Ease of use: 8.3
Final result: 8.3
Final score: 8.4
Bio Ionic iSmooth, $200 Enter the dark horse. Bio Ionic may have some explaining to do to the good folks at Apple—the lowercase i, the gleaming white casing—but it's a strong product that I really enjoyed. It's easy to use and instinctual, unlike, say, the Vidal Sassoon.
It heated up quickly, and I finished the job in record time—only 25 minutes. Most importantly, it looked good. My hair was shiny and looked healthy. The layers fell nicely. It even had a slight bounce. And it lasted four days—through an early-spring rain and a trip to the gym, requiring only the most minor morning touch ups. Penney wasn't quite as big a fan—she was disappointed by the iSmooth's inability to flip ends. But even she liked how long it lasted. Overall, the iSmooth is a great product.
Ease of use: 8.3
Final result: 9
Final score: 8.7
Hai Elite Digistik, $189 The Digistik is so good that when I checked out my hair in the mirror, I realized how desperately I needed a haircut and a highlight. When your coif is curly, you have a lot of wiggle room with those sorts of things.
The Digistik heated up fast—in 30 seconds, tops. It straightened my hair smoothly and only took a couple of passes per section. The iron is slim enough to straighten close to my scalp, but it still handled my hair's length well. It has a helpful digital temperature gauge—no guessing with dials, like the other irons—and convenient finger pads that make it easy to grip. It also comes with a pouch that doubles as a heat-resistant pad you can rest the iron on without burning a hole in your counter.
It's not perfect. Melonyce wasn't pleased with her final result—her hair really does require a flat iron with an attached comb, to smooth it out along the way. And a full day after I used the Digistik, my boyfriend announced that my hair "smelled like burning." But that's a pretty small price to pay for such smooth, shiny, straight, long-lasting (five days!) hair. I think I'm in love.
Ease of use: 9.7
Final result: 9.7
Final score: 9.4