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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews 289

Posted by timothy
from the genuine-panaphonics dept.
An anonymous reader writes Over the past few months, we've seen a disturbing trend from first Kingston, and now PNY. Manufacturers are launching SSDs with one hardware specification, and then quietly changing the hardware configuration after reviews have gone out. The impacts have been somewhat different, but in both cases, unhappy customers are loudly complaining that they've been cheated, tricked into paying for a drive they otherwise wouldn't have purchased.
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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

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  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:12AM (#47253861)
    It amazes me when companies sell down their good name. It takes a lot of time and money to earn it, and it never brings in as much when you do this. So not too more companies on my "avoid" list. Luckily there is a lot of competition.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:16AM (#47253899)
      It's surprising. Kingston? I thought they were a good brand.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:33AM (#47254055)

        They were, now I'm just wondering who else who hasn't been caught yet may be also doing this as usually it can be a whole cartel of them.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          It's not like slipping in lower-performance parts is hard to detect.

          In fact, on top of the simple dishonesty, it's insulting that they assume we buy products on the basis of reviews but don't bother to measure them, or aren't aware enough to notice performance differences ourselves. We're not idiots.

          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:16PM (#47255585)

            In fact, on top of the simple dishonesty, it's insulting that they assume we buy products on the basis of reviews but don't bother to measure them, or aren't aware enough to notice performance differences ourselves. We're not idiots.

            I don't think some people are really appreciating the real import here. It it was done deliberately in order to deceive consumers, then it's not just "selling down their name", it's almost certainly FRAUD. A crime.

            I may not be an lawyer or a prosecutor, but if I were, I'd probably be going after them. And if I were a judge, I would make it a point to be harsh on them. This shit has gone too far.

            • It's not really fraud. If they were still advertising the specs of the hardware they no longer ship, yes. That would be misleading advertising and is illegal in many countries.

              It's a little more complicated when it's other people not affiliated with the seller who are making the claims.

              It could just be a coincidence that the first production runs yielded better devices while later runs, while still meeting advertised specs, were not so good.

      • They have been good to me in the past and its disappointing to hear that they're doing this-- it sounds like they are admitting as much. I remember ~3-4 years ago I managed to snap the SATA connector on a kingston SSD and they replaced it no questions asked.

        Hopefully these companies figure out exactly how heavily theyre trading on their reputation just to save a few dollars. I cant think of how this could possibly end up being worth it for them.

      • by mlts (1038732)

        I'm surprised because Kingston so far has had an extremely good name, especially when it came to RAM. PNY wasn't up there, but at least from what I read, it was decent.

        From /. articles and other reviews, I'm thinking if I go with a SSD, it will be Intel. Intel isn't perfect, but they seem to be tops when it comes to SSD reliability.

        • I've used a few Intels with good luck, but I've had both excellent reliability and performance with the Samsung 830s and 840s.

      • Yeah, I always considered them the premium "go to" brand. I buy cheap RAM for workstations and other hardware I'm not too worried about, but when we add more RAM to our servers, it's usually Kingston.

        If they're just going to sell shit and slap their name on it, fuck 'em. I can buy shit RAM without the name tax added on.

      • by swb (14022) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:00AM (#47254359)

        I needed a half-dozen 8 gig USB keys to serve as flash boot and installers.

        I figured I might as well get USB3 versions since about half the time they would be written on USB3 based systems. I found a Kingston on Amazon, it was cheap and I bought them without thinking, figuring they were decent.

        When I went to use them I had a WTF moment when they were so slow. Benchmarked them against a PNY 128 and another off-brand, both USB3 and the performance with them was as expected but the Kingston one was performing like a slow USB2 key.

        Went to Amazon and read the reviews and found out that everyone was bitching and each review had a vendor followup from some flack at Kingston explaining that they were USB3 but considered "value" USB3 and that if I wanted "performance" USB3 I should buy another Kingston product at a ridiculous price.

        Nowhere on the packaging does it say "slow, USB2-style speeds".

        Anyway, this is just more news that Kingston is happy to bait and switch.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Hear, hear. If your device is only capable of USB 2 class speeds then why the %$#@! are you marketing it as a USB 3 speed device? What do I care how much idle time is on the bus while it waits for the next packet of data? I guess the grace period where the incremental cost of USB3 control circuitry was enough to restrict it to the premium products that actually benefited from it is over, more's the pity. And of course the marketing drones try to make it sound like the interface speed matters. And now i

          • Many customers know what USB3 is, but don't have the capabilities to do proper benchmarking to check if the speeds are in the same ballpark at all.
          • by cdrudge (68377)

            If your device is only capable of USB 2 class speeds then why the %$#@! are you marketing it as a USB 3 speed device?

