Hey everyone. I’m Dave Kender, editor in chief of Reviewed, a website that tests and reviews everyday products. Reviewed is part of the USA TODAY Network. I’m based in smarty-pants Cambridge, Massachusetts and have been with Reviewed since it was a tiny start-up over a decade ago.

These days I oversee a team of 40 writers, editors, and lab techs who review thousands of products. Want to know what to buy this holiday season? I’ll help you out.

Twitter: @davekender @reviewed

Proof: https://i.redd.it/mzmah8ouhy021.jpg

EDIT: This has been a fantastic experience. Great questions. I appreciate the insight and the challenges. That's it for now. If you want to reach out, hit us up at Reviewed.com, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram Thank you, Reddit!

Comments: 544 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

LosPepesContra478 karma

Do companies attempt to pay you for good reviews?

usatoday676 karma

Yes, sadly. It’s never from the big companies, though, since we tend to have actual relationships with them and they know the drill. (Which is basically: Send us products on loan if you can. If not, we'll buy them anyway. You're not allowed to be present while we're testing and we won't tell you the results before we tell our readers.) The bribery attempts are usually from fly-by-night companies that you've never heard of. Since it's rarely something we were going to review anyway, I don't even reply to the emails.

Loaki9681 karma

I’m sorry. I have a hard time believing you don’t cave to behind market influence, after going to your site and reviewing a few of your lists.

For example- best pair of headphones for fitness folks- beats @ $199? That is laughable. At that price range, there are several brands with better quality sound, bluetooth connectivity, battery life, and storage- at that price range- than beats. I have a hard time believing you didn’t cave to the immense marketing campaign beats has laid out since the month of their introduction- if that is your pick.

The lists just seem like generic lists of products you see pushed on other sites, and it’s not because they’re the best.

usatoday440 karma

You raise an interesting question about the specific recommendation in that article. We've written a lot about running headphones and none of them are great. I'm going to inquire about it.

But I also know that Kate McCarthy, the author of that article, is a marathoner and has strong, informed opinions about fitness tech.

Update: Wanted to track down an answer for you so I talked to the team this morning. That particular article (25 health and fitness gifts) recommended the PowerBeats 3 because, in the writer's experience, that behind-the-ear hook design was critical to keeping them in place. In another article we've written, we actually recommend the JLab Audio Epic Sport headphones for runners over the PowerBeats. However, the design of the Epic Sport is considerably different and may not work for everyone. So for the sake of transparency and consistency, we're going to update the "health and fitness gifts" article so that it references both headphones.

tdr: headphones are super personal. none are perfect. we love feedback from readers because it makes us better. thank you.

Hemb81 karma

This raises a similar, simple question: Why should we trust you? The internet is full of lies, they are everywhere. Why should we believe you are actually giving honest and fair reviews?

usatoday190 karma

Well, that's what it all comes down to when you review things, right?

In short, I can't make you trust Reviewed. I can present our recommendations and our methodologies and let you judge their merit.

Here's how we test headphones, as an example: https://www.reviewed.com/headphones/science/how-we-test-headphones (Apologies for agedness of this page, we're currently updating. A couple of the specs may be out of date now.) It's time-consuming and expensive and it breaks all the time because lab equipment is delicate. But we believe it's the best way to do it. (UPDATE: That link was a 404. Apologies. Replacement: https://www.reviewed.com/science/headphone-science-frequency-response)

Anyway, I recommend that people always try and cast a wide net. I fully expect that we're part of a triangulation that people make when they're researching big-ticket items: family & friends, professional reviews, user reviews.

RollTimeCC440 karma

Have companies ever sent you an obviously cherry-picked or stealthily tweaked review sample to try and influence the review?

usatoday619 karma

Yes, this is another thing that does happen in the review world. Some of the bigger companies have samples that they run through their QA labs before shipping to us. We don't have a huge problem with this because we also purchase products off the shelf.

And when you review enough of these products, whether it's TV or washing machines or whatever, you start to get a sense of their parameters. Do these results fall in line with what I expect based on the component and technology they're using? It's very rare that they're wildly better than expected. And if we don't trust the results of a particular unit, we'll buy a second one as verification. That's happened maybe once or twice in my time.

iwouldrun500miles354 karma

Do companies ever make changes to their products, based on your review? If yes, which one(s) would you like to review again, now that they've been improved?

usatoday1371 karma

Yes. Here's an example. We reviewed a clothes dryer a few years ago and said we liked everything about it except the lint trap. It had a weird handle and was awkward to remove.

