This 2018, I went a little crazy on the product testing. Ever since I started writing gift guides, I get emails from all kinds of cool brands offering samples for me to consider. It’s hard to turn down — plus, I’m sick of reading gift guides where the writers clearly haven’t tested the products themselves. I’ve made it my goal not to recommend anything I haven’t tried and enjoyed enough to buy.
After I test products, I mostly end up giving them away as gifts, or donating them to local charities — but some products were so good I had to keep them for myself. Over the next few weeks, I'll be doling out an extensive list that follows all those products: out of over 200 products I tested in 2018, these are the ones I still use, would or have bought myself again, and recommend most highly.
Best Mattress: Nectar Mattress
I slept on a Casper for two years before I tried this Nectar mattress, and to me, there was no contest. While I often woke up with a sore back from my Casper, the Nectar mattress is plush-feeling while still firm enough to please my partner. Also delivered straight to the door, it arrives neatly rolled up in a bag, expanding to full, plush thickness within a few hours — and comes with a 365-day home trial, so if you don’t like it, you can return it.
Best Air Purifier: Dyson Pure Cool Tower Fan
This fan has a nighttime setting for quieter use, which has come in handy for me. But what makes the Dyson Pure Cool Tower Fan extra-special is that has a real-time it LCD monitor that shows the indoor pollution you can’t see in real time, and then reacts automatically using an algorithm, with a filter system that captures 99.97 percent of microscopic allergens and pollutants. Having a clean room and white noise is key for my sleep, so this helped me on multiple levels.
Best Timesaver: Roomba 960
Having a Roomba feels like having a little robot dog who cleans up after you — I call him Roombi. I wasn’t sure how well the Roomba 960 would clean, but it really works. I use it often, and recommend it highly.
Most Practical Home Fitness Aid: Wellness Fitness Mat
Designed to be less-ugly for home use, the Wellness Fitness Mat is wonderfully cushy and easy to clean. I use mine all the time for working on the floor and lifting weights while watching TV. Definitely nicer than a yoga mat, and since you won’t roll it up, the invitation to stretch on it will always be there.
Best Kitchen Appliance: KRUPS Air Fryer
This KRUPS Air Fryer is perfect for lazy cooks like me. I toss in some pre-cut frozen fries, or even broccoli flowers, and enjoy a crispy snack in less than 20 minutes, all with little or no oil required. It’s become a go-to kitchen tool.
Best For Night-Sweaters: Nest Cooling Mattress Protector
I’m a night-sweater, but the Nest Cooling Mattress Protector seems to have helped keep stains and sweating to a minimum. It also makes my mattress extra-comfy, with a thick layer of gel memory foam.
Best Way To Get Your Steps In: Lifespan Under-Desk Treadmill
I tested the Lifespan Under-Desk Treadmill a few years ago, and I loved it so much that I had to buy one when I moved to California. While I use it mostly for watching TV and working out at home, I also sometimes do actual work on it. Get your steps in and be perfectly distracted by your computer while you do it. Well worth the investment.