After another year in the Expert Reviews Labs, these are the products to aspire to – and the ones that almost made it to the top spot
Twelve months, 251 working days, countless late nights and thousands of working hours – the staff of Expert Reviews have survived another year of almost non-stop product reviewing. It doesn’t matter whether it beeps or glows, rumbles or blows, chances are we’ve tested, benchmarked and reviewed it. And now it’s that glorious time of year where we celebrate the very best of everything. Welcome to the Expert Reviews Product of the Year Awards 2019.
Product of the Year 2019 | Winner | Otty Hybrid mattress
It’s rare that you get to describe a product as life-changing, but this year’s Product of the Year is certainly that. Artfully combining the very latest cutting-edge memory foams with new-school old-school pocket springs, the Hybrid ensures that you (and your other half) have no excuse for not getting your 8 hours every night. Sensibly priced, outstandingly comfortable, and backed by a reassuring 100-night trial period, it’s a thoroughly well-deserved Product of the Year.
Products of the Year 2019
Phones | Products of the Year | Mobile Network
Winner | EE
This year is possibly the most important for the mobile industry in a decade. And with the arrival of 5G, EE has been right at the heart of the action. It beat the competition to the 5G punch, and it’s the network with the widest selection of 5G smartphones, too. Even without 5G, EE remains our favourite mobile network, and that’s down to its fast 4G download speeds and strong nationwide coverage. Other networks might be cheaper but EE strikes the perfect balance between performance and price.
Highly Commended | Three
Three’s network might not be as quick as EE, but it’s still one of our favourites. With a tempting range of prices across SIM only and phone contracts, plus the best international roaming deals, it’s a fabulous alternative choice for cost-conscious smartphone owners.
Phones | Products of the Year | Premium Phone
Winner| Samsung Galaxy S10e
The cheapest of Samsung’s trio of freshly launched flagship smartphones is also the most formidable. The Galaxy S10e successfully defines the benchmark for the next generation of Android handsets, with Samsung’s fastest-ever mobile chipset, a sleek new design, and a superb suite of rear cameras. If you’re searching for the very pinnacle of Android achievement, look no further.
Highly Commended | Sony Xperia 1
The Xperia 1 is overflowing with innovative tech. From the fully edge-to-edge 21:9 4K screen to the triple-camera arrangement co-developed with Sony’s Alpha camera team, the Xperia 1 is a high-end smartphone that’s filled to the brim with positives.
Phones | Products of the Year | Value Phone
Winner | Google Pixel 3a
Google’s return to the mid-range market is a bold and highly impressive move for the company. Representing the very antithesis of what we’ve come to expect from cheaper variants of much-loved flagship smartphones, the Pixel 3a incorporates the same industry-leading camera tech as its bigger brother with a much softer impact on your wallet. It’s a miracle that the Pixel 3a offers this much for so little.
Highly Commended | Xiaomi Mi 9
Xiaomi’s affordable smartphones have quietly been attracting a lot of praise over the last few years, and the newly-launched Mi 9 embodies the very definition of a flagship-killing handset. With practically no faults to speak of, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is worthy of a recommendation.
Home | Products of the Year | Vacuum
Winner | Dyson V11 Absolute
Dyson’s V11 Absolute improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. The new High Torque head intelligently adjusts suction power to suit the situation, while a lovely LCD screen keeps tabs on the battery and explains how to deal with pesky blockages. It’s more powerful and more versatile; it lasts longer, and works more intelligently. Simply put, the V11 is the ultimate vacuum cleaner.
Highly Commended | Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum
This stylish cordless handheld from Shark packs serious power into an unassuming exterior. Perfect for handling spillages or hard-to-reach crevices, the Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum is light, manoeuvrable and a real joy to use.
Home | Products of the Year | Robot Vacuum
Winner | Neato Botvac D7 Connected
If the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is leading the robot revolution, then we say: bring it on. The D7 Connected is powerful and methodical, capable of cleaning your home for up to two hours on a charge – and its uniquely wide brush gets into all those neglected corners. The accompanying app grants you remote access to your D7 Connected in case of emergency, but you won’t need it: this robot vacuum excels at avoiding furniture and stairs.
Highly Commended | Anker Eufy RoboVac 30C
Anker’s RoboVac 30C is a plucky underdog and a fantastic first buy for anyone interested in robot vacuums. Refreshingly simple to use, it cleans your home with the manoeuvrability and thoroughness of a much more expensive product.
Home | Products of the Year | Coffee machine
Winner | Sage Bambino Plus SES500BSS
The Bambino Plus proves that making good coffee doesn’t have to be tough – or expensive. This little machine is oozing stainless steel style, fits on even the most compact of kitchen counters, and makes a damn fine espresso. Fancy a dash of milk? A touch of a button delivers perfectly steamed milk with pristine microfoam. This is the kind of manual espresso machine that brings out the barista in everyone.
