CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be those earbuds, electric razors or smart scales — to find the absolute best in each respective category. Our testing process is rigorous, starting out by spending hours of research to find the top products in each category. Once we create a testing pool of products, we test and retest each product multiple times in real-world settings over several weeks or even months.
This year, we’ve already tested dozens of products — from smart locks to standing desks to office chairs — to find the best products you need to make life better. Here are the winning products from January.
The game offers the series’ best gameplay yet
The minute-to-minute gameplay in Fire Emblem Engage is the best the Fire Emblem series has offered so far. So if you’re an old-school Fire Emblem fan — and care about great tactical role-playing action — then we think Engage is worth picking up.
A game with likable characters with fun powers and abilities
Forspoken is an action role-playing game featuring Frey Holland, a young female protagonist trapped in the land of Athia who must use her newfound magical abilities to find her way home. We liked the game’s likable characters, fun powers and abilities, and interesting story.
Best smart lock overall
The Yale Assure Lock 2 is a full-featured replacement smart lock with a sleek, modular design that lets you buy just what you need and upgrade as you like. We found it easy to use and share access to our test home, and it integrates easily with smart HomeKit, Alexa and Google Home.
Best value smart lock
Detailed instructions make the affordable Wyze Lock Bolt a breeze to install. It’s simple to use whether you’re just looking to get into your home or share codes with guests, plus we think it looks nicer than other budget locks we tested.
Best scanner app for mobile overall
During our testing, we found Genius Scan Ultra to be the fastest scanner app, and also the best at performing text recognition on documents. While saving scanned items, we liked the app’s ability to accurately suggest tags based on location, calendar events and document contents.
Best video editing app overall
Filmora Video Editor & Maker is a feature-rich video editing app with the largest and most varied content libraries of all the mobile apps we tested. What’s more, we found we could do more with our two test videos we created with Filmora than with any of the other apps we tested.
Best office chair overall
The Steelcase Series 1 stood out during testing as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market, beating out chairs double the price — and making it the best bang for the buck.
A stylish, minimalist chair to suit almost any office space
The Verve Chair is Branch’s most stylish office chair. During testing, we found it comfortable and supportive, and its slimmed-down look and simplified adjustments make it a good fit for home office spaces. Armrest adjustment is limited, and it isn’t for the very tall, but it’s a solid piece of furniture if it matches your measurements.
Best standing desk overall
The Branch Adjustable Standing Desk is a near-perfect desk that can handle multiple monitors, dual laptops and a plethora of knickknacks. It’s also incredibly sturdy, with one of the best builds we encountered during testing.
A luxurious solid-wood standing desk that’s worth the splurge
While most standing desks we tested use medium density fiberboard (MDF) tops, the Ergonofis Sway’s solid-wood surface gave it a more stable feel and a more luxurious, fine-furniture look than any other ergonomic desk we’ve tested.