The Wirecutter

A Beginner's Guide To Advanced Storage

If you need fast storage and lots of it for work or otherwise, there's still no substitute for a professional-grade RAID setup or networked storage. The Synology DS1512+ NAS and LaCie 5big Thunderbolt external RAID bay are the best combination of accessibility, price and performance. They're our favorite starter advanced storage options, because we are only offering an intro to this rabbit hole.

Do I need advanced storage?

Now, if you're like most people, and simply need to back up a few hundred gigs of family photos and documents to a cheap external hard drive, you don't need to mess with this category, which we're calling advanced storage. Today's USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt [...]


The Best Razors

For the foreseeable future, I will be shaving my face with a Merkur Safety Razor and Feather razor blades. This type of razor takes some practice, but once you get it down, no setup can match the price, durability, comfort, and overall simplicity of a solid double-edge (DE) safety razor like the Merkur. To make my picks, I spoke with experts who have been through every razor fad and tried every setup, including beard-trimmers. I then personally tested widely available non-disposable razors on the market. I asked several women to test out "women's" razors and cartridge men's razors, then got their takes, so if you’re a woman and/or [...]


Computer Bags: Get One

Looking for a new computer bag? There are so many recommendations here that you are sure to find something.


Go Ahead, Get A New iPhone If You Feel Like It

The new iPhone: Should you get one? If you want, sure.

I'm not going to pretend we need to wait for reviews to make this call: This is still the phone to get. Sure, android phones are physically stronger these days, with great big high resolution screens, fast processors and adequate cameras (sometimes). But the things that makes the iPhone the best smartphone are the ecosystem of apps, Apple's wonderful support, and the general sensation of swish that the operating system gives me when I use it. And the care and sophistication and polish that pull the entire thing together. That hasn't changed and so the new iPhone is [...]


The Best Condoms

The taboos of talking about sex and everything it entails conspire to make condoms shopping hushed, instant decisions for many people. Doing a little homework and knowing which kind to get is important because drugstore aisle shopping decisions happen in a matter of seconds – not minutes. Who wants to talk to the store clerk about their penis size? Where they’re going to do it? That they’re hoping to last longer?

Those conversations you never have with store clerks, with partners, or even with yourselves about sex, condoms, lube, toys, positions, and pleasure? They’re my daily bread as a sex researcher at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, [...]


The Best Small TV

I spent years as the managing editor at Home Theater Review magazine, so I've seen many TV reviews in my time.  But very few people review small and cheap TVs, so picking one out is a little tricky. So, what did I look for in a small TV? To help me narrow the playing field, I decided to focus on the 32-inch screen size. A 24- to 26-inch screen is a fine choice, but a 32-incher feels more like a TV. The extra screen real estate will make a big difference when watching standard-definition content that has pillarboxes on each side, and when sitting back on a couch or a [...]


The Best Workhorse Laptop

What exactly is a workhorse laptop? It's a kind that is not high end and not super thin. Nor is it low end. It's just right for people who just want a solid laptop at a good value.

As awesome as the Macbook Pro Retina is, not all of us have $2,200 to drop on this hunk of aluminum and silicon.

And, in fact, not all of us want to spend $1,200 on a stock Macbook Air, only to be stymied when we want to watch a DVD or run out of storage on the smallish but pricey SSD drives, which are usually 128 or 256GB.

Most buyers [...]


Ladies Love Laptop Luggage

If you could have asked me four months ago if I needed a laptop-specific bag, as I pulled yards of tangled cord and a stickered but otherwise bare Macbook Pro from a tote, I might have laughed at you. “I have, like, 100 overpriced and adorable bags, all of which can fit a laptop easy,” I would have said. At one point, I even had one of those protective sleeves. I’d slide my laptop into that and drop it into whatever bag I decided to carry that day–along with the various wallets, makeup bags, sunglass cases and emergency bottles of 5-Hour Energy I also kept (and still keep) with me [...]


In Case of Emergency: The Gear You Need

Some people in New York are fine, some are not. I don't know that this list of helpful emergency gear will be helpful this late, but I figure it's better than one more post about which smartphone rules. People are picking up the pieces, and things are on their way to being normal again. But right: there's always a next time.

This list is not an official emergency checklist, although it was informed by Seamus's experience in the military and private security management, my training as an EMT and SF emergency response dork (NERT) and FEMA's prep kit list. We made sure we had most things on FEMA's general list, [...]


The Best iPhone 5 Case (So Far)

After getting a launch-day iPhone, I tested cases now available from every major brand. As of now, I’ve looked at all available models from: Belkin, Incase, Otterbox, Speck, STM, and Incipio. Other brands including Ballistic, Case-Mate, Element Case, Grove Made, and Griffin won’t have samples ready until later, and I don't expect any of these cases on the horizon to be better than our current pick, based on reviews of past models with the same design as the upcoming cases.

With this first batch, I conducted drop tests, judged everyday usability, and evaluated each model's aesthetics. For the cases that are updates to previous generation models, I researched past reviews [...]


What To Make Coffee With

There is no one "best" method of making coffee. So, there is no best gear for making coffee.

