Written by Laura Reed
The BestReviews Testing Lab testers want these products for themselves
With the holiday gifting season entering full swing, choosing the right gift can be a daunting prospect. BestReviews is here to help you make the best possible decision. Since we perform our own rigorous hands-on testing, you can be sure that the newest products perform the way you expect. We look for special features, extra benefits, standout styles and unexpected issues or drawbacks so you can purchase with confidence.
How the BestReviews Testing Lab works
The BestReviews Testing Lab isn’t staffed by professionals: we ask regular people, just like you, to try out products in real-life situations. We’re not having pro chefs test our air fryers or salon stylists test our hair dryers because we want to know how the average consumer approaches and uses products. By approaching our testing with an everyday user’s level of familiarity, we can evaluate them on the same factors shoppers look for, such as differences between models and ease of operation.
To better care for our planet and our community, we donate lightly tested products to organizations such as the Lighthouse Community Public School, which is local to our testing center of operations.
Best Testing Lab products from October
Our tester enjoyed the bright, clear sound and versatile connectivity options in these over-ear headphones. However, they lack the deep bass of older Beats models and the stiff build can feel uncomfortably tight on the head.
Our tester recommends this premium hair dryer for anyone who blow-dries their hair multiple times a week. It’s pricey and tends to perform better on straight hair, but it’s lightweight and dries hair fast thanks to its multiple heat and fan settings.
This high-end cordless vacuum cleans effectively thanks to strong suction and a laser light feature that reveals every last speck of dust. Its dustbin is small and needs frequent emptying, but its battery life is decent and it’s lightweight.
Our tester loved all the data this high-end smartwatch collects. Its navigation abilities struggle and it’s expensive, but it’s rugged, fast and responsive.
The flagship Microsoft gaming console offers a huge library of games, including games from older Xbox generations thanks to backward compatibility. It has expensive proprietary storage options, but excellent graphics and performance.
Our tester enjoyed the ease of use this instant camera offers, especially its helpful selfie mirror. Its somewhat low-quality images may disappoint some but be nostalgic to others.
This compact espresso machine looks elegant and produces cafe-quality coffee drinks thanks to thoughtful accessories and an automatic milk frother. The espresso it produces may not be hot enough for some aficionados, but it’s solidly built and easy to use.
Although its design hasn’t changed much over time, the Apple Watch 9 is an excellent introductory smartwatch and a solid upgrade for existing Apple Watch users. Features such as the double-tap gesture and additional health tracking continue to be added with new OS updates.
Designed for outdoor activities, this premium smartwatch has a bright AMOLED display and comes with detailed pre-loaded maps for hiking and climbing. It’s pricey and a little heavy, but it boasts excellent battery life and helpful fitness metrics.
“Harry Potter” fans and casual gamers alike can enjoy immersing themselves in the beautifully rendered world of Hogwarts in one of the year’s best video games. It’s available for the PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series S, X and One and Windows PC and will be available for Nintendo Switch on Nov. 14.
Testing Lab products from October worth checking out
- The Shark SpeedStyle is a powerful alternative to pricey high-end hair dryers, but it could use more incremental settings.
- The Amazon Echo Pop is an excellent budget speaker despite its awkward button placement.
- The fashion-forward Garmin Venu 3 is a great general-purpose smartwatch for everyday activities.
- The PlayStation 5 impresses with immersive and innovative gaming, but it isn’t backward-compatible and the console takes up a lot of space.
- The clever hybrid Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo is pricey for an instant camera, but lets users review and edit their photos before deciding to print them.
- The Xbox Series S is limited to digital games but is a more budget-friendly next-generation gaming experience.
- The ASUS Chromebook Plus CM34 is limiting to users who need Windows or Apple software, but it’s fast, versatile and rugged.
- The Galaxy Book3 Pro is a high-end everyday laptop that’s great for work, but its battery life and speakers are somewhat lacking.
- The iPhone 15 Pro Max offers flagship-quality performance, but its advanced photo adjustments take some getting used to.
- Bethesda’s newest offering Starfield doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a fun shooter game with an impressively big universe to explore.
- NBA 2K24 offers improved graphics and the ability to play WNBA teams, but it has a steep learning curve.
- Street Fighter 6 sets a new standard for fighting games and is fun for all skill levels.
- Madden NFL 24 improves on the franchise’s past games with updated graphics, new tactics and better AI.
- Wrestling fans will enjoy WWE 2K23‘s multiple gameplay modes and improved performance.
- Despite its simplistic story and somewhat underwhelming graphics, mech fans will find Armored Core 6 worth the wait thanks to its satisfying combat.
- Star Wars: Jedi: Survivor is an excellent sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order, mixing intense lightsaber combat with puzzles and platforming.
- The Razer Blade 16 runs hot, it’s heavy and it’s very expensive, but it’s a powerful yet stylish gaming laptop.
- The Amazon Echo Auto isn’t truly hands-free, but it’s an easy way to add Alexa voice controls to your car.
- It may offer only basic features, but the Xbox Wireless Controller boasts tactile feedback and comfortable ergonomics across multiple platforms.
- The Razer Kiyo Streaming Webcam offers a midrange upgrade to most built-in webcams with its built-in ring light and simple operation.
- The second-gen Apple AirPods sound great, but noise cancellation can drain the battery and they rely on the outmoded Lightning cable.
- The third-gen Apple AirPods lack noise cancellation, but they offer solid sound quality and a long battery life.
- The entry-level Roku Express transforms traditional TVs into smart TVs, but can only stream up to a 1080p resolution.
- For only $10 more, the Roku Express 4K+ offers 4K streaming and voice controls.
- The Dyson v15 Detect is a powerful cordless vacuum, but it’s heavy and its power button must be continuously held down to run.
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Laura Reed writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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