2015Year In Review

This year, we reviewed thousands of products and spent tens of thousands of hours testing, cooking, listening, reading and more. We asked our reviewers to share with you their favorite products of the year. Here’s a look at some of the best.


We Asked Our Expert Reviewers:

What product or service made the Biggest Impression on you in 2015?

Small Business

Mobile Credit Card Processing Square

Square simplifies credit card processing by making it accessible and affordable for small businesses and individuals.

The October 2015 EMV chip upgrade was a hot topic in the payment industry when we were researching and testing mobile credit card processors. When we asked companies about whether their mobile card readers could read EMV chip cards, we received different information about whether EMV readiness was even a requirement for mobile card readers (we checked with the credit card brands – it is required for mobile card readers). Square was one of the few mobile processors that had an EMV card reader ready to go in advance of the EMV deadline. Additionally, it also has an EMV/NFC reader in the works, making it one of the few mobile card readers on the market that can also accept payments made using mobile wallets, like Apple Pay.

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Gold Award Winners for Small Business in 2015
Credit Card Processing Services

Match the best Credit Card Processing Service with your particular business.

Web Hosting Services

The 5 reasons why Arvixe is our Gold Award Winner.

Email Marketing

Are you continually connected with your customers? We looked at the best 11 services.

Tech Gifts

*Editor’s Note: Many online retailers have stopped selling hover boards temporarily due to recent safety concerns. In our tests, we haven’t experienced any of these issues. Always be safe when riding a self-balancing scooter.
DreamWalker Self-Propelled Scooter

I was extremely excited when I was assigned to review the DreamWalker.

When I first stepped on the board, it was simultaneously frightening and exhilarating. It took me a few minutes to find my balance, but once I did, the DreamWalker was very easy to learn. I was zipping around our office in less than half an hour. I love riding this machine and do so whenever I can. However, it hasn’t always been sweetness and lighthearted enjoyment. I took more than a few tumbles because I got too confident and tried to go faster and farther than I should. The most important thing I learned about this new, fun tech is the importance of wearing the proper safety gear. Wearing a helmet, pads and wrist guards are a small price to pay to keep your head from cracking on the side walk or spraining your wrist when you reach out to break a fall. Overall, it is a fun experience, but people should use caution while riding to avoid hurting themselves.

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More Top Picks for Tech Gifts in 2015
BB-8 Remote Controlled Droid

How cool would it be to have your very own droid? The BB-8 is here!

RC Millennium Falcon Drone

Air Hogs’ latest remote control quadcopter offers you the chance to the Falcon’s captain – on a very small scale of course.

Amazon Echo

With the smartphone and Wi-Fi integration, the Amazon Echo is the perfect Christmas gift for the techy people on your list who can’t put their smartphones down.

the Home


You don't have to be a lumberjack to use a chainsaw, but it helps.

In 2015, I tested chainsaws, which felt like a daunting task at first. Unless you work in landscaping, own land or star in a zombie movie, you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of chainsaws. These powerful tools are more than just horror movie props. We found that even beginners could get the hang of using a chainsaw with proper guidance. With the help of Cutting Edge, a local tree removal service, we were able to gather data from a beginner and expert point of view. Through our comparisons and tests, the Stihl MS170 scored the highest among electric and gas models. It’s lightweight and sliced through our 10-inch test log in under four seconds.

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Gold Award Winners for the Home in 2015
Dishwashers

The stylish GE Profile Series presents a high-quality dishwasher that is truly impressive.

Side-by-Side Refrigerator

The stylish GE Profile Series presents a high-quality dishwasher that is truly impressive.

Dryers

With cutting edge energy efficiency, the Samsung DV457 has a generous cycle selection and user-friendly smart features.

Personal Finance


This might be the year we see TurboTax dethroned.

I have been predicting this for a few years, and now we are seeing TaxACT on the top of review lists for DIY online tax return preparation. It is gaining market share, not only because it is easy to use, but also because it is priced much lower than TurboTax. In fact, I have been using this product the past three years to prepare my personal taxes. TaxACT is the lowest-priced option for all types of filers, and this service does not charge active duty military or veterans to use its service, even for filing state returns. TaxSlayer is nipping at its heels in the tax arena and on Nascar tracks – TaxACT sponsors Danica Patrick's car and TaxSlayer sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car. It will be interesting to see who ends up in the winning circle next year.

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Gold Award Winners for Personal Finance in 2015
Online Stock Trading

The OptionsHouse culture supports ongoing improvements in products, trading tools and customer service, making it one of the best online brokerage companies.

Accounting

Freshbook’s most salient, top features include its simple-to-use interface, extensive mobile tools and snail-mail invoicing.

Personal Finance

Premier is our top pick for the best personal finance software for its easy-to-use platform, simplistic budgeting features and powerful investment tools.