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The Media Hardware

On the Integrity of Hardware Review Sites 263

Posted by timothy
from the this-new-chip-is-simply-amazing-and-tasty dept.
leathered writes "Charlie Demerjian of The Inquirer has posted an interesting article on the integrity of hardware review sites. Apparently the benefits of running such a site go far beyond advertising revenue with a fair amount of 'sweeteners' from the hardware manufacturers to say the least. All is not lost as Charlie informs us that there are a small number are flying the flag for trustworthy reviews, but the question of which sites we can trust remains." I like Daniel Rutter's (of Dan's Data) policy best.
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On the Integrity of Hardware Review Sites

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  • Trust? On the net? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:05PM (#12156707) Homepage Journal
    I don't trust anybody. I'll read multiple reviews and, if available, end-user experiences as well before making a serious buy decision.

    But, then again, how do you know I'm not just making this up? :)
    • Perhaps there should be a system for all of these sites to verify each other's data. For example, if more than one site benchmarks the same hardware they could combine their scores for a more accurate average? As far as the written portion, it's all opinion so you can never have a truely "valid" review there...
      • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:26PM (#12156951) Homepage Journal
        well.. the scores don't mean anything. seriously, they don't.

        the real problem with these hardware sites is that the writers are often clueless about the actual hardware and what it does - and make sometimes claims that are not even physically possible. trusting such guys to review something that supposedly does something is no good when they lack the knoweledge to make the decision if the product even works as advertised or not. a lot of the 'reviews' are just a "thank you for free hardware" pieces that are basically referates of the products description followed by a thumbs up icon(or whatever the particular site uses for 'editors choice' that every product they review happens to get).
        • by ZephyrXero (750822)
          "...a lot of the 'reviews' are just a "thank you for free hardware" pieces..."

          Hmm...that's funny. I used to work for a review site and we always had to return the hardware after we reviewed it. Now software, that's a whole other story ;)
          • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:40PM (#12158619) Journal
            I used to work for a company that did training in digital video technology. I was a trainer, sent around the country to train people on Final Cut Pro. I was also a producer on several tutorial CD Roms, and did product reviews on the company website.

            We also did marketing CDs for several equipment manufacturers, although our name never appeared in any credits. That part of the business was hush hush. We weren't to disclose those relationships.

            We got lots of free equipment from these manufacturers, and others that wanted to be reviewed. We were specifically told to push certain products at the seminars and classes, and to give good reviews to "our" manufacturers products. We were also supposed to push product on the web site's forums, when people asked for advice. We never returned anything. In fact, the boss would give product to us employees as bonuses. I just checked the website, and they're still doing the same thing.

            I openly questioned the ethics of this, and this and other factors led the boss to conclude that I wasn't a "team player", so I was let go. Honestly, I was glad, because there was a lot of other bullshit at that company as well. For a while, though, I was able to rationalize this because the products we were pushing were good products (for example, Canon DV cameras or Miller tripods). Still, when something is wrong, you know it's wrong, no matter how you try to justify it. If it wasn't wrong, why did we have to hide our business relationship with Canon?

            Since this is pretty much par for the course, I think that if a magazine or web site really wanted to present unbiased, ethical reviews, they should state somewhere that they return the equipment, that their editorial is separate from advertising, and also disclose if the product manufacturer is an advertiser.

            Of course, there still could be abuses, but when someone puts a policy in writing, it's a little harder to wiggle around basic ethics.
      • For example, if more than one site benchmarks the same hardware they could combine their scores for a more accurate average?

        More accurate than what? The mean? No, wait... doesn't work. I know! More accurate than the ones that aren't very accurate!

        As far as the written portion, it's all opinion so you can never have a truely "valid" review there...

        Words bad! Numbers good! Except some of the numbers! Thog take average, find good numbers.

        Sorry, couldn't resist. ;)

        • I just meant that numbers are the only thing that can be "validated." Opinions are numerous and can not be validated, and no...the majority is NOT always right.

          *This wasn't really directed at the parent b/c I think he probably gets it ;)
      • Your concept of a 'meta review' site accepts the null hypothesis that an unbiased review is possible.
        It's all good, until you mix in the people...
      • Perhaps there should be a system for all of these sites to verify each other's data. For example, if more than one site benchmarks the same hardware they could combine their scores for a more accurate average?

        Average it out? Still sounds open to abuse to me.