So a few months later we're visiting at that company's headquarters for a product briefing. A designer walks up and hands up this hunk of plastic. He says, "hey, I just made this in our 3D printer. It's the new handle for the lint trap. We're going to put it in all the dryers starting next month."

I don't know how, but I think we made the world 0.5% better that day.

Xenokaos302 karma

Any products that you reviewed and then later changed your opinion about either due to additional information or use?

usatoday426 karma

This definitely happens, and it keeps you humble. You can have the best test rig, the smartest and most knowledgeable team, but still not realize that you had some menu setting turned on when it was supposed to be off. In those instances, it's really helpful to have a working relationship with the brands. Because they'll reach out ask informed questions instead of flying off the handle and demanding a retraction.

EwanIsMyName217 karma

What is the worst product you’ve ever tested?

usatoday376 karma

Awesome question. I had to dig way back in my brain for this. The worst was probably the CVS one-time-use video camera. It was basically the Flip camera before they branded as “Flip.” This was circa 2006. The technology wasn’t half-bad, and it was really small for a camcorder. But the economics were just stupid. Bad value prop. You could purchase one for the cost of renting it twice.

BuckOHare179 karma

How would you review Reviewed?

usatoday384 karma

11/10. Would view again.

TexInQuebec163 karma

Why do consumer review publications seem to focus so much on appliances and electronics? Are there any publications you would recommend that focus on products that are predominantly marketed to women, while still staying objective (i.e. not 'women's interest' magazines)? As a woman, I wish I could get the depth and objectivity of information about clothing, skincare, and haircare, as, say, CNET gives to its computer reviews. I find most "women's" product reviews are dumbed down.

usatoday161 karma

Great question. We have a lot of women on staff who share your frustrations with how some categories are covered in the industry. As a result, we're pushing into more health and beauty categories where we can apply the same rigor that we use on electronics.

Check out our hair dryers round-up (which contains my favorite gif we ever published) and let me know if we're on the right track: https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/the-best-hair-dryers. We've taken a similar approach to other hair styling products.

Clothing is one of our white whales. It's ripe for review but very hard to standardize in an apples-to-apples framework.

btonetbone162 karma

Is there a relatively obscure (ie, not everyone has one already) product in the $40-100 range that would make a genuinely helpful or enjoyable or useful gift for adults this holiday season? I hate buying junk or things that just get tucked away forever, and family is always hard to shop for.

usatoday195 karma

I also hate buying junk, but I realize that "junk" is a subjective term. We have a gift guide for items under $50 (link below). Most of them were tested, but some are personal recommendations from the author. They may or may not fit your criteria.

I like rgrv's recommendation of buying experiences, too. In the past, I've gotten people concert tickets. Once I made my wife a shoebox diorama of NYC as the physical "under the tree" representation of a trip that we could later arrange.

https://www.reviewed.com/features/the-20-best-gifts-for-under-50-of-2018

sonofabutch141 karma

What's the difference between you and Consumer Reports? Why should I trust you instead of them?

usatoday267 karma

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Consumer Reports. Like a lot of people, I grew up reading the magazine and trying to read little red and black dots. I have good friends that work there. So for me it’s not so much a matter of trusting Reviewed or CR more than the other. Rather it’s that we’re both credible sources. Reviewed has these awesome, crazy labs where we control for ambient humidity, or water temperature, or light conditions. Whatever is needed for the tests. Plus, I suppose, our content is free. So it’s a little more accessible to the average person. (Sorry, CR!)

bitter_cynical_angry103 karma

If your content is free for users, then someone else is paying for it. CR is credibly independent because their funding comes from their subscribers and thus if they give something a bad review, they have no chance of losing income from the company that makes the product. How can you ensure your own independence from this type of implicit pressure?

usatoday133 karma

All journalistic businesses need to fund themselves in order to keep doing the work that we do. Currently there are three basic models that you can blend: advertising, subscription, and affiliate. We opted not to go with a subscription model a long time ago because a paywall for a purely digital publication didn't make sense at the time.