Highly Commended | Delonghi Clessidra
Filter coffee has fallen out of fashion for some, but the Clessidra puts it back in the limelight. With a gorgeous, minimalist design, the coffee brewing system that this machine uses is endorsed by the European Coffee Brewing Centre – and the rich, flavourful coffee it produces is endorsed by us, too.
Home | Products of the Year | Mattress
Winner | Otty Hybrid mattress
The Otty Hybrid delivers all the attributes you’d want in a new mattress – support, comfort and temperature control – at a price that its bed-in-a-box rivals simply cannot match. It’s at the firm end of the scale, so it might not be to everyone’s tastes, but when it comes with a 100-night money-back guarantee there’s absolutely no reason not to try it.
Highly Commended | Sealy Hybrid Fusion
Sealy’s Hybrid Fusion emphatically proves that high-street mattress brands have still got it in 2019. There might not be a trial period as with most bed-in-a-box manufacturers, but the Hybrid Fusion offers unmatched build quality and luxury at a competitive price. It never needs flipping or rotating, either, so once it’s on your bed you can enjoy it for many years to come.
Home | Products of the Year | Washing Machine
Winner | Bosch Series 4 WAN28201GB
You might expect a £399 washing machine to struggle against machines at two or three times the price – but not this model from Bosch. You can forget about Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, smart apps or built-in Netflix at this price, but wash performance is up there with the very best. It’s easy to use, surprisingly well built for the money and has all the essential features anyone could ask for. A veritable bargain.
Highly Commended | Bosch Serie 8 WAWH8660GB
The Serie 8 is one of the few pricier models which justifies its higher price. The Wi-Fi remote control, built-in detergent tank and mobile app might sound like gimmicks, but they’re a real time-saver. Sling a load in before you leave the house and you can set your wash going on the train to work – or once you get to the office. Genius.
Fitness | Products of the Year | Smartwatch
Winner | Apple Watch Series 4
Forget the headline features – ECGs, fall alerts and atrial fibrillation notifications – because even without those, the Watch 4 is head and shoulders above the competition. It’s a joy to use, and packs an incredible feature list and superb performance into a stunning, lightweight package. If you’re an iPhone user and looking to buy a new smartwatch, look no further.
Highly Commended | TicWatch E2
The Ticwatch E2 should be on the shopping list of every prospective smartwatch buyer on a budget. It doesn’t have the premium design of some of its more expensive rivals but with an impressive catalogue of WearOS apps to choose from, plus GPS, heart-rate monitoring and swim tracking, only the lack of NFC stops it from rivalling devices that cost twice the price.
Fitness | Products of the Year | Fitness Wearable
Winner | Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
The Fenix 5 Plus has set the benchmark for multisport watches of the future. With Spotify playback, NFC, full colour maps and class-leading sports tracking, it’s difficult to imagine what else you could want it to do. Whether you’re running, cycling, swimming, or a combination of all three, you can leave your phone behind and the Fenix 5 Plus has got you covered.
Highly Commended | Fitbit Inspire HR
The Inspire is more an exercise in evolution than revolution. That is to say, it doesn’t offer any features we’ve not seen on a Fitbit device before, it simply delivers them at a much lower price. If you want to buy the best fitness tracker under £100, this is it.
Audio | Products of the Year | Soundbar
Winner | Samsung HW-N850
The HW-N850 is among Samsung’s top-tier soundbars. Despite strong competition from other manufacturers, and also from its successor, the N850 holds its own as one of the best soundbars money can buy. It boasts excellent audio reproduction across the frequency range, supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and best of all, is now more affordable than ever. It’s a no brainer.
Highly Commended | Polk Command Bar
Polk’s Command Bar is a do-it-all soundbar that won’t break the bank. For under £300, it comes with a dedicated subwoofer and unlike its rivals – not to mention many far more expensive models – the Command Bar has Alexa built-in. A truly excellent system for your living room.
Audio | Products of the Year | Bluetooth Speaker
Winner | Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The Megaboom 3 is an outstandingly versatile all-weather Bluetooth speaker. It’s lovely to look at thanks to the two-tone mesh fabric that wraps around the speaker – and it even floats on water. However, it’s the sonic performance that sets it apart from the rest – it delivers a powerful bassline kick and a 360-degree sound. The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is the true definition of a portable speaker.
Highly Commended | KEF LSX
KEF has an enviable reputation among audiophiles, but its LSX speakers are bordering on heresy. Sound beams via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – no speaker cables in sight – and they deliver an unbelievably good sound. They’re stylish, won’t take up too much room and deliver a powerful, crystalline sound that’ll fill a large room.
