Review: 5 Vibrators Under $30

5 vibrators on a rainbow checked background

When it comes to sex toys, you get what you pay for. There’s a reason my favorite toys range in price from $79 to $299. True, many of these are so pricey that I’d have to save up for them for months if I wasn’t a sex toy reviewer, but they’re so good that they’d be worth it.

That said, not all cheap toys are bad. When people come into the sex shop where I work and want to buy a vibrator without spending an arm and a leg, I always recommend the Turbo Glider and the Orchid G, two low-end vibes that I know are actually pretty decent. My first-ever glass dildo cost me about $25, and made my vagina very happy for years. You don’t have to spend a zillion dollars to get something good; you just have to know what to look for.

I’ve partnered with Peepshow Toys to review five vibrators today, all under $30. I got to choose which ones I wanted to review, and aside from price, I had just two mandatory criteria: all the vibes had to be made of body-safe materials, because nary a phthalate nor a porous toy shall ever touch my bits again, and they all had to be waterproof, because I use toys in the bath fairly often. I picked five that met my standards, put ’em to the test, and was pleasantly surprised by (some of) my findings!

The B Swish Bcute Classic is the cheapest vibrator of all those mentioned in this post, at just $16. It requires one AA battery (not included) and is made of soft, smooth silicone and ABS plastic. The design is pretty classy and luxe-looking for a $16 toy, and I like the emerald-green color. Size-wise, it’s a happy medium between a bullet vibe and a classic insertable “smoothie” vibrator: you could use it internally if you like your penetration on the shorter, thinner side, but I only use mine externally.

Unfortunately, this vibe’s performance befits its low price point. It has the fewest vibration patterns of any vibe mentioned here (only two, plus three steady speeds), and it’s also the weakest and buzziest of these vibrators. Even on the highest speed, my clit barely registers that there’s a vibrator on it. This is exactly the type of vibe I try to steer first-time toy users away from, because if you thought this is what all vibration felt like, I wouldn’t blame you at all for thinking vibrators just aren’t your cup of tea. NEXT.

The Maia Twistty Madison invoked my rage instantly with that extra “T” that looks like a typo, but that’s not the only reason I hate it. First of all, it’s hot pink, which, no: enough already. It’s also got a ripply texture to it. There are definitely people out there who enjoy clitoral texture, or who would use a vibe this small internally, but I’m using it as a clit vibe and prefer those to be untextured. Thirdly, it’s got a showy LED light in the base that lights up brighter when the toy is vibrating more strongly, which is honestly pretty distracting and would be an actual goddamn health risk for people with epilepsy, I’d imagine.

The main issue, though, is the motor. (Well, what do I expect for a vibe that takes one AAA battery?) It’s weak. It’s buzzy. It induces numbness and itchiness in any body part it touches, including my hands as I hold it. It has 7 vibration patterns and most of them are too erratic and strobe-like to actually be pleasurable. Aside from the cute, silky, pink storage bag it comes with, there’s really nothing I like about this vibrator.

The Rocks-Off Bamboo is the last shitty vibrator I will rant about in this post, I promise. I really wanted to like it, because it’s so pretty: rose gold ABS plastic, angular and classy. I like the tilted flat tip (that same feature is one of the reasons I love the Tango), and I like that it’s thin enough to potentially fit between bodies during sex but long enough that I don’t feel like I’m clawing at it with a T-Rex hand.

But once again, the motor is a sticking point. While it’s slightly rumblier than the two vibes above, it’s still way too buzzy to get me off. In addition to its 7 patterns, it has 3 steady speeds, which – get this – you have to scroll through in order from highest to lowest. I fucking hate vibrators that work like this, because I never, ever use my vibrators that way: I always start at a low speed and work my way up, and I think that’s pretty common! So, while the Bamboo is gorgeous for a $21 vibe, I will definitely never use it again.

