under an hour then you have a defective unit. You can absolutely just pop it in the charging stand and charge for say, an hour or two, and then use the Zumio again. You don’t always have to fully charge it.

If you’re lucky enough that the Zumio works quickly for you then even just 75 minutes of total use time would equal a lot of orgasms, right? Except that I don’t know how normal non-use battery drainage works here. It’s not a lithium battery, it’s NiMH 350mAh. I’ve had plenty of sex toys lose their charge during dormant periods of use and I don’t claim to know if it’s related to a certain battery type.

Should You Buy The Zumio?

Obviously, I’m not a fan. I don’t hate the Zumio and it’s not the worst thing ever but it’s certainly not what I would expect from an “award winning” sex toy. If I do my best to get over my hatred of their prescribed useage and empty promises full of marketing lingo that makes me stabby, my opinion still slants towards “maybe give this a pass”. The button placement is a major issue for me and while the sensation it provides is certainly unique it’s also only going to be perfectly right for a small portion of people. I can’t just say “if you know you like pinpoint vibrations” because that’s me and I didn’t love it. The Zumio Classic is currently $140 – a lot of money to spend on such a finicky sex toy. Given my problems with the build quality and the extremely restrictive warranty I’m reluctant to recommend purchase. I can’t recommend the Eroscillator instead simply because the Eroscillator isn’t nearly as intense so it’s still apples and oranges. I’d pick the Tango but I’ve been told that for some folks it’s not pinpoint enough. The Womanizer feels nothing like the Zumio but, for me, is much more satisfying and provides a true build-up in intensity from light to “whoa nelly”.

The company has already created a slightly different model, the Zumio Caress, which will be out in a few months. I’ve attached a guide sheet that the company provided me with and it shows that the Caress has a shorter tip made out of softer material (I don’t know what it is) and that it is less intense than the Zumio Classic. The overall design is still the same and with a shorter tip I would have even more difficulty accessing the buttons, making this even more awkward to hold and frustrating to use. I think that I could appreciate the Tip redesign but it needs a body overhaul.

 

My thanks to Shevibe for providing me with the Zumio in exchange for my honest review! You can get the Zumio at Shevibe here.

  1. lowest? depends on orientation – regardless, I mean the “increase” button
  2. according to the manufacturer, of course
  3. but not nearly as effectively as the Eroscillator
  4. Why? Because the cracks in the plastic will harbor bacteria and potentially scratch/abrade/irritate the delicate tissue of the labia and clitoris
  5. In fact, they expressed surprise at what happened and said that it would take “considerable force” to bend the tip – I disagree
Jul 032017
 

Dame Fin, the finger vibrator from Dame ProductsBefore I talk about the Dame Fin, I need to talk about the company, Dame Products. This first section, while not being about the Fin per se, will still help give you some insight to what the hell is going on with Dame Products and help you determine if you should try the Dame Fin – or, even, bother supporting their next venture. Dame Products, the trendy, crowd-funding darlings du jour of the vibrator world, have funded and created their second sex toy aimed at hetero couples want an unobtrusive vibrator to use during PIV sex – the Fin.  Even though I really hated their marketing video for the Fin in their Kickstarter campaign, I began to have hopes that this time they could be better than their atrocious Eva.

This is some of the text from their Kickstarter page. Wouldn’t you, too, be lulled into a trusting sense of goodwill and hope? As a jaded reviewer I found myself saying “YES! THIS!”.

One of the main tradeoffs we identified was dexterity vs. power. If the product isn’t powerful enough, it isn’t worth using; if you can’t maintain dexterity, your movements don’t feel intuitive. Fin’s shape and placement between the fingers prevented the motor from interfering with testers’ natural movements.

We always test with women and couples from all different ages and backgrounds. If it doesn’t bring additional value to the sex lives of real people, we don’t put it on the market.

Vibrators worn on the hand have the potential to be great toys for first-time users, sex toy pros, couples or individuals. However, the market didn’t have a standout finger vibrator that balanced quality and ease of use with a reasonable price.