Looking towards the future, I think we'll see a lot more affiliate links in publications of all stripes. CR has also pushed into affiliate and I don't see that in any way as something that taints their reputation. You either put in the lab work or you don't, and the test results speak for themselves.

redditrabbit22298 karma

How do you start such a website? it seems like the scaling depends on how much budget you have got, to buy and review products. Also, are there people who complain to you because they think you are responsible for a buy that didn't go well (seller problems)?

usatoday146 karma

The company actually started out as CamcorderInfo waaay back in the day. Very narrowly focused and incredibly long (12-page) reviews. That's what made good SEO practice at the time, and we were reaching an extremely qualified audience so nichey advertisers were not hard to find. So we took that model and replicated: DigitalCameraInfo, PrinterInfo, HeadphoneInfo, and so on until we had 26 different brands and domains to juggle.

Eventually we made the decision to fold them all into a single domain: Reviewed.com. It gave us more headroom for expansion into the rest of our readers' lives, but the advertising model didn't fit so well anymore. We wanted to review bath towels and car chargers and thermoses, but the companies that make those don't have the advertising dollars to fund the editorial work (writers, editors, test labs). That's where affiliate links make a huge difference. It's a simple revenue model that allows us to review anything we want. And it's more democratic, as well. If we write good content and people trust the recommendations, they click the links. If they don't, we re-evaluate our process and try again.

VegasRaider42073 karma

Ha. I've been going to digital camera info for as long as i can remember. Good stuff.

usatoday233 karma

So you're the guy. Good to finally meet.

usatoday78 karma

Hey everyone! It's Dave Kender. I appreciate the questions so far. Ready to dig in.

gwba76 karma

[deleted]

usatoday118 karma

Reviewed doesn't review charity organizations, and I don't see us doing so in the future. But in the context of a holiday "gift guide" from the editor, I felt it was appropriate to suggest a charity. I've followed the work of Doctors Without Borders for many years. They have high ratings from organizations that track such things and a large percentage of your donation goes directly to recipients rather than overhead.

PNDM170 karma

What makes Reviewed any different than Wirecutter or NYMag's Strategist?

What do you think the lifespan of this project is? It seems that there is an abundance of companies competing to rank for Best [insert product here].

If Reviewed was blacklisted from organic search results, what acquisition method would you use to drive users to the articles?

usatoday76 karma

I'll take these one at a time.

Wirecutter is another outlet I have a lot of respect for and I have friends there. But they have pretty narrow recommendations, generally speaking. The best X for everyone is ___. We try for a more custom-fit approach, making recommendations at a lot of different price points and form factors (this is especially true in TVs and appliances). And in regards to NYMag's Strategist, they don't do any actual lab testing, afaik. It's a totally different business model. (Updated with strikethrough and bold.)

As for lifespan, I've been here for 10+ years and I've essentially worked for 4 different companies. We just keep morphing as the web itself evolves. If you take the core concept "We review stuff," that is such a malleable business. 10 years ago we did long-form single SKU reviews with an advertising model. Now we're broadening our coverage and exploring affiliate. 10 years from now the monetization will be something we can't imagine. But I guarantee that editorial product reviews will still be there.

If we were blacklisted from organic search, that would totally suck. And it seems extremely unlikely. But search is just one channel. We're fortunate enough to be part of this huge USA TODAY Network. Then there's social, paid traffic, etc. You can never rely 100% on one channel.

attax48 karma

What product did you anticipate being bad, that turned out to be really good?

usatoday117 karma

Apple Earpods. We had tested all the truly wireless headphones on the market and vehemently hated them. The reviewer, Michael Desjardin, went in ready to trash them. I remember the look of shock on his face when he said "These are... good. Like, really good."

Thus, the benefits of actually testing products before we spout off. We all have biases. It's the science that saves us from ourselves sometimes.

mingmingcat44 karma

Which products do you think are underrated?

usatoday147 karma

Just polled the editorial bullpen and the collective response was Windows laptops. Macs have a lot of visibility in the popular sphere (and personally I'm a Mac user because it would just be so difficult to switch now), but there are some insanely good Windows laptops at basically every price point.

Apologies if I might be preaching to the choir here.

daneblade41 karma

Not sure how long you've been testing household appliances, but do you have an opinion as to whether the quality of items (refrigerators, dish washers, washer/dryers, etc.) are better or worse than they used to be?

usatoday94 karma

This is our #1 most asked question by readers. I'll try to summarize and then add a few links where we've gone into more details.

Appliances are very different than they used to be 20-30 years ago. It's true that they don't last as long. But the actual cost for appliances (adjusted for inflation) is about 3x cheaper than they were in 1981. They're also far more energy efficient, so you're saving on water and electricity over the lifetime of ownership.