            The same reason why you can buy a "HD antenna" to pick up OTA television signals. People have a high def TV and if they see two antennas, one that says HD and another that doesn't, they are likely to pick the one that matches their TV. Similarly, if their computer says that they have a USB3 port, they'll pick the flash drive that says it's USB3 even if it performs the same as USB2.

        • by rainmaestro (996549) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:47PM (#47255297)

          SanDisk does that same crap. There's a huge difference between the write speeds for Ultra and Extreme models even though they are both rated USB3. Learned that lesson the hard way.

        • by adolf (21054)

          I myself don't have a single USB 3 host device.

          I purposefully bought one of the cheap USB 3 Kingston keys after reading the reviews. Been very happy with it: It often operates at close to the theoretical USB 2.0 transfer rates, and there have been instances where my USB 2.0 host is plainly the bottleneck. It was the right drive for the right price on that particular day, perfectly in the corner of the price/performance curve.

          Meanwhile, none of this is news: If you buy an ATA/66 hard drive in 1997, you a

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:12PM (#47255027) Journal

        It's surprising. Kingston? I thought they were a good brand.

        Kingston is a fairly serious company; but it's unfortunately not too surprising to see them involved in this story(and, specifically, with a NAND downgrade, rather than a controller swap). The company has its fingers in just about every step of the flash and DRAM supply chain, except actually fabbing the stuff(they do testing, they do IC packaging, they assemble DIMMs and the various USB, SSD, SD, CF, etc. flavors that people want flash in, they do support and logistics for PC outfits that want memory to shove into their products, and so on).

        Unfortunately for them, the companies that do fab flash tend to have SSD interests of their own at this point. This puts Kingston in a slightly tricky position: too much on the line to just go full OCZ; but always having to scrape around to get flash at prices that they can still make a living on.

        There's a very neat piece [bunniestudios.com] about the...interesting issues... that this causes with some of their SD products.

      • "were"

        I've never had reason to avoid them - but I've never really sought their goods out either. Suddenly, I'm happy that I haven't. An old established name like that - and now this. Phhhttt! PNY I've simply never considered.

    • by Striikerr (798526) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:21AM (#47253939)

      When a company pulls this kind of trick, they are dead to me. I don't understand why companies think that they will get away with such actions. It may slip through once but it only takes one time getting caught and then people will start looking back at past hardware releases to see if they did the same thing before. The damage to a company's reputation can be devastating, all to earn some extra profit.. Such a shame.

      • Because for every slashdotter that hears of this, a hundred non slashdotters won't, and they never imagine they'll get caught.

        • by Russ1642 (1087959)

          But the online reviewers will know about this and they'll make damn sure they update their reviews.

          • by ghmh (73679)
            Trickle down effect is as trickle down effect does
          • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:44AM (#47254193) Homepage

            Why do you figure? As a top-ranked Amazon reviewer familiar with the reviewer "community", a hell of a lot of reviewers will give only positive reviews because they are afraid that any negative comments will stop the flow of free electronics and media coming. A lot of reviewers make a decent living eBaying products that we are sent gratis with a request for a review.

            Plus, when you are getting a steady flow of free stuff to review, you are busy enough with the latest arrivals that you don't want to spend time going back and reworking a review you've already written. That's already ancient history for some.

            I imagine these same problems exists at many independent tech review sites too.

            • by hubie (108345) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:57AM (#47254321)
              I'm glad that Amazon started calling out which reviewers received the products for free. I have noticed (and this is not based on any kind of rigorous analysis) that those reviews seem to be generally 4 or 5 star reviews.
              • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:02AM (#47254383) Homepage
                Amazon can only show a message on reviews of products received for free through the Vine Voice program, where reviewers choose the product through Amazon's website. However, a lot of reviewers receive their free product directly from the manufacturer or publisher, and Amazon has no way of knowing. FTC rules require that a reviewer disclose that he is reviewing a free sample, but this law is often ignored.
                • by Albanach (527650)

                  Amazon does highlight if the item was purchased through amazon though, so there is a way to pick reviews from those you can be fairly certain paid cash for the product.

