There’s no shortage of technology bloggers who are quick with “best” product badges. I make the distinction myself, calling out certain laptops, routers and other computer hardware. But it’s important to know what’s behind the “best” label. Here’s how I make the determination, based on decades of journalistic and user experience, as well as deep exploration of digital devices. I’m outlining how I devise my criteria and why, so that you can apply this sort of assessment to your own technology options.
Step 1: Find Possible Review Candidates
Each day, I swim through a sea of public relations pitches and new-product news releases. I go to trade shows and sit through vendor demos. And then there is my daily monitoring of the Web for new products, and my incessant visits to product retailers such as Best Buy and Costco.
From all these sources, I compile and evaluate the items I think are worth checking out, and then request review samples. Most are sent as loaners, with the expectation that I will conduct hands-on testing within a certain period of time. Some products are sent to me with no expectation that they be returned.
At this stage, I eliminate many products. My primary criterion is whether a consumer would be interested in the product. Does it have the potential to improve productivity? Is it worth the price? In addition, as a journalist with an investigative itch, I want to know the product compares with similar ones on the market, in terms of both price and effectiveness.