Finally, the technology is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were in the past. Front load washers extend the life of your clothes. Better insulation and temperature control in fridges means your food stays fresher longer. Temperature sensors in dryers means you're not baking your clothes.

Further reading: https://www.reviewed.com/dishwashers/features/ask-the-experts-why-dont-new-home-appliances-last

Chtorrr35 karma

Strangest product you have ever tested?

usatoday117 karma

I'll default to a toothbrush answer again. There was this super-expensive European toothbrush called the Foreo Issa Hybrid. Instead or regular bristles it has this silicon spikes. It was like brushing your teeth with a wet Koosh ball. Do not recommend.

Urabutbl34 karma

Have you ever tested a product and thought "this is life-changing!", and if so what?

usatoday72 karma

I firmly believe that if you pick certain everyday items, invest in them, and treat them well, you get a very small lift in your quality of life. I chose to do that with my coffee maker (Technivorm Moccamaster), my umbrella (Davek umbrella), and a few other things. Link at bottom for some more along this line.

Doesn't always work out though. I recently bought a nice backpack from Jack Spade and the damn straps keep slipping. The user reviews said as much but I didn't heed their warning. Live and learn.

https://www.reviewed.com/features/revieweds-editor-in-chief-shares-his-best-picks-of-the-season

Urabutbl15 karma

I followed the link, and now I'm gonna have to find some way of locating Harry & David pears in Sweden, in winter.

flekkzo3 karma

Lycka till:)

usatoday4 karma

Lycka till

Gör bara glogg istället.

idahofosho8 karma

I clicked the link, just noticed you have the Nintendo Switch listed at $200 so I clicked to buy it because that's a steal but the page it takes you to is on Amazon and it's listed at $300.

usatoday14 karma

Sorry. Prices changes constantly. It's one of the banes of publishing in our field. We have lots of pages where we can place a widget that updates the price dynamically, but for various technical reasons, we can't use everywhere.

ScoobyMaroon6 karma

I followed the link and I have a real hard time imagining paying $1 per .1oz of candle no matter how nice it smells.

usatoday27 karma

Fair enough. The candle ain't for everyone. Those pears tho.

yo_yo_homieg32 karma

How do you ensure that you're not influenced by revenue from affiliate links?

usatoday59 karma

Another great question. Actually it's something that we ask ourselves all the time. One of the main benefits of turning our attention towards affiliate links rather than advertising is that it creates another layer of remove from the brands. (You don't like our negative review? You want to pull advertising? We really don't care.)

But the danger lies in simply replacing that with a different kind of chase for dollars. We keep ourselves in check by remembering that our first mission is to help people buy the best stuff. When our recommendation happens to have a great commission on it, that's an awesome win-win and we all go home happy. When we love a product but it's only sold at a retailer with no affiliate program, that's a win for readers but a net-zero for us. I can live with that. And as a business, we can live with that as long as it's not the preponderance of our links. What we don't earn in affiliate, hopefully we earn in trust.

Long answer, sorry. But in short, the only way to ensure is to keep asking whether we're doing things honestly.

tomgabriele10 karma

When our recommendation happens to have a great commission on it, that's an awesome win-win and we all go home happy.

Are you able to comment on the profitability of various retailer referral programs?

Is, for example, Amazon's better than Walmart's? Or is it more like the big guys have a program and the small guys just don't?

Also, I noticed that on some (all?) reviews, the 'buy at amazon' link says "click for price" while other retailers have the price listed right on the page. Is that because of an Amazon API thing, or because you gut some money when people click through to amazon even if they don't buy? I don't think it would be the former since The Wirecutter seems to be able to pull Amazon prices, and if it's the latter, it would be nice to see that disclosed.

usatoday15 karma

The commision rates are highly varied. Even within a single retailer, you'll get lower commissions for some categories and higher commissions for others. It kind of corresponds to the profit margins of that category (e.g. televisions have razor-thin margins and the commission rates reflect that), but it's not always that straightforward.

Yes, some retailers have generally higher rates than others. Amazon does tend to have higher rates. But just as relevant is the fact that Amazon sells a wider variety of products and has a higher trust factor than many retailers. Even when we present multiple retailers and Amazon does not have the best price, people still click on the Amazon button.

We try to present a variety of options (i.e. "buy buttons") to readers where we can. The actual module we use to display prices has its limits. So sometimes we can show a bunch of options, and sometimes we have to pick one and use a simple text link.