        More interestingly, this sounds oddly reminiscent of the Computer Science (as opposed to IT) involved in creating distributed systems; if n of m sites give crooked scores, how can we be sure of getting accurate scores? What is the largest value of
    • by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:24PM (#12156920) Homepage
      But, then again, how do you know I'm not just making this up?

      ..because you were moded up?

      you have the support of your peers, I trust you. what do you want me to buy?
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:25PM (#12156938)
      I'll read multiple reviews and, if available, end-user experiences as well before making a serious buy decision.

      What good is reading multiple reviews if they're all crap? What good are end-user experiences posted on the net, if companies are posting fake reviews, which they are?

      News flash- even if they're not getting "payola" (let's call it what it is- bribe money/gear), they're controlled quite effectively by hardware companies because everyone wants to be the first site with a review of Hot Product X to drive hits to their site to earn advertising revenue. Write something bad about a product, and that company will drop you to the bottom of the list.

      Let's not forget that most of these guys litter their sites with advertisements for the very product they are reviewing, too. Bob's Extreme Hardware isn't going to be very happy if young Johnny says the PC case Bob just stocked is crap- and he's going to tell young Johhny that.

      Why is any of this a surprise to any reasonably intelligent individual?

      • Free reviews. No such thing. Someone has got to pay. If you aren't paying for a subscription to Consumer reports or other "independent, you paid for it service", than advertising, free gadgets, and first scoop Rights, will gladly fund your opinion for you.
    • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:26PM (#12156944)
      I don't trust anybody.

      I hope that includes Charlie Demerjian. This jumped out at me:

      "here is the truth, if you are going to multitask and do and do anything that tasks both of the CPUs, one of those is going to be a game."

      Bullshit. This drives me crazy on hardware sites, this supposition that the only reason anyone could ever want high performance in their PC is to play games.

      At home, I use Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash, I run Windows Media Center for SDTV and DVD viewing, I do video encoding using various tools (Windows Media Encoder, Dr. Divx, and others). I often do all these things at the same time on the same PC, with a hacked version of Media Center that lets me log in remotely at the same time another account has the TV going.

      I studiously avoid playing games on this system, because I'm asking it to do quite enough already - I've got another system that I play games on. But I would love a dual-core CPU for this thing, as it would help me out a lot.

      Graphics professionals, photographers, multimedia content producers and other high-end users are, surprise surprise, a real market, and they spend even more money than gamers do. I don't see why that's so hard to grasp. I read the specific preview of Intel's dual-core CPU's that Charlie's talking about in his comment up there and I actually found it a refreshing change to find some real-world benchmarks that were not strictly based on playing Doom 3.

      That said, I'm sure there is payola going on in the industry. But I worry more about the small sites that seem to give positive reviews to every single component they get sent for free than I do about sites that realize non-gamers are a legitimate group of users that require their own set of benchmarks.
      • by Desert Raven (52125) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:46PM (#12157152)
        this supposition that the only reason anyone could ever want high performance in their PC is to play games.

        Agreed.

        I don't play computer games, I don't even *own* any. None of my systems have ever had a game installed on them (yes, this includes solitare). All of my systems are used for work, and non-work related research. Yet, over half of my systems are dual-cpu. I multi-task, a lot. I often have graphics filters chewing away, or CDs burning, while I'm doing something else. On my servers, I want to know that if I need to compile something, archive something or do some other processor-intensive task, that there's enough processor power left to continue with the server's normal tasks.

        I read reviews, but they account for less than 20% of the weight I give to my purchasing decisions. The only reviews I will pay close attention to are the *bad* reviews. They're so rare that one has to believe the product must have been truly hideous.

      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:47PM (#12157156) Journal
        I just think it's funny that a guy who calls attention to his game collection in his sig is whining about people assuming he only uses his computer for gaming.

        Graphics professionals are indeed a market, but professionals of any stripe generally use the hardware their company procures for them for that profession (I know I do). The gaming machine is the one you build yourself from parts. The gaming bias of the review sites makes a lot of sense in that respect.
      • I don't understand that comment at all. I mean, everything is multitasked under Mac OS X. Each thread is scheduled and run separately on the first CPU available. And threads are executing all the time, from checking mail to doing disk I/O to whatever. Your computer is never just sitting there totally, 100% idle, unless you're in single-user mode, I guess. No matter what you're doing, adding another CPU will always cut down on context switches and shorten the run queue.

        Is it really that different under Win
        • No. Wrong.

