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Small Appliances

Sharply pressed threads anywhere, anytime? Try the Ovo travel iron and steamer

Bring the tiny Ovo garment gadget press and steam your dressy duds anywhere.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Can a travel-size gizmo take the creases out of your work clothes on the go? That's what the Reliable company says its $49 Reliable Ovo 150GT will do for you. The egg-shaped device is both a tiny electric iron and a portable garment steamer. Just toss the Ovo into your carry-on, handbag or back seat and you're always ready to look sharp. It's a nice theory, so I had to try it out.

Clothes irons, by design, tend to be big and heavy. Their large weight and surface area, combined with heat and sometimes steam, helps them press fabric flat and remove wrinkles. I'm sceptical of a pint-size product billed as doing the same thing.

I'd like the Ovo to succeed. Traveling is hard, especially when you're trying to look great while doing it. Anyone who's popped open a suitcase to find crushed formal wear can relate.

To be sure, there are emergency procedures for these situations. I've taken countless hot showers next to my suits and button-downs. I've even studied complex folding patterns for blazers and other dress items. Still, these all amount to Band-Aid fixes, not a real cure.   

The Reliable Ovo 150GT is a supertiny iron and steamer in one.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Garment steamer or steam iron?

Tipping the scales at 24 ounces (1.5 pounds, 0.7 Kg), the Ovo is built to travel light. It comes with its own soft-fabric carrying case too. The Ovo doesn't look like any clothes iron I've ever used: Its body is rounded and oval, hence its name, and it lacks a traditional handle. Thanks to rubbery grips on its sides, the Ovo is easy to hold in one hand.

The gadget functions as both a portable steamer and a steam iron. First, you fill the Ovo's modest 3.7-fluid-ounce (109.4 mL) water tank. That's roughly a third of the capacity of a standard-size steam iron. Next, you plug its 6.3-foot-long (1.9 m) power cord into an AC power outlet. Then 60 seconds later, the Ovo is supposed to be hot enough to either press fabric or throw a continuous stream of steam.

Press the circular button to start the Ovo's steam mode. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

A big button on top of the Ovo starts its steam function. Just hold the Ovo vertically and point its underside at your target. There's a ceramic soleplate on the product's flip side. It lets you lay the Ovo down horizontally and use it as a standard iron. The bottom of the Ovo's case is heat-resistant too, and folds out into a miniature ironing board.

The Ovo can really put down a steady stream of steam.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Does it work?

Surprisingly yes, the Ovo does get the job done. While it usually took about 90 seconds for me, not 60, it's ready for action quickly. With the Ovo powered on and filled with water, I successfully steamed a few dress shirts.  

I hung these heavily wrinkled items and gave each the steam treatment for 10 minutes. During that time, the Ovo's pump pushed out a column of steam about 6 to 8 inches long. At the end, creases in the items had been smoothed considerably.

Yes, the little Ovo does in fact press clothes like a regular iron.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Next I tried my hand at actual ironing. I managed to press one of my button-downs just like I would with a heavy-duty iron. It looked just as good too, with crisp edges, flat surfaces and everything.

You'll need to fill up the Ovo's water tank often.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The little Ovo has one big weakness: Its tiny water tank runs dry quickly. Realistically I could get through pressing one shirt before I had to refill it. Using the steam mode depletes the machine's water supply even faster. For instance it took three tanks to steam my two shirts for 20 minutes.

The short length of the Ovo's cord was frustrating as well. Unless I was very close to the AC outlet, the cable often caught against the Ovo's sides as I ironed. Sadly, these limitations rule out the Ovo for serious home laundry chores. Tackling a pile of laundry with the thing wouldn't be a chore I'd want. That said, its reasonable $49 price tag is tempting, especially for frequent business travelers.