How we test, review and rate on Top Ten Reviews

vacuuming puffed rice with the shrak stratos cordless
(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

At Top Ten Reviews, we want our readers to feel confident they are making the right purchase for them. We do all the groundwork and research to find the best products out there, so you don’t have to. 

Our team and writers are all committed to thorough research and extensive testing to give readers the most accurate product reviews. They all have prior experience and industry knowledge of the product categories they review. They know exactly what to look out for when they test an item, and will always give their honest opinion of it. 

Our reviewers

We work with a number of freelance journalists in the UK and US. The immediate Top Ten Reviews team also take on reviewing appliances and smart home devices, too. Let us introduce you to a few members of our team.

Linda Clayton portrait
Linda Clayton

Linda Clayton is a freelance interiors journalist specialising in kitchens and has tested all manner of home appliances over the years, just never an Air Fryer! She loves to cook and (nearly) always manages to muster up a proper sit-down, healthy(ish) meal for her permanently famished family of four every evening. 

Linda tested the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket in her home kitchen, cooking breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinners for a couple of weeks. She only used her regular oven once in the test period, to cook a lemon meringue that wouldn’t fit in the air fryer. 

James Holland
James Holland

James Holland has spent the last three years testing, reviewing, and writing about all sorts of tech, whether it be computers and related peripherals to smart home devices, robot vacuums, and kitchen appliances.

His work has been published in Top Ten Reviews, TechRadar,, and Android Police. When he’s not working, he’s playing music or at least pretending to. He also likes to eat questionable fusion-type foods..

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador has been reviewing household and gardening products since 2020. She has tested everything from lawn mowers to weed trimmers, vacuums, coffee machines, mattresses, hot tubs, and more. Alex reviewed this robot lawn mower in her half-acre yard at her 103-year-old home in the Dallas, Texas, area.  

Alexandra Pamias
Alexandra Pamias

Alexandra Pamias has been reviewing household appliances for two years as a freelance writer. She has tested everything from robot vacuums to fans and air fryers in her studio apartment where she lives with her partner.  

Caroline Preece author image
Caroline Preece

Caroline is the Deputy Editor of Top Ten Reviews. Joining Future at the start of 2021, she has since served her time across all of the company’s home titles, including Real Homes, Ideal Home, Livingetc, and Homes&Gardens

Caroline has spent years testing out products for the home, which she trials in her cozy one-bedroom basement apartment in Suffolk, UK. She’s passionate about helping people choose the very best appliances, tech, and anything else that might make their lives easier, more cost-efficient, or just more fun.

How we test

Our expert reviews are experienced and knowledgeable about the product categories they operate in. They know exactly how to put a product through its phases to ensure it’s built to the highest quality standards and will last you as long as possible.

All of our products are tested using in-depth and repeatable testing methods. As much as possible, we try to have the same person reviewing every product in a category in the same environment. We favor the home environment over a lab as we believe it brings authenticity to the testing. We use the products we test just as you would at home, ensuring our testing is reflective of real-life usage. 

Our testing protocols are comprehensive and include everything from unboxing and assembly to care, maintenance and durability. For example, when reviewing lawn mowers we would ask our reviewer to examine the following:

  • Unboxing: Make a note of the packaging (recyclable, quantity, etc). Look at the instructions - are they detailed enough, clear enough? 
  • Assembly: How long does assembly take from start to finish? Does it require more than one person? Does it require heavy lifting? 
  • Sound test: With a decibel counter, measure how loud the mower is on its different settings. Compare with other objects/scenarios for clarity (eg “the same as a quiet office” “the same as a carn horn”, etc).
  • Performance: Use the mower on a pre-measured lawn. Using a higher cutting setting, run the mower once over your lawn, then again with a 2.5-3 inch cutting height. Run through the speed settings (if applicable). How easy is the mower to operate? Make a note of the mowing quality - is the lawn mowed to golf course standard? Does it shred leaves, or do you have to rake/blow beforehand? What is the precision like?
  • Cleaning, storage and maintenance: Where should the mower be stored? Can it fold up into smaller dimensions? How should it be cleaned, and how often? Is it easy to do? What is the recommended maintenance, especially for gas mowers? Speak to a professional and enquire as to the best practice for maintaining the product. 

Hands on review

We have two different types of reviews - 'hands-on reviews' and 'product reviews'. It's important to know the difference between them.

A hands-on review is our journalists first impression of a product. This will usually be at an event where we've spent a few hours with it. It's unlikely that we would have spent any longer than that, but it would have given us the opportunity to get a sense of what it is like to use.

Our full product reviews, however, are a lot more in-depth. The products in for review would have been thoroughly tested for a minimum of two weeks, and will contain our overall verdict and score.

Scoring system

We use a five star scoring system to make it clear what areas the product excels in, or may not be suitable for. Generally, the higher the number of stars out-of-five the better.

We rate our products by a selection of criteria, depending on the product and score out of five for each, for instance:

Price & availability: is the price you pay offering value-for money? is it widely available?

Design: is the product large or compact? is it easy to navigate around? does it feel like good quality?

Performance: how well does the product work? does it meet all of the spec?

Testing score card

You'll see a score out of 5 in all the above mentioned sections of our reviews. The scorecard will look similar to the below, which is shared in a further section of the review titled 'should I buy?'. This helps to inform the final star rating, whilst justifying where they have been awarded a particular mark out-of-five.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Score card: example
Price & availability1 - 2 lines of an explanation & justificationx /5
Design1 - 2 lines of an explanation & justificationx /5
Performance1 - 2 lines of an explanation & justificationx /5

Overall review rating

We take all of the individual ratings from each section to amalgamate a final star rating, which is visible at the top of the review.

We always recommend reading the full review before you buy. Whilst we take a balanced approach to our review writing, some products may be more suitable than others for your needs.

The final star rating is out-of-5. In some instances our reviewers award half-stars if they feel that a product falls between the two ratings.

Reviews guarantee

We test as many products in one category as possible to ensure we can really find the best product out there. We don’t stop at the big name brands and don’t only include the most popular products on the market. We update our product lists with new items whenever we find new products that we think are worth including in our buying guides.

Crucially, we take no money or compensation from brands when we review their products. It’s important to us that we remain completely neutral and unbiased when we test and review. 

Our revenues are generated from affiliate links to retailers if you make a purchase through our site. As these affiliate revenues are standardised, you can rest assured we won’t push you towards one product or retailer over another.

Read more about us and how we fund content on Top Ten Reviews.