Gballs 2

April 19th, 2018

I first got in contact with Gvibe because I like that they create a smart Kegel exerciser. Now, if you remember my issues with Minna’s kGoal (tl;dr: it hurt like hell and connection was shoddy), you might be surprised that I’d be willing to try another one of this device. I’m a god damn hero, am I right?

But I could immediately tell that Gballs (technically Gballs 2) were smaller, and I counted on this being more comfortable. I was right (duh!). The vaguely hourglass-shape is definitely smaller (both more narrow and shorter) than the kGoal as well as most traditional Keg

el balls. It’s definitely manageable in a way that I don’t have a ton of experience with. My pubic bone just seems to get in the way. Gballs are simply a better fit.

One way this impacts my experience is that I only need one hand to insert Gballs. I needed to fucking wrestling kGoal into my vagina with both hands. This meant I had to touch my phone to connect, wash hands, insert, wash my hands, then waddle my way into my bedroom where I could lie down, relax and control the device. With Gballs, I pop them in with one hand, meaning I can keep one hand on my phone and use the other, if necessary, to adjust the toy. I don’t get bacteria from my phone near my vagina, and my phone stays lube-free. I far prefer this to all the obnoxious sex toys that rely on apps and two hands.

Gvibe makes up for this small size by making the retrieval chord also function as an antenna (it’s coated in silicone as is the device itself). It’s fairly long, and I think this is why. This is pretty smart IMO. Where I had issues with initial connectivity, turning on the kGoal and getting it to connect, Gballs connected nearly immediately and the connection is more stable (but imperfect, which I will touch on in a while).

Another difference comes by way of the mechanism that measures the strength of your PC muscles. Minna decided on a sort of inflatable-ballon that your muscles squeeze. With Gballs, there’s a small, pressure-sensitive dimple above the power button. I can easily feel and stimulate it (and sometimes accidentally hit it when I am simply holding the toy) with my fingers. I’ve had little issue with it reading pressure from my vag muscles, either. Although, I spent the first few times adjusting the position a bit – insert more, tug on the cord just a bit – to find the right fit. Now, it seems to slide more easily into place.

I’d like to move away from the comparisons between these two devices, however. This isn’t a scathing review of kGoal. I’ve already written one of those. But neither are the Gballs perfect. My issues are pretty much all with the app, Magic Kegel, so let’s go down that rabbit hole.

My first complaint is probably just that there’s so much going on. After launching it, I’m greeted by prompts to set up my account and go through a tutorial. There’s actually a medal for this tutorial that I’ve somehow not earned because it disconnected fairly quickly. I didn’t realize this immediately, however.

When disconnected, the app shows a redheaded avatar, ostensibly to match the voice that walks you through your training. I suggest you keep this one the first time you use Magic Kegel with your Gballs – but only the first time!

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If you want to get a move on, select the training tab. There’s a “Courses” button in the top left that lets you select one of six categories: Entry Level, Honeymoon, Planning a Baby, New Mom, Muscle Recovery, and Hot Lover. Yea, the ones that are relationship-centric are a little icky, but I get it. Now, all of these icons are grey, which is honestly a weird UI choice. Greyed-out options indicate “Locked” to me, and I’d imagine many others. What it actually means in Magic Kegel is “Not Selected.” Once you select a course and an intensity level (entry through master), the icon will become colored. And when a course and level is selected, you can simply hit the Play button from the Training screen before subsequent workouts without having to select a course again.

Each level has descriptions to help you decide what to go with but, they’re not great. A lot of the text in Magic Kegel feels as though it’s written by someone to who is not quite fluent in English. I understand it, but it’s awkward. And it’s potentially offensive. The Honeymoon category is described as follows;

For women who have average sexual experience, sit long hours (for example, in the office), don’t do sports or overweight. This course can help to overcome vaginal and pelvic floor muscles sag. Daily exercises can strengthen and tone muscles of vaginal canal and increase the blood flow to the genital area.

