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Pogue and the Bogusness of Advanced Gadget Reviews

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the i-don't-think-bogusness-is-a-word dept.

127

Jordan Golson writes "New York Times gadget reviewer David Pogue got into an email back-and-forth with Valleywag after he was tricked into writing an article by advance misinformation on a pre-launch product. In theory, it's good for reviewers to test and write up products before release day, so consumers can make informed choices. In practice, Pogue and we wish the industry standard would change." Personally I think this is why blogs are great- if a product sells 100,000 units, it only takes a few dozen bloggers to encounter problems for the truth to come out. Of course, that doesn't help you if you want to pre-order.

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Blogs are... not so great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20973867)

Personally I think this is why blogs are great- if a product sells 100,000 units, it only takes a few dozen bloggers to encounter problems for the truth to come out.

That's looking on the bright side. When everything gets spammed by 11y olds telling about how they learned to multiply by 7 today blogs go down ;]

Ouch. (5, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20973903)

Isn't the best solution to not write about it until it can at least be tested? Why does Pogue, or for that matter, any reviewer, have to beat the release date so badly on such an obscure product? So nobody knows about a product when it's actually released, that's not such a bad thing for everyone, except maybe for the company in question if they have predatory intent.

I think it's important to wait and not rush. I'm happy to let the early adopters try stuff out first for a few months.

It's about the sales (4, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 7 years ago | (#20973947)

It would be ideal for them to wait, but that won't sell any magazines if their competitors are covering tech. before it comes out. Especially tech. heavy magazines expected to be on the bleeding edge.

Re:It's about the sales (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20973999)

I don't think it would matter for the NYT in particular, they only happen to cover some tech stuff. Pogue's advantage is mainly that he can make the technology relatable to a lot more people, not that he can scoop others or be more tech-y than a dedicated tech rag. It wouldn't matter if they got "scooped" by a tech-only rag, I'm certain that the NYT has a different demographic to cater to. Heck, even Apple gives him some pre-release products for him to play with, I'd consider any company unwilling to give Pogue an advance trial of actual products and services to be highly suspect to the point as to not even be worth covering.

Consumer Reports only reports on buyable stuff (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#20974071)

Consumer Reports only reports on products they can buy at retail. They barely even talk to manufacturers. And not only do they make money, they're one of the very few magazines on the web people actually pay for.

Re:Consumer Reports only reports on buyable stuff (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20974353)

Consumer Reports only reports on products they can buy at retail. They barely even talk to manufacturers.

Consumer Reports only reviews products CU can purchase anonymously.

That becomes a problem when you are considering custom installations, bundled products and services of every sort.

Re:Consumer Reports only reports on buyable stuff (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#20974945)

That becomes a problem when you are considering custom installations, bundled products and services of every sort.

Not really. They use secret buyers for that.

Re:Consumer Reports only reports on buyable stuff (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#20975877)

Do the reviews still use bizarre criteria?

Re:Consumer Reports only reports on buyable stuff (4, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 7 years ago | (#20976165)

Yes they do. I canceled my subscription long ago when I got sick of their reviews of computers. They actually gave a higher score to a dell machine that had trial software, because it had trial software (crapware). And the buying guide had an incredible amount of grammatical, spelling and just plain strange errors. It repeated the same paragraph several times in a chapter. It only didn't fit in any of the spots. If I know they don't know what they are talkng about in my area of expertise, I can't trust them to tell me about anything I know less about.

Re:Ouch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974077)

Why rush you asked. It may be because we place such emphasis on being first and not much on being responsible.

Re:Ouch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974109)

He was given incorrect pricing information, not "reviewing" a non-existent product.

Had you read the article, you would know this.

Bogusness?? It's BOGOSITY! (1)

harmlessdrudge (718066) | about 7 years ago | (#20974211)

nothing to see here

Re:Ouch. (1)

Locutus (9039) | about 7 years ago | (#20974259)

it looks like the problem was that the telecomm give him bogus pricing data for VOIP phone rates. VOIP isn't really a new technology so how much are you going to question/test the software to prove it's worth? After all, as Pogue said, the main selling point of the product was the VOIP calling prices.

If anything, any company that puts out incorrect pricing data on pre-released reviewing materials should be fined and the reviewers should blast them for it and be immune to slander charges. THAT will stop these attempts to use marketing lies to build momentum for bad products. IMO.

LoB

Re:Ouch. (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 years ago | (#20974359)

No, Pogue and his publication should sue the company for fraud. That would stop crap like this.

Re:Ouch. (1)

KZigurs (638781) | about 7 years ago | (#20975023)

uh.

why 99% of us are on slashdot?

Re:Ouch. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 years ago | (#20975131)

I think it's important to wait and not rush. I'm happy to let the early adopters try stuff out first for a few months.

This story was for the early adopter.

Re:Ouch. (1)

pogueNYT (879773) | about 7 years ago | (#20976771)

Well, IF all the publications agreed to this simultaneously ("no prerelease reviews!"--"we all buy retail anonymously!")--then yes, it would be a wonderful world.

