I Tried It: 30 of the Coolest Products We’ve Tested Lately
I Tried It: 30 of the Coolest Products We’ve Tested Lately
Online shopping has a lot of advantages: You can check out multiple retailers at once, compare prices at the push of a button, score surprise deals, and get it all delivered to your house without having to step outside. But there's one clear downside to shopping online: You can't actually try out the items until they're already on your doorstep, bought and paid for.
Even more frustrating? There's no cyber-salesperson strolling the virtual show floor to help highlight the pros and cons of a certain product ... which means if you want to hear how a product works from someone with firsthand knowledge, you have to brave a review section that often hosts the kind of folks who emphatically believe the toothpaste they bought allowed them to talk to Martians, or that their pillow “doesn’t work” because they couldn't sleep after knocking back 3 gallons of espresso. Wouldn't it help to have a friend on hand to let you know whether something really works?
Well, now you always do. When your IRL friends can't weigh in on a potential purchase, you can turn to your Best Products pals. Our team is always scoping out seemingly helpful products, whether brand-new or new to us. So, when something catches our eye, we don't just rely on secondhand reviews or company-sent PR factsheets: We like to get our hands dirty (sometimes literally) in a series we call “I Tried It.”
If there’s a product covered in this series, you can go in with the confidence knowing that we’ve firsthand learned the ins and outs — and the ups and downs — of the product. We’ve tested it out for however long it took to get a full — and fully honest — opinion. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the coolest and most unique products our team have taken for a test run in “I Tried It.”
Lift Vertical Ergonomic Mouse
Tired of that tiny track pad on your laptop? It's time to offer your wrists some relief with a wireless mouse designed specifically for comfort.
"...the Logitech Lift delivered everything I needed from it," Michael Natale concluded. "A comfortable, casual, lightweight wireless mouse with an uncomplicated set-up, smooth movement, and precise control. For the casual user, the commuter, or the often-uncomfortable desk worker, the Logitech Lift is a fantastic option."
Suffering from sinus pain? Tivic Health recently put their new medication-free treatment option on the market. They claim their device's microvibrations can relieve severe sinus pressure, but is it really up to snuff?
"I’m a man of two minds when it comes to the Tivic ClearUP. On a personal level, I did feel some relief in some instances, but none that justify its $145 price tag," Michael Natale noted. However, when his father contracted COVID-19 and suffered severe sinus congestion, said father said it "works like a charm and is certainly worth the cost." In conclusion, Michael found "Slight seasonal sniffles may persist unabated, but the more severe stuffiness may be soothed by the ClearUp’s microcurrents."
Is there anything better than lounging around in a comfy towel? The only problem is, most of our at-home towels aren't of that resort or spa quality that makes for a cozy post-soak wrap. Are Pact's Airy Waffle towels the solution?
"There's never going to be a perfect towel, but the Pact airy waffle bath sheets and towels come pretty darn close," Cat Bowen concluded. "They're soft on the skin, soak up a ton of water, and can really take the trials and tribulations of daily life (especially with children). Plus, it's a big bonus that they're made of 100% organic cotton and are much better for the environment."
The bedsheet cocoon is a time-honored tradition of sleepy-time coziness, but can often leave you sweating under all those layers of sheets. Is there a way to snuggle up under those sheets without all the sweat?
"If you're looking for the best cooling bedding you can buy, I highly recommend the Buffy Breeze Comforter," Melanie Yates made sure to note. "Its eucalyptus-based material is so satisfyingly cool, but even when it's encased in a duvet cover, the blanket itself is lightweight and breathable. It's expertly crafted inside and out, and it's the ideal bedding layer for all seasons."
Does hot weather, or just being a warm sleeper, have you wishing you'd invested in one of those fancy high-end cooling pillows? Well, good news, it turns out you can turn any ordinary pillow into a cooling pillow, with SlumberCloud's performance pillow case.
"I recommend the Slumber Cloud Performance Pillow Covers to anyone who is already on their journey to optimizing their bedroom's coolness and comfort," Melanie Yates noted. "If you can temperature-control your home, they make a fantastic and easy upgrade to your current bed setup. In my initial test with these covers, I sank right into sleep without even having the chance to ask myself if their phase-changing technology was working."
This compact device purports to remove histamines and sulfites from wine, allowing those with allergies or sensitivities to finally fully enjoy their drink. But are the results truly toast-worthy?
