Okay maybe I am exaggerating a little...I have not been around the world. I do feel like I have gone through every sippy cup there is to go through looking for the one magic cup that does not leak and is easy to drink from. Unfortunately I discovered that I was looking for the "chupacabre" and that there is no magic cup but there are good cups on the market that I have had some success with and there are bad cups.
By the time I was ready for the transition from bottle to sippy cup, they were about a year old. I originally bought a traditional sippy cup with a "hard" spout. The boys hated them and to be honet upon trying the cup myself, I found it hard to get liquid from it. In turn, I tried a soft spout sippy cup thinking it would be more like a bottle. The boys would not drink from them either. Instead, they found it more fun to shake it up and down (since the cup had handles) and watch the milk or water go flying. The boys were also trying to drink from the bottle or sippy cup while sitting up and getting frustrated from receiving no liquid. They did not want to tilt the cup or bottle back. Then I rememberd one instance of when we were on vacation and we had gone out to eat. Liam was sitting in my lap (as usual when we go out to eat) and he decided he wanted to have what mommy was having so I let him have some of my water through a straw. Liam used the straw no problem and actually drank the water. I had more success with a simple straw and cup of water than with any sippy cup so far. At that moment I decided that I would find a straw sippy cup and see if the boys would try that. The next time we were in BJ's and doing the obligatory stroll through the baby aisle, I found a three pack of munchkin straw cups. I decided it was meant to be. Not only did I find a three pack of straw sippy cups but they were in gender netural colors---no bright pinks and flowers to contend with. As an added bonus, I find Munchkin to be an affordable brand and since I was at a wholesale club, I was able to get three cups for half the price. The cups seal tightly, and they are relatively easy to clean.
I found these cool hard straw cups in Target. They are called Gator Grip by Nuby and are meant to look like they have alligator skin on them. I was even able to find them in three different colors. I brought them home, proud of my purchase. I filled them with water and handed them out to my thirsty little boys and they threw them back at me in rebellion. I couldn't understand why, I was convinced that I had found the next great thing. Then I tried the cup myself. unless you had your mouth over the straw in a very particular way I could not get one drop of liquid out of this cup. I now understood the boys frustration. They are now on a shelf in my garage and I hope one day the boys will be old enough to use them.
Because the boys skipped over the many stages of sippy cups and went from bottle to straw, they never really understood how to tilt the cup back when sitting or standing with a drink. I figured this was a skill they were going to need to master no matter what in order to eventually drink from an open cup so I went back to researching a no straw alternative. I tried the playtex sippers but they have a hard spout and the boys had a hard time making a good seal around the cup.
I finally found a great cup by Nuby. It is designed to be an inbetween cup for when your toddler is beyond the regular hard spout sippy cup but before they can handle an actual open cup. What I like about these cups is that they do not leak, they have a soft spout that allows a child to become accustomed to properly sealing their mouth around a "big boy" (or girl) cup. The one thing I do not like about the cup is that my boys (mostly Jake) tend to push in the spout on top, thereby breaking the seal and causing the cups to leak (usually in their laps or on my couch). As I said when I started this, the perfect magic cup does not exist.
Now I use a mixture of playtex straw cups and munchkin straw cups (both I found to be reasonably priced and limited leaks) for milk and I use the Nuby sippers for the juice/water. The boys have learned how to tip the cup effectively and are making strides towards one day drinking from an open cup!!
UPDATE: Now that my boys are approaching four years old, I still like to use a sippy cup for around the house to avoid the inevitable spill and for travel. At first I was reluctant to buy the Foogo Thermos cups because they are pricey and I have to always multiply by three. In the case of the Thermos Foogo cups, the price is well worth it. The boys love being able to open and close the cup all by themselves and these straws really do not leak. The only drawback (aside from the price) is that if the boys decide to recline they are not going to get much from the cup. Highly recommend the Thermos cups. In this case the quality of the product is well worth the price.