But there is one counterargument-- a value in letting the public know in advance whether a product's any good.

* If the product is bad, an early review warns people away from it. It takes *time* to do a review--and if it didn't appear until a couple weeks after the product reached retail, a lot of people would buy the product unknowingly. (Who, exactly, waits until Consumer Reports's incisive review of a laptop or digital camera comes out?)

* If a product is good, an advance review lets readers plan accordingly. They know something better is coming out soon, and they can avoid buying whatever's on the market right now.

I don't actually review prerelease products often at all, but... you know.

--David Pogue

Re:Ouch. (1)

jlgolson (19847) | about 7 years ago | (#20977573)

* If a product is good, an advance review lets readers plan accordingly. They know something better is coming out soon, and they can avoid buying whatever's on the market right now. Isn't something better ALWAYS coming out?

Re:Ouch. (1)

LooTze (988596) | about 7 years ago | (#20978261)

But if the prerelease product has been cherry-picked and tested specially for the review, its quality might be much better than a store-bought average and therefore make the review very misleading.

No no no no no (3, Informative)

styryx (952942) | about 7 years ago | (#20973905)

"Pogue and we..."

Just no.

Re:No no no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20973927)

Bad grammar is treated too lightly in this day and age. We should seek the death sentence.

Re:No no no no no (1)

bfields (66644) | about 7 years ago | (#20974143)

It's unconventional ("we and pogue" would be more idiomatic), but I don't think it's ungrammatical; note that this is a subject, not an object (hence "we", not "us"). Am I missing something?

Re:No no no no no (4, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#20974383)

It's unconventional ("we and pogue" would be more idiomatic), but I don't think it's ungrammatical; note that this is a subject, not an object (hence "we", not "us"). Am I missing something?
It's grammatically correct, but it's very awkward. The grouping of the collective "we" on an equal footing with "Pogue" strains the mental picture of "we". This grouping, intimating a close association, is such that Pogue would naturally be assumed to be part of the "we" in question, so puzzlement ensues when he is not. It's just bad writing. Being an active part of the conversation in question, Pogue should have been included in the collective "we". Alternately, Valleywag could have used a collective pronoun for itself in a subordinate clause to show the separation. Any of the following would have been better:

"We all wish..."
"Both Pogue and we at Valleywag wish..."
"Pogue wishes (as do we at Valleywag) that..."

It also doesn't help that the /. blurb says "Jordan Golson writes" followed by nothing but a quote lifted from the article, which Jordan Golson certainly did not write, followed by some opinion from CmdrTaco. This sets up a situation where the identity of the "we" in question is thoroughly obfuscated. The original line was marginally acceptable, in a casual online writing sort of way, but it thoroughly lost its footing when it achieved four degrees of separation from the original conversation with Mr. Pogue.

Re:No no no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974493)

You have made my day happier, and I have taken the time (after several years of having a Slashdot account, and being a moderately irregular reader) of learning how to add a friend, and adding you as my first.

Re:No no no no no (1)

causality (777677) | about 7 years ago | (#20975929)

The whole friend/foe list thing is pretty stupid and just makes people feel better about themselves by either "supporting" or expressing displeasure (both without actually doing or changing anything) with someone that they decide they like or don't like. It's just mental masturbation, a way someone can feel important or like they are "making a statement" without having to put one shred of effort into anything. I'm glad I disabled this silliness in my message settings, so you can add or remove me from whatever list you like and I will never know about it.

Re:No no no no no (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#20976311)

"We, along with Pogue, wish that..."

Who made you the grammar expert? (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | about 7 years ago | (#20976465)

It's grammatically correct, but it's very awkward. The grouping of the collective "we" on an equal footing with "Pogue" strains the mental picture of "we". This grouping, intimating a close association, is such that Pogue would naturally be assumed to be part of the "we" in question, so puzzlement ensues when he is not.
  1. On what basis do you claim it's "grammatically correct"? You don't make an argument, and I suspect you know jack about grammar. (Do you happen to have at the very least a B.A. in Linguistics, or equivalent experience?)
  2. We is not a collective, under standard grammatical terminology, which usualy uses the term to refer to singular nouns that denote groups. We just a plural.
  3. Why would we and Pogue be coordinated within a noun phrase, instead of using we in a way that includes, um, us and Pogue? (Note how I just had to coordinate us and Pogue! Could I have said just us there?)

    Why, because they're different discourse referents, which have been introduced into the text separately; but more importantly, because the text opposes Pogue to us (where "us" is the author of the text and the readers it is addressed to). That's the whole point of the piece--the claim that there is a conflict between Pogue's interests and ours.

  4. "Strains the mental picture"? WTH are you talking about?

Re:No no no no no (2, Funny)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | about 7 years ago | (#20976839)

This is THE most thorough dissection I have ever seen of the grammatical correctness of a /. post.
Ever.

Myself and we at /. are impressed.