Re: your last question, that's up to the Amazon API. Under certain circumstances, the API can't or won't pull the price and it's replaced with the "click for price" text. I imagine Amazon could answer this with more clarity than I can.

rewayna30 karma

I am insanely jealous of your career! How did you end up where you are today?

usatoday52 karma

Thank you. I really do love my job. I have a load of problems on my desk every day, but they're usually interesting problems and that makes all the difference in the world. Plus I really, really like the people I work with.

If you're interested in working here, hit us up at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).

hulktopus29 karma

Where were you when Fallout 76 happened?

usatoday57 karma

I had to ask my co-worker Lee Neikirk what this even meant. My gaming IQ is quite low.

There was a brief spell where Reviewed actually launched a video game vertical. We killed it after a few months. Games have only gotten glitchier since then. I assume that's a causal relationship.

golfing_furry24 karma

Best toothbrush you’ve ever brushed with?

usatoday52 karma

The Oral B Pro 3000 is my favorite. Here's the review I wrote.
https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/the-best-electric-toothbrushes

Unfortunately it's not even the one I own. I bought a Sonicare and it's perfectly fine. But (and this is very typical when you're a professional reviewer) as soon as I bought I started asking myself, "Did I miss out on something better?" So I started a three-month process of testing them all.

el_smurfo9 karma

Curious about Quip...advertised all day on radio and look nice. Seems like it might be a brush head subscription scam though...

usatoday10 karma

Personally, I disliked Quip in my testing. I found the vibrations too weak to be effective at cleaning. But my co-worker loves it. And in its defense, any brush that gets you brushing for the recommended two minutes is probably better than nothing.

igabeup24 karma

have you ever tested wifi boosters/extenders? also modems. i think i need new ones.

usatoday64 karma

From TJ Donegan, our exec editor:
On wireless range extenders/boosters we haven't tested them, but as far as we know they're rarely effective at actually extending range. In most situations I'd say you're better off taking the money and investing in a better router or, if you have a large home, a mesh system since those are cheaper now.

If you have one tricky spot because of something structural in your home, like a metal wall, then an extender can be a cheap solution, but it frequently slows down your connection, so you get more bars technically but slower speeds. Sometimes that trade-off is worth it, usually a better system will solve the same problem.

bnjmin20 karma

What product category or vertical is most rife with review/seo manipulation?

usatoday47 karma

Web hosting. It's just this dumpster fire on the other side of Review-town. We all have to live with it.

mrjoe1216 karma

Is there any particular brand that people flock to that you have experienced consistent issues with their products?

usatoday32 karma

A few years ago, I would have said Beats headphones. They were mostly hype. But in the interim they've gotten pretty good. And frankly what's more impressive is that they actually changed the questions reviewers ask. It used to be about aiming for a perfectly flat frequency response curve. But now an emphasis on the base boosting has become the norm.

flekkzo14 karma

Could it be related to a change in music preference in the general population? A bass boost to me is just bad, but I also don’t listen to the type of music Beats are known for.

usatoday18 karma

If you actually look at the frequency response on a lot of headphones, the emphasis is in two areas: the kick drum and the guitar pick attack. That would basically sum up pop music. But no, it's not the ideal sound profile for Bach.

mrjoe125 karma

Thanks for the response! I have been looking for a good pair of headphones recently and those seem to be the most controversial. I will look for the best reviewed on Amazon.

CynicalTree20 karma

/r/headphones They have links to tons of resources. Just dont be the next guy to ask "please tell me what headphone to buy" in it's own thread.

A lot of it will come down to sound preference and comfort.

usatoday14 karma

^ This. Good advice. Headphones are so personal and come in more varieties than most products that we cover. Over-ear, on-ear, in-ear, wireless, truly wireless, headphones for running, headphones for swimming, headphones for studio mixing, etc.

charlesh016 karma

What is one product that you most often find yourself recommending to friends and family?

usatoday28 karma

People tell me I don't shut up about my Davek umbrella. Also that I don't shut up about what a stupid waste of space toasters are. https://www.reviewed.com/ovens/features/toasters-are-a-stupid-waste-of-counter-space

CallingTomServo13 karma

How familiar are you with RTings.com? I made a TV purchase recently based mostly off their recommendations. No regrets on my end... just curious if they are actually good.

Also after looking through your content I was able to find a pretty solid gift! (The Flavor Bible)

usatoday28 karma

They do really solid TV testing. In-depth and perfect for gearheads that want to know all the specs. I don't know anyone there personally but I watch them.

