We review hundreds of products in a wide range of categories each year, and our review process centers around how things perform for regular folks, not journalists in lab coats. Our goal to keep things simple extends to our review scores, as well. Below are our 10 different review scores and what they mean. Scores and awards are given out based on how products perform against other products in their class (price and type) at the time of review.
Figuring out what to spend your hard-earned money on is never easy, but we’re here to take as much pain from the process as we can. Check out our full How We Test guide for more info about each review category.
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
In addition to our scores, we also hand out two different awards: Recommended and Editors’ Choice. Full definitions of each award are below, but here’s the lowdown: The best of the best receive our Editors’ Choice award, and anything we think is a solid purchase earns our Recommended award.
For some examples, take a look at our full list of Editors’ Choice winners.
These are standouts, and made a mark on our reviewers and editors. From speakers to smartphones, only the best of the best receive the Digital Trends Editors’ Choice award.
These are not our absolute favorites, but they are still a smart purchase. If something has this award, we think you should give it strong consideration when you’re shopping.
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.