Re:No no no no no (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | about 7 years ago | (#20976901)

This is THE most thorough dissection I have ever seen of the grammatical correctness of a /. post.

Are you in a position to be able to tell?

Re:No no no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20977555)

You've clearly got a superiority complex about grammar, but why? If you had even basic skills in English, you would realise that you are questioning flydpnkrtn's ability to judge how thorough the dissection was, which makes no sense. What I suspect you meant to do was question his ability to judge how correct the dissection was, but your poor language skills caused you to screw it up and write something nonsensical.

Now less of the insulting behaviour, lest ye be judged to the same standard.

Re:No no no no no (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | about 7 years ago | (#20978341)

You've clearly got a superiority complex about grammar, but why?

Because I studied it for about 8 years, 5 of which were with some of the most reknowned linguists in the USA?

If you had even basic skills in English, [...]

You mister righto, me no speako goodo englisho. Me henceofortho shutupo mine moutho.

Re:No no no no no (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 7 years ago | (#20974439)

It's unconventional ("we and pogue" would be more idiomatic), but I don't think it's ungrammatical; note that this is a subject, not an object (hence "we", not "us"). Am I missing something?
Why would you even assume that styryx was objecting to the grammar?

Re:No no no no no (1)

bfields (66644) | about 7 years ago | (#20974675)

Why would you even assume that styryx was objecting to the grammar?

Oh, probably just a particularly dumb case of guilt by association--I probably accepted the first AC's misreading of the comment.

Yes, you're missing something. (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | about 7 years ago | (#20976561)

It's unconventional ("we and pogue" would be more idiomatic), but I don't think it's ungrammatical; note that this is a subject, not an object (hence "we", not "us"). Am I missing something?

Yes, you're missing something. You're not testing your hypothesis against data from actual usage.

Neither have I, but I'm going to guess:

  1. There will be a preference for the order that places the pronoun second, but plenty of examples of either order.
  2. Coordinated object pronouns (like in Pogue and us) will be far more frequent in subjects than coordinated subject pronouns (Pogue and we). This probably means that whatever folk theory you have about when to use subject pronouns and when to use object pronouns is false.
  3. Pogue and we, like that, with a subject pronoun, is hypercorrection. It's a construction that exists only because some people, who have fundamental misunderstandings about grammar, formulate rules that are clearly contradicted by the actual usage data, and then bully others into writing according to those rules.

Re:No no no no no (1)

Merk (25521) | about 7 years ago | (#20974473)

Why not? Would you prefer "Pogue and us wish the industry standard would change" "Us and Pogue wish the industry would change"? "We and Pogue" would probably be the more common construction, but "Pogue and we" is grammatically correct too.

Re:No no no no no (1)

Hucko (998827) | about 7 years ago | (#20977395)

"Pogue and those of us at ...". Also, "We, along with Pogue, ...", "Pogue and $Company's employees ..." amongst others. The PR company is trying too hard to personable.

Re:No no no no no (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 years ago | (#20974583)

Yeah, I'm not a prescriptivist, but I still balked at that.

Re:No no no no no (1)

LarryWake (855436) | about 7 years ago | (#20974821)

And while we're nitpicking: "Advanced" != "Advance". Although it was a review of an advanced gadget, the point was that the details were provided in advance, and were bogus.

Oh, and what the heck: "formally" != "formerly"; "for all intensive purposes" is not a phrase, and listen up Dan Piraro: Quakers are not "passivists."

(...and Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not "every man for himself, and the London Underground is not a political movement...)

Re:No no no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20975365)

You don't think some reasons for using a product can be more intensive (of labor, processing power, etc) than others?

Indeed, "for all intents and purposes" is nearly synonymous with "for all intensive purposes", in the sense that "all purposes" encompass "intensive purposes", and a product fit for "intensive purposes" ought to be fit for non-intensive purposes as well. Obviously, this synonymy only works in contexts where purposes can be intensive.

Re:No no no no no (1)

LarryWake (855436) | about 7 years ago | (#20977509)

OK, so literally speaking, "for all intensive purposes" is actually a phrase. Got me there. However, it does not mean the same thing as the commonly-used phrase "for all intents and purposes." To say that the latter phrase is nearly synonymous to the former is a serious abuse of the concept of "nearly synonymous." To wit, "Jack Bauer found a 9mm pistol be useful as a debate ender for all intensive purposes" does not mean it's the proper tool for all or even most colloquy.

Well Done, I say! (5, Insightful)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 7 years ago | (#20973925)

I think it was awfully big of Pogue to openly admit the prices were wrong (despite it not being his fault that the company essentially lied to him), and address the issue, rather than submitting a correction that would get filed on the back page.


He could have also put his hands in his pockets and whistled while rocking back and forth, and hoped no one noticed or said anything. It's rare to see journalists point out when they're wrong (I'm glaring at you, Dvorak!), without being at knife point.

He didn't do anything special. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974147)

I think it was awfully big of Pogue to openly admit the prices were wrong (despite it not being his fault that the company essentially lied to him), and address the issue, rather than submitting a correction that would get filed on the back page.