Chickenpuffball10 karma

What's the worst response you've had from a brand after you reviewed their item?

usatoday20 karma

Once I was at a trade show where a brand rep threatened to sue us if we attempted to review their product. Mind you, this was a big and expensive product sold in thousands of stores. She said that in her country (which was in Europe), they had tougher laws that didn't allow media companies "to just write whatever they wanted."

Weirdly, this was a company we had never reviewed before, so they didn't even have a particular reason to fear us.

Thank you for asking the question because it's one of my favorite "tales from the trenches." The only reason I'm not naming the company is that it's possible this rep had gone rogue and didn't represent what could be a nice, normal business. I've never talked to them since, so I don't know.

DLS314110 karma

Test engineer here. How do you determine the exact metrics you’ll use for evaluating a certain product?

I know from my time in the consumer appliance industry that testing for performance “claims” like “whitest whites” or what have you requires a lot of testing to very specific criteria and that a lot of procedures were defined/agreed to under the AHAM organization.

usatoday10 karma

For several categories, we take a subset of the industry-standard testing. In washers and dryers, it's straight out of AHAM. https://www.reviewed.com/science/how-we-test-washing-machines-stain-strip-spectroscopy (apologies for this page being a little broken. We're currently updating these How We Test articles).

But as another example, our dishwasher testing is a blend of AHAM and IEC. We liked the dish ware better from one, but the food loads better from another.

In refrigerators, we started with AHAM, but we mixed in a Japanese standard in which you open the door once per day over a three-day test period because we thought it was closer to real life. It also allowed us to retrieve and weigh a piece of floral foam 3x times, which we use for testing the crisper drawers.

wuop10 karma

What are your thoughts on the good/evil of consumerism, and your place in that gradient?

usatoday19 karma

Some of us wallow in stuff and some aim for minimalism. I lean towards the latter. I'd been in apartment in San Francisco for two years when a friend came over and said "Does anyone actually live here?"

The fact is that we all need stuff. If we can help people make informed choices, we're doing our part to help the human experience in a tiny, tiny way. That's especially important when you don't have a lot of money, because there's a lot of crappy products out there. It may not be much, but it's what we know how to do well.

agirlandhergame9 karma

Are you hiring? I have a college degree (or three) and have done beer reviews...

usatoday22 karma

Email us [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) . We tend not to do products that are overly subjective, such as beer. We recently reviewed meal kits services and coffee subscription services (links below), but those were factored in objective criteria like shipping times, packaging quality, user experience, etc. Taste was just one aspect.

https://www.reviewed.com/cooking/best-right-now/the-best-meal-kit-delivery-services

https://www.reviewed.com/cooking/best-right-now/the-best-coffee-subscriptions

If you can see a path forward for beer reviewing according to this model, please reach out. It's my own personal favorite category.

bitter_truth_9 karma

There are many professionals like you that curate products and use their integrity as their main branding tool, until most of them eventually get bought by corporations and start paddling crap. Do you think there should be tougher laws to prevent that? I.e if a promoter is found to have been contracted by a corporation to sell their product, that "influencer" should serve jail time or pay a hefty fine?

usatoday7 karma

I'm no legal expert and I don't know what laws are currently on the books to encourage or discourage the influence of behaviors.

But one thing I have seen is that, given enough time, cream rises and crap sinks. A few years ago, cheap, automated review aggregators were creeping up in search authority, only to be swatted down by an algo update. I'd like to think that the same thing will happen to unqualified influencers.

vettysunshine8 karma

What is the very best milk frother to make coffee house lattes?

usatoday6 karma

One of our most experienced freelance contributors, Sharon Franke, did a great roundup of milk frothers. She liked the Nespresso Aeroccino 3 best, with the Capresso Froth Plus as our Best Value winner.

Handheld milk frothers (like the IKEA model in my own kitchen drawer) is perfectly adequate at producing the same volume of froth, but won't heat the milk like the Nespresso and Capresso.

Here's the whole review: https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/the-best-milk-frothers

mdr-fqr878 karma

Why can I not find portable scanner reviews on your website?

usatoday17 karma

We haven't reviewed them yet. Apologies. There are so many categories I want to cover but resources are never infinite, sadly. It's on the list for early 2019. Would love some recommendations for us to test.

mdr-fqr8717 karma

If you're taking ideas, absolutely.