Okay, now let’s get to the good stuff. The ScreamingO Charged Vooom, despite its silly name, quite impressed me. It’s the rechargeable version of their standard Vooom bullet, and is so damn much better, as rechargeable vibes are wont to be. It’s pink, but it’s a deep, sexy, purply-raspberry pink that I actually like. It charges via USB with a cable that you have to stab through the little silicone hole at the bottom. Its one button cycles through 3 steady speeds (arranged goddamn properly, i.e. from low to high) and 7 patterns. Like the Twistty, the Charged Vooom has a light in its base which brightens and dims depending on the setting you’re on, so I wouldn’t recommend this one to folks with photosensitive epilepsy.

And the motor. HOORAY FOR THIS MOTOR. It’s not Tango-rumbly, but it is pretty rumbly for a $29 vibe. I can actually feel it thrumming against my clit and activating my internal clitoral structures instead of numbing me out. I can get off with this toy, consistently and easily, which is far more than I can say for any other vibe in this post thus far. It’s also the quietest one of the bunch. And because it’s the only one of these vibes that’s a standard bullet size, I’ll be able to use it with toys that have a hole for a bullet, like the Tantus Echo or the We-Vibe Dusk. YAY!

I saved the best for last, y’all. I got an excited email a while ago from a reader who said that the VeDO Bam rivals the Tango, and, well, you know me. I love my Tango. That shit got my attention. Like the Charged Vooom, the Bam costs $29, is rechargeable, and has 3 steady speeds and 7 patterns. But it’s thicker and longer – big enough that I could use it internally but small enough that I probably wouldn’t – and the motor is better.

It’s really kind of remarkable. I want VeDO to send their motor engineer(s) to give talks for other vibrator companies, to explain how you design a great motor for a cheap vibe (or for a vibe at any price point, frankly – even luxury toy companies sometimes fuck this up). It’s a little buzzier than the Tango, but still plenty rumbly and plenty strong. It gives me orgasms easily, quickly, and consistently. For TWENTY-NINE DOLLARS. Damn, VeDO! You done good!

Though the motor rules, the controls interface could be better-designed: you have to cycle through all the modes one by one to get to the one you want, the 3 steady speeds are arranged from high to low (?!), and I wish the patterns’ intensities could be adjusted. But that’s asking a lot for a $29 bullet. Aside from those quibbles, I adore the VeDO Bam; I’ve been using it almost as much as my Tango lately!

What are your favorite cheap vibes?


These toys were sent to me by Peepshow Toys in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Jimmyjane Intro 2


I don’t think you quite understand the incongruity of shitty sex toy company Pipedream having bought out luxury sex toy company Jimmyjane. This is like if McDonalds bought out the Rainbow Room and started selling a deep-fried, mystery-meat bastardization of their filet mignon. This is a strange thing. This is a thing that should not have been allowed. And yet, it happened.

The Jimmyjane Intro 2 is, essentially, a deep-fried mystery-meat filet mignon of a sex toy. Pipedream took the bare bones of one of my favorite clitoral vibrators – the Form 2 – and made it cheap, battery-powered, awkwardly large, and even buzzier than before.

The Form 2 fit in my hand perfectly: small, smart and spartan. The Intro 2 is like the large-print version of the same toy – it feels unnecessarily big, to the point that I am always aware I am holding a sex toy and the vibrations can’t just melt into the periphery of my perception. This might make it a better choice than the Form 2 for people who struggle with hand dexterity – but for me, it’s just annoying.

But my main issue with the Intro 2 is the vibrations. I mean, it’s a vibrator; that’s always going to be the make-or-break factor. The Form 2 was buzzy-ish to begin with – moreso, certainly, than other blogger-revered clit vibes like the Tango and Siri 2 – but it had a rumbly base note that endeared it to my clit. The Intro 2 lacks that rumbly foundation, and is all buzz. That’s great if you like that, but I don’t. It numbs me out within a couple of minutes, leaving me to grumble gripes like “My kingdom for an Eroscillator!” and “Nah, that’s cool, I didn’t want to be able to feel my genitals or anything.”

imageThe Intro 2 also lacks my absolute favorite thing about the Form 2: a setting where the vibrations moved quickly back and forth between the toy’s two “ears,” creating what Jimmyjane termed “sensation in stereo.” To me, this setting felt more like oral sex than other toys that actually try to mimic oral sex; the vibrations flippity-flopping from one ear to the other were like the side-to-side flicking of a firm tongue. This setting’s been phased out in the Intro 2, and it really bums me out.