          When a computer is largely idle, most of the processes are BLOCKED. By definition, if the processor is not at 100% usage, there is time (hint: most of the time) where the OS literally has NO process/thread/schedulable-whatever to put on the CPU, and just spins the CPU in some sort of low-power state.

          If I'm spending most of my time with no process running, the ready queues will be empty. And who will care about context switches if there's nothing better to do anyways?

          Multi-whatever is only an ad
    • What I do... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sgant (178166)
      I read a lot of review sites...which usually has a forum attached to it. I try to read as much as I can on a given product plus the forum replies plus other places on the net.

      Through all the data that I read, my brain forms an opinion and I weed out the bullshit and the hyperbole to find the heart of the matter. It usually works most of the time too.

      Your bullshit detector has to be in good shape and you have to know how to weed out the crap before you get down to the nitty-gritty.

      But if you're naive abou
      • Re:What I do... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lee7guy (659916)
        But if you're naive about the net and you go online maybe once a month...then you're a raw piece of meat in a pool full of sharks.

        I am one of those naive that really don't have a clue what hardware review sites to trust. My comfort is that I am probably far from alone, in this matter.

        To assist me and other naives(sp?), please join this silly poll and review the following sites (regarding credibility) with a scale ranging from 1 to 10, where 1 is "No credibility at all" and 10 is "Perfect credibility, the
  • Integrity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schild (713993) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:06PM (#12156719) Homepage Journal
    I'm not so worried about the integrity of hardware sites so much as software. But they fall under the same categories. Those that shill and whore themselves out the most get the most goodies and are loved by companies. Those that are hard on product and serious with reviews tend to be ignored. As in, just not taken seriously. The entire press outlet/developer relationship is as corrupt as 1930's Manhattan. Integrity is not a word that should be used anywhere near it. At least hardware sites SEEM to be giving real benchmarks.
    • Re:Integrity? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:10PM (#12156761)
      Hardware benchmarks aren't what bother me, it's stability that matters to me.

      The first PC I built from scratch was in college (my previous computers were either my parents or a small-shop one I bought). I hit the hardware sites and many claimed that a particular ASUS board was great and rock solid. I was naive and took the 3 or 4 sites word at it and bought it. I started having MAJOR problems and later found out it was the Via chipset on the board. Forums were FLOODED with the exact same complaints. I eventually had to replace the board.

      Since then I don't buy hardware until I've searched forums for personal experiences with said product. I'll still look at some review sites but I now take what they say with a grain of salt.
      • Re:Integrity? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by schild (713993)
        This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. You never hear about the terribly awful in reviews when they are the things that really need to be highlighted. I'm not trying to pimp myself here - so if someone has a better example of focusing on the bad, do tell - but here's my website's review of the new Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for the PC: Linkie [f13.net]. Everyone else is giving it high marks, we refused to play it because it has computer crippling, invasive techniques in it's use of Star Force copy prot
        • Yeah, people are weird: some care more about the game than the packaging.
          • Yea I know. Paint me surprised. That's why I traded in my PC version for an Xbox version because the game is just that awesome. I'm just uberpissed at UBISoft for putting Starforce on something to "stop pirates." When all it did was stop me from buying the PC Version. Oh, but you would have found that out had you managed to actually read the thread.
      • Re:Integrity? (Score:3, Insightful)

        Take that a step further...

        I won't buy a major part until I've specifically found some problems with it. Nothing is perfect, and until I feel I've got a reasonable sample of the sorts of problems a part has, I'm not comfortable buying it.

        Besides, the stuff I do is generally improved by throwing gobs of RAM at the problem. That's generally easy to do no matter which parts you're buying.
  • sponsorship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:07PM (#12156723) Journal

    It seems like I remember Anand buying himself a Porsche for his 16th or 18th birthday, using the payola from his hardware review site.

    While his business acumen is to be commended, I can imagine it would be difficult to remain 100% objective under such circumstances.

    http://www.anandtech.com [anandtech.com]

    • Well, i guess having a multi-million hit site didnt hurt advertising revenues back in the time of the bubble....
    • Re:sponsorship (Score:3, Informative)

      by Erwos (553607)
      Anandtech is hardly the site I'd be holding up as an example of payola. The man has reasonable benchmarks, asks for user input on tests, and isn't afraid to say "hey, your product has no place in the market". They only gave a silver to the SN25P, even though it more or less shined in every conceivable way. Nobody buys 2nd place.

