Hi Rob, you answered your own question, they are not usually any good. They always make them look good on TV but in practice they will not give the finish they show. Personally I would use a roller and a cutting in brush. With a little practice you should be able to get a decent finish, much better than with pads.
Paint pads are retail products aimed at the lucrative DIY market. They never give a satisfactory finish. Brush, roller and spray remain the only methods to use for painting.
I could give you an endless list of tools and products that are targeted at the DIYer, the selling points usually being that they are quicker and easier to use and give you a professional finish. If they were as good as they claim then every professional would be using them and brushes and rollers would become obsolete.