Simplicity. Transparency. Honesty. Skip the gimmicks and get facts, expert opinions, and product tests. These are the core values of the team here at Modern Castle. There’s a better way to research for home products—and we’re here to help you find it. Welcome to Modern Castle.
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We review the cool and essential stuff you need for home, personally researching, testing, and reviewing the products that are featured on our website. If it belongs in the home, chances are, it belongs at Modern Castle.
What categories do we cover?
Currently, our product reviews include four main categories— vacuum reviews (including uprights, stick vacuums, canister vacuums, handheld vacuums, and of course, robot vacuums), mops, smart home devices, and furniture.
We’re always adding new product reviews and product categories. If you have a specific product you think we should investigate please let us know here.
What products do we test?
Who We Are.
I’m Derek Hales, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief around here. After business school and spending 4 years in corporate America, I decided it was time for a change.
So I launched my first consumer education website and hired the best people I know to help me run it, my sister, Kayla, and cousin, Chris.
We take our reviews seriously and do our best to always find ways to improve (both new content and existing reviews). But, we’re not perfect. If you have suggestions or things you think we could do better please send us your feedback.
Hours At Work
Meet the Team.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
My name is Derek Hales. I’m responsible for overseeing everything on Modern Castle, making sure our review process is always being improved, and researching new products to test and analyze. I have a passion for creating extraordinary reviews, videos, and visuals to help my readers find exactly what they need.
Reviewer & Photographer
Chris is my cousin — he works with me on a day-to-day basis helping to test and create the best reviews possible. He is the man behind the camera for most photographs and videos, and also handles most of the video editing and video production. Additionally, Chris completes important research, reviews, and helps analyze product performance.
Reviewer & Designer
Kayla is my sister and heads up design for Modern Castle. In addition to testing products, she also helps to ensure that all of the design and visual elements look beautiful, creating the best possible experience for our readers. Kayla has a Master’s Degree in Architecture & Product Design, which provides her with a unique perspective on how product design impacts performance.
Our process to sniff out the best products for today’s modern home includes four critical steps:
The majority of the products we test go through this same process. It is in-depth, rigorous, and we try out best to test products the same way they would be used in a home. To do this, we test them at our home testing lab and within our homes for day-to-day use.
Wonder what our testing lab looks like?
#1 Research the category.
Before diving into any product for review, we start with research on what is already on the market. We look at different sources to try and understand essential product information before diving into a test.
- What do companies say is their best product?
- What do other consumers say is the best?
We consider features, specs, usability, maintenance, other factors to determine which products ultimately come to the Modern Castle for a test drive.
#2 Receive the product.
Once we’ve selected which products are ready for a Modern Castle review, we order the product. We order our products in the exact same way that you would order a product. Go to the website, enter your information, wait for that tan package to arrive at your door.
What about free products?
In some cases, we will accept product samples from a manufacturer or retailer. However, these free samples don’t earn them any extra points. You can see the samples we’ve received here.
#3 Put it to the test.
The exact details of our Modern Castle tests may vary by product type, but each product is compared across similar testing criteria within each product type. To decide how we test, we think as any consumer would.
What do we look at during testing?
- What was the product designed to do?
- How well does it do that particular job?
- Does it have any other features that help to increase the overall value?
We document the results of each test with real data to show how it performs across the variety of tests we do. The overall product score is based highly on the results of the tests or other product analysis.
#4 The final review.
The final review is written up after the series of tests and analysis are complete. All of our final reviews include a broad-spectrum look at product performance as well as the small details and specifications. Each of these factors can play a roll in whether or not a user chooses to ultimately purchase a product.
We definitely have our opinion on how good a particular product is. However, everyone’s needs and desires are different. We try help arm you with enough information, pros, and cons, to determine if the product can meet your specific requirements.
Sometimes what’s great for one person isn’t so great for another.
Some products that we review go through our pre-test review process. For these products, we complete in-depth research, but don’t personally test them.
These reviews are written for products that are:
- Substantially similar to other products we’ve tested
- Products that are not as in high demand from our readers
- Products we feel we could review through research alone
- Products we want to get some initial thoughts on, but fully test later
To review these products, we rely on manufacturer specifications (and comparing them to similar products) as well as looking at third-party reviews and information. Areas where we notice consistencies in quality, craftsmanship, or design are noted in our final review as potential issues.
How We Score
We take scoring and rating products seriously. We are always striving to improve our scoring processes and methodologies so we can deliver the most accurate and helpful reviews possible.
Our scoring system is a universal system and it applies to all products on Modern Castle. We rate based on 5 factors that we think best capture the essence of a product’s overall performance.
So what are the scoring factors?
Our 5 Scoring Factors
- Design – how does the design, features, and specs impact overall usability and performance?
- Performance – how well does the product do what it has been designed to do?
- Quality – are the materials, construction, and assembly good? Are there longevity issues?
- Usability – how easy is the product to use?
- Value – how does the product’s design, performance, quality, and usability compare to its price? Is it worth the cost?
Our 5 factors are scored on a 100% scale.
- 95-100% (exceptional) – This is the top-tier. Products that score here can be considered exceptional.
- 90-94% (good) – Products that score here can be considered good.
- 85-89% (okay) – Products that score here can be considered okay.
- 80-84% (poor) – Products that score here can be considered poor.
- <80% (failing) – Products that score here can be considered failing.
All scores are color coded (see above) to help make it more immediately clear on their respective performance. The more green, the better they are! The more red, the worse they are.
Updating Our Scores
As we test and score more products we often find that our previous reviews need to be updated.
- Sometimes we test a product and realize it’s way better than a previous product we tested. So we may need to update that old product’s score to maintain a scoring and recommendation system that makes sense across all of the reviews (especially within that category)
- On the other side, sometimes we test a product and it’s significantly worse than a previous similar product we tested. It may be appropriate to simply give that product a worse score and move on. However, sometimes it makes more sense to update the old review and improve its score.
In both cases, it’s our objective to update and maintain the scores on all of our reviews so that they are consistent with our opinions on what products are best.
If we do make scoring updates to a page we usually will add a section at the bottom of that page explaining why the score changed, whether it went up / down, and what the original score was.
Scoring Systems Tracker
1.0 Scoring System, August 2018 to Present – During the first 2 weeks of August 2018, we made scoring changes to virtually every product on Modern Castle. We made these changes as part of our 1.0 scoring system roll out. This scoring system replaced our 0.9 legacy scoring system. This scoring system is designed to be more intuitive to understand and offer additional clarity on product performance differences.
0.9 Scoring System, October 2017 to July 2018 – This was our legacy scoring system. It was based on a similar 100% scale, however, the scoring factors varied from product to product. As a result, we found it to be more complex to maintain and more confusing for users.
Popular Guides & Reviews
Still Have Questions?
If you still have questions on the way Modern Castle operates or want to submit requests for new products to review, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
We are excited and willing to help you find the best products for your home. Let’s get started right away.