Umm, dude, by admitting his mistake, he hasn't done anything special. He's just done what he should have done. So I don't see the need for praise.

Just because many of his journalist colleagues fail to admit their misreporting, it doesn't mean that he's special. What it means is that he's doing his job somewhat properly, while the others are failing miserably. He's didn't do anything extraordinary. The standards are just so low that by admitting his mistake, he appears better than virtually all other journalists.

Re:He didn't do anything special. (2, Interesting)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | about 7 years ago | (#20974257)

"Umm, dude, by admitting his mistake, he hasn't done anything special"

Actually, in our modern world, that is something special. What you should have done and what is commonly done are rarely equal and so when someone embraces their responsibility and admits to being wrong they should be praised in order that more people realize that truth is what we want, not looking infallible.

Re:He didn't do anything special. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | about 7 years ago | (#20975607)

There's something fundamentally sick about a society that thinks there's something wrong with pointing out where somebody did something right. Simply brushing things aside as "that's what was expected" while continuing to flagellate those who do wrong is a half-assed way to approach things.

Re:He didn't do anything special. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20977619)

There's something fundamentally sick about a society that thinks there's something wrong with pointing out where somebody did something right.

No, there's something fundamentally sick about a society when doing your job inadequately and then admitting it when somebody points it out to everybody is considered praiseworthy.

Re:He didn't do anything special. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | about 7 years ago | (#20978079)

The expectation of perfection is an element that needs to be eliminated

Re:He didn't do anything special. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20978123)

The false dichotomy between incompetence and perfection is an element that needs to be eliminated. Nobody is expecting perfection here.

Re:Well Done, I say! (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 7 years ago | (#20975667)

I think it was awfully big of Pogue to openly admit the prices were wrong (despite it not being his fault that the company essentially lied to him), and address the issue, rather than submitting a correction that would get filed on the back page.

He could have also put his hands in his pockets and whistled while rocking back and forth, and hoped no one noticed or said anything.
The problem with that approach is that, as he wrote in his column, everybody did notice -- he was getting a barrage of emails and other sites had picked up the discrepancies and were starting to take him to task. With that in mind, his column correcting the misinformation was an attempt to save face.
 

Reader beware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20973951)

if a product sells 100,000 units, it only takes a few dozen bloggers to encounter problems for the truth to come out

And the corollary: It only takes a few anecdotes to tarnish a generally reliable product.

Read with caution (5, Insightful)

MasterVidBoi (267096) | about 7 years ago | (#20973969)

if a product sells 100,000 units, it only takes a few dozen bloggers to encounter problems for the truth to come out

And the corollary: It only takes a few anecdotes to tarnish a generally reliable product.

Re:Read with caution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974127)

Wow, two posts saying the same thing in a row! My head is spinning.

Re:Read with caution (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#20974133)

Precisely. I'm increasingly finding that I cannot rely on internet reviews. Few products are without some problems, and fewer still ship thousands (or tens of thousands) of units without a lemon or two.
 
But on the 'net, it is those few who seem to drive the reputation of a product. (Bloggers are the worst of the lot - they tend to repeat each other and link in a snarled web, thus making the problem(s) appear even more widespread than they actually are.)

Re:Read with caution (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 7 years ago | (#20975169)

The problem I have is that it's all hindsight. I find the chorus of complaints about a product when I go onto a support forum and find out the my issue (here's a short list of my most recent issues: poor interoperability between Skype and Logitech QuickCams, resulting in hung video... this one is a favorite, because my $90 QuickCam was advertised and sold by Skype, and in turn boasts of Skype compatibility on its packaging; the response from both vendors is torpid - shoddy software for the Nintendo Wii USB Wi-Fi Adaptor - flaky behavior on a Linksys Wi-Fi router in WPA2-PSK mode - poor reception/lack of precision for WiiMote on Wii - wonky USB 2.0 support on a Dell laptop) has been the topic of a chorus of unanswered complaints to technical support, often tagged as "known issues" that go for over a year with no solutions.

The thing is, where is the place I can go to ahead of time and identify these problems before they occur? So often, these issues involve software interoperability, which is a difficult thing to check for in advance. It doesn't seem like the market is really holding companies accountable for their screw ups.

Re:Read with caution (1)

gilroy (155262) | about 7 years ago | (#20978093)

Blockquoth the poster:

The thing is, where is the place I can go to ahead of time and identify these problems before they occur?

Um, couldn't you search on the product before you buy? I tend to do that with anything costing more than $10 or so. Google (or other search engine) for product name + "complaint" or + "failure" or whatever. You generally turn up some indicators, if there's a widespread problem.

Re:Read with caution (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 7 years ago | (#20978175)

You'll get hits on everything. What's lacking is generally solid comparative reviews and evaluations of problems. Trust me, I've tried to screen out ahead of time: you end up only finding the dirt when you search for specific things, like "Skype Logitech compatibility problems", rather than "Logitech quickcam failure."

