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On the Integrity of Hardware Review Sites

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the this-new-chip-is-simply-amazing-and-tasty dept.

The Media 263

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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263 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156695)

they should use nigs as currency what

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156787)

That'd be unwieldy though.

How many can you fit in your pocket?

Trust? On the net? (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156707)

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? :)

Re:Trust? On the net? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156832)

I look for the support forums and known issues for guidance

Re:Trust? On the net? (2, Insightful)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156840)

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...

Re:Trust? On the net? (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156951)

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).

Re:Trust? On the net? (2, Informative)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157116)

"...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 ;)

Re:Trust? On the net? (3, Funny)

Shambhu (198415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156970)

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. ;)

Re:Trust? On the net? (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157148)

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 ;)

Re:Trust? On the net? (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157164)

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...

Re:Trust? On the net? (4, Funny)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156920)

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?

what if everyone's in on it? (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Trust? On the net? (4, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Trust? On the net? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157110)

You're absolutely right. Most people actualy try to avoid intensive multitasking is when running games, so that the game can get maximum performance. What kind of moron is going to encode a video while running HL2?

And anyways, as many of the reviews pointed out, since games aren't well multithreaded the dual core chips will perform identically to equivalently clocked single core chips. So we already know what the performance will be, so why rehash what we already know?

Demerjian is a clown.

Re:Trust? On the net? (4, Insightful)

Desert Raven (52125) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Trust? On the net? (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157156)

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.

Re:Trust? On the net? (1)

As Seen On TV (857673) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157187)

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 Windows?

What I do... (2, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157185)

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 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.

Wake up! from a journo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157228)

Never trust an account that doesn't list problems.

Never trust a rant that doesn't list plusses.

If you can only get one or the other, read both and do some synthesis.

If you blindly trust ANYTHING you read, you're a moron, pure and simple. I have a journalism degree and I can't bear reading my community newspaper, so obviously chock full of glossed press releases.

Oh, and didn't you hear about movie studios that use fake movie reviewers? Or the Whitehouse with the fake reporter with softball questions? or the corporate and government pre-fab video news releases that get broadcast on TV as real news items, often re-voiced by a local journo?

Come on kids! A good PR person WRITES the story in a compelling way, good enough for a journo to re-hack it gently and fill the pages/keep the needle moving on the VU.

Journalism is about selling ads, not spreading truth.

Two Words (1, Informative)

stone2020 (123807) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156710)

Tom's Hardware

one more word, please? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156889)

How about one more word: Good or Bad?
I don't know how to interpret your post...

Re:one more word, please? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157015)

Because your a moron!! :(

Re:Two Words (2, Insightful)

sonoluminescence (709395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156992)

Reading the perview of the pentium D on tom's hardware today it includes plenty of game benches and also some fair justification of why intels lastest offerings are likely to suck until software catches up.

So if you intended to say the article was talking about toms then I'd say you're wrong.

If you were saying toms is a shining light in a sea of intels bitches, I'd say not far off.

Re:Two Words (0, Troll)

hobbesx (259250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157009)

Tom's Hardware


Oh God, I know... Did he tell you he was clean too? Ain't chlamydia a bitch?

Re:Two Words (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157018)

Two more. Bull shit. As someone who used to work as a technical contact within a hardware marketing team, I can personally guarantee that Tom's Hardware demanded sweeteners, more than any other review site we worked with. And they were arrogant jackasses to boot.

Re:Two Words (2, Interesting)

Axe (11122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157118)

Could you point to a particular story? Was the doodad you wanted to troll of a particular interest to TH target audience?

Among several review sites I look through, TH did not seem particularly bad, maybe above average on the integrity of review front. And they usually pick fairly representative sample - do not remember obvious omissions or mismatches in comparisons.

Though it is not my favorite site, indeed.

Sweeteners, sure, everybody needs to eat. It is what you do with them. I would not mind demanding something to place a story, especially about some fringe product nobody cares about - I would only mind outright lie in a story, or some really poor review from a technical point of view.

Re:Two Words (2, Insightful)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157151)

Or one word - 'Usenet'. Always good to check what problems people have been having with a particular pice of hardware.

Integrity? (4, Insightful)

schild (713993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156719)

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? (5, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 9 years ago | (#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? (2, Insightful)

schild (713993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156828)

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 protection. Good luck finding that on a corporate site. And this is why I hate the industry I've forced myself into.