Like I said.. awkward. And equating body size to the strength of your PC muscles makes little sense. Kegels aren’t going to slim your body, and you can do them sitting??? Plus, athletic might give zero fucks about the tone of their PC muscles before using this app.

Aside from that, Magic Kegel relies on sexual experience as a metric for choosing your course too much. “Hot Lover” describes having three years of sexual experience, but I just can’t buy this. Even assuming that sexual experience means penetration (as if there can only be one, rigid definition of sex – ha!), does this affect the tone of your PC muscles? I shouldn’t think so, but I will gladly be proven wrong. And over the course of that time, sex can be inconsistent, anyway. This isn’t really a helpful descriptor, IMO.

Anyway, I recommend using the voice controls for the first time because you’ll hear the woman’s voice telling you when to contract and relax. There’s an on-screen bar that fills in green when you should contract, but this wasn’t initially clear because there’s also an overall timer for each set (between 60 and 90 seconds usually), but there’s a lot of padding around the sets. The timer also occasionally lags. Once you understand this, sound is totally unnecessary.

Each workout has four sets. These sets can vary in length and reps between the courses, but they’re the same within a specific level of specific course, but the reps are always repeated four times per each course. You’ll also have both long and short contractions. There’s are several three-second breaks in each set to give your muscles time to relax, but it bothers the hell out of me that these come at irregular intervals according to the timer.

An example workout might be 3 long squeezes, 3-second break, 5 short squeezes, 3-second break, 3 long squeezes. Repeat three more times. Four reps are required for the app to consider your workout for that course complete, and the sets are counted after they’re finished.

As you complete those workouts, a green circle will begin building around the workout icon, measuring your goal to completion. The progress bar moves slowly. I’ve stuck to Entry Level just to push it further, and I’m about 1/8th of the way around the circle after five or so sessions.

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I’ve mentioned before that you can earn medals, and this progress bar is one of them. You’ll see achievements under the Me tab, and there are a few beginner levels that I knocked out easily enough (there’s one about a questionnaire that doesn’t seem to exist, but the folks at Gvibe plan to remove that). “Advance” medals are all about exercising streaks, starting with two days in a row and working up to three months straight. All the Lina medals are about the flower you can grow with your vagina. Yep, you read that right.

In the Statistics tab, you can see numeric statistics, or you can click another tab to see the flower you’re growing with your vagina. Mine’s at level 7 and looking pretty healthy. It’s jumped a level if not two during each workout. This is cute but silly and easily ignored. If Gvibe wants to make this a more significant feature, I don’t see why they can’t add a little plant icon to the training screen, so you can see it in real-time.

This screen also includes your current bean count. I am not entirely sure how that works with level but was totally confused at first because it looks nothing at all like a bean and there’s no contextual information. Beans help you unlock fun features, which are essentially vibration modes. I can see they’re trying to further gamify the app and toy with this but am not personally interested in these unlockables. (They’re just one of the extraneous functions of the app to me, including links to other Gvibe products and a blurb about the company. There’s a menstrual calendar that might be useful to come, but I am perplexed that they don’t recommend using it during your period. Why??)

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Of course, the numbered stats are what interest me more. Logging on shows today’s data, if any and that of your last workout. Magic Kegel tracks workout length, endurance, strength, control ability, and initial rating. The system uses a 0-100 scale for this evaluation, and I started in the 60s and have progressed to the 80s. However, the numbers always have a measurement “M” behind them, as in 67M. It doesn’t correlate with any actual measurement, so I think a % would offer clarity. Honestly, I’d rather have a specific measurement than an arbitrary scale.

Now, the stats are what someone like me really wants (and I’ll tell you about my progress a bit later on), but they’re also frustrating. If your Gballs disconnect during a workout, you lose your stats. There were days where I had stats show up in the tab despite the toy disconnecting from the app, but those stats were reset to 0 when I signed in the next day. I definitely don’t think I am seeing all my data from before, which is frustrating. It does appear that stats may only fill in when your device is depicted. With my app disconnected, I can only see the length of workouts and none of the other stats.

