Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

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protagonist
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Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by protagonist »

Whereas I consider most review sites almost worthless, I have had very good luck with Wirecutter over the years....their methodology seems a cut above others and for a long time (esp. before the NYT bought them) I rarely went wrong with their advice.
But I feel that they may be slipping a bit lately....which seems to be the case of most review sites when they become very popular and powerful. I've had a few of their recommendations not pan out lately.

That said, I still have not found any better.

I distrust individual reviewers since so many reviews are fake. Fakespot is somewhat helpful with Amazon and others though I have no idea how reliable it is in detecting fake reviews. Wirecutter at least considers multiple review sites (via some unknown algorithm), and then goes on to supposedly extensively test the products themselves. They are still my "go-to", for lack of a better alternative.

Is there a "new kid on the block" that is more reliable than Wirecutter? Or at least a good companion to Wirecutter?
prd1982
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by prd1982 »

Not a new kid on the block, but I like Consumer Reports. I don't use their numerical ratings as much as I look at what they like or dislike about the products. Often what CR considers important is different than what I consider important.
totallynotsure
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by totallynotsure »

i don't trust most review sites, Wirecutter included. how can you be sure they're not paid off for their reviews?
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CalPoppy
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by CalPoppy »

I haven’t found anything better than Wirecutter. Overall, I’ve been happy with the products they recommend.

And I don’t believe that Wirecutter is significantly influenced by commissions, free product, etc., unlike the zillions of crappy review sites/channels. They are owned by NYTimes and adhere to good standards. See https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/about/

Side Note: Consumer Reports lost some of my respect - particularly on tech products given some significant stumbles in that area.

(I also use Fakespot in an effort to gauge the quality of Amazon reviews, which as the OP mentions are notoriously terrible https://fakespot.com/)
Afty
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Afty »

I also haven't found anything better than Wirecutter. Sometimes you can find a more specific resources that is better than Wirecutter for that niche -- America's Test Kitchen for kitchen equipment, for example.

I have generally not been impressed with Consumer Reports. They seem to evaluate products based on what they can easily measure rather than what I as a consumer care about. For example, a couple years ago I needed a new vacuum cleaner. I looked at the Amazon reviews for CR's top pick, and they were pretty negative, with many reporting issues with short term reliability. I ended up buying the Wirecutter's top pick, which has been great.
FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

It pays to read the comments on Wirecutter reviews. Occasionally I'll see a pattern where several commenters prefer a different product than the Wirecutter's recommendation. I'll weigh the comments against the review to make a decision. Still, Wirecutter seems better than anything else out there as far as I know. Unless I want to get into the weeds on tires in which case I'll buy a subscription to CR.
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Voltaire2.0
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Voltaire2.0 »

Piling on....

I've had mixed results following Wirecutter recommendations. Not sure that it is worse than it once was, but common sense makes one wonder how good anyone/anything can be at reviewing can openers, computers, pots, software, and everything else under the sun.

For electronics, Tom's Guide is a reasonable source.

Consumer Reports? I always thought their reviews were shallow, at best.
valleyrock
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by valleyrock »

Great topic!

Wirecutter is OK for many things, but since they were acquired by the NYTimes, they've upped the number of products they cover and sometimes they don't necessarily have experts to review some things. For thermometers, I recall they contacted a bunch of nurses and/or hospital people, but didn't seem to have done actual testing of their own. When I compared their recommendation to what Amazon reviewers said, things were far different. For a proper review of something like $12 thermometers, I'd say they should buy 100 of them and check them out against a calibrated thermometer, and run a variety of endurance tests, etc. But that's more of a Consumer Reports thing. I ended up buying a $40 or so stick it in the ear thermometer, which had great reviews, and which has served us well, and was hard to get after the crisis started. For something relatively inexpensive, many people just want the best, not necessarily the most economical.

Due to lack of expertise, Wirecutter also is not always informative about certain health related factors, the main one I'm thinking of being the issue of flame retardant chemicals in furniture. That's a long story, but since California changed its standard a few years ago, many, if not most, furniture manufacturers have been able to avoid these chemicals, but when Wirecutter reviewed mattresses a while back, they did not mention the issue. You can walk into an Ikea store and look at furniture labels and see that much of their newer stuff specifically says it does not have flame retardant chemicals, but their old inventory doesn't necessarily say that. To me, this issue is a missed educational opportunity for Wirecutter (for their staff, and for their readers). But, they can't really be blamed. Journalists don't usually have degrees in chemistry or public health. And I can't say as how Consumer Reports has ever gone into this issue. Too complicated, perhaps for them, as well. Too thorny, and fraught with possible blow-back from manufacturers, although there are plenty of ways for a journalist to properly vet and provide information on such things.