I thought about this market they speak of, the market of finger vibrators. They’re not wrong in saying that the finger vibrators on the market now are terrible – options include the weak-ass Jopen Key Aries or the pretentious and badly made Jimmyjane Hello Touch – that much I’ll give them. But moments before I was about to publish a different version of this review I read an interview with one of the Dame Products founders over at the NY Times and it changed my mindset. I went from forgiving, hopeful and respectful to “Wow, y’all didn’t do your research and this explains a lot“.  The interview starts off with this (emphasis my own): 

As a product designer, Janet Lieberman often finds flaws in everyday tech devices. This was particularly true when it came to vibrators, which she would spend hours shopping for on Amazon.

“I had always bought cheap vibrators and my bedside drawer was a graveyard for them,” said Ms. Lieberman, 31, who lives in Brooklyn and studied mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “You could replace the batteries but they still would stop working.”

After splurging on a pricey vibrator for a boyfriend’s birthday that also quickly died, she had an aha moment. “I realized there was a need for well-engineered sex toys,” she said. “There’s no real trusted brand and that’s what we’re setting out to be.”

Bone of Contention Number One: If you’re basing your entire opinion of the sex toy market from your experience shopping at Amazon? And mostly battery-powered vibrators, at that? You don’t know enough to make vibrators.

Bone of Contention Number Two: “There’s no real trusted brand” is the biggest line of bullshit I’ve heard in awhile. There are so many trusted brands who do actual good work in creating sex toys that work, and work well, and work for many. Brands that have been around for years. Ms. Lieberman just took a shit all over brands like We-Vibe, Je Joue, Vibratex, Doxy, Tenga, Tantus and even Swan/Jopen. I can’t trust a brand I can’t respect and I can’t respect a brand that tries to elevate itself by throwing everybody else under the bus.

Dame took the nearly $600,000 folks gave them during their Indiegogo campaign for the Eva and made a weak vibrator that failed to deliver on most of their heavy promises for many folks. Yet because people believe the hype and like the promises Dame Products make, Dame must have thought they were still on the right track. They used the nearly $400,000 folks gave them on Kickstarter and, after many prototypes and changes, could only come up with THIS. And THIS? This is not worthy of the $75 price tag. It is not worthy of the heavy promises they once again dished out. But I don’t think I should have expected much to begin with from a company that keeps erroneously, astonishingly, and with the unearned confidence of your average white cis man, making claims about the being first this1 and first that2, most of which is absolutely false.

What I Like About the Dame Fin

I was feeling generous when I wrote the other version of the review. I tried to tone down my salt. While there’s a lot about the Dame Fin, and Dame Products, that angers me there are some aspects of the Fin that I like. The two colors are interesting choices: Jade green and Coral orange which is more Dreamsicle orange than Coral. They’re not gendered colors but from what I’ve learned from seasonsed sex toy manufacturers, they’re not popular colors, either. Also lacking in gender: Most of the language on their Kickstarter campaign. Really happy to see that because this Kickstarter garnered a lot of attention and it showed a lot of muggles something about gender and language.

The underside of the Dame Fin The Dame Fin with the finger holster in place

I also don’t mind the shape of it. One side has a nipple for more pinpoint precision while the other side has a somewhat squishy bit that feels okay.  It is easy to hold and it will be fairly unobtrusive during PIV – something that is really important to a lot of people – so they did pretty well with the design in that aspect. Changing the power levels one-handed though is damn tricky without removing one finger from the sides of the body or swapping fingers. 

Holding the Fin between the tips of your fingers does work a lot better for me as a “finger vibrator” than something like the JimmyJane Hello Touch; it lets me use the same finger motion I’d normally use for manual stimulation. The finger holster helps to keep it between your fingers without fully relying on maintaining a strong finger grip, although it’s removeability feature means it can dislodge easily from the power button it hugs.

This is where I stop being polite, and start getting real. Cue the we’ve-heard-a-noise-in-the-basement-and-we’re-both-goin-down music.