And we need to talk about the one button on the Intro 2, because it makes me want to throw this vibrator into a fire. Whereas the Form 2 had an elegant three-button control system (up, down, and change mode), the Intro 2 only has one button, via which you are forced to cycle through its multiple modes and speeds one by one. If there’s a particular setting or speed you love and want to get back to, you have to get through all the other ones first. No vibrator should be designed this way. Give me intuitive vibrator design or give me death.

It is, in some sense, exciting that Pipedream is trying to make fancy-ass Jimmyjane toys more accessible to lower-income folks. Not everyone can afford to spend $80+ on a luxury vibrator, and I get that. But even at a low price point, there are options that far outperform this buzzy, cumbersome facsimile. If you want a decent, rumbly clit vibe for under $50, try the Jopen L2 or Sensuelle Point. If you can afford to save up for something pricier but really excellent, grab the Tango for $79 ($71 with my discount code GIRLY10); it’s rumblier and more intuitive than anything Jimmyjane’s ever made, pre- or post-Pipedream buyout.

Babes, your clit deserves better than the Intro 2. Just like Jimmyjane deserved better than to be bought and rebranded by a company like Pipedream. Give your clit a happier ending than Jimmyjane got, please.

Thanks to Peepshow for sending me this toy to try!

Review: Jimmyjane Little Chroma

The Jimmyjane Little Chroma is an old vibrator. It was designed and released years ago. Its technology is outdated, at least in the realm of luxury sex toys. And yet, when I was offered the Little Chroma to review, I wanted it. Because Jimmyjane’s marketing hustle is strong.

They made me want this vibe, with their talk of it being “everlasting” (they sell $20 replaceable motors for when the first one burns out) and “versatile” (yes, you can technically insert it in your vagina, though it’s only 2/3″ wide so I doubt you would) and “waterproof” (it isn’t really, but we’ll get to that). They make it sound damn enticing, like the best investment you could possibly make for your genitals. But the Little Chroma is all talk, no walk. It can’t live up to its hype.

First, the few good things about this toy: it’s made of aluminum, so it feels really smooth and sexy in the hand, and it holds temperature exceptionally well. It comes in cute colors like purple and black. It has a 3-year limited warranty. But… that’s about it. Everything else about it sucks.

Jimmyjane’s marketing for the Little Chroma is based on several lies-by-omission. I’ll list them for you here.

Lie #1: Vibrations. Jimmyjane’s website simply describes the toy’s vibrations as “strong-yet-silent.” What they don’t tell you is that this toy only has one speed. That’s right: unlike virtually every vibrator that sells for more than $15, the Little Chroma doesn’t offer you any options in terms of vibration strength. If you don’t like the one setting they supply you with, you’re fucked – and you probably won’t like it, because it’s as weak and buzzy as a typical bullet vibe.

In the instructional manual, Jimmyjane claims that the Little Chroma’s one speed is “the right speed” and that you can change how strong the vibrations feel by changing where you position the toy on your body. It’s true that the vibrations feel slightly stronger at the tip than on the shaft of the toy, but I only ever use the tip because even there the vibrations don’t feel strong enough. And yet somehow they make my fingers numb as I hold the toy. Ugh.

Using the Little Chroma takes me back to the days when I first started using vibrators – mostly cheap, battery-operated ones, because I was 16 – and I would go numb from the high-pitched vibrations within minutes. I would then have to physically rub the vibrator against myself in order to reach orgasm, and sometimes I wouldn’t even get off at all because there was no sensation left in my clit. Eventually I discovered rumblier vibes and found out that if a toy is good, you can usually just leave it in one spot and let it do the work for you. The Little Chroma does not fall into this definition of a good toy: it desensitizes me alarmingly fast, and I have to rub it up and down against my body to get anywhere close to an orgasm. This process also takes a lot longer than getting off with virtually any other toy.

