We Tested a $1 Vibrator Against a $400 Vibrator
Is it true when they say "the more expensive the vibrator, the bigger the O"? One woman investigates.
Poundland's "playful" bullet (All photos by author)
This post originally appeared on VICE UK.
The world wants you to upscale, upgrade, aim forever for the top of the range—to spend, spend, spend. But is it really necessary to keep blindly pissing away money? Can't we just strip everything back to the basics, where a phone is a phone, a car is a car, and a cheap vibrator is a vibrator?
Potentially, yes, but this only works if the cheap stuff isn't miserably shit. No point committing to a generic-brand life if that means an existence of sub-mediocrity, where nothing works and you're throwing pennies straight into the garbage, the toilet, and wherever else the products of your earnings end up.
So it's time to see if price really does mean quality, starting right here, right now, with vibrators. And where cheaper for my low-end goods than that staple of the limping British high street, Poundland [like Dollar Tree, except British!]? I headed to my local store to buy one of its bullet vibrators, while VICE used the dwindling powers of the press to call in loads of vibrating sex toys ranging in price from £25 [$32] to £339 [$428].
Here they all are, ready for unboxing, collectively worth more money than I've ever had in my bank account at one time.
You're probably thinking that, if this were you, you'd rip open the boxes and use them all in one disgusting triple-A powered sesh. But, for starters, I'm not a fucking animal, and also because this is very unbiased review I didn't use more than one a day so I could use each at peak horniness and sensitivity.
And so we begin:
PLAYFUL VIBRATING BULLET, POUNDLAND, $1 DUH
Never thought I'd be writing about Poundland vibrators, to be honest, but 2016 is the gift that keeps on smacking you in the face until you understand nothing. Wrapped in a strange little metallic pocket like those fluorescent lollipops you had as a kid, it feels as tacky as a Kinder Egg toy.
It is the cheapest thing I've ever put near my vagina.
It doesn't belong there.
It was weak enough to conk out at any moment; the batteries rattling around like a bottle of pills was so irritating that I wanted to throw it across the room. If you've managed to get anywhere close to the shallowest state of arousal with this I applaud you. So all-in-all, not great. But one plus: If you want 30 years of Secret Santa gifts and you're as cheap as fuck, you can buy a case of 30 of them online for £30 [$38].
VALUE FOR MONEY: 0/5
SH! WATERPROOF RABBIT VIBRATOR, SH!, $31
Rabbits are a bit cringe. Vibrators got sleeker and textured and curved, looking thankfully less and less like a dick by the second, while rabbits are the glittery "fun" aunt who buys you G-string underwear sets for birthdays and whose pop cultural references begin and end with Sex and the City.
I threw mine out when I stopped being a teenager, so it had almost been long enough to forget what the rabbit is like—and hey, I don't want to exaggerate, but using this again is the most joyous thing that has happened to me in my entire life. With so many functions on the handle, you are the master of your own pleasure. It's sort of like having three people down there at once. The only downside is that because rabbits are retro this is battery operated, but just take batteries from work. It costs £25 [$32], the same as a week's worth of coffee shop coffee or one meal out. Buy this if you want to feel again.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
LOVE BULLET SILVER LIPSTICK VIBRATOR, SH!, $36
It might seem hyperbolic to say that this felt like taking a power drill to the genitals, but I do wonder how they managed to squeeze a power drill into this tiny casing. You would not be able to use this on another person without filling out a risk assessment form and briefing them first.
There are more settings than you'd usually get on a bullet like this, but all of them are roughly the same: Ridiculous. Intensity. For me, this was both a bit unpleasant and also quite good, ideal for a second round when you're really done but want to carry on out of sheer disgust for yourself and the world. Also, for people who want to endure enough force that they'll risk losing all sensation for the rest of their life, this could be perfect. Plus it has a charger, which is nice.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
MOTORHEAD ACE OF SPADES 7 FUNCTION POWER CLASSIC VIBRATOR, LOVEHONEY, $39.99
The Motorhead range of vibrators came out three months before Lemmy's death last year (RIP), so getting one in felt like a fitting tribute to the old legend.
But before starting, I read some of the reviews on Lovehoney, which were extremely positive. "Quicker than I could say the Ace of Spades, my wife was in bed. She had given the vibrator a coating of water-based lube, and she slid the vibe smoothly into her vagina. She was now ready to experience this bad boy," read one, alarming but promising post.
Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as enthusiastic as this guy's wife. It was average. It does have a memory, though, so if you accidentally slam it off while muffling it under the cushions as your roommate walks past your door—which isn't what happened to me—it remembers the setting you had it on last.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5
LELO SMART VIBRATING BODY WAND LARGE, ANN SUMMERS, $194
Can I start off by saying this is very big in real life. It's like a club, or a police baton—the kind of thing I imagine you'd have to check into your big luggage for fear that security would haul you off into a special little room. Mind you, that is no bad thing. It is too heavy for my arm, though, and lost half a point for making my hand go completely fucking dead via the exceptionally strong vibration.
Negi stuff over: Lifehackers and minimalist YouTubers would love this—you can use it on a sore back, wank with it, stir stuff with it, cosplay with it, massage anything. It feels like something you're not sure that you need, but that you should have anyway. Just in case. I got carried away and started giving my leg a weird massage until that went numb, too.
If you press harder, it vibrates harder, which is a deeper level of understanding than most men display, so the price does maybe seem worth it.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
SIRI 2, LELO, $159
Yes, this looks a lot like an Apple product, but have they had the ingenuity to create a pebble that vibrates? No, they have not. It's very user-friendly, but so small that when I lubed it up, it kept slipping away.
Weird thing: Didn't read the instructions but leaned across during to put music on, and it started pulsing to the beat. I turned the music off and started talking and making weird noises at it to see if that did anything, and it pulsed along with my voice like a sexual echo. I don't know how useful that function actually is, but it's a function more than the Poundland vibrator even possesses.
Also, if it seems like a lot of money for a pebble vibrator, you can get it in this gift set with another expensive vibrator for only $164.25
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
TIANI 24K, LELO, $299.25
Yep. That's $299.25 And that's on sale. Original price: $399
At total odds with the Poundland special, this is more expensive than anything I've ever a) bought or b) put inside me. I don't even own jewelry that's any carat gold. This is a couple's vibrator, which explains the price, and before you immediately think, Yeah, but what are we gonna do when we break up? Who gets custody on the weekends? What if they don't like the new girlfriend? If your relationship ends within a year of buying it, you can return it, used, and get a new product.
The toy itself is really small and works by you putting one "arm" inside you while also buzzing, making you feel simultaneously full of stuff and also vibrating. Both good. However, it is difficult to get right, and you have to go really slowly, but you'll get the hang of it. The other person can use the remote control while you bark instructions. It works just as well as the other vibrators when you're alone, too.
Mostly all I could think was: Does Nicki put this in her vagina? Probably not; she would snarl at $399. But maybe some of Fifth Harmony have one? Meghan Trainor definitely has one. Anyway, I was getting off on the fact there was 24-carot gold touching my foof, which is the point of expense, isn't it? Luxury feels different. Much of the experience is wrapped in the idea that this is premium and better. That superiority is what you pay for. You paid to come knowing you are the type of person who deserves to rub off on $399 worth of vibrator. Still, it didn't beat the rabbit.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5
In conclusion, while most cheap vibrators are terrible, you don't necessarily need to spend loads of money on vibrators to get quality. That $31 rabbit has ruined men for me forever. But if we've learned anything today—and I think we've learned quite a few things—it's that $1 buys you absolutely fucking nothing in 2016.