This is where I have to talk about the app disconnecting. When everything is working right, you connect the Gballs to your phone, pop them in, and start a course. Aside from the guiding voice, the Gballs vibrate to instruct you to squeeze. However, if they only vibrate once you’ve started squeezing, you’re disconnected, and that’s just the pressure gauge making the balls vibrate when you contract.

Another thing you’ll see on-screen is a little birdy flying in the sky. When you squeeze, he moves closer to the clouds. This correlates to that o-100 scale. There’s often lag, and Magic Kegel becomes laggier the longer I use the app. It’s almost in real-time during the first few reps but slows down as time moves on. It’ll get to the point that the birdie will remain in place when I am squeezing but erratically flutter up after I’ve relaxed. Occasionally, I see no bird at all. You can always follow the bar or voice, instead, but it’s a bit glitchy.

This lag also extends to the vibration that triggers your exercises. Occasionally, it starts after the bar. Sometimes, it doesn’t vibrate at all. At other times, you’ll get a really long vibration that’s out of sync with the app as it tries to catch up. You can ignore it, but it’s quite distracting. It’s better than no vibration at all, however.

When your device disconnects, the bird disappears and you again see the little avatar. The bar keeps moving, however. In the beginning, before I was comfortable with Magic Kegel, I didn’t catch this. I noticed the vibration but it was only in response to my contractions and not encouraging them. I thought I was completing the workout, but it wasn’t recording data. Now, I can catch the disconnect right away to reconnect and..

You don’t need to leave the workout to reconnect.

The rep counter overlays the connect button, but you can still press it to reconnect without leaving the workout. You can pause and exit, but it’s faster for me to just touch the button through this screen (I probably lose a bit of data as I skip a rep, though). I would actually prefer a pop-up that alerts me that my device has disconnected, auto-pauses the workout and allows me to reconnect. But being able to reconnect is better than nothing at all.

The app recommends lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. This is actually not super comfortable for me because I tend to flex my quads, and I think the main purpose is to keep your device connected to the Gballs. I’ve experimented with letting my legs rest on the bed while close, and the device sometimes disconnects, even if I keep the antenna/cord pulled up against my mons.

If you want to use the app with your Gballs, this position is probably the best.

But!

You don’t need to use the app.

Because of that pressure-sensitive spot, you can simply pop in the Gballs without connecting them and squeeze. When you do, it’ll vibrate. I don’t find this particularly pleasurable because the vibrations are on the weaker end and buzzy. You can adjust the intensity of them in the app, but I keep mine about midway. Honestly, I squirt pretty easily, and don’t want to do that when doing Kegels. Anyway, the vibe are hella useful feedback. Am I doing this right? Well, does it vibe? Yes. Otherwise, maybe you need to adjust position. Sure, this isn’t as specific as the feedback from the app itself, but it negates the need to keep one hand on your phone, anyway.

Furthermore, you can pop the Gballs in and use them while going through the courses on the app without connecting. This might be a good option if you’re struggling with Bluetooth. Then, the app just works as an instructor and helps you get in your reps. It won’t record your data, but you’re still getting in your workout.

I think you’ve got a pretty good idea of how the Gballs work with or without Magic Kegel, but I know what you all want to know:

Do the Gballs work??

I’ve noticed a distinct improvement in stats over time. Even just using it two days in a row shows greater control and strength on the second day. Interestingly, my initial strength is usually greater than my muscle strength at the end of the workout, and I can feel how much easier it is to squeeze during that first time. I’m not experiencing any soreness afterward, but it’s just harder to maintain that strength sometimes, especially during some workouts.

I haven’t been using the Gballs long or consistently enough to see if it’s affected anything (I have not sneezed over the last two weeks, I guess?!), and neither my orgasms or libido seems affected. In fact, on days when I’ve used the Gballs, I am far less likely to masturbate if I haven’t already done it because I’ve begun associating my vagina with work/a task. Similarly, I’ve never had more than one workout session a day (although, I usually do at least two workouts, especially as I was getting used to the app).