      Anand's probably rolling in dough because not only is his hardware site one of the most popular, but he also has one of the most popular forums on the Internet in it. If you factor
      • Re:sponsorship (Score:3, Informative)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        I can't give you any examples, as I haven't gone there in a couple of years, but I found his site to be one of the worse ones. Toms too.

        If you want accuracy in your information, best is to check out a support site for the product that isn't run by the manufacturer. amdmb.com for example I've found to be great for finding out about unstable hardware. I've seen critical posts disappear in manufacturer run forums before, so I wouldn't assume that a lack of people with problems there means there aren't any.
    • Re:sponsorship (Score:5, Informative)

      by cheinonen (318646) <cheinonen @ h o t mail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:11PM (#12157495)
      First, I recall him getting a BMW convertable back then, not a Porsche. Second, that article definately takes a stab at Anand when it talks about how one site came up with a way to benchmark when people are running multiple apps at once (which Anand did), but then attacks them for not benching games. Had the person read Anand's blog on the site to keep up with what he was working on, he could have seen that Anand lacked the time to get all the benchmarks done over the weekend, did the ones he thought most important, and the gaming results went up yesterday or today.


      I think it was well assumed that games would show no advantage on standard benchmarks since they don't spawn multiple threads, and every site that ran conventional benchmarks showed that on Monday. Today, however, Anand has those results, and then also tests games with thinks like Norton Antivirus and MS Antispyware running in the background, which many of us do have running when we game. On those, the dual core showed better performance.


      Anand is the one site I always trust, it's too bad the article didn't have the guts to come out and name who they thought was being bought.

  • by philgross (23409) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:07PM (#12156725) Homepage
    The [H]ardOCP review made clear that dual core chips were weak for gaming. Any idea which sites he's fingering?
  • by mcguyver (589810) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:09PM (#12156744) Homepage
    Well, not really but wouldn't it be ironic if they did?
    • Maybe I'm paranoid (sitting here in my tin foil hat) but this was just what crossed my mind.

      I remember reading a comment of slashdot some time ago that the internet was "the last source of uncensored, unbiased information" and a +5 insightful reply saying "you're half right"

      every site on the web is pushing some sort of agenda, whether it be for political motive, religious belief or big handfuls of cash.

      Lets face it ./ its self is not exactly unbiased.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Quixote (154172) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:10PM (#12156762) Homepage Journal
    In this world, if we can't trust TrustedReviews.com [trustedreviews.com] , then who can we trust??

    // didn't RTFA :-)
    //// no interest in trustedreviews.com either, just thought the name was funny
    ////// sosumi

  • My pick (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cy_a253 (713262) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:12PM (#12156781)
    I consider Scott Wasson's Tech Report [techreport.com] to be one of the best "independent" review sites around.
  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:14PM (#12156811)
    On multitasking and multithreaded apps, they will shine like the sun, but how many of these are there? How many times do you encode a movie while typing a document, zipping your C drive, doing some heavy CFD work all while listening to a few MP3s?

    Correct me if im wrong but isn't multithreading/multitasking pretty damn important considering all the background tasks/services that are needed just to keep an OS running?
    • It depends upon what you are doing. Most games probably aren't written to take advantage of multiple threads, but things like renderers or image processors most definately are. The difference is that people (legitimately) running high-end software are more likely to have higher-end machines, so the programmers can aim their system requirements higher to get the job done.

      Also, some kinds of tasks are just more amenable to parallelization than others. For example, if you are trying to ray trace an animati
    • Indeed. I would think that 80% of all zipping is done in the background, with another app in the foreground. Likewise for listening to music, DVD encoding-burning. Not to mention all those Web pages in the background with animated banners.
  • Makes Sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    After reading the article, I must admit that it does make sense. However, there is a self-preservation outlook that can explain the same phenomena. Hardware review sites want the latest and greatest toys as quickly as possible. If my hardware review site publishes an article that doe not look faovrably upon Company X's latest high end product, how likely is Company X to send me their next greatest product as quickly? Granted, it shouldn't happen this way, but Company X is in business to make a profit.
  • ...most of the reviews I've read did show game performance of the dual core Pentiums. Maybe I just don't read the wicked sites he talks about. Only one review (amazingly enough, I think it was theregister.co.uk) raved about how great it was to encode video while playing Doom3...
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:16PM (#12156831)
    The one site I like, though the reviews are few and far between, is Ars.Technica. Only reason, is because they BUY THEIR OWN HARDWARE :)

    Anybody have any sites that they feel are bad or good (with respect to this article)? Please list a few reasons too, few examples if you can -- it makes it nice to see if these points are driven home over time by reading the reviews on different sites :)
    • Only reason, is because they BUY THEIR OWN HARDWARE :)

      Given that Ars Technica probably then would like to sell what they've bought, there's still conflict of interest. If you buy a $2k system and say "ugh, it's junk", you're not going to have much luck selling it, are you?

