How we test, review and rate products on Live Science

Yosuda exercise bike being ridden by Sam Hopes, resident fitness writer at Live Science
The Yosuda exercise bike, seen here being ridden by Live Science's resident fitness writer Sam Hopes, is now available on Amazon with a 32% saving (Image credit: Future)

As an ethical brand, Live Science places great value on a transparent review process that ensures readers get advice they can trust on every product that we recommend. Whether it’s student tech, STEM toys, fitness equipment or home devices, our team is committed to helping you find the right product for your needs. Our dedicated team of reviewers spends countless hours rigorously testing each product, identifying strengths, weaknesses and unique features.

What does this mean in practice? We actually write code on the laptops we test; we work up a sweat on a number of rowing machines; and we measure the particle counts filtered out by the air purifiers we review. 

We also analyze reader reviews from leading online retail sites to gauge current owners' opinions, likes and dislikes for further insight on a product's pros and cons. This means that not only are we testing a product's claims, but we're also gathering data about how those products perform in real life, in a variety of conditions, over a longer period of time.

HP Zbook Firefly G9 14_laptop open, angled

(Image credit: Future)

As a trustworthy brand, Live Science places great value on a transparent review process that ensures readers get advice they can rely on for every product we recommend.

This is our promise to you…

Eye lenses close up

Health writer Lou Mudge doing hands-on testing of a sauna blanket (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
  • We will never accept money, or payment of any kind, in relation to product testing from any manufacturer, retailer or interested party.
  • Our reviews and opinions will never be influenced by any advertising campaigns that are running on Live Science or any other Future PLC website or brand.
  • Whether it’s a laptop, a smartwatch or a treadmill, our tests are always conducted by writers and reviewers with extensive experience in the relevant field. 
  • An identical testing process is always applied to all items in each buying guide.
  • Time spent testing will depend on the nature of the product, but we will test extensively and thoroughly on everything we review, without fail. If we learn of product defects, or any negative long-term deficiencies with any of the products we test, we will update our review and score to reflect this information.
  • Finally, Live Science writers promise to call it as they see it. If a product makes false claims about its features, or is poor quality, we will share this with our readers.

If you think we're not living up to this promise, please email the editor-in-chief and we'll endeavor to fix the issue.

Our testing centers

Fitness reviewer Harry Bullmore working hard to put a rowing machine through its paces

Fitness reviewer Harry Bullmore working hard to put a rowing machine through its paces (Image credit: Future)

Where applicable, we try to test products in the same environment, and Future PLC has a state-of-the-art testing facility in Reading in the U.K. At this center, gadgets and equipment of all shapes, sizes and types can be put through the paces in real-world conditions, and in comparison with rival products from the same market sector. 

Should the products require it, we also conduct tests outside or in domestic dwellings, to find out how they perform in the elements.

What our ratings mean

All the products reviewed by Live Science are awarded a rating of between 1 and 5 stars. Here's a quick guide to what those stars mean.

5 stars = Perfect for your needs. This is our strongest recommendation.
4 stars = Definitely worth the money. Generally, this is a great thing to buy.
3 stars = You get what you pay for. Might not be perfect, but most will be fine with it.
2 stars = Likely isn't worth your money, and has numerous poor features.
1 star = An extremely poor item, and potentially dangerous. Avoid this.

How we test

Lego Technic All-Terrain Vehicle 42139_Instruction booklet and Lego pieces

(Image credit: Future)

Live Science tests a huge and diverse range of products, from Legos to binoculars, and from exercise bikes to dehumidifiers. Depending on just what we're reviewing, a product will be subjected to an array of different tests relevant to its purpose and use. This may include in-lab benchmarks, extensive use in our test centers or thorough road-testing in real-world conditions.

We'll examine performance against the manufacturer's claims and test the accuracy of those claims to the very best of our ability, sourcing input from independent experts where needed. We will also evaluate a product on its ease of use, ergonomic success and performance relative to its competitors. Price will also be a factor with value for money affecting our overall evaluation and review rating.

Through this combination of extensive testing, research and expert consultation, Live Science is confident that it offers readers authoritative advice on all the products it reviews.

LiveScience Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.