10 votes

High-Quality "independent" product reviews

This question was brought on by one of danluu's posts, which linked to another post going into why benchmarking matters. In that post, I discovered a bunch of different places/people running benchmarks to determine the highest performing "thing". Over my years on the internet, I've come across other places and people doing this for other categories of things, and think it would be beneficial to get a large list down of all the high quality testers and reviewers in one place. So I'll start off with a comment below with a list of all the high quality reviewers that I've come across for anything and I would love it if you all could do the same!

Caveats:

  • I'd like to try and avoid communities centered around a single niche object. First example that comes to mind for this is the mechanical keyboards subreddit. While there's some good information there, I feel that it's highly diluted from everyone else in the community "following what's popular". If there's a specific user that consistently posts high quality information from there though, I'd say that's fair game.
  • If I (or someone else) posts a resource that you don't think is a high quality resource, or is untrustworthy, put a comment down explaining why! It's hard to be on guard all the time, so I'm sure I've fallen for marketing (word of mouth or otherwise) plots without realizing it.

I'll include a disclaimer for reviewers or categories that have an innate subjective aspect to them. (Audio & Video would be good examples I think)

10 comments

  1. [2]
    psi
    Link
    Wirecutter (owned by the New York Times) has recommendations for seemingly everything, assuming the thing you're looking for isn't too specialized.

    Wirecutter (owned by the New York Times) has recommendations for seemingly everything, assuming the thing you're looking for isn't too specialized.

    7 votes
    1. autumn
      Link Parent
      I’m still sad they paywalled it, ugh. I stopped going there once they did that. Were the affiliate links not enough?

      I’m still sad they paywalled it, ugh. I stopped going there once they did that. Were the affiliate links not enough?

      5 votes
  2. [3]
    scrambo
    (edited )
    Link
    This post will contain a list of all the places that I've heard of to get a good understanding of what makes good "things". Still a WIP at this point (3/15/22 @ 12:50pm) From the Dan Luu post...

    This post will contain a list of all the places that I've heard of to get a good understanding of what makes good "things". Still a WIP at this point (3/15/22 @ 12:50pm)

    From the Dan Luu post above:

    • Tire Rack
      • I'll be needing new tires soon anyway, so discovering this was fortuitous.
    • jepsen.io
    • Teknikens Varld (Moose Test for Cars)
      • There may be other channels that are also doing these tests, I haven't looked too far into it, but it was used as an example in dan's post.
    • Ben Kuhn's Post about improving video call experiences

    Others I've found over the years:

    • Project Farm
      • This one man show does a lot testing. He compares the different brands of lots of everyday items you might not know much about, including but not limited to: windshield wipers, motor oil, knife sharpeners and more.
      • Caveat: These are not scientific experiments, they're more comparisons between brands of the same type of item. You won't find indisputable proof of anything here, but I'd still argue that the videos are helpful in making an informed decision.
    • Z Reviews (Warning: Audio peripherals related)
      • Don't exactly remember where I saw the recommendations for Z, it might have been 4chan or Reddit. Grain of salt here.
    • Crinacle (Warning: Audio peripherals related)
    • rtings
      • Caveat: I've never looked too deep into this website. I've only heard good things about them in regards to their ratings on Monitors and TV's. It does seem like they have other categories as well, but I can't speak to them about those.
    • Consumer Reports
      • Unfortunately, have to be a member to see a lot of metadata about products you're researching. Makes sense though, they gotta make money somehow!
    • Linus Tech Tips Cable Tester 1 2
      • LTT has a bunch of other review videos which you could also use here, but I picked this grouping specifically because they're showing the output from the cable tester that they're using.
    • GSMArena
      • Very useful website that I've used for several years now that lets you compare phones. Used it most recently when my phone was kicked off the ATT network, and got a Pixel 5a due to the battery life performance on gsmarena. Here's the exact comparison I had for deciding my new phone
    • Benson Leung
      • This person is a google engineer who made headlines ~7 years ago leaving amazon reviews of usb cables (Type-C and others I think) that didn't conform to the spec. Last review was 2017
    6 votes
    1. [2]
      AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      Consumer Reports has been caught multiple times publishing "erroneous information, miscalculations, and systemic errors in measurement" including things like stating child safety seats don't meet...