      If they sell the stuff before the review is published, fine...

      • Why would they sell harware they use daily?

        They don't do comprehensive motherboard or processor reviews like other sites. You're not going to find a table with 15 different combinations of hardware compared. Usually it's just one product.
  • by maynard (3337) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:18PM (#12156854) Journal
    These are accusations of bribery and conflict(s) of interest against unspecified hardware review sites. Without naming the organization(s) and specific instances of bribery, with resulting proof, this is just irresponsible hand waving. Journalists are supposed to print facts. It's important to realize the distinction between whether bribery is taking place (possibly so), and whether this article in question backs up the assertion of bribery with documentation and quotable sources on the record. It does not. IMO: This article does NOT deserve this level of publicity, nor did it deserve publication. --M
    • by Jurph (16396)
      I think he was pretty clear about calling it a rant. If you're going to write journalism about the web -- real investigative journalism -- you can't be embroiled in the conflict yourself, as that hardware reviewer clearly is. And even though he didn't name any names, he pretty clearly identified Anandtech and a few other sites.
      • I think he was pretty clear about calling it a rant.

        I'm getting too many responses too quickly to respond to them all. I'll choose this one as a representative of the majority. Basically, those countering my position that the author's article is irresponsible (honestly, the editor is more at fault) commonly state either that it is a "rant" (which the author does say). They say that it is and editorial and thus immune to standards of journalistic ethics.

        Not so. Editorials are certainly given more sway on
    • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:34PM (#12157022) Homepage
      I respectfully disagree. If they are not naming review sites, then nobody is being singled out. All the article does is serve to increase public awareness of the fact that on the internet, people may have a motive to not tell you the whole truth, or to sugar coat it.

      This will encourage people to check with multiple sources, talk to people, and make product decisions for themselves, which is possibly one of the most important skills one can learn for surfing the internet.

  • That's the truth (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:19PM (#12156864)
    We (voodoo networks) are in the process of starting up a review site for backend systems for server rooms, closets, etc. The reasons that drove us to do this are simple - it's almost impossible to find objective reviews of non-consumer gear, and when we do find them they are pretty much copies of manufacturers flyers.

    The odd thing so far has been the reaction (or lack thereof) from manufacturers. I've lost track of the number of PR reps I've spoken with who asked my how much a listing or review cost. Most where surprised when I told them that serverroomstuff.com won't be charging for reviews - they are objective.

    We are planning on accepting advertising, but the plan for that is simple - your ad dollars won't buy you a good review if your product doesn't stand up to it's claims, period.
    • funny, i've never once heard of anyone charging to post a review.
    • We are planning on accepting advertising, but the plan for that is simple - your ad dollars won't buy you a good review if your product doesn't stand up to it's claims, period.

      Unfortunately, we can only have your word for that. For all we know, you're giving good reviews in exchange for big advertising sales.

      You might consider selling ads for a different class of product than you're reviewing--e.g. consumer electronics, candy, etc.--but even then, the way everything's consolidated would keep you fro

    • Re:That's the truth (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jackbird (721605) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:47PM (#12158002)
      No, you need to follow the example of Consumer's Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) if you want to be unimpeachably objective:

      Buy your own hardware at retail, using obfuscated identifying information.

      Carry NO 3rd-party advertising of any kind.

      Disallow manufacturers from using your name, excerpts from reviews, or any other acknowledgment that you exist in THEIR advertising.

      Of course, that means your revenue model is going to have to change, either to a subscription site; privately funded, capped, and transparent donations; or through selling stuff (books?) of some kind.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:22PM (#12156903)
    Crux of the problem is fairly simple. If you want to get the newest shiniest hardware to review and get your review out right away you can only do so with pre-release hardware. The only way to get that is to play ball with the hardware co's. Why do you think so many sites were mum about the dual athlon mp boards until one day you had a couple dozen reviews all of a sudden? That's the day the NDA's all expired.