The Dame Fin Is Noisy as Fuck

This is just insulting. This project was crowdfunded to Timbuktu and back; they received nearly $400,000 in pledges, far exceeding their original goal. So I cannot find it in me to understand, and be okay with, the cheap-sounding cringe-worthy rattle.  Lest you think I am exagerrating I recorded this video and can assure you it sounds worse in person. The other vibrator to compare it with is the Crave Flex which is a bit more powerful in use.

 

A post shared by Lilly Delvaux (@lillydelvaux) on

And yes, I wondered if mine was defective but then Grace told me hers sounds exactly the same. Sad trombone. It’s noisy when I’m holding it in various positions and then gets noisier still when you apply any pressure to the softer side of the Fin’s body. You cannot predict which way to hold it to lessen the rattle. It’s like a fun game! Wait, no. I don’t like that game. The bottom line here: A $75 vibrator shouldn’t fucking sound like this. Hell, a $49 vibrator shouldn’t sound like this.

But Is It Powerful?

Dame Fin has three power levels and blessedly no patterns. I mean, holy fuck, can you imagine the noise level on PATTERNS? You’d end up wondering if somebody snuck up behind you with a maracca. The first level is very mild yet rumbling; my hope (still intact by this point) grew because it feels like the beginnings of rumble – nay, the whisper of rumble. The second level kicks it up just slightly while remaining rumbly; my hope continued to grow. Could it be? Could it be rumbly? I had visions of the Fin reaching the first level of the Tango in terms of rumble and intensity. And then, folks, I reached the 3rd and final level. My face fell. My hopes were incinerated. A song was immediately stuck in my head; “Didn’t we almost have it allll my friend?”. Indeed. We almost had it all. The third level of the Fin, you see, suddenly changes. You can still feel an undercurrent of rumble so it’s almost like there’s a second motor in there and this second motor is like a ghost of girlfriends past – I’m reminded of the Eva. I could swear that they just put the Eva motor in there. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem possible yet I’m at a loss for another way that I could be feeling both buzz and rumble like this.

I know that powerful is subjective. And the Fin is definitely more powerful than the Eva.  I’ve felt worse, many times over. I have no doubt that some of you will find that the Dame Fin is powerful enough for you. And you know what? It’s technically powerful enough for me – I say technically because I did orgasm. That one honestly shocked me. But it apparently lives in the gazebo with the Vesper – between the natural movements of my finger doing the rubbing motion plus the pinpoint precision I was able to weild, a surprise orgasm snuck up on me. I didn’t enjoy using it; it was kinda awkward and physically uncomfortable because of my reach issues.

In trying to find something small and similar in power, I looked at Crave brand. The Crave Vesper is just a bit more powerful; nay, more rumbly. The vibrations I think are deeper and that makes it seem more powerful in comparison than it probably is. The Crave Flex feels a notch or two more powerful in hand. Fin isn’t quite the surface-buzzy bullshit that we saw in the Eva but if the best I can say is “Meh, I’ve felt worse”? I can say it’s not bad but it cannot be called “powerful” – just maybe “powerful enough”.

Dame Fin vs Jopen Key Aries

When asked about how this compares to the similar Jopen Key Aries I decided to pick up an Aries and try it out. Both have a t-shaped finger wedge for resting between two fingers, both are small, etc. The Key Aries is powered by 1 AAA, the body is a little bigger and the button is at the front/back depending I guess on how you hold it. The t-shaped grip is soft, pliable silicone. Compared to the Jopen Key Aries, Dame Fin is a goddamn gem. That’s how bad the Aries is. The surface-buzzy vibrations aren’t worth $15, much less $25. The squidgy silicone finger gripper doesn’t give as much support, and overall it’s less ergonomic. Hey, it’s quiet though.

Dame Fin Needs Work

At this point I’m fed up with Dame Products and I realize this is going to be an unpopular opinion3. I’m not sure why I expect better vibrations simply because both of their crowdfunded projects have been excessively backed, but I do. If the vibrations were better – not utterly useless on the first level and deeper/more intense on the third level – it would raise my opinion.

I keep wibbly-wobbling on which fault is more glaring – the noise or the intensity so we’ll call it a draw. I could deal with the fumbling to change the setting if those two factors improved. I’ll only recommend the Dame Fin if they fix this terrible noise and if you, dear reader, are dead set on the design and don’t need powerful vibrations. Then, and only then, can I be okay with this.

