TV Clean: Brilliant tool or overpriced gimmick?

A few days ago, ThinkGeek posted a new item that immediately caught my eye. The TV Clean is an electronics duster that doesn't use any sort of spray or cloth to wipe down flat panel screens, but instead uses a rubber cylinder to pick up dust.

It's a rather pricey little cleaner. At $60 from ThinkGeek or $30 directly from the manufacturer, it's a bit more expensive than getting a box of Swiffers. Still, since it can allegedly pick up specks of dust measuring just 1 micron with no streaks, smears, or chemicals, maybe it could earn its keep.

ThinkGeek sent me a sample of the TV Clean to try out, and while I have to applaud its creativity and eco-friendliness, it falls well short of the hype.

The device is simple and elegant. An exposed rubber cylinder is mounted against a concealed roll of adhesive papers. The rubber picks up the dust, and the adhesive pulls it away and seals it against the paper. It also comes with a microfiber cloth for handling any particularly difficult marks on the screen.

Unfortunately, the cleaner is also a bit flimsy. The rubber cylinder is secured by two plastic clips that easily pop out when you exert pressure on the device (like rolling it across a screen). It's not so big a problem with computer monitors and smaller screens, but for big HDTVs, it tends to jump out of its mounting. The clip is easily popped back into place, but it doesn't exactly lend itself to convenience.

When it gets down to dusting, the TV Clean works fairly well. If you can keep the roller under control, it picks up dust quickly and easily. However, it doesn't seem to work particularly better than a Swiffer, a soft cloth, or any other standard dusting implement. It also hardly does anything to marks and smudges. Even the microfiber cloth the TV Clean comes with isn't particularly effective when dealing with spots on the screen. When you still have to break out the cloths and cleaning solutions to clear up the marks on the HDTV after you dust, the convenience and eco-friendliness of the TV Clean seriously diminishes.

It's by no means a bad duster, but a high price tag and a design that's prone to popping out of place when cleaning large HDTVs makes the TV Clean a poor substitute for a good, soft dustcloth and a bit of care.

Will Greenwald