Fujitsu s1300i - Considered the gold standard of portable scanners. Despite how old it is, it still hits tops of lists.

https://www.fujitsu.com/us/products/computing/peripheral/scanners/scansnap/s1300i/index.html

Epson ES-300W - The modern runner up

https://epson.com/For-Home/Scanners/Document-Scanners/WorkForce-ES-300W-Wireless-Portable-Duplex-Document-Scanner-with-ADF/p/B11B242201

I think the angle of the review is where my interest is in:

  • Speed of scans while plugged in via USB vs plugged into outlet

  • Workflow of scans. Meaning, sure it can be fast, but if I'm scanning in hundreds of smaller receipts, I want to know I can save each one quickly and efficiently without tons of clicking. So more of less the review of the related software

  • How it handles small papers and gets pulled in at angles, etc.

usatoday11 karma

Awesome. Thank you. This gives us a great place to start.

Oh_my_Brothers7 karma

Since your paid to review products, what if a product was really terrible or misleading? Would you air the review or just tell them you can’t do it?

usatoday32 karma

We routinely put AVOID labels on products we don't like. You have a make a really bad product to earn that badge though. More typically, if a product is disappointing we'll say as much, and recommend that maybe you should increase your budget a little if you want something better. I can't think of a time we ever buried a review because of poor product performance, though.

You earn more way more trust calling out garbage when you see it. And companies always know when they put a garbage product on the market.

leirbagflow7 karma

Have you tried reviewing mattresses? Why/why not?

Trying to research mattress brands and reading about the review sites all but made me spiral into an existential crisis and lose my sense of self. But hey, that's just me.

usatoday17 karma

We are just now putting the final touches on a four-month review process for mattresses. Sorry it's taking so long. I can't wait to get this article live! But mattresses are big, heavy, expensive, and by their nature require longitudinal testing.

I wrote about my experience with the Casper mattress, which you can read here (https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/features/i-slept-a-casper-mattress-for-one-year-heres-what-i-learned). But a fuller, data-rich review will be here in the next two weeks.

pwnslinger6 karma

Can you get rid of that awful, terrible, giant SIGN UP FOR OUR EMAIL LIST OMG DO IT pop over modal with the teeny tiny "no thanks" text link and the gigantic "Subscribe" button?

I literally close the tab on sites with those when it happens (as a matter of policy) and do not return.

usatoday7 karma

I hear where you're coming from, but we do need to grow our newsletter subscriber list. I'll mention something to our design team and we'll see if we can improve the UX a little.

Silvershadedragon5 karma

Does being a reviewer cause you to be more brand loyal or more willing to try out different things?

usatoday15 karma

Because I'm either reading or editing soooo many products that I'll never have the space, the need, or the desire to own, I've come to realize that one important fact: Not everyone is me.

It's stupidly obvious, but also worth saying out loud to yourself everyone once in a while. I can't count the number of times I've looked at a product and dismissed it as irrelevant, only to have a staff member or a reader tell me that it literally changed their life.

This is all to say that a little empathy goes a long way, both in life and in the review business. Always be willing to try out new things.

SevnPlanets4 karma

I’m in the market for a cordless drill and Bluetooth speaker, any recommendations?

usatoday8 karma

Our top-rated drill is the Makita FD07R1 Cordless Driver / Drill Kit. It's on the smaller side but good for everyday use. The whole roundup is here: https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/the-best-cordless-drills

The best bluetooth speaker, according to our Tech Editor, is the JBL Flip 3. Super reliable. Super portable. https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/best-right-now/best-portable-bluetooth-speakers-under-100

paerius3 karma

One of my pet peeves with review sites is that they often don't take into account how long something will last, or how good the customer service is when something breaks.

Is there anything that can be done to cater to the the buy-it-for-lifer that doesn't need all the fancy bells and whistles, but rather wants a quality product that lasts, with a company with great customer service to back it up? I feel a lot of review sites look at a focused view on shiny features instead of the whole picture.

usatoday5 karma

I understand your frustration. It's a weak spot of the entire review industry. That's because it's economically unfeasible to test the lifetime performance of the products we review.

You need access to the owners who can report their satisfaction levels, and in statistically significant numbers, which we don't have. Retailers might have info like this, but they'll never share it.

Some publications conduct surveys to try to get at the question, but they can only determine the reliability of a brand, not specific products.

I believe that model is flawed, however, because brands change their manufacturing methods all the time. If, for example, brand X invests in a new refrigerator factory, should they suffer for years as "unreliable" because of the products made in their old factory? I don't think so, since that history is irrelevant to consumers ready to buy something today.