Until that happens I’m gonna point you to the Tango, the Touch, the Flex, or the Jopen Lust L2.5. Or I’ll extol the virtues of repurposing a g-spot vibrator into a PIV-sex clitoral vibrator because the handle keeps your hand farther from the pubic bone and recommend the L’amourose Prism V, the Minamo for something less bone-shaking, or hell even this ultra-affordable egg-on-a-stick.

Thanks to SheVibe for providing me with the Dame Fin in exchange for my honest review.

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  1. Eva is the “first hands-free strap-free” vibrator for PIV sex. Nope, that’s the We-Vibe
  2. I’ve seen interviews where they talk about being the first by-women-for-women company, and nope. Definitely not
  3. I have heard from a number of industry folks who’ve met the duo that they’re lovely and nice, they have ideals and morals we’re not quite yet used to seeing, etc
Jun 072017
 

Maybe I’m off my game. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I really wanted the HIKY to be good. I thought that it could combine the sensations of the Womanizer with the appeal of a traditional vibrator so that folks could always find something to like about it. I scoffed at the terms “suction” and “vacuum” because I’ve seen those terms used to describe the Womanizer or Satisfyer and have been told they’re inaccurate for those items (and have never felt either applied, personally, either). I didn’t expect to end up screaming, terrified and fearing literal bloodshed.

Yes, I truly mean literally, unlike half of the people on social media these days.

Update before we get much farther: I couldn’t find any other reviews, at first, of this sex toy so the owners of SheVibe were going to test it for themselves to see if the clit-trap issue was unique to me or a true flaw with the toy. That’s above-and-beyond, folks. But then a Danish reviewer commented on my IG post and said she had the same thing happen to her! Google translate is awful so I’m not sure if it happened to her because the battery also died out during use, or what, but one other report of this problem was enough for SheVibe to pull it from their site. They don’t fuck around with their customers safety, and that’s one reason I love them so.

HIKY is the second time I’ve tried a true clitoral suction toy; the first being the not-a-sex-toy Fiera Arouser. HIKY and Fiera are such opposites – Fiera was so mild you weren’t sure anything was happening, while HIKY can’t be ignored. At first, HIKY was delivering unpleasant suck-and-release pulses. The suction didn’t feel arousing and the release was reminiscent of when someone uses their thumb and forefinger to flick you – sharp and painful. I started blindly fiddling with the out-of-sight buttons and eventually turned on the vibrating portion of the clitoral head. Also, I tried to get a better seal, I think? I’m not entirely sure – I wasn’t paying strict attention to what I was doing because this was just a quick trial run and I was curious. But then we moved from suck-and-release to straight suction and things got dicey.

The motor died out and quit during the suction action, and suddenly the HIKY was stuck to my genitals like a mechanical lamprey.  I tried to rock the HIKY to one side to release the painful suction; nothing happened but a feeling of intense pulling on my clitoris. I tried to gently push down on my vulva, using my fingers, near the vacuum hole to release pressure. Nothing happened. The pain increased. I couldn’t tell if the suction was increasing despite the motor being off or if my panic and pain just made it seem that way. I had flashes of That Scene where someone sticks their tongue against a frozen metal pole. The pain of trying to pry the HIKY off of my clitoris was intense and frightening – I truly thought I was going to cause actual damage to myself. The two minutes my clit was in this Chinese fingertrap of a sex toy felt like an hour. My husband was outside mowing the lawn; I thought I was going to have to waddle to the back door with the HIKY dangling from my vulva like a rotted dick and somehow get his attention to come help me. Luckily, I managed to remove it myself.

Silly me for doing a quick test before errands! The car ride was pretty uncomfortable for another half hour or so. I’d been wondering if the name was pronounced “hike-y” or “hickey” and now my days of wondering are gone – pretty sure I landed myself an uncomfortable suction bruising.

