Miniature evaporative coolers work—but not very well

I have a small office, which presents an interesting problem with summer's arrival: even the smallest real air conditioning units at the store are obviously overkill, but the little desktop options—miniature swamp coolers like the Arctic Air—all have that As Seen On TV vibe. Do they work? BeefMaster tried one out; you have to wet the filter in it before it works, it's noisy and made of the cheapest plastics known to humanity, and it still doesn't work all that great. But it does work a little: it reduced the temperature of something a foot away about 8 degrees in five minutes.

Unbox junkie posted a similar report. His (a lesser, non-Ultra version) was even cheaper and broken out the box. He got another one and it at least turned on and provided a slightly cooler breeze than an equivalently-sized fan.

"It's working?" he declares?

Technology Collections reviews a factory-brand one and provides a detailed explanation of the science, and why they're not as good as refrigerated units, especially in humid conditions.

I bet putting a fan behind a tray of ice on the desk would be at least as good as these desktop coolers. Small AC units do exist, but are expensive and come in odd forms intended for RVs and boats and whatnot. Is my 90sq ft space doomed to a 5000 BTU Midea?