For some products touted by Wirecutter, a quick look at the reviews on Amazon can either confirm, or deny, or leave a person still puzzled. But there can be a disparity, as noted above, between what Wirecutter recommends, and even provides a link for over at Amazon, and then what the Amazon reviewers are saying. So, best to read those Amazon reviews, and look for others sometimes. And, indeed, commenters on the Wirecutter site sometimes offer good ideas.

But I digress!

Back to the issue at hand: I've been looking at Tom's Guide, www.tomsguide.com, lately for information on sound equipment. It's got some good information on electronics in general and seems to be a bit more technical and better researched than some of the reviews on Wirecutter. That said, I did buy the internet router recommended by Wirecutter and it's still sitting in the box waiting to get installed.

Add to that some of the better companies such as Crutchfield, for those looking at sound and TV systems, etc. Crutchfield has really good buying guides, access to experts on the phone, service after the sale, etc.
Last edited by valleyrock on Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

I like Outdoor Gear Lab for outdoor gear and America's Test Kitchen for anything cooking related.

For travel products I haven't found anything better than digging through threads at FlyerTalk but that gets time consuming of course.

For anything related to outdoor cooking, Amazing Ribs: https://amazingribs.com/ratings-reviews ... ing-guides
Last edited by HawkeyePierce on Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Orange44
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Orange44 »

+1 on America's Test Kitchen
TallBoy29er
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by TallBoy29er »

I use CNET editor reviews as well for electronics. I think they do a decent job of taking an objective approach.
Rienzi
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Rienzi »

For electronics I like to start at BH Photo. Not a meta review site, but the reviews seem to be fairly refined. They have 'expert picks' in major categories, and you can always pick up the phone and talk to a real person to talk through a purchase.

Can't go wrong with https://www.bogleheads.org/forum before any major purchases...I haven't been let down yet
totallynotsure
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by totallynotsure »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:50 pm I like Outdoor Gear Lab for outdoor gear and America's Test Kitchen for anything cooking related.

For travel products I haven't found anything better than digging through threads at FlyerTalk but that gets time consuming of course.

For anything related to outdoor cooking, Amazing Ribs: https://amazingribs.com/ratings-reviews ... ing-guides
yes!
onourway
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by onourway »

The quality of their reviews varies widely depending on the product category and the particular reviewer. They seem to do better with tech - less so with home goods, etc. My neighbor for several years was writing for them and I know for a fact he had near zero knowledge on some of the categories he was reviewing!
yogesh
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by yogesh »

In the decreasing order ...

Wirecutter
Bogleheads
America's Test Kitchen
Consumer Reports
Dpreview
Tripadvisor
Tomsguide
Notebookreview
Booking.com
Glassdoor
Amazon
Zomato
Top Ten Reviews
Edmunds
Healthgrades
HomeAdvisor
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Ethelred
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Ethelred »

For TVs, computer monitors and computer accessories, https://www.rtings.com/ is better than any other site I've seen. They have extended what they cover this year, and now also include soundbars, vacuums and blenders. The best sites do have one potential drawback, though: if you purchase all your own review items, and provide detailed reviews of each, it is difficult to cover all of the market.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

Long-term durability is something missing from most review sites; Wirecutter does do some of this, see their recent review of cast iron dutch ovens for example.
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Kagord
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Kagord »

I wish there could be an honest review site. With things like Amazon vendors offering free promotions after purchase if you write a review, Yelp hounding businesses for paid revenue, Youtubers getting paid sponserships, AngiesList...yada, yada, yada, it's my opinion most reviews should be treated as suspect.

It's a real shame, 15-20 years ago, IMHO, reviews were so much better and real. Now it's like, buy it, but better make sure it's easy to return it prior.

I guess the only advice I can offer is to find specialized forums on the product that have meaningful discussions on it.
tm3
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by tm3 »

Afty wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:19 pm I also haven't found anything better than Wirecutter. Sometimes you can find a more specific resources that is better than Wirecutter for that niche -- America's Test Kitchen for kitchen equipment, for example.