Re:Read with caution (3, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | about 7 years ago | (#20976159)

It's the Apple paradox.

Their machines are built better, and last longer. But whenever they have a problem that affects a small fraction of a percent of their customers, there's suddenly a huge controversy.

Ask any IT manager, and they'll be able to identify a certain series of machines that were extremely prone to failure (motherboards and power supplies being the usual culprits). You NEVER hear about this sort of thing in the PC world, even though it happens all the time. Maybe it's just because Dell and HP have rather diverse product lines, but anyone who's managed large numbers of machines knows that you occasionally get a bad batch. (The trend also usually doesn't become apparent until at least a year in, unless you've got a truly dismal series of machines).

That's not to say that Apple hasn't done this -- many of the original colored iMacs had a tendency to fail after 3 or 4 years, and weren't worth repairing. On the flipside, their more expensive machines tend to keep chugging right on to the end of their lifecycle (which is typically a lot longer than for PCs -- plenty of 450mhz G4s from 1999 are still being used today for everyday tasks. However, you rarely see a Pentium II sitting on someone's desk anymore)

Re:Read with caution (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | about 7 years ago | (#20976233)

My HP Brio Pentium II with 233 mhz (passive cooling!) and now with 384mb ram (You know how computers "counted" ram when booting, it takes ages with 384mb ram) works just perfect. And faster then most machines I see some people using that should be 10 times faster...

Re:Read with caution (1)

Fizzl (209397) | about 7 years ago | (#20975363)

Leave Vista alone!

Early adopters get what they deserve ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20973971)

... as does anyone who blindly believes anything they read. Personally, my advice is to wait as long as possible before buying anything. Almost everything I've ever rushed out to buy, in the end turned out to be either overpriced or overhyped. In truth, I'd be wealthy and have more room if it wasn't for all the lame crap I've bought over the years.

Re:Early adopters get what they deserve ... (2, Interesting)

roguetrick (1147853) | about 7 years ago | (#20974197)

Thats why I'm still riding my horse, I knew all these cars would bite you in the ass some day.

Because yours was a hand-picked tech sample (2, Funny)

DingerX (847589) | about 7 years ago | (#20974363)

Most production horses bite you in the ass as a matter of routine.

Re:Because yours was a hand-picked tech sample (1)

jsiren (886858) | about 7 years ago | (#20975753)

Not if you read the instructions:

Operator's Manual
I - Warnings
1) Do not stand directly behind the horse. The horse may discharge energy or material without warning.
2) Do not stand directly in front of the horse. Consequent to the 180-degree WideField side vision, the horse may not be able to detect objects in line and in close proximity with its head, and may therefore take defensive action, including but not limited to biting.

not a "gadget" review (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about 7 years ago | (#20974001)

The "gadget" is an IP-phone. The technical details are not novel. What was was the prices given. That's something that the company can change at any time. It's not like he was given a styrofoam mockup and gushed about its high quality, he cited prices given a week in advance of the launch. As he says, why on earth would they lie about that? It just makes them look sleazy and/or incompetent. So they suckered Pogue, but shot themselves in the foot.

Re:not a "gadget" review (3, Informative)

_|()|\| (159991) | about 7 years ago | (#20974085)

Exactly. I actually RTFA (both of Pogue's and both of Valleywag's), and I kept looking for the stinging indictment of Pogue as a reviewer who "writes whatever you tell him to." Advance reviews are bogus because of golden samples and lavish press junkets. They are not bogus because the manufacturer might change the pricing at the last minute.

Re:not a "gadget" review (3, Informative)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20974237)

I completely concur. He quoted prices that were correct when he wrote them and were changed while (or after) the issue was in press. I don't see where he did anything inappropriate at all.

Preordering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974073)

Personally I think this is why blogs are great- if a product sells 100,000 units, it only takes a few dozen bloggers to encounter problems for the truth to come out. Of course, that doesn't help you if you want to pre-order.
Because, as we all know, ordering products before they are available and have been tested properly, is generally speaking a really good idea.

Ridiculous (5, Interesting)

Procasinator (1173621) | about 7 years ago | (#20974081)

He asked a company for it's pricing and he was supplied with the wrong pricing. For what reason would the prices be wrong? A complete non-story, Pogue did nothing wrong. Releasing prices to the general public is a good thing, not something that should be discouraged. People want to know the price of products like PS3, iPhone and charges of using features of it before they are released, even if only a guideline.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20974433)

He asked a company for it's pricing and he was supplied with the wrong pricing. [...] A complete non-story, Pogue did nothing wrong.
I agree that Pogue did nothing wrong - the company made a clear statement about their pricing that was far from the truth. But this is still a big story.

It seems that they either lied to Pogue, or they're shockingly weak at pricing - pretty key when your service's main purpose for being is the pricing of the service.

It sounds like they need both a change in senior management and a change of name like yesterday... because customers and investors don't like this kind of funny business.

Oh really? (5, Funny)

dgun (1056422) | about 7 years ago | (#20974129)

David Pogue writes whatever you tell him to

I'll keep that in mind. The next time I piss my wife off, I'll have him write an apology.

