New Product Review - Auto Tape Dispenser

One of my favorite desk accessories used to be my 3M Pop Up Tape Dispenser.  It's a tape dispenser that uses pre-cut strips of tape and when it came out I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It's a one-handed operation - no more holding the dispenser with one hand and tearing the tape with the other (all while trying to hold closed the item you're trying to tape).  All you had to do was pull the strip with one hand and the other hand could be holding the item you're taping. It made things faster and more efficient.  It even came in a handband version that was great for wrapping gifts.

So why isn't it my favorite anymore?  Because after a short while, I started having problems with the quality of the refills.  I'd pull a piece of tape out and the next one wouldn't pop up.  And when you opened it up to fix it, it was very difficult to separate the pieces of tape to feed the next one through the opening.  I thought it was just one bad refill, but it kept happening with each new pack I bought, so eventually I gave up trying.  I still loved the idea though.

Recently, when I discovered that Baumgarten had introduced a one-hand tape dispenser that automatically dispenses and cuts tape,  I was excited!  I can have the convenience of one hand operation again!  Of course, I had to test it out.

The instructions on the back of the package are simple enough:

  1. Hold the dispenser firmly in hand.
  2. Point the roller to surface for application.
  3. Press and release lever to dispense approx. 1-1/2" of tape.

For longer tape length:

  1. Press down lever, apply roller to surface and pull to desired length.  Release lever to cut.

Sounds easy - after all, I shouldn't even need instructions to use a tape dispenser.  So I grabbed the dispenser and some paper and started my test.

Unfortunately, things didn't go well.  I followed the directions - point the roller to the surface, press and release the lever to dispense.  Half the time it worked perfectly and the other half it either bunched up on the paper or got stuck in the tip of the dispenser. What looks like a vertical ridge in the picture below is where the tape stuck to itself.


Creating a longer length of tape works better than trying to obtain the preset strip.  Most of the longer lengths I attempted worked properly.  So....I said to myself,  "Perhaps I have to move the dispenser even on the short strips." The instructions don't say I have to do that - they only specify movement on the longer strips.  But, let's give it a try.

It helped sometimes, but still, out of 10 attempts, I got 6 good strips and 4 duds.  I tried pressing and releasing slowly, pressing and releasing quickly, holding the roller just above the surface, touching the roller to the surface, moving while taping, not moving - just about any combination I could think of to get it to work correctly on the short strips - but no dice.  After about 20 minutes I gave up.

I still like the idea of the one-handed tape dispenser and I will eagerly try the next one that comes along.  The Auto Tape Dispenser works fairly well on the long strips, but I don't use many long strips at work, so I don't see it being useful to me there.  Baumgarten needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.  I'm sticking with my regular old desktop tape dispenser with standard tape rolls.  I shouldn't have to work this hard to get a piece of tape - and I shouldn't need an instruction manual for it either.

I give it 3 paperclips - but only because the long strips work.