Declaring such a thing would be like declaring that deep frying is the best way to cook anything. It's partly a matter of personal taste — you might really like the results that deep frying produces! — and a matter of what you're making. The same is true for coffee-making methods: siphon or pourover is probably my favorite way to prepare coffee, but some people really like press pots. The point is that you can't quite declare one piece of coffee making equipment to the best, no more than you can say [...]


Great All-In-One Printers

Most people only print when they have to. Wouldn't it be nice to have an all-in-one scanner, copier and fax machine for people who dabble in paper once in awhile?

Multifunction printers jam the functionality of a number of popular pieces of hardware into one reasonably sized, reasonably priced package. It’s cheaper to buy one than it is to pick up a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine separately. For anyone with a small office or a limited amount of desk space, like me, that’s a godsend. They make sense for home offices and small business owners but we'll focus on a model for the home office which means that [...]


What's The Best Cheap Camera?

Buying a camera for less than $150 is a tricky proposition — at this price point, the market is flooded with low quality cameras without much in the way of defining features. The one you'll actually want to pick up will need to balance keeping up with of key specs of a more expensive camera, while still keeping cost down, having acceptable image quality, and a small body. It should also have a decent zoom level and a HD video mode.

The real test of a cheap camera is how it handles in low light. Even a crummy, super-cheap camera will take decent photos on a bright day, so how [...]


The Best Earbuds Under $100

To say that the headphone and earphone category is crowded would be an understatement. There are hundreds upon hundreds of models, all with their own sound and style, some of which cost as little as a hamburger and fries, others as much as a used car.

But why earbuds? And why the best earbuds under $100? The answer to the first question is portability. Just like we all celebrated the downsizing of the discman into the MP3 player, having a pair of earbuds that you can ball up and toss in your pocket, purse, or backpack is tremendously convenient. Big, over-ear headphones–even ones that cleverly fold up into a smaller package–just [...]


The Best Office Chair

14,000 hours. If you've got a desk job, that's the minimum amount of time you'll spend sitting over the next ten years. Add nights you have to work late, weekends you're called into the office, and those unfortunate occasions when you end up scarfing down lunch in front of your computer (which, hey, maybe everyday?) and the hour count only goes up from there. To put that in perspective, that's nearly a quarter of your waking existence, over the course of the next decade, that you're going to spend with your butt in a chair (unless you work at a circus or in retail or something). We now know that [...]


Defining Quality

Earlier this year, through a series of events that involved a predawn drive deep into the Mojave Desert, I came into a windfall of Mid-Century Modern furniture.

I loaded up a U-Haul trailer with what I considered to be high-quality designs: a Danish Modern dining set; a long, teak credenza; and, the fun surprise of the haul, a Packard Bell Stereophonic HiFi console.

It wasn’t until I got these pieces home and, with some awkwardness, attempted to bring them into harmony with my existing belongings, that I began to wonder why I was so into this stuff. Why was it my default position—and that of most people who geek out over [...]


A Great Color Printer If You're Not Printing Photos

While searching for a great color inkjet printer, my goal was to figure out which brand and technology offered the most value for people looking to print a report for school, or a PowerPoint presentation for work, or some colored letterhead. These are all jobs that can be done using a color photo printer without entailing the higher costs of a photo printer, color laser printer or color LED printer (although I gave all technologies a fair shake in my 11-hour search). I also figured out that cheapo printers end up costing you a lot more in ink fairly quickly.

As it turns out I was able to track down [...]


A Great Camcorder

If there's a category that embodies everything frustrating about buying a new gadget, it's camcorders. Every year, the big players churn out a slew of new cameras with minor feature upgrades and inscrutable model names that leave consumers to sort things out. It's a mess.

Camcorders are getting squeezed from both sides. At the lower end, smartphones have matured into capable HD video-capturing devices, and, at the other, DSLRs have become increasingly attractive, offering videographers a host of technical advantages (like interchangeable lenses) and creative tools (delicious shallow depth of field) that similarly-priced video cameras typically can't match.

So why would anyone buy a camcorder these days? The answer's simple.


The Best Cheap Laptop

The main thing you give up with budget laptops, compared to workhorses or great all-around laptops, is build quality. The parts are cheaper. The body is plastic and chunky. The screen is lower resolution. Ultrabooks, for example, have smaller screens and no disc drives, but they're much lighter and sturdier and their batteries last much longer. Even the best budget laptop is going to feel flimsy compared to a $1000 system.

Ideally, a budget laptop gives you desktop replacement functionality–meaning a screen around 14 or 15 inches and a disc drive for DVDs–as cheaply as possible.

If you need a real keyboard, bigger screen and the ability to multitask [...]


How To Back Up Your Computer

When my friend had his Apple iCloud account hacked, the hacker wiped his phone, iPad and laptop remotely. You can read more about how that all happened here. But the worst thing is that my friend, tech writer Mat Honan, did not have a recent back up of his computer. Along with various pieces of work, he lost about a year’s worth of photos of his daughter that he may not ever see again.

In Mat’s words, this was stupid. In my words, this is an easy thing to prevent.

Don’t be like Mat. Learn from his mistakes.

Backing up your computer can be painless and if you [...]