Unlike many sex toys on the market over $75, the HIKY has no exaggerrated set of warnings for use. I don’t know if the unit is defective, if I fucked up, or the whole shebang should be wiped from existence because nobody fucking prototype-tested this abomination. I have a feeling that the suck-and-release stopped releasing as the battery started dying on me suddenly – and it died in the suction part of the cycle, leaving me literally stuck. The vacuum suction of the HIKY should ideally have a release valve for situations like mine, yet it doesn’t. Every other vacuum suction pump on the market, even the cheapest CalExotics model, has a release valve.

Because maybe this hasn’t deterred you; maybe you enjoy having your clitoris hoovered into oblivion or maybe you feel certain I was Doing It Wrong and you’ll perfect it – so I do need to tell you about the other features the HIKY has (or, doesn’t have).

Soft, silicone mouth

I have a small clitoral head and not a lot of hood exposed, combined with fat outer labia and minimal inner labia. Due to the width of the suction side (2ish inches) and how flat it is I had to spread my outer labia to a point of discomfort plus smush everything down like an unruly cowlick. They talk about the “mouth” almost like it’s a Fleshlight mouth, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s “soft” in the way powdery, smooth skin is “soft”, not plush squishy soft.

Internal vibrator

They promised strong vibrations and failed to deliver. I’m not exactly surprised because pretty much every vibrator company promises riduclously strong vibrations and only a few brands have lived up to their promises. I like a g-spot vibrator to have a larger head than the body but the HIKY is shaped very much like an antique carved horn. They don’t give you much room to work with if you want to insert it and still have access to the buttons. The width goes from 1″-2″ but you’ll never get to 2″ if you stop short of the buttons. Holding it this way is also incredibly uncomfortable and even with the buttons outside of the vagina, they’re hard to reach.

Pinpoint external vibrator

Please, stop, you’re embarassing yourself. The carved-horn design should in theory mean that the insertable end also works well as a more pinpoint, external vibrator except that the vibrations are, again, underwhelming. It’s not reason enough to buy this sex toy. It’s them trying to squeeze out as many jobs as possible, like a really bad infomercial – because we all know it’s not worth it to have single-job tools that do their job well, ho no. The world needs more mediocre does-everything-but-wash-your-clothes tools, right?

The "mouth" of the HIKY

I’m at the point in my sex toy reviewing career where, to be honest, I often don’t even have to use a vibrator multiple times to get a really good understanding of it and know my opinion. But I do it anyways because our bodies are different day-to-day and maybe mine was having a cranky day. But this time I won’t be using the HIKY again. Nope. It’s possible that what happened to me was a one-off and that my clitoris will never again be stuck but the trauma of that event was intense and I cannot bring myself to test this again for you – I can definitely say that I disliked it even before it tried to swallow part of my genitals and I feel very certain with my assertion that you shouldn’t buy this.  If you want air pulses, get a Womanizer. If you want a vibrator, get a vibrator – L’amourose Prism V is awesome for both external and internal use. If you want to explore clit pumps, get something silicone like this. Do NOT get this one from CalExotics (also called the Clitopatra elsewhere), reports say it’s also dangerous. Just don’t buy the HIKY. Given my experience SheVibe removed this from their site, because they don’t like to stock sex toys that can harm you (for obvious reasons). If you’re coming to this review and considering purchasing it elsewhere, well….I just can’t give you my blessing. There are a lot of sex toys on the market that I’d recommend before the HIKY which I like about as much as I liked the Rockbox Finger.

 

Thanks to SheVibe for giving me the HIKY in exchange for this review whose purpose will serve to warn and protect and also ensure that my top 10 worst sex toys list next year will have worthy entries.

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Dec 122016
 

vibratex mystic rechargeable wandFive years ago I first reviewed the Mystic Wand and the two companion versions – the (old style) Mystic Rechargeable Wand and the Mini Magic Wand. In 2011 I wanted to like rechargeable vibrators more than I did; but the idea of having to pause only to swap out batteries felt more logical to me than a rechargeable which seemed to lose it’s high more quickly and when it was dead, it was dead – for a good 2-4 hours.  I always recommended the original, battery-powered version of the Mystic Wand because I loved the rumble and the power level was enough for me. I have always preferred the Mystic Wand to the Magic Wand, but I am nearly allergic to buzzy vibrations. Then Vibratex discontinued their rechargeable Mystic Wand in June 2014, with promises that they were working on something else. And so, I waited.

