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This article was published on October 4, 2012

TNW Pick of the Day: Sortable helps you compare gadgets before buying, using impressive visualizations

TNW Pick of the Day: Sortable helps you compare gadgets before buying, using impressive visualizations
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Sortable launched initially way back in January this year, offering a decision-engine to help the online masses arrive at the best conclusion regarding what product to buy.

In the nine months since launch, and with four million monthly visitors, the team behind Sortable have been working to improve the platform, introducing a slew of new features and giving the site a substantial overhaul. Sortable collects large swathes of data from across the Web and presents in a more palatable way for those looking to make quick-but-informed buying decisions.

“We’re providing a personalized view of the Web’s collective knowledge of a product so that we can help people make great purchasing decisions,” says Chris Reid, Co-Founder at Sortable. “It’s our job to go out and read thousands of reviews, parse available data and perspectives, and understand what the Web knows about a product. We then take that intelligence and personalize it for every single user so they can find what is right for them.”

That sounds all very well, but what does Sortable look like in action? Well, this:


The site is aimed squarely at gadget-heads – cameras, phones, tablets, laptops and TVs the order of the day. Now, Sortable will present you with ‘Sort’, ‘Compare’ and ‘Discuss’ options from the homepage – for the former, you select your desired contraption of choice, adjust the little slider towards the appropriate price point, and click ‘Sort’.

But before we continue, it’s worth noting the major sticking point here – pricing is only available in US dollars, which is a little off-putting. Not just because I don’t live in the US, but because Sortable itself is a Canadian company and the vast majority of the world don’t live in the US, if you can pardon this most obvious truism.

However, we’re told that this is something that is being worked on – and the company stresses that it still offers up products for sale in non-US markets, they just might not have the right pricing for it. So, if you’re not in the US, Sortable can still be used as a buying guide to find the right product. And if truth be told, it does offer a really nice way of sorting through the plethora of products for sale on the Interwebs.

Moving on, when you click ‘Sort’ on the homepage, you’re taken to a screen which meets the very broad, price-based criteria you set in the first instance:

You’ll naturally want to narrow this down, unless you’re genuinely only driven by the cost of a gadget. Down the left-hand side you have ‘Suggested Criteria’ – in this case, for laptops, it’s type of laptop, brand, screen size, CPU Cores and more. You can also opt for ‘All Criteria’, which is for the more fussy, and introduces many more filters, such as connectivity options and battery life.

In this example, I’ve simply chosen to select all laptops in the 8″-14.5″ range:


You’ll be presented with its top option, under which you can choose from any number of comparable devices, allowing you to carry out multiple side-by-sides to reach a verdict:

To help you reach a conclusion, you’re even presented with colorful, graphic-based results so you can see at a glance which is the superior product, on paper at least. This is perhaps symptomatic of the reading-averse MTV generation, but hey-ho, that’s the way things go:

You can carry out comparisons straight from the word go too, click ‘Compare’ on the homepage, and you’ll be taken to a dual-boxed screen which lets you enter your desired items:

You’ll then see a basic side-by-side overview, with options to read a fuller conclusion, view features, performance, reviews, other possible options and discussion around the products:

The level of detail in its comparisons really is quite impressive – here you can see the Samsung Galaxy S3 up against the iPhone 5 and Galaxy Nexus for CPU Speed, and the S2 LTE and One X+ for talk time:

If you scroll down you can see comparisons and opinions covering just about everything you can think of – heck, it even reels in reviews from online publications:

This is actually a very neat feature – Sortable extracts the meaningful information from these reviews and produces snippets – one or two sentences that talk about a specific feature. If you want to learn more, you can click through to read the full review on the authors’ site.

So, based on our initial dabblings, what’s on offer here with the latest incarnation of Sortable is a very detailed, aesthetically pleasing platform for deciding which gadget to plump for. If you’re anything like me, you probably already spend hours-on-end sifting through reviews, price comparison sites and multiple other online portals to reach a decision – I think Sortable might just save you a great deal of time in your endeavors. Want to find an Android phone with the largest screen, longest battery life AND has NFC? Sortable has you sorted.

A final point worth noting – Sortable doesn’t come with native apps, but I did try using the site through a browser on my smartphone (SGS3), and I must say it was a pretty decent experience – it wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t a frustrating experience and I could see myself bookmarking this and creating a faux-app on my mobile desktop.


Feature Image – ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images

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