Re:Integrity? (1)

jerometremblay (513886) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157315)

Yeah, people are weird: some care more about the game than the packaging.

sponsorship (3, Interesting)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156723)


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]

Re:sponsorship (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156757)

Well, i guess having a multi-million hit site didnt hurt advertising revenues back in the time of the bubble....

Re:sponsorship (2, Informative)

Erwos (553607) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156929)

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 in that the ads on there are actually pretty well-targetted, I wouldn't be surprised to hear he has an excellent click-through rate.

It's probably difficult to remain objective, but that's what professionals do. Anand and his crew are obviously professionals.

-Erwos

Re:sponsorship (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156995)

Shrimpy Anand Lal is a dirty hindi that lies about everything. all he does is pimp AMDs crappy products

Identification of sites he's accusing? (3, Interesting)

philgross (23409) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156725)

The [H]ardOCP review made clear that dual core chips were weak for gaming. Any idea which sites he's fingering?

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (4, Interesting)

PaisteUser (810863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156788)

The [H]ardOCP review made clear that dual core chips were weak for gaming. Any idea which sites he's fingering?

Since the article he wrote was released today, I took a look at both Tom's Hardware and AnandTech. Both had "previews" of the Dual Core Intel chips...both major sites. That's just an educated guess, but seems correct.

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156905)

I think it was Anandtech that prompted the article - gaming was missing from their original article, and there is now 'part II' with loads of gaming tests and some very pointed remarks (without mentioning anyone specifically).

Frankly I tend to find that customer comments on certain sites seem to be more useful in finding out where the lemons are. Graphs showing me that something is 2.3% faster in specific applications isn't as useful as knowing that it doesn't work with my particular motherboard.

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156797)

Only if you play games that aren't multithreaded *rolls eyes*.

I play EVE Online, which is certainly multithreaded, and runs fast as hell on A64s. I would be very surprised if dual core didn't nearly double my FPS.

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156878)

Your gameplay and physics should double in speed (of course it's limited at some point so it's playable), but your graphics shouldn't be doubling from your processor...now if you had an SLI setup, it might be a different story.

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157086)

Prepare to be very suprised. A true SMP setup won't increase performance anywhere near double, why would a dual core processor?

Re:Identification of sites he's accusing? (3, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156863)

The only sites I trust at the moment are The Tech Report and Aces Hardware. These sites rarely get exclusives of course! HardOCP I think is also kosher.

Now sites like Toms Hardware Guide and Anandtech I am not sure about.

At least you know you are getting a biased view at a site like AMDZone, heh.

so sad... (1)

burgeswe (873550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156743)

It's nearly impossible to not have a somewhat jaded approach to reviewing hardware it seems.
To be fair, you'd have to send your test product to a slice of the population, not to a few greedy people.
Of course, my 80 year old grandma cares nothing about SLI....

The Inquirer paid /. to run this article. (3, Funny)

mcguyver (589810) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156744)

Well, not really but wouldn't it be ironic if they did?

Re:The Inquirer paid /. to run this article. (2, Interesting)

sonoluminescence (709395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157079)

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? (3, Funny)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156762)

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

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156942)

Trusted Computing? [microsoft.com]

Re:Huh? (1)

bloggins02 (468782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156953)

Oh my GOD! The slashes from Fark have infected Slashdot.

Oh, the humanity!!!!

Re:Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157080)

Fark sucks.

It's even more of a flamefest/trollfest than Slashdot, usually with less engaging topics.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157127)

I've been wondering about them. Every single article of theirs that gets syndicated in the register is always about how great and cool and ultimate the product being reviewed is. So this makes me wonder: who trusts "trusted reviews"? The people who read it?

Or the peop^WPR flacks who send their stuff plus a hearty helping of payola their way?

My pick (3, Interesting)

cy_a253 (713262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156781)

I consider Scott Wasson's Tech Report [techreport.com] to be one of the best "independent" review sites around.

