Published September 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
We tested this icy innovation to see if it makes ice cubes, chills water, and keeps ice cream cold.
The IceOrb by Fusion Brands is called a “vertical ice tray.” Instead of lying flat, its soft silicone is bent into a circular wall, creating a small bucket 5 inches tall by 5 inches in diameter, with 21 protruding oval pockets for the ice. It’s appealing and simple: You fill the silicone bucket with about an inch of water, then push in a hard plastic liner (forcing the water up and into the mold), place its Tupperware-like lid on top, and freeze. Once frozen, you can use the IceOrb to chill a bottle of wine or keep ice cream or a dip cold while transporting or serving. (A pint of Häagen-Dazs slipped in with room to spare.) The lid is designed to go underneath to protect the table from condensation.
To free the ice, you remove the liner and squeeze out the cubes, producing about 2 cups of ice. The device becomes an ice bucket (which kept cubes cold and mostly unmelted at room temperature for more than an hour, though we could not quite fit two batches, never mind the 51 cubes advertised), or you can store the first batch of ice in the liner while making more. The ice was odor-free, with no plasticky off-tastes, and the device is top-rack dishwasher safe.
We had two minor quibbles in our first-time use: The fill line is nearly invisible; and freeing the liner to remove ice is tricky, because it is solidly frozen in place. Rough handling could crack the liner. We advise letting the orb thaw for a few minutes before removing ice. All in all, we like the IceOrb, especially for serving ice cream or other cold foods at summer parties and picnics.