“I’ve been counting on the Üllo for over a year now, and it’s seriously changed how I enjoy wine — because I can actually enjoy it now,” Brandon Carte says. “It’s a game-changing product for those who are sensitive to sulfites, and I can confidently say that it makes wine less whine-inducing for me — sans wine headaches and all.”
Finding the right natural deodorant that really works can be a bit of a challenge. Has evolvetogether finally cracked the deodorant code?
“I’ll admit that deodorant isn’t the most exciting or sexiest beauty product available — but it’s a universal must-have for people of all ages, so I think it’s essential to invest in one that works for you,” Nicole Saunders concluded. “It’s mess-free, eco-friendly, and available in three enticing scents.”
Finding a kitchen appliance that can properly tackle multiple tasks can make cooking time far less stressful. Can this Ninja Kitchen System really cut down on meal-prep stress?
“I was blown away by the Ninja Professional Blender Plus Kitchen System with Auto-iQ.” Melanie Yates concluded. “It’s incredibly versatile and easy to use, and its two largest containers can even help you prep a large meal for a table full of people. It’s also priced well for the numerous jobs that this blender system can tackle.”
The SEG42 is a backpack that promises peak organizational options, with designated pockets of various depths that allow you to store all your necessities your way, but can it really hold up to scrutiny?
“Before this pack even arrived, I was expecting to love its segmented nature, put it aside for some particular type of trip, and continue my quest to find that perfect Goldilocks-style ‘just right’ backpack,” Michael Natale thought, but after putting it through an array of tests, including a rainstorm, “...I was pleasantly surprised to find that this pack really does work for any travel needs I could anticipate.”
Hoping to spruce up your floorspace without the costly, time-consuming permanence of calling a contractor? We're very impressed with these affordable, easy-to-use, peel and stick floor tiles.
"I have big plans for making over my little entryway space into something really special, and laying on these peel-and-stick floor panels has already made such a difference,” Melanie Yates noted. “Beyond the apartment foyer, I can also see this vinyl flooring working in a home office, hallway, or kitchen to bring new life to an old but beloved space."
Cats are wonderful — but cleaning up after cats? Much less so. But now there's a device that revolutionizes kitty litter clean-up by literally revolving.
“Its concept is simple: You simply fill the globe-looking contraption with clumping litter as you would any regular, manual litter box, and it rotates a few minutes after each use, sifting away any clean litter back into the globe and dumping any used litter and waste into a dedicated waste bin configured into its base,” Eunice Lucero-Lee explains.
“If you’ve been looking to invest in an automatic litter box,” she concludes. “Litter-Robot is definitely at the top of the game in terms of specs and tech.”
Tired of constantly uncomfortable nights of sleep, disrupted by kicked-off covers and heavy sweats? You're far from alone, but finally, there's a solution.
"Since I started using the OOLER, I've had comfortable, cool, blissful nights of rest that I never thought was possible,” says Erica Murphy, who tested out this powerful sleep-time temperature. “For hot sleepers, the OOLER sleep system is genuinely life-changing. Just one night of using it makes a difference, and you’ll feel that its steep $800 price tag is well worth it.”
“The last thing you’ll catch me doing in my spare time is putting furniture together.” Caitlyn Fitzpatrick says right off the bat, “So when SunHaven reached out about testing out their — music to my ears! — fully assembled outdoor furniture, I jumped at the chance."
Fitzpatrick tested out their Kensington Grey 9-Piece Wicker Set. "Each seat has a weight capacity of 325 pounds, and my guests and I can vouch that these pieces feel extremely sturdy and comfortable." Caitlyn notes, "In fact, they're so comfortable that the sofa has become my husband's new favorite place to take a nap."
“I wouldn’t have selected something from SunHaven — and I certainly wouldn’t have been so eager to unveil it for the season —if I truly didn’t love it,” Fitzpatrick concludes, adding, “SunHaven is truly a brand that wants your patio to be an extension of your intimate home.”
Sure, you've heard of smart TVs and smart lightbulbs, but what about smart scents?
“The Pura combines the convenience of a room spray with the ease of using a plug-in oil diffuser,” Melanie Yates says of the Pura Smart Fragrance Diffuser. “Its smooth, disc-shaped form holds two small fragrance cartridges at a time, and you can program each to emit scent continuously or on a schedule via the Pura app. Depending on how often you program the device, the scented oils can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months or longer.”
"I've spent 3 weeks with the Pura Smart Home Fragrance Device subtly scenting my home, and I'm enjoying it so much more than I ever expected," Yates concludes. "If you're ready to retire your dusty collection of scented candles and spray bottles, the Pura is a slightly splurge-y but really worthwhile alternative."