Re:My pick (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157016)

yeah, scott is cool, and i sell ads for him, so visit tech report a lot, and click on things. :)

integrity used to be a requirement (1)

already_gone (848753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156806)

now math, logic & morality, must be ignored

otherwise, it would be impossible to 'play along' with the phonIE #'s generated by the corepirate nazi felon life0ciders, & their co-conspirators in both washingtons.

all is not lost/forgotten.

thank goodness for the wildly popular creators' planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

no subscription/phonIE payper liesense required.

for each of the creators' innocents harmed, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetra(i)tors/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Im not sure if he understands multithreading (5, Insightful)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Im not sure if he understands multithreading (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156880)

Here's the correction: Look at your taskmanager (or top output) and look which is the task with the most cpu time by about 99% on your desktop machine. It's the idle task. So while there are 20 tasks and 50 threads running, they don't really need much CPU, certainly not so much to warrant a second CPU.

Re:Im not sure if he understands multithreading (1)

1000StonedMonkeys (593519) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157069)

The idle task? Get your ass on folding@home boy!

Seriously though, who doesn't do other things with their computer while their burning a DVD, encoding a movie, running a virus scan, or God knows what else? And personally, that's the only time that my computer feels slow. I don't care about 30 more fps in Doom, I just want my computer to be fast even when Eclipse is rebuilding my projects (or gentoo is rebuilding KDE, or whatever).

Re:Im not sure if he understands multithreading (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156881)

<sarcasm>Sure, but the number one reason for multithread/multitask processing is running a virus scanner on a Microsoft operating system.<sarcasm>

Re:Im not sure if he understands multithreading (1)

bob zee (701656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156931)

I run a solid modelling (cad) program all day. While it is doing one of the hundreds of rebuilds, I can usually be found ripping an audio cd or typing a spreadsheet or surfing slashdot or streaming media or typing an email in lotus notes, etc., etc., blah-blah-blah.
hee-hee!

Oh yeah, winamp runs non-stop. Yes, I have to work in a window$ world. The aforementioned cad program has not been ported to a real operating system. Yet.

Re:Im not sure if he understands multithreading (4, Informative)

krf (873528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157031)

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 animation, you can usually process two frames independantly from each other. Running convolution filters on large images can also be split into convenient chunks.

In a game, you could do things like run your AI code in a separate thread, and it would run faster on a multiple cpu system. But it's harder to write. If dual-core cpus become more cheaper and more popular, you'll probably see more games written to take advantage of them. Game developers just haven't bothered yet, because the extra complexity involved with writing everything to be thread-safe isn't worth the speed improvement for just a small number of users.

Makes Sense (2, Insightful)

Philosinfinity (726949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156816)

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. They don't want bad PR and they want as many people to buy their most profitable items as possible. My hardware review site wants to stay in business. It wants to make a profit, and to do so, I have to act in a certain way. I have to ensure that I have a product to sell. It isn't fun and it isn't nice, but that's business.

Good article, but... (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156830)

...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...

Let's list them then folks... (5, Interesting)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 :)

Re:Let's list them then folks... (2, Funny)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157013)

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...

The Inquirer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156834)

And what a staple of hardware journalism can we give ourselves the honor of reading? Oh wait, nevermind, another Inq article on a slow news day.

where the hell is my car? (0, Offtopic)

ruiner5000 (241452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156851)

you heard me, where is my car? almost 7 years of this and i still have not gotten a car.

why couldn't have charlie posted this before the amd editors day so we could talk about it there? damn you charlie, and your little rob too! watch out at e3!

This is not journalism (5, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156854)

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

Re:This is not journalism (1)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156909)

WHat??? How is it not apparent? Hardware review sites get sent the latest and greatest hardware, for free, to review.

Now, if you were currently getting all the bad ass stuff you wanted, for free.. and knowing if you write bad reviews for these things, the supply will stop coming..

What do you do?

Re:This is not journalism, this whiner has no ball (1)

gojrocknyc (861306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156939)

thats right, BALL! one testicle for the whiner, who can't even NAME any sites or publications! this crap isnt journalism... well, i guess you might call it livejournalism cos like OMG w00t wtf present a completely unsubstantiated case.

Re:This is not journalism (2, Insightful)

Jurph (16396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156989)

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.

Re:This is not journalism (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157324)

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 assertions of opinion, but not claims of fact. For an author to ethically assert wrongdoing on the part of a specific entity (s)he should provide at least some documentation, and sourced quotes (even anonymous quotes accepted as valid by the editor is fine). Printing an editorial doesn't give the author (and his editor) full impunity to catagorically assert whatever they want without supporting evidence (even if it's true). Please see the Poyntr school of Journalism's web site on Journalistic Ethics [poynter.org] for additional details (that site is filled with a great deal of information).

