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How we test products and services

These are our labs.

We know – you expected a table full of oscilloscopes, spectrometers and white lab coats. But your living room isn’t a sparkling research facility, and hard specs don’t determine which gadget is best for you any more than the Nutrition Facts label determines which breakfast cereal you pour in your bowl in the morning.

Our editors, writers, and contributors test products and services in the real world. Laptops and tablets get toted around in backpacks, used on tray tables at 30,000 feet, and propped up to watch YouTube in bed. TVs get set up in bright living rooms and in pitch-dark basements, have their remotes accidentally slathered in buffalo wing sauce on game day, and their menu systems critiqued by crying kids that can’t manage to pull up Netflix to watch their favorite shows. Phones are tossed in pockets with keys, used to buy movie tickets in a pinch on a Friday night and, occasionally, dropped. Because that’s life.

Benchmarks? Yep, we do that too, testing devices wherever possible to make objective measurements between similar devices. We use colorimeters on televisions and monitors, battery life loops on phones and laptops, and synthetic benchmark software on a wide variety of devices.

However, we know these objective tests don’t tell the whole story. Tech often works differently when faced with real-world challenges day after day. That’s why Digital Trends editors put in the real-life testing to make sure that our reviews reflect the way you’ll use the latest tech.


Digital Trends doesn’t just report the news and offer generic buying recommendations for PCs. We go the extra mile to test the latest hardware, games, and applications ourselves, because we know that your experience of your PC has only just begun when you click “Add to Cart.” Whether it’s testing performance of Premiere Pro on a MacBook Pro or Elden Ring on your homebuilt gaming rig, DT covers it all with smart, approachable, and insightful commentary.


For most of us, our phone is the center of our world — and not just our tech world. What phone you use, how you use it, and how it connects to everything else in your life is critical. We know that your experience with a phone doesn’t end the day you take it out of the box, and neither does our Mobile coverage. From buying advice and the latest news, to how-to guides and helpful analysis, we have the mobile world covered.


Digital Trends offers trustworthy reviews, critical analysis, and in-depth guides covering the entire gaming world. We aren’t afraid to go deeper on the games we love and eschew the easy wins of trash talking the latest game or rolling out misleading headlines. Games are fun, and we’re here to have fun playing them right alongside you.


Digital Trends is the go-to hub for pop culture fans wanting to discover the latest movie or TV show that they should be watching or discover a new way of looking at one of their favorite pieces of entertainment. Whether you’re well-versed in the entertainment world or just looking for the next big streaming hit, DT has everything you need to see.


Digital Trends covers every aspect of your home entertainment experience, from the top-end television to the commodity of streaming sticks, to headphones and the must-have streaming services. And then we’ll help you focus on what’s important, and in a way that’s fun and opinionated and helps you figure out where to spend your money and time.

Smart Home

Nobody else is doing the smart home justice. Mainstream coverage stops at installing a color-changing light bulb, and enthusiast sites obsess over arcane protocols and automation scripts. Digital Trends focuses on the sweet spot of affordable, commonly available smart home technologies and how they can be easily integrated into your home, with a focus on utility. If it doesn’t do something you need done, we’re not covering it.


What our review scores mean

The hundreds of products we review every year are scored on a scale of five stars, including half-star increments. Initial reviews and hands-on time with products may lead to initial review scores being given, and it will always be made clear when this is the case. These initial reviews are often updated to include impressions after a full review period, which will also include a revised review score.

5 Stars: Exceptional

A game changer, or remarkable in some way

4.5 Stars: Amazing

Outstanding in every way, has no major drawbacks, and is at the top of its category

4 Stars: Great

Near perfect, with only minor quibbles

3.5 Stars: Very Good

A very good product held back by a few issues (or stiff competition)

3 Stars: Good

Competitive. It isn’t the best choice, but good qualities outweigh the bad ones

2.5 Stars: Adequate

Not always the best choice, but it can get the job done

2 Stars: Disappointing

Delivers on far less than it should, and needs some work

1.5 Stars: Poor

Persistently difficult and annoying to use

1 Star: Very Poor

Deeply flawed and barely functional

0.5 Stars: Garbage


Product Awards

In addition to our scores, we also give awards to products and companies. Editors’ Choice, Best Products, and Recommended Products awards are given to products that are top in their field. We have further industry awards for events like CES, as well as our own recognition of important companies with the Tech for Change awards.

Editors' Choice AwardEditors’ Choice

What’s the ideal laptop for me? While no product is ever perfect, there’s one out there that’s perfect for you. Our experts hand-test the newest products in dozens of categories, compare them against each other, and with the help of industry-standard benchmark tests, score, rate, and rank them. From speakers to smartphones, only the best of the best receive the Digital Trends Editors’ Choice award.

Recommended Product AwardRecommended Product

Following thorough benchmark testing and real-world use, Digital Trends recommends hundreds of products every year that meet our exacting standards. Products that carry this stamp of approval stand out from the crowd, moving the needle in terms of price, performance, and quality.

Best Product AwardBest Products

A popular category may have dozens of products that are really good — good enough that we recommend them or even award them our Editors’ Choice. But which is the best of the best? Digital Trends keeps up to date dozens of lists showcasing the best products, explaining in simply language why we picked it, who it’s for, and why you should buy it — or why you should hold off.

CES Award 21CES

With thousands of vendors spread across 2.2 million square feet of show floor, the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual CES event grows bigger every year. Our editorial team — experts in their fields and jaded to every type of hype and manipulation – sort the gimcracks from the godsends to find the truly amazing. Our Top Tech of CES awards showcase the stuff that swept them off their feet.

Tech for Change AwardTech for Change

From 3D-printed prostheses to burgers grown in science labs to smarter mobility for the elderly or infirm, tech improves our lives every day in a million ways beyond simply making things more convenient. Tech can have a meaningful impact– that’s why we call it Tech for Change. Winners of our award represent the companies and people fighting to make a difference.