    Without this hardware you have to buy your hardware yourself. Not only is this expensive, but by the time your review is out the ad value of your review of bleeding edge hardware is kaput. Unfortunately, these are the ones that do the most honest and best reviews. Pre-release hardware is often picked out from a large selection to make sure that the review site gets a good "sample". These reviews are also the least profitable for the review sites to do. It's a nasty catch 22.

  • epinions (Score:5, Informative)

    by unk1911 (250141) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:23PM (#12156912) Homepage
    epinions.com remains a good across-the-board review site, not just for hardware. good detailed specs appear next to user writeups. plus you can make money by writing reviews, which i have done.

    --
    http://unk1911.blogspot.com [blogspot.com]
    • Re:epinions (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      epinions.com remains a good across-the-board review site

      You really think so? Personally I think it's absolutely terrible - apart from the "trying to make a living out of it" so-called-reviewers trying to pad up reviews with a bunch of copy/paste tripe, for serious hardware -- stereos, cameras, cars, whatever -- the reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

      I attribute this to two probable causes - one is that when these reviewers actually own the product there is a natural tendency to defend what you bought (
  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:23PM (#12156913) Journal
    Consumers Union [consumersunion.org] has the right policy:

    We accept no advertising, and buy any products we test on the open market. We are not beholden to any commercial interest.

    I'm sorry, some guy who writes reviews, even ostensibly fair ones, in exchange for free product can't stand up to this.

    • Consumer Reports writes goods reviews, but the ratings are usually misleading and biased towards certain manufacturers.

      A Toyota/Honda review will be like "Interior uncomfortable & cheap, car priced 25% over rivals, underpowered & rides rough. Score:9/10"

      A Nissan/Ford/Mercedes review will be like "Acceptable ride, good exterior design, comforable interior, spirited engine. Score:4/10"

      I've found their appliance ratings very fair though.
      • They weight reliability and depreciation quite high in their rankings, and the reality is that the guy who buys a Toyota/Honda will, on average, have far fewer problems and will recoup a lot of his initial expense than the guy with a Ford for instance.

        In any case their top ranked small car for a while has been the Ford Focus. Is it possible that you were a little jaded that they didn't pick your pet car/minivan as the best?
      • Sure, thats why the Ford Focus was rated above the VW Jetta! The only reason this year it wasn't recommended was because of side crash test ratings.

        Perhaps you should read the mag before slamming it.
    • by Omega (1602)
      It's more than just avoiding the appearance of impropriety.

      If you actually BUY the product you are reviewing, you're subject to the same likelihood of manufacturing defects, poor workmanship or shipping/transporting accidents as anyone else who buys it -- so you can work that into your review to give an overall impression of what a REAL consumer will face if they buy the product.

      If you're testing a product that was specially given to you by the manufacturer, they want as favorable a review as possible,

  • Not Anandtech (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tyates (869064) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:25PM (#12156935) Homepage
    "Single threaded gaming performance is, as we mentioned in the first article, no different than the single core Pentium 4 of the same clock speed. And as we know from all of our previous comparisons, the Athlon 64 is the clear choice for single threaded gaming performance." http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx? i=2389&p=6 [anandtech.com]
  • by potatoBBQ (855766)
    when was the last time you actually bought something because of great reviews... and it totally sucked? most products at their respective price points these days are fairly competitive with each other and if you do even a little bit of research, you should be fairly satisfied with your purchases. i think although many of the reviews are biased in some way or another, crappy products and good produtcs tend to seperate themselves on their own fairly quickly. if a product just straight out sucks, no review can
  • by Phatboy (805714) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:39PM (#12157074) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but he states he was angry while writing this and you can tell. It's the epitome of bad journalism - he doesn't have any proof, nor make specific allegations, and those he does make seem insubstantial. For example, he flames a site that did "a review in full, or at least in half", which is quite probably Anandtech, the article of which makes it quite clear that it is only the first part.

    His only criticisms of the review are that it was an exclusive (which the article makes clear) and that it doesn't cover gaming (although it is only the first part of the review). He himself admits that gaming is not the point of these chips, so why does he feel that Anandtech should have to focus on gaming is the first part of their article? Indeed, in their second part they do cover gaming and conclude that you should buy an Athlon 64 if you mainly play single-threaded games, a fact that would be obvious to anyone who regularly reads any hardware site.

    I can't claim that the hardware review sites are all without bias, but compared to mainstream news, hardware reviews are some of the hardest to bias given the ease of doing standardised, repeatable benchmarks.