Cheers,
--Maynard

Re:This is not journalism (4, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157022)

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.

Re:This is not journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157024)

If you would RTFA, you would realize it was more editorial than journalistic. In addition, by not naming specific sites or specific instances of bribery or unethical behavior, the author shows he is simply warning readers to look out for themselves when reading ANY review site. This hardly sounds like irresponsible behavior. Instead it sounds like a plea for exercising some common sense.

Re:This is not journalism (1)

Slave2TheGrind (815427) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157039)

I have to say that I don't regularly read the Inquirer so I don't know if this article is par for the course for them, but didn't the author say that this was his rant?
I suppose to me that implies he is just complaining about his perceived injustice/inappropriate behavior on the part of hardware review sites as opposed to fulfiling any truly journalistic role he may normally have in reporting a factually-based story.

Maybe it's just me...

That's the truth (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:That's the truth (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157035)

funny, i've never once heard of anyone charging to post a review.

Re:That's the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157230)

I hadn't either, which is why it caught me so off guard. I was completely confused at the first reply to a request for info on PR contacts that asked me for listing costs. It took a couple of conversations and several more emails with the same type of requests before I figured out what the requests where. I chalked that up to my lack of knowledge in this field (I'm an engineer, not a publisher).

If I hadn't of received as many requests like that as I had, I would have never mentioned this.

Crux of the problem (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

unk1911 (250141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156912)

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]

"I take goods you send me for free & review"? (5, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156913)

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.

Re:"I take goods you send me for free & review (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157198)

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.

Why would you expect... (1)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156933)

They are getting sent this hardware, for free, and you expect them to be totally objective?

I don't know about you guys, but if I ran a busy hardware review site and had the latest and greatest pouring in monthly, why would I write a bad review about a company who is showering me with 'gifts'?

Not Anandtech (3, Interesting)

tyates (869064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156935)

"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]

Re:Not Anandtech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156983)

nah, it probably was Anandtech -- read their first preview, from two days previous

Re:Not Anandtech (1)

wedgewu (701989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157036)

Sadly I have a feeling that the Inquirer WAS talking about Anand, since yesterday's post was "part 1 of 2" and the guy who wrote this article talked about "half" a review. I have a very sinking feeling that they just glanced at all the charts, rather than read what Anand actually wrote - that there's no point in comparing games right now since we already know AMD is gonna win. If you only look the charts, you can easily deduce that they just left out all the games and were bribed... but if you actually RTFA, you understand why it's a waste of people's times to read all that over again. The Inquirer talking about bad journalism is really ironic... they can be the absolute worst sometimes.

My favorites (1)

IKillYou (444994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12156936)

are Tech Report and the OCP. It's a comfort to me every time these site get crosswise with the companies whose products they review.

Slashdot book reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12156981)

OK, so is it fair to assume that some users posting book reviews are actually either:

(a) publisher/authors themselves or
(b) normal slashdot users paid by the publisher to write a good review.

This brings up a lot of questions. How can you trust a review written by a so called user. If I'd ever wrote a book I could easily register at /. and post a good review of my book. Or if I was the publisher, I could just as well write bad reviews about my competitor's books.

Instead a better review system (for anything) would be that reviews are done by a small group of site admins or mods and after they are posted users would rate the product and give comments about the product while other users would rate their comments.

Add one vote per IP, no proxy's, set cookies,... to this and you have a pretty much reliable review.

So who exactly are the good sites? (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157005)

Ok, so you'll get sued and shut out for mentioning the bad sites, if you can't tell us who the bad sites are then at least mention the good sites.

Also this doesn't surprise me at all, any media source as big as review sites will come under PR pressure, all other media has gotten through it, as should online media.

might be true, but... (2, Insightful)

potatoBBQ (855766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157040)

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 save it.

Paul Thurrott? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157049)

Where does Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows stand? He's not really hardware, but the guy HAS to be paid.

I mean he said Windows is easier to "use" than Mac OS X. Now if by use he means crash then by god he's right! He also predicted that BuyMusic.com would kill iTMS. These are only a few of the wonderful words of wisdom that come out of his mouth.

Either he's bought or he is completely bat-sh*t nuts. My vote is for both. Anyone know the truth?

Article is Flamebait (5, Insightful)

Phatboy (805714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157074)

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.

Reviews are mostly BS (2, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157077)

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.