I’ll throw in a mention of battery at this point because I will soon be wrapping this up. My Gballs came charged, and I didn’t bother to see if I could charge them any further. I’ve used them for well over an hour at this point, and they’re still going. I am not sure what sort of indication the device or app will give me when it’s time to charge, but I imagine you can get quite a few workouts done because the Gballs do not vibrate continuously, only to trigger a contraction or in response to one, depending on whether the device is connected. The site says you can get up to 4 hours of working time, and I plan to update this when I need to charge.

The Gballs are a little smaller, a little cheaper, and a lot less frustrating than kGoal; although your mileage may vary. Perhaps the strongest commendation I can give the Gballs is that I can see myself continuing to use them after I’ve written this review, and I rarely do that with most sex toys. I was glad to shove my kGoal in a drawer and never have to look at it again.

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MysteryVibe Crescendo

February 14th, 2018

Mystery Vibe made a pretty big to-do about their customizable, smart vibrator called the Crescendo last year. “It has 6 motors!” they said. “You’ve never used anything like it,” they claimed (more or less). They sent me one to try, and I took my sweet time getting around to writing this review. You’ll see why after I introduce you to this beast.

Similar to the gKi, you can bend the Crescendo at various joints to take on whatever shape your heart vagina desires (you can fold it nearly in half or bend each end in either direction to create an S-shape). Ostensibly, the two triangular flaps near the base can provide clitoral stimulation while you can create a hook for simultaneous G-spot/internal stim. It’s a two-hand job because the joints are stiff enough to stay in place, but not difficult (don’t count on ever getting it perfectly straight once you bend it, however). This is not something I have a problem with.

The truth is, I don’t want to use an app with any sex toy, partially because my devices invariably are crawling with bacteria that could lead to a nasty infection should I forget and reach down with my phone hand to operate a toy. Partially because I have small hands and using my devices single-handedly is a struggle. Partially because the more attention my eyes pay to a screen, the less my vagina, clit and various other erogenous zones pay attention to what’s going on there.

And the MysteryVibe app? Is not intuitive. It tries to be with gestures, but basic settings wind up hidden behind icons that just aren’t user-friendly. Sure, you can use it, but you really need to get used to it first.

Let’s not forget the logistics. Pairing devices that are buried within orifices to your phone? Not always an easy task. It was ridiculous with the kGoal, and while the Crescendo works much, much better, it just seems like the industry is trying to make using toys more difficult than it really needs to be. The only exception I’m willing to admit to is feedback (as in with kegel toys), but there’s no need for that with the Crescendo.

Speaking of logistics; have you ever had to wait over 30 minutes for your vibrator’s firmware to update? No? Keep it that way! Crescendo uses wireless transfer to update the device’s firmware, despite the fact that literally every device I’ve ever had to update urges you to do it wired because you can brick your device if the wireless update fails.

MysteryVibe support says this shouldn’t be an issue (and that it shouldn’t take nearly as long as it’s taken mine);

The Crescendo firmware file is quite a large one and the file transfer takes around 15 minutes. If there are any interruptions during this time, such as a phone call, Bluetooth interference, it could show an error. In this case, simply tap on the circle again to restart the update and it should work perfectly.
After my update remained stalled at 81%, I canceled and started again. It appeared that Crescendo had disconnected from the app, but I received no error. The only advice I can offer is that you can safely abort and try again if your update does something similar.

I think the argument for all this hassle is “but personalization!” Or maybe “Adriana, you can create your own one-of-a-kind vibration setting.” To which I laugh because I’ve already proven that I am a lazy SOB when it comes to masturbatory preparation and, secondly because anyone who’s been around this blog a time or two realizes that I couldn’t care less about modes. Seriously. My highest praise for pulsation, escalation or what-have-you is usually along the lines of “Well, it doesn’t suck.”

