Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to offer you guys something for free. We don’t always do it, mind you — we get a lot of solicitations, and only care to post about the products we think will be most useful to you. Well, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a representative of Digital Innovations. They make products for cleaning LCD screens, repairing discs, that sort of thing. I’ve seen their products before, or others like them, but honestly never considered buying them. I tend to roll on the cheap, as you know, and didn’t want to spend money on things that I wasn’t sure would even work.
The email came at a good time, though. I happened to be in the middle of transferring my CD and movie collection to digital, and there were a few discs that I couldn’t even put into my machine without the read-difficulty locking everything up. So when he offered to send me a few of their products to test in return for a fair review, and maybe a giveaway for our readers, I said “Sure. But you realize I’m in Canada, right?” A few weeks of shipping and customs errors later, the box arrived.
Here’s what I found:
When I opened up the box, I was surprised to see that I had been sent $97 worth of product (see the shipping receipt below the list). I received:
- 5oz ScreenDr – LCD Cleaner
- SkipDr for DVDs & CDs – Disc repair kit
- SkipDr for Blu-ray – Disc repair kit
- CleanDr Lens Cleaner for DVD & CD
- CleanDr Lens Cleaner for Blu-ray
Note: CleanDr has been re-branded to ScreenDr.
The Screen Cleaner
I was really only expecting the SkipDr, but was pretty stoked about the LCD/Plasma screen cleaner. I live in the often-rainy Pacific Northwest and own two dogs. No matter how well I dry them, they still manage to shake and spray mud all over my bloody LCD TV. Between that and my half-pint, me and my wife would get tired of cleaning it and things would sometimes build up to the point of needing to be scratched off. If you have kids and dogs, you can probably relate.
So I tried the ScreenDr — which now comes in a larger, 9oz bottle for HDTV — and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it and the microfiber cloth that it comes with cut the grime away. I have no idea what the solution is comprised of — the bottle says fancy things like “deionized water and proprietary polymers” — but just a little bit of it cleaned the dickens out of my TV screen, with nary a streak to be seen. That was one item down with a good experience to report — except for the bottle splitting a bit along one of the seams and causing a leak that needed to be taped shut, that is.
Disc Cleaning & Repair Kits
The next item I tried was the SkipDr for DVDs & CDs. I tested it on two things: my CD of The Best of Sting and The Police — which was scratched all to hell and consistently tried to kill my computer and various CD players on track 13 (cue eerie music here) — and a home movie DVD of my mother’s that always played like it was in the shadows and under water. I followed the instructions, and, after about a minute of grinding noise while the disc was in the little machine, and another minute of buffing with the little microfiber cloth that comes with it, I found myself listening to “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” while watching a DVD that was as clear as an old home movie can get. I’ve tried several other discs since, and as long as there was no serious damage that reached the data layer, I continually had great results. Another “as advertised” experience.
Note: Be sure to follow the instructions and spray the disc before using the repair machine. If the disc isn’t wet, it could be damaged.
Things to Watch For
I didn’t have a need to test the lens cleaners or Blu-ray version of the SpinDr, but the fact that there were two machines got me wondering. I popped onto the Digital Innovations website and did a bit of poking around, only to find that there were SkipDr machines for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii, as well. Each had it’s own particular branding and its own particular price (though they generally cost the same). There were even different models and brand names within the set, some older, some current. This seemed a bit suspect to me. I’m in marketing and I get the concept of brand differentiation and hitting specific target markets for maximum impact, but a disc is a disc right? How much difference could there possibly be?
I emailed the rep and asked him point-blank. His reply was straightforward: CDs and DVDs are CDs and DVDs. Blu-rays are a bit different, as the data is much closer to the surface and the disc itself is much harder and thinner. This means that they need a machine that has a different abrasive and uses a different amount of pressure than the CD/DVD version to be effective. When it comes to all of the other variations though, that’s just marketing. A Blu-ray SkipDr will have exactly the same effect as the one branded for PS3. Xbox and Wii versions? They’re no different than a DVD. So the bottom line here is, if you ever do decide to buy these products, buy the one that suits your disc and happens to be the cheapest or currently on sale.
One other point in regard to things to watch for: if you aren’t doing like me and going all digital, and you plan to keep your discs over the long term, take care of them. While you can repair the same disc multiple times, the Flexiwheel grinding band only has so many uses (approximately 25 according to the site). If you keep having to repair your discs, you will also have to keep buying replacement kits — which cost $9 a pop.
Would I Buy It Now?
Overall, I would have to say, yes, I would purchase these products if I had need for them — unless I could find something similar at a better price that worked just as well, of course. I haven’t had the opportunity to test anything else, so I can’t say what those alternatives would be. The Digital Innovations products definitely performed well, though — and I have absolutely no problem giving them away to you for free.
So, On to the Free Stuff Already!
Be the first to contact us (you can comment, email, tweet, or Facebook) about why you want, need, or could use any of these products, and Digital Innovations will send you the exact same $97 package they sent me. The only catch is you have to live in the continental US or Canada — shipping would be a nightmare, otherwise. Please make sure you provide a valid email address for contacting you, as we will need to forward that to Digital Innovations so they can chat with you about your shipping details. Do not give us your shipping details, please!
Want the free stuff? Have at it! And leave us comments about any experience you might have with these products already, too.