Lie #2: Waterproof. With most waterproof toys, you can set them down on the side of the bathtub, settle into your bath, get comfy, and then grab your toy and have a nice orgasm with it. This isn’t possible with the Little Chroma, despite its claims of being waterproof.

See, the Little Chroma is only waterproof when the toy’s battery chamber is screwed shut – makes sense, right? – but when the battery chamber is screwed shut, the toy is on. There is no “off” button; you just unscrew the cap to turn it off. So when it’s off, it’s not waterproof – and when it’s waterproof, it’s always on. It has to be on the entire time you’re near water or you risk ruining your $125 toy. I cannot overemphasize how irritating this is.

Lie #3: Quiet. Don’t get me wrong – the Little Chroma is reasonably quiet when it’s actually in use. But when you’re twisting the cap (which, remember, is every time you want to turn the vibe on or off for any reason), it becomes loud, like a tiny little buzzsaw.

So picture this: your roommate comes home unexpectedly, or your mom suddenly knocks on your door while you’re masturbating, and you have to turn off your vibrator in a hurry. Not only does it take several seconds to twist the cap to the “off” position, but the vibrator also becomes weirdly loud while you’re doing this. If your intruder didn’t know you were masturbating before, they will certainly know when you slowly and loudly attempt to turn the toy off. Discreet? Nope. Not in the slightest.

Lie #4: Worth the price. The Little Chroma costs $125. You also have to pay for the AA batteries it uses, and an additional $20 for each additional replacement motor if the first one dies. For that much money, here’s what I think you ought to be able to expect from a vibrator: at least 5 speeds, rechargeability, full waterproofness, and easy orgasms. The Little Chroma delivers on none of these things.

True, the Little Chroma was designed at a time when expectations for luxury vibes weren’t really established yet and when consumers were still setting the bar pretty low for what a vibrator should do. But if we’re viewing this from a 2014 paradigm, the Little Chroma is a colossal waste of $125+. You’d be far better off spending that money on a Lelo Mia 2 (stronger, many more settings and speeds, rechargeable, waterproof) or a We-Vibe Tango (way stronger, 4 speeds, rechargeable, waterproof, super quiet) – hell, you could even get both of those, because even put together, they’re still only $25 more than the Little Chroma. And way, way, way better in every conceivable way.

Here’s what Jimmyjane should do: make the Little Chroma rechargeable, give it a much stronger and rumblier motor, turn its twist-off cap into a twist-dial speed controller, and make it actually waterproof. That could make it one of the best vibes on the market – but I doubt it’ll ever happen.

Review: Raspberry Crush Turbo Glider

California Exotics makes a few different toys with the name “Turbo Glider.” This is the Raspberry Crush one. Its brother, the Blueberry Bliss, gained notoriety among sex toy aficionados a few years ago when a popular toy retailer offered it as a free gift with any order; then Epiphora wrote a love letter to it on her blog. Despite only costing around $15, it’s got a pretty significant fanbase.

The Raspberry Crush shares a lot of the qualities that made the Blueberry Bliss so successful. It’s made of hard plastic, perhaps the only “cheap” sex toy material that’s also body-safe and non-porous. It’s 100% waterproof and doesn’t weaken underwater. It’s got a hell of a lot of power for a $15 battery-powered toy. It can be used both internally and externally. And its outer casing is translucent, so you can see the inner workings of the motor, which is just cool.

Overall, I prefer the Blueberry, because my vagina enjoys its shape more (ripples, ooh la la). The Raspberry has a nice shape too, boasting a slightly flared head that my G-spot finds moderately pleasing, but the toy is too skinny for me to be able to feel the little bumps on it, unless I purposely rub them against my vaginal walls. I also find that the Blueberry’s tip conducts vibration better; the bulk of the Raspberry’s vibration is located a few inches below the tip, and that’s not always convenient.