Audio | Products of the Year | Smart Speaker
Winner | Amazon Echo 2nd Gen
Amazon’s second take on the Echo is a corker. This unassuming cylinder sets the industry benchmark for good reason: its stylish design blends into any room, integration with Amazon Alexa is second to none, and the seven far-field microphones pick up even the quietest of voice commands. It doesn’t sound half bad either.
Highly Commended | Libratone Zipp 2
The Libratone Zipp 2 is among the best-sounding smart speakers on the market. It boasts an impressive array of connectivity options, delivers a jaw-dropping sound for a speaker of its size and is designed to a tee. The speaker’s interface is extremely sleek, with a responsive touch panel at the top and a comprehensive app that integrates with a vast number of music services.
Audio | Products of the Year | Premium Headphones
Winner | Sony WH-1000XM3
Sony has squared up to its arch rival Bose, and the result is a pair of headphones that outclass the QC35 II in every department. The WH-1000XM3 have class-leading ANC performance, incredible sound quality reproduction, a comfortable and yet stylish design, and they support the high-fidelity LDAC codec, too. The Sony WH-1000XM3 are the ultimate commuters choice and our favourite portable headphones to date.
Highly Commended | Sennheiser HD 820
The HD 820 have redefined what is possible from closed-back headphones. They deliver a sumptuous sound reproduction across the frequency range, notably in the mid-range, where they excel. Stunning looks are matched with impressive comfort levels, and somehow they manage to conjure a soundstage which is surprisingly similar to their popular open-back sibling, the HD 800S. These are an audiophile’s dream.
Audio | Products of the Year | Value Headphones
Winner | Creative Outlier Air
True wireless earbuds are dauntingly expensive, or rather they used to be – Creative has changed everything with the Outlier Air. These affordable in-ears deliver an impeccable audiophile-grade sound and boast excellent connectivity over Bluetooth. Where most have failed in this category, Creative has succeeded. These aren’t just our favourite value headphones, these are also our go-to wireless earbuds.
Highly Commended | SoundMagic E11
The SoundMagic E10 were a budget hit, beloved by many. Building on its predecessor, the E11 improves on almost every single department and yet still manages to retain the E10’s identity. For under £50, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better set of earphones, which deliver a fun sound signature, an elegant design and a comfortable fit.
TV | Products of the Year | Premium TV
Winner | Sony AF9
The sheer quality of the competition in the premium TV market is daunting, but it’s testament to the AF9’s brilliance that it reigns supreme. Every aspect of the AF9’s performance has been honed to perfection: the colour accuracy, the motion performance, the video processing – even the stand design and sound quality are a cut above. Sony’s engineers have truly outdone themselves, and the result is a TV to aspire to.
Highly Commended | LG C8
We have LG to thank for an unending slew of stunning OLED televisions, and the C8 is an almost perfect example. Blending superb image quality, ultra-low input lag, and astonishing colour accuracy, it’s a stunning TV which delivers the kind of impact which LCD rivals can only dream of.
TVs | Products of the Year | Value TV
Winner | Samsung NU8000
The NU8000 is a superb example of how cutting-edge technology trickles down from the high-end. Supremely capable image processing combines with a high quality VA panel to provide the kind of image quality which you just wouldn’t expect at the price. Factor in the ultra-low input lag, and you’ve got a big screen spectacle which leaves a relatively small dent in your wallet.
Highly Commended | Hisense 6200
Delivering an acceptable audio-visual performance for under £400 is no mean feat, but Hisense has managed the seemingly impossible with the 6200 Series. It might struggle with HDR content – to be fair, even far pricier TVs do – but it serves up impressively realistic SDR imagery, good contrast and input lag is low. A genuine bargain.
Cameras | Products of the Year | Premium Camera
Winner | Nikon Z7
The Nikon Z7 takes the company’s century of experience building cameras and launches it forwards in breathtaking style. This full-frame, 45.7-megapixel beauty produces gorgeous images, in a body that barely troubles your shoulder at 675g. Mirrorless cameras have long been the answer for consumer photographers: the Z7 is a sign that Nikon might be able to answer the prayers of professionals too.
Highly commended | Fujifilm X-T30
There are cameras that you shoot great pictures with, and then there are cameras that make you smile every time you see it on your shelf. The Fujifilm X-T30 does both: its rugged retro good looks pushes mirrorless design to new heights, and it takes great pictures. Beauty, performance and an impressive price tag.