You can't top an apology written in the NYT. Unless I can get some putz at the Wall Street Journal...

Re:Oh really? (1)

coolGuyZak (844482) | about 7 years ago | (#20977023)

You can't top an apology written in the NYT. Unless I can get some putz at the Wall Street Journal...

I'm not so sure. The WSJ was recently snagged by our boy Rupert Murdoch, owner of FOX news.

So where's the "email back and forth"? (2, Insightful)

skoda (211470) | about 7 years ago | (#20974185)

Pogue wrote an article with bogus info, then printed a retraction. ValleyWag wrote that Pogue got duped. And then ValleyWag wrote a searing article noting -- get this -- high level electronics reviewers have better access to help and hardware than the rest of us! Who knew? And sometimes their review hardware is cherry picked for advance features! Investigative journalism at its best.

I can only assume the real interesting meat is in the unseen "back and forth" emails. Pity we can't read those. We might learn something interesting.

The solution (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 7 years ago | (#20974291)

to this is to maintain a "shitlist" of companies that have been known to use deceptive marketing practices, or other abuses such as Sony's rootkit, and make this list easily accessible (a well-known Web site) to anyone who is making a purchasing decision. At the very least, it could make the difference between a pre-order of an unreleased product versus waiting a couple of months to let someone else be the guinea pig -- that shiny new object isn't so shiny anymore if you know it might be a lemon. The idea isn't necessarily that you would never want to do business with a company on the list (although that's certainly possible), just that you would know that you were taking a risk and would take measures to minimize it, i.e. by not pre-ordering a product that has yet to be released or otherwise trusting the word of that company to be correct.

This list should have a reasonable minimum amount of time before any company can be removed (no matter how quickly they improve) and would of course require that the deception/abuse be thoroughly documented, preferably from multiple sources (the standard for this should be high to avoid having the list abused).

Just as government is supposed to fear its people and not the other way around, I believe that companies should fear losing customers instead of customers being in fear of getting a bad deal.

Re:The solution (1)

Daychilde (744181) | about 7 years ago | (#20974545)

This sounds like a fantastic idea! In fact, there should be some organization to it, otherwise - how would the information be spread? And we should keep the name simple and obvious... so... what would we be trying to accomplish? Well... I suppose we want businesses to be better, right? So... we could call it the Better Business Organization! But wait, I have an even BETTER idea, because alliteration would just MAKE it.

(note: not sarcasm; intended to be a light-hearted pointing out of the BBB :) )

Re:The solution (1)

Alsee (515537) | about 7 years ago | (#20974715)

The solution to this is to maintain a "shitlist" of companies that have been known to use deceptive marketing practices, or other abuses

Cool... I found someone already maintaining a pretty good alphabetical list. [nasdaq.com]

-

Re:The solution (1)

Alsee (515537) | about 7 years ago | (#20974871)

Oh, and as a side note, it appears that they are considering on removing The SCO Group [techrockies.com] from that list.

If I may be so bold as to make a prediction, I predict that one year from today SCO will no longer be engaging in any deceptive marketing practices or any other abuses. Of any sort. At all. Ever again.

-

Re:The solution (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 7 years ago | (#20975217)

to this is to maintain a "shitlist" of companies that have been known to use deceptive marketing practices, or other abuses such as Sony's rootkit,

I started doing this.

Unfortunately, following it religiously would have resulted in having to go back to using abacuses.

Seriously:

Dell: Didn't accept there was a battery problem with their laptops for months.
Sony: Make spare parts deliberately difficult to obtain. (You ever tried buying a genuine Sony battery a few months after one of their laptops gets discontinued?)
Apple: Have had faults with their laptops which they won't even admit exist.
Fujitsu: Had the most almighty QA cockup with their hard drives, refused to even acknowledge there was a problem in the face of overwhelming evidence.
IBM: Sold computer equipment to the Nazis, despite there being significant evidence of what it was being used for. At the time, no other company had the kind of technology IBM did so the rationale "we may as well, if we don't someone else will" did not apply.

Re:The solution (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20975665)

Anyone operating such a site would be sued out of existence, unless they had phenomenal legal resources at their command. A couple dozen libel suits would take the starch out of any effort ... doesn't much matter if there's any merit to them. Frivolous lawsuits still require money for a defense.

No Cruise For Pogue! (2, Insightful)

meehawl (73285) | about 7 years ago | (#20974303)

Maybe the reason Pogue was so quick to retract is that he was unlikely to get any paid cruises or book deals [valleywag.com] from a 3rd-tier discount telephone operator. Unlike the moolah stemming from, for instance, a fellatrice-like relationship with Apple. Mossberg or Levy wouldn't have made that mistake - they're old enough to work the Apple line almost exclusively.

Re:No Cruise For Pogue! (1)

martinX (672498) | about 7 years ago | (#20976785)

Although I disagree with what you have written, I appreciate learning a new word. Thankyou.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fellatrice [wiktionary.org]

fellatrice
English
Noun
fellatrice (plural fellatrices)
(rare) A woman who performs fellatio; a fellatrix.

