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: We-Vibe Tango

I didn’t think much of We-Vibe’s line of clitoral vibrators when I first saw them. They’re the size of regular bullet vibes, which are so dime-a-dozen and unremarkable that many sex toy companies even give them away for free with pricier purchases. It was this video by Dodson and Ross that changed my mind – they claimed that their We-Vibe Tango rivaled the Hitachi in power. And it’s rechargeable. And waterproof. So I decided I needed one.

As for those claims about the Tango’s vibration strength – they are not inflated. At least, not by much. I did my research, and the Hitachi’s lower speed – considered too high by many – is 5000 RPM (rotations per minute), whereas the Tango’s highest speed is 4800. RPM refers to rumbliness (lower is rumblier, higher is buzzier), not actual motor strength, but keep in mind that rumbly vibes often feel stronger than buzzy ones, even when they’re not, because the rumbles penetrate deeper into the clitoral network. The Tango has oomph that only a devotee of the Hitachi or Wahl would scoff at (and even those folks should consider a Tango for when they go traveling and don’t want to lug a big electric massager with them). This sucker is really fucking strong and impressively low-pitched, so I feel it deep inside my vulva, not just on the surface of my clit.

My Tango is a pretty shade of powder blue. We-Vibe takes risks with their colour schemes, stocking “traditional” sex toy hues like pink along with less traditional ones like teal, red, and white. The word “Tango” is subtly embossed at the bottom of the toy. Though this vibe is made of hard plastic, not usually my favorite material for sex toys, it feels very well-made and high-quality.

The Tango and the other We-Vibe clit toys, Salsa and Touch, all have the same motor but each offer different options in terms of shape. When choosing which one you want, it’s a good idea to look at your current favorite clit toys and figure out which you prefer: a traditional rocket-like bullet shape (Salsa), a flat lipstick-like tip (Tango), or a pointed tip and/or scoop shape (Touch). I decided to go for the Tango because my clit really digs the flat tip of my Lelo Mia but has found the Mia too weak sometimes. The Tango solves that problem easily and is exactly what I wanted.

In addition to four steady speeds that range in power from “kinda strong” to “practically Hitachi strong,” the Tango has four vibration patterns. Two of them, the rhythmic “cha-cha” and annoying pulse, do little to nothing for me. But the other two are pretty cool. The “wave” pattern goes up and down gradually and smoothly in a roller coaster-like way, making me feel like I’m almost going to come and then backing off again like a devilish lover. The “tease” pattern is made up of several long pulses followed by a series of shorter ones, and I find it maddening in the best possible way.

As I mentioned, the Tango is waterproof (it charges magnetically, so you don’t have to worry about any water getting into a charging port), and wonderfully, water doesn’t weaken its vibrations. Sadly, pressure does. I find that, as with my Eroscillator, I get the best mileage out of Tango’s power if I hold it lightly on my clit. Pressure-lovers will find this to be a dealbreaker but I think it feels just as good.

Remember when I said the Tango is far superior to the Lelo Mia? It is, except for one thing: Mia can be locked for travel. I would love to be able to keep the Tango in my bag at all times in case of a sudden arousal emergency, but I’d be too paranoid that it would turn on accidentally, especially since turning it on is as easy as pressing its button once.

Speaking of the button… Whyyyy is there only one?! I realize they’ve done that to preserve space and make the toy as uncluttered as possible, but it’s obnoxious sometimes. I don’t always want to have to cycle through all the patterns to get back to my preferred steady speed.

One final issue: my Tango has a small white bump on its tip. I know this isn’t a fluke because I’ve seen a few other reviews mention the same defect. I use the flat part of the Tango on my clit, not the pointed tip, so I have yet to hurt myself on the bump, but this is something We-Vibe should work to improve in future batches.

Do you hate most small clit vibes because they’re not strong enough? Do you wish there was a decently powerful alternative to those stupid watch-battery bullet vibes that you can stick in the base of your strap-on dildos? Do you want a toy that will get you off in the bath or on vacation? Do you need your vibrators to be quiet and discreet? If you answered yes to any of those questions, get the Tango or its sister, the Salsa. Your clit deserves some rumbly lovin’.

