Finding the Best Thing with Wirecutter and Sweethome

Blue ribbon prize.

If you’re like me, when shopping for…well for almost anything…you can be paralyzed by choice. If you need a new set of headphones, there are just so many options out there, and so many blogs or forums in which experts and consumers will discuss in detail the pros and cons of any given choice. We do a bit of that here at ProfHacker, of course, and we hope our recommendations are good ones.

But choosing can still be exhausting. Barry Schwartz calls this problem The Paradox of Choice in his book on the subject. His argument, in brief, is that modern consumer society gives us so much choice that it actually leads to unhappiness, anxiety, and regret. There are times when you need something and just want someone to tell you what the best option is. Enter The Wirecutter, which focuses on electronics, and its companion site The Sweethome, which focuses on home goods and appliances. They’re a kind of Consumer Reports with a more web-savvy vibe, and I find myself gravitating toward their recommendations more and more.

In short, Wirecutter and Sweethome make specific picks for products in a growing set of categories. Those picks are based in extensive research which is well documented in the article on each product, but at the very top of a given article it says something like “If I were recommending a surge protector for general home office or audio/video use, I’d suggest the APC Surgearrest 3020J.” The longer article will usually list a few alternatives (i.e. a budget alternative, or an alternative for people with a specific need in the category), but what I love about both sites is the direct recommendation that cuts through so much potential wasted time. If we’re being honest, in so many of these categories the differences between products can be so marginal as to be virtually meaningless, and I’m often happy to simply follow the advice of someone else who trudged through all the testing. I’ve followed Wirecutter’s and Sweethome’s advice on a number of products now, from my headphones to my clothes iron, and I’ve not yet been disappointed.

So, if you’re looking for particular tech or home products and would like to save time by reading and following extremely direct recommendations, give Wirecutter and Sweethome a look. How about you?

Do you have any recommendation sites (besides ProfHacker, of course) you particularly trust? Please tell us about it in the comments.

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by eyecmore]

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