      Consumer Reports
      Unfortunately, have to be a member to see a lot of metadata about products you're researching. Makes sense though, they gotta make money somehow!

      Consumer Reports has been caught multiple times publishing "erroneous information, miscalculations, and systemic errors in measurement" including things like stating child safety seats don't meet crash test standards and then admitting they didn't actually use the crash test standards (they doubled the speed), stating dog food is nutritionally deficient and then admitting they didn't know how to test for the nutrients, and the Suzuki Samurai case where they purposefully exceeded all safety measures and standards for the test, for only that vehicle, until they could force it to roll over after it was already shown to be the most stable vehicle in the test, and then published that it was unacceptably prone to rolling over.

      Consumer Reports may have no advertisers, but they certainly have bias and I've seen enough of their tests be outright wrong to not consider them trustworthy.

      9 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        In defense of consumer reports: They provide a 'good enough' high-level overview on damn near anything you can think of, well beyond cars and appliances. If you need something and don't wanna...

        In defense of consumer reports:

        They provide a 'good enough' high-level overview on damn near anything you can think of, well beyond cars and appliances. If you need something and don't wanna spend your weekend sorting your options, they are great to provide a shortlist. I've never been burned by picking something that ranks > 80 on CR. Retroactively checking old purchases I've been satisfied ot dissatisfied with generally falls in that line as well.

        And whilst singling out vehicles is bad, blindly adhereing to existing safety standards is also bad, because a lot of safety features fail to provide additional safety once you start testing beyond the scope of the official test, which CR has been able to discover for numerous vehicles.

        2 votes
  3. [2]
    rosco
    Link
    Outdoor Gear Lab is by far and away the best resource for testing outdoor equipment. It doesn't matter if I'm looking for a sleeping pad, bike helmet, or headlamp, my first stop is always OGL....

    Outdoor Gear Lab is by far and away the best resource for testing outdoor equipment. It doesn't matter if I'm looking for a sleeping pad, bike helmet, or headlamp, my first stop is always OGL. There have been a few times where I feel like the have omitted real contenders (like in the case of my full squish MTB) but that has been extremely rare. They also highlight options by overall performance, best bang for your buck, and cheapest option. Their reviews also do apples to apples comparison with categories such as warmth (if you're looking at clothing) or durability (across the board) that are really tuned to each category.

    6 votes
    1. scrambo
      Link Parent
      This is fantastic! I'll be saving this one for sure, thank you!

      This is fantastic! I'll be saving this one for sure, thank you!

      1 vote
  4. [2]
    AugustusFerdinand
    Link
    While it's more cooking than gadgetry, I have found America's Test Kitchen (division of Cook's Illustrated, which is also amazing) reviews to be reliable and give transparent reasons for their...

    While it's more cooking than gadgetry, I have found America's Test Kitchen (division of Cook's Illustrated, which is also amazing) reviews to be reliable and give transparent reasons for their ratings/recommendations that largely take into account male and female approaches (e.g. one thing works well for men that women found to require too much pressure to use or grips too large, etc).

    4 votes
    1. scrambo
      Link Parent
      Also a great recommendation, thank you! I'll be looking through here later tonight, I have a couple thing on my wishlist for the kitchen :)

      Also a great recommendation, thank you! I'll be looking through here later tonight, I have a couple thing on my wishlist for the kitchen :)

      2 votes
  5. soks_n_sandals
    Link
    I’m a big fan of Audioholics for the AV world. They have strong backgrounds in electrical engineering and acoustics and give you the no-BS rundown on audio and video gear. I really can't recommend...

    I’m a big fan of Audioholics for the AV world. They have strong backgrounds in electrical engineering and acoustics and give you the no-BS rundown on audio and video gear. I really can't recommend their content enough. The kind of objective and realistic approach they take to product assessment and review is exactly the impartial analysis the audio community needs more of, and if you're ever thinking about investing in a home theater or some high end audio equipment, they're a great first stop.

    2 votes