Review: Doc Johnson White Nights Super Bullet

When the folks at Sex Toys Canada offered to send me a bullet vibrator, I thought they meant something more like this – tiny, silver, cheap, one-speed. I was pleasantly surprised when, instead, I received the Doc Johnson White Nights Super Bullet, which is bigger than my hand, and as girthy as a rather gifted cock. It’s certainly a bullet, but not a run-of-the-mill one by any means.

The first thing that struck me about this toy, other than the unexpected size, is the material. The Super Bullet is made of ABS plastic, the same phthalate-free, silky-smooth material frequently used by Lelo. As a diehard Lelo fangirl, I found the choice in material very appealing, as it’s associated with luxury and pleasure in my mind. And, conveniently, ABS plastic is compatible with any kind of lube you choose to use with it, and can be cleaned with soap and water.

I encountered my first issue with the Super Bullet when I went to load the batteries. The battery compartment takes a few good shakes before it’ll slide out. The positive and negative indicators on the chamber are confusing, so I had to do some experimenting before I figured out the way the batteries need to be inserted (hint: the positive sides go where the springs are, despite what the little icons would have you believe). Line up the arrow sticker on the battery chamber with the arrow sticker inside the toy, slide it in, screw it on, and you’re good to go.

I believe my Super Bullet has a defect, which is that the on/off button doesn’t seem to do its job. It’s supposed to cycle through the toy’s three speeds and then turn the toy off when pressed a fourth time. However, no matter what I try, I cannot get it to do this. It went through the speeds when I first got it, but wouldn’t turn off. Now, it seems to be stuck on one of the speeds – I have no idea which – and I have to unscrew the battery end slightly to get it to turn off. Needless to say, this is a pretty annoying problem, but I’m told that it’s not normal for this toy.

That said, I can look past a vibrator’s flaws as long as it still vibrates, which this one luckily does. After all, even luxury sex toy company Jimmyjane has a toy, the Little Chroma, which has only one speed and needs to be unscrewed to be turned off – and this is marketed as beautiful simplicity. Having read that the Little Chroma’s intensity can be controlled by which part of the toy you apply to your body (with the motor, and therefore the highest level of vibration, being located in the tip), I decided to try out the same principle with the Super Bullet.

The trouble is, though, that the vibrations travel through the entire bullet. There doesn’t seem to be one particular part of the toy where the sensation is most intense. In fact, I can feel the vibrations in my hand as much as I can in my clit, regardless of placement or positioning. This leads to Numb Hand Syndrome eventually – not so fun.

The Super Bullet feels pretty good on my clit for a while, and it can almost bring me to orgasm, but not quite. I’m the type of girl who needs to bump up a vibe’s intensity as I approach climax, and with only one functioning speed, that’s hard to do. So clitorally, this toy has led to mostly frustration for me. (On the plus side, it is a fairly quiet vibe, so the only sounds to be heard from my bedroom were my groans of irritation.)

Vaginally, though, it feels damn grand. Indeed, when I told my boyfriend I was planning on trying out the Super Bullet internally, he said, “There’s no way that thing’ll fit inside you,” but with adequate warm-up and lube, it’s surprisingly easy to get it in – all five of its insertable inches. And once it’s in, it’s a wonderful complement to any clit play I do at the same time. Using my beloved Turbo Glider on my clit while the Super Bullet fills up my insides can lead to earthshattering orgasms, as my pussy muscles clench down on the thick, solid bullet. This also holds true when I use my boyfriend’s tongue instead of the Turbo Glider (if you’ve never had someone use a toy on you while going down on you, you are missing out on some seriously stellar orgasms!).

Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about my Super Bullet. It has more than its fair share of problems – controls defect, overly diffuse and not-quite-strong-enough vibrations, finicky battery chamber, and gets hot quickly – but it also has several features that I appreciate, like being waterproof, smooth, and the perfect size to entertain my pussy while I play with my clit. And there are some things about it that I’m utterly ambivalent about, like its removable wrist strap (do people drop sex toys so often that we need a strap to prevent this problem?). Overall, I think this toy would be a decent choice for a beginner wanting to test out vibrations for the first time, but a seasoned pro would risk frustration over the toy’s more problematic points.

Many thanks to the good people at Sex Toys Canada for sending me this toy to review! Your discreet shipping and marvelous customer service make me all smiley inside.