Video to Digital Converter 2.0 (Second Generation)
Many of us, and our parents, have boxes upon boxes of old VHS tapes, full family memories, locked away behind an outdated format. Can this simple box really pull these images into the 21st century?
Able to convert any video source it receives a signal from into MP4 files, the ClearClick makes it extremely easy to digitize virtually any vintage video format.
“The ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0 isn’t just a novelty device that boasts more than it can handle,” Michael Natale notes, “it truly is a life-preserver we can toss to our recorded personal history, pulling our past selves from a rickety video format wasting away into the present day, to flood our TikTok and Twitter feeds with #TBT fodder for years to come.”
"I've tested more than a dozen different robot vacuums and was absolutely blown away by the performance of the Roomba j7+." Brandon Carte declared of this self-emptying robovac.
Why’s that? “The iRobot app is extremely user-friendly and has come in handy more times than I can count” is one key reason. “I programmed automatic cleaning schedules so the vacuum will fire up on its own to vacuum while I’m getting ready in the morning Monday-Friday, but on weekends it runs a little later in case I decide to sleep in.”
Additionally, “thanks to its included Clean Base, you don’t have to worry about manually emptying its dust bin since the dock can hold around 60 days of dirt and debris.”
Laundry is all about being able to give your clothes a quick cleaning refresh so you can wear them again and again. So why are so many laundry products packed in wasteful, single-use plastic?
Blueland offers a more sustainable solution, with their Essential Kit providing “40 laundry detergent tablets, a steel tin to keep said tablets in, a 500-gram packet of their ‘Clear Skies’-scented Oxi Booster Powder (good for around 25 standard loads) plus its own tin, and three compostable wool dryer balls.”
The results? "After trying the laundry tablets, powder booster, and drying balls on six loads, I’m convinced that single-use laundry products are the only way to go."
Eunice Lucero-Lee attests, "The Blueland Laundry Essentials Kit seriously did the job so well — I’m talking no-compromise softness, cleanliness, and freshness — and I’m honestly a bit ashamed it took me this long to get with the program."
Everybody has those pairs of socks that are just for “at home” days. The comfy, around-the-house socks that keep you cozy. The problem is the sweat, the “unfreshness,” and how that damp, grossness can act like a magnet for dust and pet hair. Do these pure silver thread woven socks offer the sweat-free solution they promise?
“After a full week of apartment wear, my ivory Plush Crew retained its integrity — no smell, no moisture, no fraying, and most crucially, no lint or fur on the soles!” Eunice Lucero-Lee attests, noting, “My Silver Spun Socks kept my feet sweat-free, therefore definitely did not attract lint or pet hair during use each time I checked, so much so that they were even clean and dust-free enough to wear to bed and underneath the covers the entire week.”
Has your work-from-home setup left you with a stiff or sore back? Having been a fan of other Purple products, Erica Murphy decided to see if their back cushion could offer some spinal relief.
"I've been using Purple's Back Cushion every workday for about 6 months, and it's definitely improved my work-from-home experience. I don't get the lower-back ache that I did pre-cushion, and I like the combination of softness and support that the Grid provides." Erica concluded,“This back cushion is $60, which isn’t exactly the most affordable option. However, its sturdy construction and durability make me feel like it’s a product I’ll have forever, and I’d recommend it to friends and family looking for a high-quality back cushion, too.”
If you've always eyed Vitamix blenders but were wary of their high price tag, set your sights on the E310 Explorian. More affordable than the majority of Vitamix models, this powerful blender still delivers the quality pureeing and pulverizing you'd expect from the brand.
Our tester took some issue with the blender’s noise and its comparatively small container size, but ultimately concluded, “Despite the shortcomings of its smaller container size, it neatly pulverizes anything I put into it, and I’m not left with a messy countertop or piles of parts to clean up afterward. In my book, that’s worth a lot.”
For when the weather outside is frightful, get yourself a heated blanket that’s just delightful. “Sunbeam’s Heated Throw Blanket is the ultimate cold-weather solution,” our tester says. “It features three heat settings (low, medium, and high) that warm up within just a few minutes, plus a light-up remote control for easy adjustability.”
Machine-washable and dryer-safe, this heated blanket even has a three hour auto-shut-off function to ensure a safe and cozy nap time any time.
Do you drink enough water? No need to answer, because let’s face it: None of us do. It’s understandable. Life can be pretty hectic, and we can lose track of time and go hours without a drink of any kind. Plus, many of us have the nasty habit of “if we’re gonna sip something at all, we need it caffeinated.”