                  • by CRCulver (715279)

                    Unfortunately, if you only choose to pay attention only to the "Verified Purchase" tag, you'll miss out on a lot of good reviews. Plenty of entirely sincere and trustworthy reviewers do their shopping at other online shops where they managed to get a better deal, but they review at Amazon because they are used to its community features. There are more such reviews than the shills; in fact, the shills are so relatively few in number that it is easy to figure out who they are and just ignore their reviews in

              • I've been in the vine program for over five years and have written a lot of negative reviews. I haven't been kicked out or anything like that and still get the occasional cool item. It is true that you get a lot more "helpful" votes for five star reviews though. It isn't that big a deal for me because I do most of my buying from amazon and have lots of opportunity to give positive reviews of things I actually like.

                I once got into a pissing contest with a marketing flak over one of my reviews and they fla
        • The hundred non-slashdotters generally rely on their geek friends to give computer advice, such as "should I upgrade".

          It would be a big mistake to underetstimate how damaging this will be to Kingston's SSD department; Id place money on them halting the practice within the next few months.

          • The hundred non-slashdotters generally rely on their geek friends to give computer advice, such as "should I upgrade".

            Ah, so that is why after the rootkit debacle all my non-technical friends followed my advice and started boycotting Sony.

            Oh wait, they didn't.

            • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:01AM (#47254379)
              Don't be an idiot; Nobody expected Joe Public to boycott Sony over the rootkit thing, the OtherOS thing, or the myriad of other shady things they've done; They're too ubiquitous in their sectors.
              "Hey, I'm thinking of getting a game console, PS4 or XBox One?"
              "NEITHER! Consoles are DRM laden privacy invading boxes of Satan! Buy a PC, run Linux, be happy with indie games!"
              "Uhhh... PS4 then."

              However, boycotting Kingston on your recommendation is very easy to do.
              "So I'm looking to upgrade my PC. Any recommendations?"
              "More RAM! Oh, I told you that one before? Ok then, put in an SSD. Intel, Samsung, Crucial, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Zalman are all reputable brands. In fact, for what you're going to be doing with them, pick any brand but Kingston for your budget. They were caught shafting consumers by swapping cheap parts into their high end stuff after reviews were published."
              "Ok, not Kingston. Got it."
              • Intel, Samsung, Crucial, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Zalman are all reputable brands.

                I trust that was only there for contrast and not because you would say it verbatim to anyone asking for advice!

              • Attempted paraphrase:

                So what you're saying is that free market behavior correcting activities don't work in the presence of panopolies?

              • You're saying Sony are Too Big to Boycot? And I'm the idiot?

                Anyway, I was actually just questioning GP's assertion that us geeks have any kind of influence over such things. And while I happily concede that the sony rootkit example is not the best possible one, it came to mind because after that one I personally stopped believing this assertion.

                Doesn't mean I won't speak out if someone asks me a tech question, just that I don't actually expect them to be persuaded or disuaded, as the case may be, because of

            • There's no danger in buying a Playstation 4. What are they going to do, rootkit their own hardware? The locks are already in place, so IMHO it's a more stable system than trying to hijack another OS to impose their own limitations.

        • Except that we are the nerds. We are the people our friends and family turn to when there's hardware to buy.

      • by SJester (1676058)
        But there's a good question hiding in all this. Like the two of you, I won't buy from a company that intentionally screwed customers. Yet manufacturers continue to trash their customer base by doing this. It has to be profitable, right? Which means that it's worth the risk, which means that some bean counter figured that the potential loss is outweighed by the gain. Yet here we see that it isn't. They've lost buyers... Unless much of these scams go unnoticed. So who else is screwing their customers now an
        • Or not 95% of the SSD buyers will never read this, and this negative publicity will just be a small dent, but overall still profitable

          • by SJester (1676058)
            Except that the news is not going to stay here. I know that I'm outraged and will review it. Buyers may not read /. but I'm sure they'll read reviews before buying. Good God. Please tell me that people read reviews before buying an SSD.
        • by ArhcAngel (247594)

          manufacturers continue to trash their customer base by doing this. It has to be profitable, right? Which means that it's worth the risk, which means that some bean counter figured that the potential loss is outweighed by the gain.

          It should not surprise anyone seeing how many [boston.com] times over now an auto maker [investopedia.com] has put profits over its consumer's safety.