Tomshardware (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157089)

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!

viperlair did a good writeup (4, Informative)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157112)

viperlair did a good write up on what i like to call hardware review site payola [viperlair.com] a while back.

e.

Learned my lesson well with deathstars (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157134)

Read all the reviews. Went out of my way to find new hardware tech sites for more reviews. Was my first computer. Decided to do it right from the beginning. So I read all the reviews, and the glowing reviews on the IBM GXP hard drives were enough to convince me to go with them. Bought two. Used second to backup the first drive.

Disaster strikes, times two. First drive fails with the infamous [techreport.com] screech of death [techreport.com] . Shut system down, try to figure out what to do, read online, buy third drive, plug in, start up, start to backup data from backup drive, lightening strikes twice. Lost years of work previously migrated from older systems.

My experience with trying to RMA the drives (just a few months old) was so bad that I made it my mission to ensure that no other newbies or small business owners or individuals went through what I did. Or do my best trying. So what did I do?

It became apparent in the weeks and months that followed that IBM GXP drives were so bad that they were failing by the hundreds at hosting providers, that many others were having such problems that many stories and threads were started on some hardware tech sites, and that even a class action lawsuit [techreport.com] was started over them.

So I started contacting hardware tech sites that were still glowing about the GXP drives, and asked them to revise their review or remove the review. Some didn't answer (CNet). One or two less famous sites actually removed a review, or added a disclaimer, maybe because I wrote or because there was simply too much bad press to ignore. Some other sites were using the drives in their computers for testing other hardware. And listing the GXP drives when describing what hardware they used to test. I saw this as an endorsement, so I asked them to stop using the GXP drives, explaining my position and providing links about the stories on the hard drives. Some site owners ignored me *cough* Tom's Hardware *cough* and continued using the drives even after repeated email requests that they don't, one actually emailed back that those were the drives he bought and couldn't afford to replace them, and others soon after stopped using the drives and switched to others as far as I could tell. Some sites (one that I recall, forget the name, haven't heard about it since then) actually featured the GXP drives on the top left of their front page, as a great drive (banner link to a review page), many months after the bad news on the drives came out and after the class action lawsuit announcement made it on slashdot (and after the news on the hosting provider losing hundreds of the drives). That site didn't even bother answering my emails about how wrong it was for them to push the drive in light of all the problems about the drives that everyone was shouting about.

That little episode was enlightening as to who I could trust with advice on purchasing decisions and who to avoid. Now, some 4 years later? Who can really be trusted for accurate reviews? Buyer beware, and spread the risk. Especially on hard drives, use raid, backup to optical media and buy more than one brand of drive and buy drives from more than one source. And then cross your fingers and pray.

Bribed, greedy and/or imcopentent (3, Informative)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157166)

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.

It's the meta-information that's important. (3, Insightful)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157186)

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%.

Another way of finding good hardware... (3, Interesting)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 9 years ago | (#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).

Not always true (1)

tommyth (848039) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157222)

Three years or so ago, a friend of mine started a Mac hardware review site. Less than a year later, he was getting more than one new product in the mail from various companies every week. One might make the quick assumption that he was just whoring himself for free hardware.

Not true. He wrote honest reviews (not to mention he was a good writter, which helped), which ment his credibility and popularity went up. He did no advertising but gets a lot of traffic because of this. And companies know this, so they send him this stuff. Sure, he's said "Hey, this product is crap" and that company has had to take a hit. But then a month later that same co will send another product, and if it's good, he'll say so and they'll make sales. He has no advertising on his site, either.

So while being a hardware whore will get you some stuff (Probably crappy stuff too), being honest will help you in the long run because companies know when sites will say anything and most reputable companies avoid them.

Say it ain't so!!! (3, Insightful)

halepark (578694) | more than 9 years ago | (#12157238)

You mean the media can be bought?!? I feel like I'm taking CRAZY PILLS!!

He didn't get a free motherboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12157338)

I think someone is a little angry about a company policy which forbids signing NDA's and resulted in him not getting a shiny new dual core cpu handout, resulting in decrying review sites who do agree to this as lacking moral fiber. From the reviews I've seen linked here, I don't think the few bad apples he's referring to have been on slashdot. Though if you want someone to write PR and call it a review, I'm sure they exist, and are utilized to get reviews. Its no different than movies reviews quoted on the box of a movie.
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