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:39PM (#12157077) Homepage
    Most software and hardware reviews go out of their way to find SOMETHING good about a product. For example, a reviewer might complain about poor drivers but then point out that "new ones are on the way."

    If I'm in doubt about something, I'll read reviews from actual people, e.g., at newegg. When someone gets screwed over a product, they aren't going to gloss over the problems. They are going to tell us as bluntly as possible.
    • Unfortuantely, that won't work anymore- as Newegg has a policy of pulling any negative reviews from users for specific items. You can still vote a bad score, but they won't keep a negative review on line. They have a leg to stand on, (don't want a clueless user spewing hate mail) but its still a bit lacking in ethics. Otherwise, your methods would work well.
  • Back in '99 or 2000 when I cared about this stuff, I always knew that Tomshardware.com would have fair video card comparisons... after all there was that 500x500 nVidia ad right in the middle of the page!
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:43PM (#12157112) Homepage
    viperlair did a good write up on what i like to call hardware review site payola [viperlair.com] a while back.

    e.
  • by 9mm Censor (705379) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:48PM (#12157166) Homepage
    Having written a few reviews for www.overclockers.com myself, I have looked into this and found a few things, while reading other reviews.

    Reviews tend to fall into a few catagories.

    Bribed: The supplier has give something to the review as incentive for a good review. This is the supplier doing the dirty deed, the reviewer just goes along with it because they are profiting.

    Greedy: The reviewer hands out praise and awards like candy, to keep the goods flowing. The reviewer is just keeps pumping out favourable reviews, to keep getting products for the review to play with or sell. This is the reviewer doing the dirty deed and the supplier just goes along with it, because its good PR.

    Incompetance: Some reviewers just suck. They simply dont know how to get the numbers right, or their testing done properly. I just call them idiots.

    Lastly and most rare, is the competant, unbiased reviewer. They know what they are doing and dont pull any BS.

    I find www.overclockers.com and www.procooling.com to be good, www.xtremeresources.com and www.anandtech.com are also pretty good.

    HardOCP is ok.

    www.madshrimps.de and Toms Hardware both suck.
  • Looking for Home theatre speakers? (I was) 160 people voting 4.5 out of 5 is better than 3 people giving a perfect 5. Looking for a cellphone? (I was) 0 noka6820sucks.com type websites is better than a half-dozen MotoV600Bites.com Buying a Camera? The user opinions that sound like they've used it should count more than the ones that said 'I bought 'competing product' because this camera didn't have blue LEDs A particular revew site's integrity will stand out against the rest of the other reviews. Beware when Gamersite X is giving a game a 98% when everybody else is giving it a 45%.
  • by Xugumad (39311) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:51PM (#12157197)
    ...is to find a components and systems supplier you like, and see what they build their systems from. Admittadely, you're more likely to get stable components than blisteringly fast/overclockable, but that's fine for me. So far I've had very good experiences with pretty much duplicating the systems I've seen offered for sale (generally changing only a few components to versions I prefer).
  • Say it ain't so!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halepark (578694) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:53PM (#12157238)
    You mean the media can be bought?!? I feel like I'm taking CRAZY PILLS!!
  • by DigitalDragon (194314) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:01PM (#12157356)
    When I went to Dan's homepage and clicked on one of the reviews, my antivirus program has informed me that there was a malware Javascript virus that tried to be executed. That certainly means that I am not going to his website ever again.

    As for the main article, I am surprised how badly it is written. Poor language use and overall structure.
  • Simple I wait a bit before buying the "NEW" stuff. There is not much sense in my mind to buy something that just comes out. There are usually bugs of some sorts and updates that are needed in order to use it. Plus as the article states I don't trust sites that get the new stuff before it is released to the public-there is already a vested interest. I wait 3-6 months and see what other people and friends have to say.
    This is a bit easier since I only buy new hardware every 3-4 years, so I buy my hardware
  • by d_jedi (773213) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:39PM (#12157900)
    It has none.

    This is the same site that called a Microsoft representitive the "spokesvole".

    The article complains that Anandtech (it's obvious for anyone who read the review in question) doesn't use any gaming benchmarks.

    Well, take a closer look.. the article is called Intel Dual Core Performance Preview Part I: First Encounter
    very conveniently, (and completely expected, as well..) Anand posted the second part today, which included the gaming benchmarks we all expect.