The best method, I believe, is for consumers to read professional reviews alongside user reviews and create their own synthesis opinions.

FartedRetarted3 karma

[deleted]

usatoday11 karma

Nailed it.

xboxhelpdude13 karma

Whats the best product to clean a dirty/dusty room?

Cheers

usatoday13 karma

I suppose it depends on the room specifics. I don't think you can get very far without a good vacuum. The Kenmore cannister vacs are a favorite, with the Miele being the higher-end option.

Stick vacuums are a good choice for hardwood surfaces. We like the Hoover Air 2-in-1. Dysons are a perennial favorite (the Cyclone V10 Absolute is our top-rated stick vac), but at 5x the price of the Hoover, you have to decide whether it makes sense for your budget. Tests indicate that it's damn good, but not necessarily 5x better at picking up dust.

I am routinely stunned by the level of interest our readers have in robot vacuums. They're no substitute for a traditional vacuum, but they're getting better at navigating all the time. Our best affordable robot vac is the Eufy RoboVac 11s. Full roundup here: https://www.reviewed.com/vacuums/best-right-now/best-affordable-robot-vacuums

Shy of vacuums, a simple sponge, some vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda can take care of a whole lot of mess.

szaagman3 karma

You have in the past prognosticated trends based on what you have see at CES. What have you gotten right and and wrong?

usatoday7 karma

Oof. If you want to look stupid, prognostication is a surefire method. But it's in keeping with the tradition of something like CES, so of course, we throw our hat into the ring at times. I'd have to go back and look at everything I said, but I don't think there were any huge misses. (This is where everyone can jump in and tell me how wrong I am.)

vewvea3 karma

Whats your favorite type of product to review? The one you get excited to put your hands on when you get the briefing

usatoday8 karma

For a long time it was televisions. But now they're all so good it's really hard to spot the things that separate a $2,000 TV from an $8,000 TV.

Now I would say coffee makers. Because it means there's fresh, hot coffee in the office whenever I want it.

galagapilot2 karma

did anyone ever confuse you for Dave Kendall, former VJ for MTV's 120 Minutes?

usatoday11 karma

No, but he sounds like a cool guy and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

usatoday11 karma

We've never reviewed it. But just taking a quick scan through our normal vetting process:

- As of today, the price is actually $3 more than Amazon normally charges for this item.
- There is only one Amazon user review and it's suspiciously positive
- I can't find any other reviews from professionals for similar products from this brand

So that's no.

cupacupacupacupacup2 karma

Is Roku a good deal for cutting your cable bill, or are there better options?

usatoday5 karma

I love my Roku, though it does get a little crash-y at times. When I bought mine about two years ago it was with the explicit intention of cutting Comcast cable from my life. I cut it and have no regrets.

Socony2 karma

How do you develop the testing procedures for a product in order to determine its quality?

usatoday4 karma

It starts with our Senior Scientist, Dr. Julia MacDougall. Once a new category has been assigned, she works with the writer and editor to identify the most important attributes of a product. I'll take something simple like duct tape as an example. https://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/the-best-duct-tape

Duct tape needs to have strong adhesion when pulled in the same direction as its surface. It should be easy to tear by hand, be weather-resistant, and not leave a residue behind.

So we developed a series of tests that were replicable and scientifically valid. I love that part of the job because I get my hands dirty, and in this case, I also got soaking wet from testing the leaky garden hose test.

But you do have to draw the line somewhere. I could have spent 6 months testing tape, but that would not have been a great use of resources, considering people don't do that much research on a $10 roll of tape. Typically the more expensive a category, the more expensive the testing. (Appliances can cost thousands of dollars to test.)

Once we have all the data, they get rolled into a big, complicated spreadsheet where we balance the weights of each test, normalize the raw numbers, and create a ranked list of the best products through the worst products.

The writer then looks at that list and says "yes, that ranking gels with my experience in using those products." Or not. And if not, you go through the data again and again, re-testing and re-weighting until the spreadsheet and the human experience are in agreement with each other.

When I explain it to people I realize how exhausting it all is, but we do it many, many times a month. Mostly that's because Julia is more machine than human, I think.

Onepopcornman1 karma

This was a fun read. If you could choose a new item/category to start testing based on your own personal interest what would it be?

usatoday5 karma

Egg sandwiches. I've eaten the same breakfast sandwich every day and done it for 10+ years. And every day I think to myself, "This is the best damn sandwich I've ever had."