Sometimes it's fun to geek out when you're shopping for a phone, a computer or a gadget. But more often most of us would rather cut to the chase and just buy the best one. Enter The Wirecutter, a website devoted to pointing you to the best tech products you should buy without the hype. Created by Brian Lam, the former editorial director of the gadget site Gizmodo, The Wirecutter is an antidote to gadget sites that publish a relentless stream of reviews and news of every single product release. Instead, The Wirecutter posts only when there's a new best in class digital product in a range of categories – from headphones and laptops to digital cameras and TVs. As Brian puts it, "I made Wirecutter to answer the question 'what should I get?'"
The Wirecutter is a sibling of another site called The Sweethome which is a Wirecutter for house supplies and homewares and they often collaborate to product fantastically useful items like this: Great Gear for Hosting Parties (yep, just time for the holidays).
The Wirecutter is also a Say Media content partner and we used the occasion to catch up with Brian from his home base in Hawaii for a brief interview on what changes he's seeing in the way we think and talk about gadgets today, where he comes down on Google Glass and wearable tech, and what types of products he enjoys reviewing and why.
Why the name the Wirecutter? Is there a backstory? We'd originally talked about calling it Boxcutter but I thought Wirecutter was a little more interesting and less terrifying from a plane hijacking point of view.
You've been covering tech and gadgets for some time. Are there changes you're seeing in the way we think and talk about gadgets in our lives now? Not really! Same shit, different year. Maybe people are trying to install it into glasses or in a watch. But it's been roughly the same since 2006 when the iPhone came out.
How do you come down on the issue of people wearing Google Glass in public – or wearable tech in general? People wear a lot of odd and weird things for the sake of fashion, maybe it's time we do that for something that is functional and creepy. I think it'll become more popular but still be sneered at.
What gadget blogs/writers are you reading these days? Any you're watching with interest? John Gruber at Daring Fireball, The Boing Boing crew, Jason Kottke and Matt Buchanan at The New Yorker is great as always. I try not to read too much work that is derivative and commoditized, and try to focus more on pieces with original reporting or straight aggregation from people with great taste and curation skill. The middle ground of people rewriting stories from other people and press releases are not pretty or a good use of time.
People are passionate about their gadgets – do you get a lot of rants and raves from readers about your picks? I really enjoy reviewing things that a lot of people use but are bought without much clarity. We can make a difference in the simple but confusing to make purchases like iPhone cases and pens. It's really a great time figuring it out over dozens and dozens of hours.
How would you finish this sentence: The best gadget… doesn't get in your way and gets the job done.