The Pitch: "Control any lamp, from anywhere, in any room"
April 2009. The Handy Switch is a remote-control device designed to turn on a light from a distance, even from outside your house. You plug the receiver into a wall outlet, then plug the lamp into the receiver. The remote control -- which resembles a common wall switch and runs on a battery -- can be handheld or mounted to a surface with screws or a self-adhesive backing. The manufacturer claims the device works from up to 50 feet, even through walls.
Many users report that the Handy Switch really does work, and many are quite satisfied with it. However, we also found a large number of complaints about poor quality control as well as units that never worked at all or failed to work after only a few uses. Furthermore, though there's a guarantee, the replacement policy requires a shipping fee that makes returns costly.
We found the largest number of user-written reviews and ratings at Amazon.com, where more than 70 users review the Handy Switch -- with about two-thirds happy with it and the rest giving it a thumbs-down. Users reviewing it at Buzzillions.com report the same good and bad news. Tests at two TV stations confirm that well-functioning Handy Switch units really do work as claimed. A review at Kaboodle.com warns about a tricky ordering process online. Users recommend buying the unit at a local store instead -- one with a good return policy for defective items.
More than 70 users review and rate the Handy Switch here. Their average rating is 3.5 stars on a 5-point scale -- not bad -- but about a third of the reviews are negative. Quite a few owners complain that the device stopped working after only a few uses, and that the company charges a hefty return shipping fee to replace defective units.
Review: Ontel HANDYS-CD6 Wireless Light Switch, Contributors to Amazon.com
About two dozen users review and rate the Handy Switch here, giving it an average rating of 3.8 on a five-point scale. Users say the Handy Switch is very convenient as long as it works, but some report premature failures and a repair charge (*est. $6) even when under warranty.
Review: Handy Switch Wireless Light Reviews, Contributors to Buzzillions.com
3. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
Reporter Yvonne Zanos recruits viewer Robin Johnson and her son to test the Handy Switch at home in this thorough TV news review. The hardest part, Zanos says, is removing the Handy Switch from its plastic packaging; after that, installation and use is a breeze. Johnson next tests the device from a variety of distances. It works, even from the house next door (but not two houses away).
Review: Does It Really Do That: Handy Switch, Yvonne Zanos, Apr 24, 2008
4. KTVK (Phoenix)
Viewer Dianne Murphy tests the Handy Switch at various distances from 15 feet to 70 feet, both indoors and out. She's especially pleased to find that it even turns on interior lights from her driveway with the garage door down -- convenient for coming home at night, she says.
Review: Does the Handy Switch Really Work?, Bart Treece, Oct. 19, 2007
At the time of our report, only one user reviews the Handy Switch here, with no comments about the switch itself but with strong warnings about ordering it from GetHandySwitch.com. This user says the ordering process is tricky, and you don't get to review the order or see the total charges till several days later -- resulting in charges of more than $200 because of various problems in the ordering process.
Review: As Seen on TV Handy Switch, Contributors to Kaboodle.com