I’ll always recommend the Turbo Glider toys to beginners, especially those who say they’re looking for something cheap. I don’t know of any other vibes that have this much power for this low a price, while also being body-safe. You get a lot of bang (and buzz) for your buck.

The only real downsides to these toys: they’re quite buzzy, and quite loud. So if you need deeper, lower-pitched vibrations to get off, or it’s important that you be discreet, look elsewhere.

While I do prefer its Blueberry brother, the Raspberry Crush Turbo Glider is a reliable, well-rounded, and satisfyingly standard vibrator.

Review: PicoBong Kaya

Lelo is one of my very favorite sex toy companies. They make beautiful, rechargeable vibrators that could satisfy any luxury-loving vibration fan. In their efforts to expand, they released a cheaper, lower-end line of toys, marketed toward younger people with less money to spend on “luxury erotic lifestyle objects” – people like me, I suppose. The line is called PicoBong and it’s been effectively torn apart by the sex toy reviewers of the world.

Judging by the awful-to-middling descriptions of PicoBong’s toys, which cite flaws ranging from insufficient vibrations to badly-placed seams, I wasn’t expecting much when I received my bright turquoise Kaya in the mail. But I soon learned that Kaya is from PicoBong’s newer line of products, and is therefore a significant improvement on the items reviewers were rightfully complaining about. Still, though, it’s far from perfect.

If I could design my ideal rabbit, it would look similar to the Kaya – slim-to-average shaft, flexible curved clitoral arm, body-safe silicone, simple controls (up, down, change mode) – but my rabbit would have a twirling shaft, not a vibrating one. Why? Because most G-spots, including mine, respond better to stroking and pressure than they do to vibration. I think a vibrating rabbit shaft is something of a cop-out: an easy way to design a toy, but not the most effective design for the majority of users, at least from what I can tell.

Kaya’s power is far better than I was expecting, given how many people lamented the pitiful vibration strength of the previous PicoBong products. Turned all the way up, it’s comparable to the upper speeds of my Lelo Mona – strong enough to get off the average user, but not enough for a power queen. The clitoral arm thrums impressively, and as ambivalent as I feel about the internal motor, it’s not bad, either.

Kaya is waterproof. I successfully used it in the bath without any problems. It’s not the quietest of toys, but it’s certainly not the loudest – a bedmate would hear you using it, but someone down the hall probably wouldn’t.

The Kaya really shines when you start cycling through its vibration modes. Most of them just switch back and forth between the two motors, but they do so in varied and creative ways. There’s one pattern in particular that I really like, where the clitoral arm hums steadily while the internal motor goes up and down in a roller-coaster-like way, feeling almost like it’s stroking my G-spot. Sadly, this mode is useless to me when I want to reach orgasm, because the up-and-down buttons control the internal motor in this mode, while the external motor stays at the same medium level no matter what I do. If I want to get off with this mode, I have to press the outer arm into my clit or rub it up and down – and that sort of defeats the purpose of using a sex toy, doesn’t it?

The Kaya’s shape is good, its vibrations are adequate, and it’s easy to use. However, I can’t give it my seal of approval, because it costs $89.95. For a battery-powered vibe that will only work for some users, that’s way too much money. I’d be willing to say this toy was worth the price if it was rechargeable, or if the shaft rotated, or if each motor could be controlled independently, but that’s not the case.

Get Kaya if you really, really want a cute-looking, battery-powered, waterproof, dual-stimulation vibrator with cool modes and a medium amount of power. But if that doesn’t sound like exactly what you’re looking for, I’d recommend that you spend a few extra dollars and spring for a toy from Lelo proper, or get a cheaper rabbit vibe from a different brand instead (as long as it’s made of a nonporous material). The Kaya is good, but not nearly good enough to warrant its high price tag.