So that brings us to controlling the Crescendo via the app. Note that you don’t have to. You can just use the buttons on the toy; although, they’re more flush than I prefer because they’re embossed into the silicone, which makes them a little difficult to find and use when your hands are covered with lube. They can also get bunched up if you bend the Crescendo at the joint right near the buttons, which are located in two locations along the side (one set turns it on/up and off/down while the other cycles through modes).

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For once, I want some big, clicky buttons with tactile feedback like a mechanical keyboard. I want my fumbling fingers and long nails to have plenty of space. Enough with the tiny, “cute” buttons, people!

If you choose to use the app, it provides you with a visual that better helps you understand which motors are operating and what they’re doing. You can edit the base vibrations or download new settings from the “store”; although, it appears the Crescendo can only hold so many. I find the whole process of downloading and deleting settings from my sex toy to be a bit tedious myself. However, it’s interesting that you can rearrange the order of the settings on your Crescendo. My immediate thought after finding the settings that seemed like they’d be the most useful was that I was going to save them and never use the app again.

I’m pretty much saying that a toy has to be amazing if it’s going to require an app. So is the Crescendo? No. It seems pretty run of the mill. Because you’re supposed to customize the shape to your preferences, it’s rather flat and narrow, underwhelming, really. The internal vibrators that work well for me clitorally definitely have a rounded tip, which this does not. Unfurled, it looks a bit like a finger with the joints visible on the underside. Bent into position it looks perhaps a bit medicinal.

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In terms of power, you’d expect something pretty impressive from the Crescendo. After all, it has six motors. But those six motors are each a little lackluster, too, providing less of a symphony and more of a forgettable background noise. This review is about six words away from comparing the underpowered motors to Kidz Bop versions of pop songs. Is it terrible? No. It is what I want from a vibrator? Also no.

And believe me I tried. My first attempt was to turn on all the motors as high as they can go. I mean, isn’t that what us reviewers do with every vibrating toy we receive? Take it out of the package, charge it up and see how far this puppy goes? Crescendo doesn’t for up to 11, that’s for sure.

It’s not that it’s exactly weak. It just falls on the buzzier side of things, and I, like so many, prefer a deep and rumbly vibration that penetrates. The buzziness is definitely more perceptible on certain modes, and certainly more noticeable when you turn up the power. Ironically, the site describes the vibrations are deep and rumbly and whisper quiet. Surprise! Neither is exactly true.

I do enjoy that there’s a sort of throbbing pulsation. The sheer variety of vibrating modes the Crescendo offers means it’s probably go something for most people if the power output works for you.

The charger could also use some work. You plug a standard microUSB  (I’ve only used one other vibrator that relies on this standard connection) charger into a little disc that the Crescendo rests on to charge. But the lightweight disc has a bevel along the bottom and only the end of the toy rests on it, which causes the disc to tilt and the toy to want to slide off. It takes a bit to find the sweet spot because the vibrator doesn’t sit securely in the base (like some of Minna or Jimmyjane’s smaller toys), just rests atop it. Again, the user has to work around the toy rather than the toy fitting nicely into their life.

It’s hard to say what might be a better design. I don’t need a charging base. If the toy has to rest on a table, then the USB cable might as well plug directly into it (companies have done it and kept their toys 100% waterproof in the past and if they could make it a data+charging cable, firmware updates wouldn’t take over 30 minutes to complete!). If they want to do inductive charging, then perhaps provide a case that also works for travel like the one that used to come with the Delight.

The truth is, Crescendo isn’t a terrible vibrator. It’s just another mediocre sex toy that seems like a much bigger letdown because the marketing led us to believe it would change our worlds. But as long as “change your world” translates to “you have to adapt to the toy,” it’s not smart. I want my sex toys to adapt to me, not the other way around.

The Crescendo is on sale for Valentine’s Day if you’re interested in buying it.

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