Consumers can't be fooled about prices (3, Insightful)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 7 years ago | (#20974329)

After all, they are the ones who have to buy the thing. Therefore, ultimately, this particular incident is a complete non-issue. Dishonest advance information can possibly fool somebody into buying something that doesn't do what they think it does, but it can't fool anybody into paying a fake price, because guess who's signing the cheque? So, although people could be misled for a little while, ultimately nobody will ever be hurt by incident like this one (though it may reveal a larger communication problem).

Re:Consumers can't be fooled about prices (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 years ago | (#20975103)

Advertising a fake low price is a form of bait and switch. My take is that if someone goes through the trouble of ordering something, there's a good chance they won't stop just because the price is a bit higher than they expected. The extra cost of buying from the dishonest merchant is deliberately less than going through the price searching process again. Glancing at the story, I see that prices were up to four times what were claimed. More importantly, this is pricing information that the customer would have to dig to find and would only show up for real on the first bill. So yes, the customer can be fooled about pricing. In summary, I think this may indeed have been deliberate and whether or not it is, it certainly is a black mark for this company, Cubic.

Re:Consumers can't be fooled about prices (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 7 years ago | (#20975203)

Considering that the article says that readers immediately complained in high numbers to Pogue immediately after the website went live, it appears that the real prices where there for everyone to see before pulling the trigger, so I am still not convinced that we should really be worried about prices being misreported by third parties.

Re:Consumers can't be fooled about prices (1)

causality (777677) | about 7 years ago | (#20975817)

Advertising a fake low price is a form of bait and switch. My take is that if someone goes through the trouble of ordering something, there's a good chance they won't stop just because the price is a bit higher than they expected. The extra cost of buying from the dishonest merchant is deliberately less than going through the price searching process again.

The only realistic solution to this is to allow princinple to be a major influence in our buying decisions. Then, the question of whether you sustain an extra cost of buying from a dishonest merchant is replaced by a willingness to sustain 5x that extra cost if it means that you know you are not subsidizing people who do not do business in good faith. It really boils down to whether knowing that you are not part of the problem (by rewarding this behavior) is more important to you than a little money. If this were more widespread, there would be little incentive to use bait-and-switch tactics like this, but alas most people only enjoy their "principles" when they don't come with a price tag.

My experience with Byte (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 7 years ago | (#20974371)

Back in the late 80's my father and I wrote a BASIC interpreter for the PC, and we sent off a review copy to Byte magazine along with a brochure. It appeared in their "What's New International" column, the text was lifted straight out of our brochure.

Re:My experience with Byte (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 7 years ago | (#20975583)

And?
 
They made an editorial decision not to review it, for whatever reason.
 
They decided that it was still worth mentioning as a new product, i.e. some of their readers might be interested in it. Since you had provided them with the relevant information in your brochure they gave you some free advertising....
 
I don't see a problem, really.
 
Worth mentioning != worthwhile to spend a lot of time on a full-fledged review.

I need a review! (1)

PatJensen (170806) | about 7 years ago | (#20974523)

I wish I had read a review before I purchased my Apple Airport Extreme router. This is the most problematic, bug-ridden router I've used - and I've used a ton of routers. The software is so bad, that Apple pulled older firmware so people couldn't downgrade.

Re:I need a review! (1)

jmauro (32523) | about 7 years ago | (#20975173)

Huh. I've not had a lick of trouble with it, unlike the Netgear I had before it that would crap out when I tried to open too many web pages at once.

Re:I need a review! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20975491)

Which Airport Extreme? The old-style flying saucer, or the new square one?

... my dad was right. (2, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | about 7 years ago | (#20974525)

...it pays to wait. The technology industry is built around a culture of false urgency, and reviewers like Pogue - along with gadget-a-second blogs like Engadget and Gizmodo - just fuel the fire. It takes days or weeks to discover a new gadgets true strengths and weaknesses, and all that gets glossed over in the quest to be the first to write something meaningful.

It's been going on for decades, though - I can vividly remember kids in the early 1980s bringing super-slim Sony Walkmans to school. They were several hundreds of dollars a pop. My dad simply put his foot down and uttered words of infinite wisdom: "Just wait a year." So I did. In the end, I purchased an Aiwa clone for a fraction of the cost... and my dad's eyes sparkled. His voice still echoes in the back of my head every time I wander lustfully through Best Buy, deftly avoiding the enormous plasma TVs and zillion dollar smartphones: 99% of the stuff we lust after is unnecessary. Don't let Pogue, Mossberg, Lam or The Great Steve try to tell you otherwise. ;)

Re:... my dad was right. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 7 years ago | (#20974749)

I was going to post an article with the same sentiment. I couldn't agree more though. We live in an age where people want instant gratification, and over-estimate what each product will bring us.

