The Best Products

Obsessively researching the best stuff.

Table of Contents

    I like to find the best products to use, since it's worth spending an extra 15 minutes of research to find the best product than to settle with an inferior one, especially if I'll be using it often.

    Price-to-quality ratio: 80%. That is, I'm willing to spend considerably more for a much better product, but I won't spend an exorbitant amount to eek out 10% more quality. The balance skews toward higher price for higher quality, but still at excellent value.

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    Closed-ear headphones — PSB M4U 2 — The non-noise-canceling version of these, the PSB M4U 1s, are the headphones The Wirecutter likes best, and for good reason. Full-sounding, detailed headphones with awesome clarity, killer mids, good highs, and decent bass. Three modes: passive, active, active with noise canceling. Passive is best for clarity of sound reproduction. Noise canceling is surprisingly great: not as good as the best-of-class Bose QC15 as WC also notes, but using these while walking around the city or on the subway removes a ton of ambient noise around me, allowing me to listen at about 30% lower volume than I would need to with NC off and raising the volume to compensate. Frustrations: gets hot after listening for a while, and bass isn't as great as other souped-up headphones like the Beats Studio (which is over-bassed and has awful clarity otherwise); also difficult to wear around neck without getting hot after a while. Also, only a one-button in-line control which is annoying, and they're big, but they're over-ears, so. $300 for non-noise-cancelling version (M4U 1), $400 for NC.

    (Marco Arment's pick, the AKG K551s, are tinny, over-trebled, and high-pitched with no bass response and minimal mids, not a full-featured sound but more like the squeaky sound I remember from early laptop speakers, and too big to wear around the neck. Not worth it.)

    In-ear earphones/IEMs — Westone W40 — I owned the Westone W4, the discontinued predecessor of the W40. Stupidly great sound, highly rated for value , great in highs and mids and acceptable in bass. Sound isolation was excellent. Foam tips are the best for good seal, I've found. New version has detachable cable and in-line controls. $500 for the 4-driver version.

    Step down: Klipsch Image X10, excellent headphones with in-line controls and great clarity. $200.


    Workout short — Asics Men's 2-in-1 Short — A good quality short for running or working out that has a pretty solid liner. Has two pockets. Looks solid. Better than other (simpler) ones I've seen, such as Champion or Under Armor. Also the best-reviewed 2-in-1 short. Some reviewers complain about the liner not compressing much, but it's not meant to be a compression short per se. $35.

    Workout shirt — Under Armour Tech T Short Sleeve — Top-rated workout shirt with good breathability, sweat wicking, and odor protection. Highest rated athletic shirt on Amazon. Runs large, lots of colors (got Midnight Navy / White myself). $20-25. Alternatively, get the Fruit of the Loom shirt pack, 4 for $10. Steal.

    Running shoes — Your mileage may vary depending on how your foot is structured and how it hits the ground. See REI's guide on choosing a running shoe.

    Socks, best value — PowerSox Men's Coolmax Crew — 12 bucks for 3 pairs of quality socks, made using Coolmax that keeps dry. Thick but not hot and extremely comfortable. Everyday wear. Excellent. 4.5/5 Amazon. $12.


    Dinnerware — Noritake Colorwave Square — Beautiful set of dinnerware designed by Japanese company Noritake. Lightly tapered shallow plates, good-sized bowl and cup with a really nice speckled pattern on the outside. Some reviewers complain about scratching, but every piece of dinnerware seems to have someone complain about scratching. $40 for a 4-piece set. Expensive but worth it, especially for quality china from a quality Japanese manufacturer.

    Shower liner — InterDesign Mildew-Free EVA Shower Liner — Well-designed shower liner with metal grommets. Excellent Amazon reviews. Environmentally-minded construction. Made with EVA, not PVC or vinyl, both of which off-gas harmful/toxic gases. Some reviewers complain it is too light and blows into the shower, but I found it a good weight and it doesn't move in the shower, despite lack of metal bottom weights.

    Natural dishwashing detergent packs — Seventh Generation 22818 Dishwashing Detergent Pacs — Excellent set of dishwashing packs that clean well and are non-toxic, fragrance-free, and eco-friendly. Some reviewers complain about it not working well, but they seem to be the minority.

    Natural unscented soap — Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade & Organic Baby Unscented Soap — Naturally derived soap, unscented. Great for cooking and the like. Weird color, but fine enough. Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database gave this a 1/10, lower is better, for health concerns. $10.