If you need a subtle little nudge to hit that water bottle instead of that Monster can, why not let the water bottle itself do the nudging? The Hidrate Spark 3 works in tandem with an app that determines exactly how much water you should personally be drinking. It then uses a subtle, soft glow throughout the day to unobtrusively encourage you to hit that hydration goal.
We've been getting PSAs about the importance of bicycle helmets for almost half a century now. We know a bike helmet is crucial for optimal safety while riding, but knowing which bike helmet to pick is a much harder decision.
At least it was, until we found the Chapter MIPS Helmet. Thanks to its detachable visor, rechargeable bike light, and precise, comfortable fit via magnetic chinstrap buckles and a dial-fit system, this helmet is ideal for new riders and avid bicyclists alike.
Are you a “sweatpants person?” If your answer is no, it’s possible that you just haven’t found the right pair yet. The right pair of pants can make a convert out of anyone.
In the case of our own Brandon Carte: "However, I recently tried a pair of Vuori’s Ponto Performance Sweatpants, and my whole world was turned upside-down. They're all I want to wear now." Made from a performance-knit jersey fabric, these pants are comfortable enough to wear around the house, but stylish enough to sport if you need to step out.
Here’s a less-than-fun fact from our review: “Over the past 20 years, turkey fryers caused 220 burn incidents and $9.7 million in property loss, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.” Let’s just be clear: No treat, no matter how tasty, is worth that level of destruction.
That's why, if you absolutely, positively have to fry that bird, you need the Big Easy Oil-less Turkey Fryer from Char-Broil. This air fryer replicates "the flavor and taste of deep-fried turkey without all the extra calories of one." And also without nearly the same risk of physical harm or property damage.
“I have what my family likes to call ‘cheap skin.’ It’s sensitive, it’s dry, it’s prone to eczema and scaly patches, and honestly, it’s just temperamental,” Cat Bowen says to kick off her assessment of the Eczema Honey Oatmeal Body Lotion. If you have a similar dilemma, this moisturizing lotion made from honey, oatmeal, shea butter, cocoa butter, and aloe vera might just do the trick.
It certainly was for Bowen: "It really works to deeply moisturize my skin, and that's more than I can say for most lotions I've used. It's made of ingredients that make sense, and while it is on the pricier end of lotions at just over $20, I definitely think it's well worth the investment."
On the one hand, we all know an electric toothbrush is better for oral hygiene than a manual brush. On the other hand, electric brushes can be costly, cumbersome, and consume counter space in a way a manual brush doesn't. So, which one do you go with?
Well, now, neither, because you can get yourself a brush that does both. The Philips One by Sonicare offers the same quality cleaning power of a standard electric toothbrush, but at a fraction of the size (and price).
“From top to bottom, the mattress has five layers, each of which is designed to ensure comfortable, restorative slumber,” our tester took note regarding the Molecule mattress. “On the top is the signature antimicrobial advanced cooling cover, which keeps you cooler while you sleep, and works to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. Then come the layers that keep you feeling like you’ve been cradled in a cloud while you sleep. There’s also a responsive layer made with a 3D surface for self-adjusted support for ‘targeted pressure relief,’ which is where the magic happens for your back and those tight quads.”
What do all those layers add up to? A restful, full night's sleep for a change, especially when paired with the included Percale Performance Sheets.
As activewear became more and more of an everyday attire over the last few years, one problem emerged: Not all activewear is all that good to wear when active anymore. Polyester can leave you feeling like you have to peel it off, and cotton leggings might as well be a sponge after a day at the gym.
That’s why our tester singled out the Allbirds leggings, made from lyocell, nylon, merino wool, and elastane. “For hot hikes or runs, these sweat-wicking leggings are so much cooler than their polyester counterparts,” says our tester. “They don’t feel sticky or suffocating, and they look cute enough for morning coffee runs or lazy days, too.”
If your smart home runs on Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant (sorry for now, Amazon users), then outfitting your home with smart lightbulbs just got a lot more affordable. That’s because Nanoleaf, the popular yet pricey home lighting brand, has released a line of “Essentials” that makes their high-quality lighting more affordable.
Offering an array of possible colors in a single bulb, these Nanoleaf bulbs are easy to set up and control through the companion app (available for iPhone and Android), and can add new life to any space. Plus, their unique angular design make for a conversation piece if the bulb is exposed, instead of simply looking awkward like other leading bulbs.