      • by Larry_Dillon (20347) <dillon DOT larry AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:37AM (#47254111) Homepage

        I'm not trying to defend Kingston or PNY but it may be that they had supply problems or other issues with the original part. It seems that Joel Hruska is assuming intentional deception/malice where none has been proven. I do think that companies should be required to change the model number when they change critical internal parts.

        WiFi cards used to be horrible about this. Companies would change the WiFi chipset, requiring a totally different driver, and nothing on the outside of the box would give any indication. Somewhere on the card it would usually say rev b, etc.

        • Whether its malice, incompetence or some other reason, the fact is that crap is being sold under their name. Better, to my mind, to simply not manufacture until supply chain issues are resolved than to try to put lipstick on a pig.

          • Ditto. Though I would accept it if they *labeled* the "value version" as such (under a different part number). The marketplace for anything has range; that's why you can get a burger from McDonald's, or Five Guys, or Bobby Flay, or Ruth's Chris. As long as the price corresponds to the product level, it's the buyer's choice.
        • by Jaysyn (203771)

          I know where you are coming from. I have an old Linksys PCMCIA wifi card that had 7 different hardware revisions & almost as many drivers.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:49AM (#47254237)

        Electronics are produced in batches. Given availability of various components, each batch will not be identical. This is nothing new. As long as the new components still meet the same specifications, the consumer hasn't been harmed. Now if the intention of the company is to build a fast model specifically for review and substitute an inferior product for the mass market, that could be fraudulent. On the other hand, at the time of review, if the current model was all built with those components, then the review is valid.

        We are talking about consumer grade products here. If you buy a name brand laptop and then the identical laptop six months later, it will very likely have different chipsets and versions of roms. There are companies that will sell business grade or even military grade, where all components are guaranteed to be the same regardless of when you buy it. Those usually cost a lot more.

        So is there evidence that Kingston and PNY were being fraudulent or is it simply variations between batches? What's the real story?

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Doesn't seem to have hurt Samsung, who were caught bait and switching by faking smartphone benchmarks.

        This will be quietly forgotten.

    • by MathFox (686808)
      The company will (temporarily) make some extra profit, which is good for management bonuses. And after a few years the manager moves to another company... Rinse, repeat!

      Another option is that it is just a manufacturing hack (because of component shortage) without properly thinking about the consequences.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      PNY has been on my ban pile since 2007, when I discovered that they wouldn't process a RMA on a SD card with a lifetime warranty without the original proof of purchase (verified by actually contacting support.)

      It's sad to hear about Kingston, though. I've always trusted them and never had poor results.

      • by danomac (1032160)

        Well, sure - they need to confirm you got it from an authorized reseller. Most electronics on Amazon have no manufacturer warranty, for example.

    • by Rigel47 (2991727)
      Seriously.. I always used to think of Kingston as being a solid brand. In one stupid move they are now classified as ripoff scam artist criminal evil scum.
    • I have had similar thoughts with the game publisher market.
      You would think that [insert big name publisher here] would have enough sense to not plaster a product with their name if the sole purpose of that product was to con people into buying it with false promises.

    • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:58AM (#47254903)

      It amazes me when companies sell down their good name. It takes a lot of time and money to earn it, and it never brings in as much when you do this. So not too more companies on my "avoid" list. Luckily there is a lot of competition.

      When a company pulls this kind of trick, they are dead to me. I don't understand why companies think that they will get away with such actions. It may slip through once but it only takes one time getting caught and then people will start looking back at past hardware releases to see if they did the same thing before. The damage to a company's reputation can be devastating, all to earn some extra profit.. Such a shame.

      Both of you are mistaken - in a lot of cases this is simply because production runs are different.

      Kingston and PNY are well known brands that buy a lot of excess parts. They build their storage using what stuff they have available. If Samsung overproduced flash chips that Apple can't soak up, they can either idle their factories (expensive), sell the excess on the market (depressing prices), or sell it to a company who does wholesale purchase of excess, like Kingston or PNY.

      Option 3 is generally preferred because option 2 can impact contracts (i.e., if Apple sees Samsung is selling the same product for far less than they paid, they're going to demand a refund).

      So basically, Kingston and PNY build products based on what they have on hand - perhaps today it's slower flash chips from Toshiba, tomorrow Samsung had an overrun and they can put in super speedy Samsung chips, etc.

      While most electronics manufacturers generally try to go for the same parts over and over again (or with few substitutions - e.g., Apple buys hard drives from Seagate and WD (and their acquired companies like Toshiba and HGST), flash from Toshiba and Samsung, etc), there are other companies that build product based on what's on hand.