I tend to try to get bargains on everything. It doesn't work all the time with everything you want, but it does more often than not. I've only bought one cell phone new (my first one), the other two I've bought used on Ebay for 1/5th of the original price. I think your dads advice applies to any market, not just the technology market. Anyone that wants something brand new NOW is going to pay through the nose to get it. Anyone willing to wait for the big rush to die down and buy something used or second generation is going to get the same or better experience at a much smaller price. It's funny, but patience and restraint pays off a lot.

It's 'bogosity', not 'bogusness' (1)

diesel66 (254283) | about 7 years ago | (#20974631)

EOM

Re:It's 'bogosity', not 'bogusness' (1)

causality (777677) | about 7 years ago | (#20975869)

Were you expecting them to get that right? What do you think they are, EDITORS or something?

Not just gadgets, but games as well (1)

chill (34294) | about 7 years ago | (#20974697)

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is just one example. "Best of E3 - 2006" "Best Online Multiplayer - 2006" Release date: October 2007. WTF? How do you get "Best Online Multiplayer" almost a full YEAR before you release?

Bioware's Mass Effect is another. Award after award for a game that wouldn't ship for another year.

Game magazines suck. They are sleazy, lying whores. IGN, GameSpy, GameSpot -- I mean you.

They're just gossiping (1)

tyroneking (258793) | about 7 years ago | (#20974823)

"A reporter isn't a superhuman essayist researcher, they are your surrogate, your proxy. When there is a fire on your street at two in the morning, and you can't be bothered to go out in the rain, a reporter goes along in your place, and tells you what's going on, but he only does what you'd do: gossips with the neighbours; gets a word or two from whichever member of the emergency services happens to be walking past; and passes that on." ... from an interesting article at http://www.badscience.net/?p=550 [badscience.net]

These review guys are just journalists who claim to write reviews but are really just gossiping and passing on information they've been fed by manufacturers. They do the same with politics and science and anything else really - most of them should be ignored.

There was an interesting article about Mossman in the New Yorker a few months back - and indeed the manufacturers faun all over him like flies on s*** - he's got nothing to say except to dullard PHBs and neither has Pogue (whose podcasts are whiney c*** also).

Never Pre-Order. (2, Insightful)

rssrss (686344) | about 7 years ago | (#20974921)

"Of course, that doesn't help you if you want to pre-order."

Never pre-order.

Don't buy a pig in a poke.

Remember the old computer industry maxim: "Pioneers get arrows in their backs; Settlers reap the harvests."

Re:Never Pre-Order. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20976981)

> Remember the old computer industry maxim: "Pioneers get arrows in their backs; Settlers reap the harvests."

My boss once told me the early bird catches the worm.

I was torn between the technically accurate "Yeah, because the remote exploits haven't been patched yet" and the cliche "Yeah, but the second mouse gets the cheese".

Never upgrade a working system.

It never seems to happen (1)

btempleton (149110) | about 7 years ago | (#20975017)

But an obvious answer is for the companies to write letters to the sort of press whom they want reviews in, and say, "Go buy our product anywhere. Save the receipt and submit it to us. We'll reimburse you no matter what your review says."

The magazines (and blogs) just have to start declaring this is their policy. And insisting on it, returning pre-sent merchandise unopened. Telling vendors if they want to encourage a review, this is the only way to do it. (And policing so that only the amount on the bill is refunded.)

This would be a great boon to consumer reports, of course, which could now get products for free and still be independent. They would need to continue to choose what they review without regard to this, of course, paying for the ones that don't do the refund, but I am sure that the companies that would refund Road and Track (if it refunded like this) would do it for CR.

Now of course this does not allow review before release. So the right system is to take a look at pre-release products, but also buy one after release and get a refund, to compare the quality. And this is a bit harder, going out and shopping and filing paperwork is more work than just getting a shiny new box by fedex. But it's a lot better.

"dontpreorderthenyouearlyadopterponce"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20975713)

Who tagged this story "dontpreorderthenyouearlyadopterponce"? Does the fact that it showed up mean many people did?

Tinyurl? (1)

mikeage (119105) | about 7 years ago | (#20975981)

The best part:

At the end of Pogue's retraction/correction article [nytimes.com] he has the following text:

* Last week's Times column can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/3aew5y [tinyurl.com]

Tinyurl? Is this new? Did I miss some major strategic partnership announcement?

Credibility and Content (1)

Whiteox (919863) | about 7 years ago | (#20977857)

It's all a matter of credibility. Some of these writers (including Mr D. Pogue), write for the masses who are regularly duped with misinformation or unwarranted bias towards one product or another.
Most of these writers seem to 'tow the line' and I don't think any change in process is going to make any worthwhile difference.
Irritatingly, Pogue et. al. are constantly pushed by their publishers as 'must read' category, which almost all the time disappoints by lack of product/concept information, poor links (if any) and no follow-up.
Although I love reading about IT (and other things that matter), I've created a sub-conscious ignore list based of '10 strikes and you're out' methodology.
They've lost their credibility and objectivity for my liking.
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