Dec 132009

Better than ChocolateLet’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t like chocolate all that much. In small doses or in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, okay, but I’m not ravenous for it — and contrary to popular belief, my ovaries do not dictate that I will choose chocolate over a vibrator.

But at least Nomi Tang’s Better than Chocolate isn’t called “Sunny Lane’s Cliterrific Manta Ray” or something equally mind-numbing. It at least has an interesting, ear-catching name, and a name that I can appreciate since it looks so nice as an acronym.

This is a luxury toy, in part due to its price (nearly $90), in part due to its all-around elegant appearance. I was very impressed with the packaging, which is not only adorable, but compact: a white box no bigger than it needs to be to hold the vibe — about 3 x 5 x 3 inches. The BTC comes with a tiny, book-shaped manual and a white velvet storage pouch.

Although the BTC is a clitoral stimulator, it isn’t especially small: 5 1/2″ long and 2 1/2″ wide at its fattest point. It requires 2 AAAs, inserted easily into a screw-off base. [Update: this vibe is now rechargeable.] To perhaps make up for the fact that it isn’t rechargeable, it features touch-sensitive controls: a white strip of plastic similar to the scroll wheel on a mouse, only it doesn’t move. You just slide your finger over it to change the vibration level, hold down one side to switch to a different vibration pattern (there are only three: constant and two pulsation), and hold down the other side to lock the vibration.

The BTC’s body is completely stiff, leading me to believe there’s plastic underneath its exterior of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). The texture of this material is interesting; unlike silicone, it isn’t especially soft, and has more of a grippy feeling. I prefer the softness of pure silicone, but TPE offers a good amount of traction. TPE is porous, however, so it can’t be sterilized and should not be shared between non-fluid-bonded partners.

I wasn’t really sure how to hold the BTC properly; because of the raised sides, I couldn’t grasp it all the way around like I do my computer mouse. I guess I’m supposed to rest two fingers on top of it, but that doesn’t feel very natural. I developed a habit of placing my pointer and middle finger on top and my thumb on the underside, which was most comfortable to me but also meant I couldn’t change the vibration settings with the flick of a finger.

That issue never actually mattered, though, because the BTC begins on its highest setting. And that highest setting is… well, incredibly disappointing.

Like most masturbating persons, I like to start off slowly when I’m in for a leisurely session. But this… let’s just say, the highest vibration level on the BTC is too weak for even warm-up purposes. I want to feel something, something that will hopefully get me in the mood for more. The BTC’s vibrations do not achieve this. This vibration level should be the first of five levels, or at least three, but instead it’s the highest.

Now, I really like the BTC’s tip. It’s hard and pinpointed, just how I like it for clitoral stimulation. But that is where the joy in using the BTC ends. I get frustrated really quickly if I don’t feel like I’m even making progress toward stimulation. I was able to orgasm with the BTC once, but it took years — and a lot of porn.

I also wasn’t impressed with the controls. While the idea of a touch-sensitive control strip seems amazing, I’ve decided that I would rather turn a dial or push a button. I found it difficult to apply adequate pressure to the control strip when sliding my finger across it. The whole thing randomly locked on me a few times, too, for no discernible reason other than something must have touched the control strip.

The BTC is also waterproof up to one meter, but the touch sensor does not particularly enjoy water. It’s set to respond to water by locking into whichever setting it is on once water touches it, but the lock can be disrupted by water movement. To my dismay, I also did not enjoy using the BTC in water any more than I did using it on land. It still felt very weak.

Surprisingly, the BTC is also difficult in another area: cleaning. There’s a Nomi Tang logo embedded in the underbelly of the action end, which is not only superfluous (you can’t see it unless you turn the vibe upside-down), but it also collects gunk. Even worse is the touch-sensitive strip on top, which has little trenches beside it where lube and juices like to hide, even after cleaning.

But cleaning issues aside, the insufficient power is what tanks the Better than Chocolate. Any 2 AA-taking, $15 plastic vibrator has more power than the BTC, and I can think of a few that would make the BTC weep. Frankly, there is just no way to justify spending $90 on something this weak, unless you are more concerned about how luxurious your vibrator looks than whether it gets you off.

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