I have generally not been impressed with Consumer Reports. They seem to evaluate products based on what they can easily measure rather than what I as a consumer care about. For example, a couple years ago I needed a new vacuum cleaner. I looked at the Amazon reviews for CR's top pick, and they were pretty negative, with many reporting issues with short term reliability. I ended up buying the Wirecutter's top pick, which has been great.
I pretty much concur. Also, consumersearch.com is sometimes helpful. Sometimes Amazon reviews have worthwhile info.

I do think that Wirecutter has fallen off some recently. Not sure what to make of that.
carolinaman
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by carolinaman »

Ethelred wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:23 pm For TVs, computer monitors and computer accessories, https://www.rtings.com/ is better than any other site I've seen. They have extended what they cover this year, and now also include soundbars, vacuums and blenders. The best sites do have one potential drawback, though: if you purchase all your own review items, and provide detailed reviews of each, it is difficult to cover all of the market.
+1. Rtings is fantastic for their coverage of TVs. I was in the market for a 65 inch TV last year and found their site extremely helpful. They produce a phenomenal amount of data in their tests. I am a longtime Consumer report subscriber and found their TV ratings no where near as good.

I have purchased several things from Crutchfield, receiver/woofer/nest router and AP/universal remote. They support all products they sell for the life of the product. As something less than DIY in electronics, I find that incredibly helpful to call and quickly get an expert to help.
carolinaman
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by carolinaman »

Kagord wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:35 am I wish there could be an honest review site. With things like Amazon vendors offering free promotions after purchase if you write a review, Yelp hounding businesses for paid revenue, Youtubers getting paid sponserships, AngiesList...yada, yada, yada, it's my opinion most reviews should be treated as suspect.

It's a real shame, 15-20 years ago, IMHO, reviews were so much better and real. Now it's like, buy it, but better make sure it's easy to return it prior.

I guess the only advice I can offer is to find specialized forums on the product that have meaningful discussions on it.
Amazon and similar site reviews can be helpful in pointing out certain features included or lacking in the product. This information is not always apparent when reviewing product info. Of course, treat the reviews with a grain of salt, good or bad.
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Gmt21
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Gmt21 »

In addition to the big review site names (cnet, toms guide, wirecutter etc) I try to find small hobby type youtubers and keep an eye out for what their different experiences are. Sometimes this leads to other youtubers or review sites which helps me put all the pieces of information I'm looking for together. Typically anytime there's a disclaimer or coupon code you know that the site is writing the review just to earn a commission. I'll also check a website like slickdeals.net to see if that item has gone on sale before and I'll peruse the comments section.
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by Fallible »

yogesh wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:11 pm In the decreasing order ...

Wirecutter
Bogleheads
America's Test Kitchen
Consumer Reports
Dpreview
Tripadvisor
Tomsguide
Notebookreview
Booking.com
Glassdoor
Amazon
Zomato
Top Ten Reviews
Edmunds
Healthgrades
HomeAdvisor.
Thanks for the list, as several are new to me.
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keystone
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by keystone »

TallBoy29er wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:12 pm I use CNET editor reviews as well for electronics. I think they do a decent job of taking an objective approach.
I'm a big fan of the CNET smartphone reviews, particularly the one's done by Lynn La. They're thorough and have been consistent with my personal experiences.
TravelGeek
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by TravelGeek »

totallynotsure wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:55 am i don't trust most review sites, Wirecutter included. how can you be sure they're not paid off for their reviews?
Given the number of people and companies that would have to be involved, it would seem difficult to keep that from becoming public (this argument applies to many conspiracy theories).

Yelp seems well known for shenanigans. Have you heard or read similar detailed accusations about Wirecutter?
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Wirecutter for most things.

CNET for electonics.

For autos, Car and Driver and Motor Trend to get a general idea, but I consider both publications to be overly interested in "performance" at the expense of other issues.

Serious Eats for food and cooking.
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protagonist
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by protagonist »

totallynotsure wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:55 am i don't trust most review sites, Wirecutter included. how can you be sure they're not paid off for their reviews?
I can't be sure. I'm a die-hard skeptic.