Computing | Products of the Year | Tablet
Winner | Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro
Thanks to its incredibly speedy A12X Bionic CPU, the Apple 12.9in iPad Pro is miles faster than its predecessors and leaves its competitors in the dust. Combined with the Smart Folio keyboard, the 12.9in iPad Pro can transform into a bona fide laptop replacement , and the rounded edge-to-edge 246ppi display is totally stunning. Image quality and touch-responsiveness are world class, too. There’s never been an iPad quite like this one.
Highly Commended | Amazon Fire HD 8
Amazon makes the best budget tablets around, and the Fire HD 8 is one of its finest. It’s not the cheapest in the range but it’s the most affordable Fire that has an HD display. Plus, with the Show Dock, it becomes a makeshift Echo Show.
Computing | Products of the Year | PC Manufacturer
Winner | Chillblast
Chillblast is no stranger to awards – and for good reason. With an attention to detail that’s consistently evident in its well-built, well-priced systems, we’ve come to expect the best whenever we review a new Chillblast PC. From budget gaming desktops to powerful media editing workstations, we’ve seen the full extent of what this brand can do, and that is why it’s the deserved winner of this year’s PC Manufacturer of the Year award.
Computing | Products of the Year | Gaming Laptop
Winner | Acer Predator Helios 500
For raw power, few laptops can match the Acer Predator Helios 500 – and those that do are vastly more expensive. Packing an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU and 16GB RAM, the Predator Helios 500 is an absolute beast of a laptop – it’s a desktop PC in laptop clothing. That power, coupled with its 15.6in FHD 144Hz display and G-Sync technology, makes it the perfect choice for serious gamers.
Highly Commended | HP Omen 15
Gamers working to a budget should definitely consider the HP Omen 15, a Max-Q workhorse that offers fantastic value for money. It’s equipped with a brutally quick specification comprising of an Intel 8th Generation Core i7 processor, Nvidia’s GTX 1070, 16GB RAM and over 1TB of storage. The clincher? It costs under £1,600.
Computing | Products of the Year | Monitor
Winner | AOC CQ32G1
Normally, a large-sized gaming monitor comes with a hefty price tag but that’s not the case with the AOC CQ32G1. This 31.5in monitor runs up to 144Hz at 1440p – the sweet spot for enthusiasts. The VA-based panel is extremely responsive, has excellent colour accuracy and boasts a high contrast ratio, too. For gamers who are on the lookout for a large screen, the CQ32G1 is the one.
Highly Commended | LG 34GK950F
Ultrawide monitors have had their fair share of criticism from gamers, as they often fail to match the competitive standard. The LG 34GK950F however is a top-tier gaming monitor that’ll withstand even the most demanding gamers. Its responsive IPS panel refreshes at 144Hz in 1440p, and it supports HDR, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync without fault.
Computing | Products of the Year | Laptop
Winner | Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
With the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft took everything we loved about the original Surface Laptop and made it better. The display, design and overall build quality are practically flawless. Thankfully, Microsoft also ditched its experimental Windows 10S, as found on the first Surface Laptop, which has vastly improved the user experience. With a slimline aluminium chassis, high DPI touchscreen and Alcantara coating, this laptop exudes luxury.
Highly Commended | Lenovo Yoga C930
Lenovo’s Yoga C930 comes a very close second in 2019. It’s lightweight, but its internals ensure that it’s speedy where it counts, and it has a wealth of luxury features including a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundbar and a bundled self-charging stylus.
Computing | Products of the Year | Printer
Winner | Canon Pixma TS6250
The Pixma range is chock-full of excellent products, but the TS6250 stands out as a great all-rounder that won’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s compact, smart and easy to use, and it can field multiple devices at once over Wi-Fi, making it our choice for families. It doesn’t hurt that it performs exceptionally well, too, particularly in the photo department.
Highly commended | Epson EcoTank ET-2710
In the world of no-fuss multifunction printers, the Epson EcoTank ET-2710 wears the crown. And that’s alright by us: Epson’s pedigree shines through even without the bells and whistles. The trick? Devastatingly low running costs.
Computing | Products of the Year | VPN
Winner | ExpressVPN
In a crowded online market, it can be daunting to find a VPN that ticks all the boxes with regard to online safety, ease-of-use and unfettered global access. ExpressVPN makes this choice a no-brainer: it offers the best overall VPN experience without compromising on security or speed. We also like that it recently got an independent auditing firm to confirm that it doesn’t store any data, and increased its maximum number of simultaneous connections to five, putting it on par with the competition.
Highly Commended | NordVPN
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN has also undergone a successful audit to prove it doesn’t store any user data, which is an essential trait of any good VPN. Its map-based interface gamifies your experience and connections are fast and secure. The service also has many additional VPN features that you may never use, but are good options to have just a few clicks away.