      And heck, it's also one reason why Kingston and PNY product is so damn cheap - because by taking the excess stock and building what's on hand, they get parts at a good discount, but the variability in parts is much greater. Part manufacturers are happy because it means they don't have to dump product on the open market where their customers may demand the discounts as well, and they have someone to absorb overruns.

      It's just like the McRib, really. McDonalds brings it back when pork prices are low and there's an excess they can obtain far cheaper than the open market (but they can take it all rather than buy it in small batches).

      The downside is, of course, that product variability is high. Perhaps they get a stock of superfast Samsung, decide to use it to launch a new line, then Samsung has better supply management and the source of cheap excess disappears. Then they're now handling excess of a slower chip some other manufacturer has excess.

      Heck, you can buy several different seemingly identical products and they'd all be different inside - the only way to guarantee would be to check the batch numbers.

      And this applies to their products as well - RAM, SD cards, etc.

      Andrew "bunnie" Huang actually did an analysis of this when they were buying SD cards in bulk from Kingston and getting issues. On Micro SD problems [bunniestudios.com]. It's a very detailed analysis of what REALLY happens with Kingston. PNY is probably extremely similar in behavior as well.

      If you want consistency, you need to go with someone who builds it in, like Sandisk (Toshiba), Lexar, etc. who order parts direct, rather than an aggregator who builds simply based on what they were sold.

      It's less a bait and switch, and more of "well, we had these parts today, and when we run out tomorrow we'll use those parts".

    • I agree. It can take years to build up a good reputation and one article like this to make me choose other products over Kingston and PNY forever.

      What were they thinking?

  • by Zanadou (1043400) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:24AM (#47253953)

    As my Father used to say:

    "You're not actually sorry for doing it, you're just sorry for being caught doing it."

    • My wife and I use this on our kids all the time. They are very, very sorry for doing something bad and will beg for another chance, but if given it will almost immediately go back to their bad behavior. (And then beg for "one more chance.") It's amazing how a huge multi-national company and a seven year old can act the same. The difference is that the damage from a seven year old's misbehavior tends to be more limited and the punishments are easier to dole out. If only we could just send Kingston and P

  • by fuzzytv (2108482) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:29AM (#47254009)

    Good advice - when checking reviews for a product (e.g. on Amazon), always sort them by time and check how the ratings change. Many products get good reviews first, then it dives. You won't see this otherwise.

  • This is fraud. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:30AM (#47254019)

    False advertising etc... Doubtless they've found some legal loophole to let them get away with it but it shouldn't be tolerated.

    Sue them. Let the lawyers latch onto their faces and lay lawyer babies in their stomachs that will after a short period burst out of their chests to fill the world with yet more lawyers.

    These guys have it coming. You don't cheat your customers.

    • by fivepan (572611)
      It isn't fraud because the specs listed reflect the items being purchased. It's just that when the older reviews were placed, the specs were better. Reviewer comments on Newegg, etc may be useful for a company in selling products (or detrimental if they have a bad product) but that isn't advertising by the company so therefore can't be "false advertising".
    • I don't like being put in the position of defending this practice, but taken on face value, I don't see how it's illegal. If a company makes a minor update to a product that shaves a few bucks at the expense of quality, changes the product number to indicate that a revision has been made, and the news doesn't get picked up by any of the review sites, that doesn't mean the manufacturer did anything illegal. Sleazy, quite possibly, but they just as easily could've made a tweak that they thought was for the be

      • The key item in your list is "changes the product number". Then it's OK. Problem is they did NOT change the product number, just sold something not-as-good under the same number for the same price.
    • that will after a short period burst out of their chests to fill the world with yet more lawyers.

      Ew, and have more lawyers? No way.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:34AM (#47254071)

    They must be... because I can't think of a faster way to poison the well and scare customers off than cheating them. The Kingston move is downright shocking... whoever is making the calls for their SSD parts needs to be fired ASAP, and some serious damage control needs to be put into play if they ever want to continue selling SSDs.