And waited.

And here I am, right back where I started, recommending the “old school” battery-powered Mystic Wand over the new Mystic Rechargeable Wand – and it’s not because of the rechargeable factor. In fact, Vibratex designed this to work even while it’s recharging. That may make for some awkward positioning to ensure you’re close enough due to cord restrictions, but if the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is your only vibrator on-hand, you can at least keep going.

Vibrations

With the original versions I detected no discernible difference between the motors when both were fully powered. The (old) Rechargeable lost it’s oomph pretty quickly, though. With the new Mystic Rechargeable Wand again I was searching for a difference in the motor and finally figured it out. They’re probably both the same intensity level but the Mystic Rechargeable Wand feels a little bit more buzzy. The vibrations travel through flesh a little bit less. And it’s just enough for my picky clitoris to notice.  It’s probably a difference that may not even be noticeable to some people but I’m so sensitive to a rumbly motor that I can tell when it slips from an 8 on the Rumble Scale to a 6.5.

I’ve been able to enjoy powerful orgasms from the original Mystic Wand, despite it being a (small) wand-style vibrator and me notoriously loving pinpoint clitoral stimulation. But the orgasms from the Mystic Rechargeable Wand have been a bit lackluster and mild. If you find that you don’t need the extreme power that backs most wand-style vibrators – you just need the broad stimulation- you could be really happy with the Mystic Rechargeable Wand.

Redesigned Body

Vibratex did something with the body redesign, making it look nearly nothing like the original Mystic Wand – and I love it. I love the curved handle. I love how easy it is to hold. There are THREE locations for the buttons! Three! Between the ultra-light design, the curve of the handle and the location of the buttons it is a wand well-suited to those with certain disabilities which may make holding a large, heavy or straight-handled wand more difficult. The location of the buttons also makes it much easier for a partner to use the Mystic Rechargeable Wand on you.  In short, it’s ergonomic and really well-designed. Mostly….

mysticwandbuttons

But the redesign comes with a problem that I can only hope they will fix – because it IS fixable. In order to put two buttons on the back side of the handle, a large portion of the plastic handle is covered in silicone. The silicone buttons are part of the silicone skin. The problem is that the glue holding the silicone skin on to the plastic is cheap. Terrible. After my first cleaning, I thought I rubbed too hard and easily slipped part of the silicone covering off with my thumb in one corner. As I gently peeled it back to see what happened, it kept on separating from the plastic body. You can see in the pictures below what is plastic and what is silicone because I wanted to see how easily it would peel off once a large portion had already started. Even just a small corner peeling back would definitely make cleaning impossible. As it stands now with the level of material separation I have, I’m not sure I should use it. It’s not waterproof, only splashproof, but I fear that the separation will negate even that.

mysticwandpeel

You may wonder why I reviewed this with the defect in the silicone covering. I would have waited if it were just mine but I’ve spoken to a few other folks who had this happen, too. I’m hoping it was a bad first batch, but we’ll see.  When I know that this issue has been resolved, I’ll update this review. Vibratex does have a warranty on this, so I plan to contact Vibratex and see if there’s anything they can do.

I do want to note that the head on the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is the same size head as the Original Mystic Wand, which means that the g-spot attachment will fit. As this is a smaller wand it will not work with Hitachi-compatible attachments.

Recommendation

I can’t recommend the Mystic Rechargeable Wand until I know that the silicone glue problem is fixed. I would recommend it for folks who know they don’t need seriuosly rumby vibrations or super-powered vibrations, or folks who need a smaller, easier to wield broad stimulation vibrator – AFTER Vibratex makes sure that this issue is fixed. Currently, the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is priced at $69.99 at SheVibe, while the battery-powered original Mystic Wand is $49.99.  There’s a lot of competition now in the mid-sized, rechargeable wand-style vibrator category, so Vibratex needs to fix this quality control issue.

 

Thanks to SheVibe for sending this over to me in exchange for my honest review!