    Way to troll Inquirer writer, way to troll..
  • by EvilStein (414640) <spam@pbRASPp.net minus berry> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:54PM (#12158070) Homepage
    booradley> I'd like to perform a one act play I call, "Creative screwed me like a bitch"
    booradley> Buy me! I'm ever so sexy
    booradley> ok. come home with me and we'll play among the stars
    booradley> tee hee! I love you, boo!
    booradley> I love you too, audigy
    booradley> :: later ::
    booradley> there, you're all installed. how do you feel?
    neshura> down in front!
    booradley> audigy> LET JESUS FUCK YOU! VRAAAGH!
    * audience gasps.
    booradley> * audigy is putting noise across your PCI channels
    booradley> hard drive> Mein leben!
    booradley> * hard drive has died
    booradley> audigy> Blaaah! blaaaugh! your mother sucks cocks in hell! graaagh!
    booradley> modem> aaieee
    booradley> *modem has died
    booradley> and the new modem I got connects at 32k tops
    Shendal> By far, that's the best one-act IRC play I've read this season. Do I smell a Tony award?
    ----

    That's from bash.org. It's pretty much how it goes. I ask friends that have more disposable income and they tell me about products they've blown money on. heh. It's another reason that I chose Sirius over XM for my satellite radio - finding an objective review online was a waste of time because everyone was just spewing the same marketing drivel or Google results were flooded with e-stores. I just spent some time and talked to people I knew about both products and went from there.

    The Internet is becoming increasingly *useless* for information that doesn't come straight out of some marketing droid.
  • by Sivar (316343) <charlesnburns[@]gm a i l.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:01PM (#12158159)
    Slashdotters are far more likely than the average joe to recognize a good review from a bad one.

    Please post your good/bad/ugly (badly written but probably not corrupt) website opinions here.

    I have been following hardware reviews since about 1995, have written a few myself, and am fairly knowledgeable on the inner-workings of hardware and of English, so I have become fairly critical of reviews. Here's my brief list:

    The good (Quality, non-biased, well-written reviews with reproduceable results and non-marketfluff technical explanations):

    - Ace's Hardware (on the odd occasion they review something)

    - StorageReview.com (I am a volunteer moderator on the forums there, so I may be considered biased, but I doubt anyone can point out a website with better hard drive reviews)
    - xbitlabs.com
    - Anandtech (usually, Anand usually writes well but some of the staff writes rather awkwardly, and some of their reviews, like that of the Addtronics W8500 case (and most of their other case reviews) are staggeringly awful)
    - Ars Technica, though I wouldn't classify them as a hardware review site.
    - Maybe HardOCP. I don't read them much, but the odd occasion I have read them didn't set off any BS detectors. Perhaps a bit unprofessional.
    - Maybe DansData.com. I rarely read them, but I have always been impressed with what I read.

    The bad:
    - tomshardware.com (These guys were my favorite review site years and years ago, but their quality and either integrity or competence (or both) dropped staggeringly years ago. Their hard drive reviews in particular are awful beyond belief, though that may be because I am more familiar with that type of review than others).
    -

    The ugly:
    - Just about any review site whose URL contains the word "Game." These websites tend to be full of reviewers that seem to be random average highschool kids with no real understanding of what they are reviewing, how to write a review, or how to test or rate the product they are reviewing. The word "arbitrary" comes to mind. Note that I do not put Gamespot.com in this category (even considering their owner).
    - CNet. I can't tell whether the reviewers are incompetent or bribed, but the reviews (usually, but not always) are quite lame.

    Any opinions on other sites?
  • Two words: PR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eminence (225397) <akbrandt@gmaiPASCALl.com minus language> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:04PM (#12158197) Homepage
    Right now IT journalists live in a symbiotic relationship with various PR types, who companies hire to project desired image of their products and themselves to the public using the media. This relationship rarely takes form of direct bribes or buying reviews, especially respectable media don't do that. It's rather that PRs meet with journalists all the time, build relationships, distribute pre-release hardware for reviews (and it's up to them who will get it first), do them some little favors etc. So if a given piece of hardware is really bad no journalist would cover that up, but some minor quirks won't be exposed or treated too harshly in the review.

    PR is a neat invention. Just the idea of making it someone's responsibility and livelihood to ensure that products and company get presented in the media in a desired way and with desired frequency is brilliant. Those people are really good at it, the result is that currently technical journalism without corporate PR is hard to imagine.

Reference the NULL within NULL, it is the gateway to all wizardry.

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