  • by crow (16139) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:37AM (#47254113) Homepage Journal

    So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

  • Immoral and Naive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:41AM (#47254153)
    I would like to see the paper (email really) trail where these companies plotted to screw over consumers. After all, there is no way that this happened by accident and being deliberate means communication. I thought highly of these brands until now. Now I can only wonder how long this has been going on and how many product lines are affected. They have lost my loyalty and cannot earn it back. I will warn everyone I know to avoid all of their products and I will explain why. I have a feeling this is going to snowball into a much more publicized scandal. I just hope I don't find out any of my still currently beloved companies have been committing the same fraud.

    Also, I say naive because how could they have thought in this day and age that they would not get busted? I guess they were blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes.
  • by satan666 (398241) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:57AM (#47254323) Homepage

    I cannot for the life of me fathom a company, in this age of internet and instant news, doing this. I have purchased some things from Kingston before and I was fine with the company. However, after reading this, they are on my lifetime shit list. That is also true for anyone reading the story. And you can bet that Digg, reddit and a few other popular sites will be running the story shortly.

    In other words, Kingston is fucked, with a capital F.
    Even if the company president comes over and cleans my house for a month, the bad name will prevail.
    These guys are morons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:06AM (#47254431)

    It's a bit more subtle a scam than you think. Kingston/PNY haven't changed the specs of the product at all, all they did was ship hardware that's cheaper/closer to spec. That is, they never promised the crazy performance reviewers were getting, they just overbuilt the first run of components and then switched to something cheaper that still met spec requirements. Hardware manufacturers reserve the right to reformulate product all the time without indicating as much, so long as the spec is still the same. So basically, they spec a $100 box, but put $200 worth of components in it for the first few customers and review units. Once the good reviews go out, they pull the expensive components out of the box. But it's "technically not a scam" because they "technically never promised such a good deal", they just accidentally happened to give reviewers a good deal.

    From a reviewer's point of view, however, I'd be incredibly skeptical of parts that perform too good compared to what they should be doing on paper. If you have something that is supposed to get 200mb/sec writes, but is actually getting 400 or more, then you should probably question the manufacturer and perhaps even score the product lower for being overbuilt, on the expectation that future hidden product revisions will stop overbuilding it.

    • Not subtle at all (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:40PM (#47255235) Homepage Journal

      But it's "technically not a scam" because they "technically never promised such a good deal", they just accidentally happened to give reviewers a good deal.

      It's a scam and they're liars. It's really as clear and un-subtle as that. When they deliver a review unit, the expectation is that it will be representative of the products that end users will by buying. They'll have gone over it with a fine toothed comb, sure, to make sure it doesn't have any obvious defects. But the nature of a review is that the reviewer will be getting the same product that you and I will. Without that implicit contract, the whole concept of a review is utterly worthless.

      In fact, Kingston and friends burned their reviewers' reputations, not just their own. If I buy something because Joe Smith says he liked it and it turns out to be a piece of junk, I'll never trust Joe Smith's opinion again. If I'd written about one of these units - particularly for a major review site - I'd be raising holy hell, warning all of my readers, and distancing myself from it as far as possible. It'd be along the lines of "Kingston lied to me and I passed it along to you. For that, I am very sorry, and I will never review another of their products." and updating the original review to add a giant red disclaimer and explanation at the top.

      This isn't subtle. It's a flat-out lie to customers and can only reasonably be seen as such.

      • Re:Not subtle at all (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MMC Monster (602931) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:56PM (#47255395)

        It's a scam and they're liars. It's really as clear and un-subtle as that. When they deliver a review unit, the expectation is that it will be representative of the products that end users will by buying.

        More and more I only believe Consumer Reports. They don't accept donated items for review. They purchase their own from a normal middleman to make sure what they get is what a normal person would get.

        That being said, it's remarkable they're still in business.

  • Any product that has been in production for a while will incorporate engineering changes during it's production cycle.

    These changes can arise from some perfectly legitimate reasons including:

    1. Fixes for problems found after production starts.
    2. Improvements in manufacturing process to improve yield etc.
    3. Changes needed to compensate for changes in upstream sources.

    The idea that something essentially a prototype given to reviewers will not be changed once it's been in production for a while is nuts.

    HOWEVER

  • This has been happening for many years in computer monitors and televisions also. There will be an initial version sold for a few months that gets the reviews, and then the specs are changed - completely different LCD panels made by different manufacturers are substituted silently, often with different technology. Anecdotally early versions of an Acer monitor having a MPVA panel, and then the exact same model then shipping with TN panels that pale in performance compared to the original. With monitors, you
    • IS fraud, plain and simple. Because despite receiving the inferior panel, you paid the price of the quality one.

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