But I have found no other site that I trust more, and so many reviews on Amazon, Google etc are paid for and fake.

I use Wirecutter because their ALLEGED methodology seems pretty good, and mainly because I have purchased a lot of goods based on their recommendations (since I have nothing better to go on), and for the most part I have been quite pleased with the results.

Perhaps a bit less so since NYT bought them, which is why I initiated this thread.

I have been less impressed with CNET (they were probably the best 5-10 years ago, especially regarding computer apps), and definitely not very impressed with Consumer Reports (though they were the best by default in the pre-internet era). Toms Guide also seems to me to not be as objective as in earlier days (just an opinion and not a very strong one). I get the feeling that as most of these sites become more and more well-known they become less reliable (ditto tripadvisor, yelp, amazon, google). I think Fakespot may be somewhat helpful in sorting through Amazon reviews but I am not sure how accurate they are. Mediabiasfactcheck is definitely my go-to in assessing validity of media outlets.

For specific products some other review sites may be better (note mention of Outdoor Gear Lab, rtings and that Test Kitchen site above).

I trust meta-review sites over single review sites.
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Bogle7
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Focus

Post by Bogle7 »

I prefer narrowly-focused sites.
But, then, I have days (weeks?) to spend researching.
For example: http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/index.php
I have found reddit to be useful. Which surprised me.


HomeAdvisor is pay to play and negative reviews are removed.
Last edited by Bogle7 on Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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iamlucky13
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by iamlucky13 »

TravelGeek wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:59 am
totallynotsure wrote: Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:55 am i don't trust most review sites, Wirecutter included. how can you be sure they're not paid off for their reviews?
Given the number of people and companies that would have to be involved, it would seem difficult to keep that from becoming public (this argument applies to many conspiracy theories).

Yelp seems well known for shenanigans. Have you heard or read similar detailed accusations about Wirecutter?
I think Wirecutter makes money mainly from referrrals, so if there's a financially motivated bias, I would expect it to be towards retailers they benefit most from referrals to, but not necessarily to specific products from those retailers. Since Amazon has a really big selection, that is fairly broad. There do seem to be some other retailers they favor, too.

Overall, I find it a useful site to get a recommendation for a decent product that is easily available. For larger purchases, I also check if Consumer Reports has any input. I like Consumer Reports even though they don't provide a lot of subjective comments, they do well-controlled tests.

If I want the best product and/or the best value, I search out sites dedicated to the product category, like Tom's Hardware for computer components or DPReview for camera gear, or trade or hobby magazines and forums for tools.
Bogle7 wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 1:47 pm I have found reddit to be useful. Which surprised me.
Reddit communities vary in quality, but yes, some are effectively moderated to control the noise while still keeping the discussion open.
surfinagin
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by surfinagin »

Kagord wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:35 am I guess the only advice I can offer is to find specialized forums on the product that have meaningful discussions on it.
^This.
My #1 go-to for product info/advice, along with Bogleheads.
Normally EZ to find a forum of enthusiasts/experts, then find threads related to your Q or sign up/ask your Q regarding a product.
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protagonist
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Re: Is there a better meta-review site than Wirecutter?

Post by protagonist »

surfinagin wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:19 pm
Kagord wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:35 am I guess the only advice I can offer is to find specialized forums on the product that have meaningful discussions on it.
^This.
My #1 go-to for product info/advice, along with Bogleheads.
Normally EZ to find a forum of enthusiasts/experts, then find threads related to your Q or sign up/ask your Q regarding a product.
I agree with this (especially "forum of enthusiasts"), when a good specialty community can be easily found. I find that works when dealing with a narrow group of like-minded serious enthusiasts (like windsurfers or saxophonists).

Not to diss Bogleheads, since I do find it useful, but it is a somewhat selective audience and one often only receives a handful of reviews of a product, all of which are subjective. A product that usually performs well but has an abysmal 20% rate of failure is still likely to get 4 out of 5 great subjective reviews. So yes, I do use it, and I definitely find it honest, but I find it more useful in some situations than others.

Some things almost always work fine and thus their owners give them stellar reviews because they were specifically picked by the owner for their particular needs, like cell phones for example. iPhone owners all love iPhones and android users all love their android, for example, with few exceptions. If they bought a cheap phone they love it because it meets their criteria. If they bought a flagship they love it because it meets their criteria. etc.
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