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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reviews and the net

A number of websites allow consumers to review products they've bought. Two of the most prominent are Amazon and Tripadvisor (reviews hotels B&B's).

If you read Tripadvisor you would be puzzled at the number of 5 star and 1 star reviews a hotel has, this can be quite scary when you are considering booking into a property. You then do a search for somewhere you've actually stayed and realise that some people are just plain daft. You think hang on I've been there that's rubbish!!

The same is true of Amazon. You see a product has a lot of 1 star reviews, you then realise that often its because the product didn't arrive (review the seller - there is a section for that) or the product lacks a feature that the user deems critical (then you shake your head thinking if it didn't have the feature WHY did you buy it? Research?).

Equally the plethora of 5 star reviews. Really? Surely there should be more 2, 3, or 4 star reviews and very often its the 3 star reviews I read. These people have complaints but they balance the pluses and negatives.

Often you read a review of a product you own and think really? Strewth I must have just got lucky.

You'll then read reviews of two competing products with reviews offering totally different assessments of the two products curiously depending on the product the reviewer bought.

For example want a walkman like DAB radio? Then your choices have been the Pure 1500 and the Robberts Sports DAB2 - look on Amazon and you'd be amazed at the diversity of opinion.

The Pure is crap I bought the Roberts - Mr A of xxxx
The Roberts is crap I bought the Pure - Mr B of yyyy

I own both (don't ask) and each has strengths and weaknesses neither is crap.

Another example of poor reviews.... I own a Roberts R9924 Radio, its a cheap FM/MW/LW one that has no presets, manual tuning using a wheel and dial but it has a cracking aerial and for £16 has a goodish sound quality. When I was in a valley in mid Wales this managed to get R4 LW. It is a great little radio for what it is. So I see someone has given this a ** review on Amazon because? "FM is being turned off on 31st March 2011 and I've fallen for Roberts Marketing departments trick. Haven't Roberts seen the adverts about digital TV."

British readers will know that the FM signal is still on there are no plans to turn it off until at least 2015 and even then don't hold your breath!

I was looking at internet radios the other day - an internet radio can connect to a wifi signal and allow you to listen to, for instance, Classic FM Sofia. Yes I know you can do this via a computer but it struck me this might be a nice travel companion.

You then look at the reviews. The Pure Evoke Flow gets some cracking professional reviews but on Amazon there are a lot of negatives. You have to trawl through the chaff to find one reviewer who has actually written a balanced commentary.

Given how poor some hotel wifi networks are I've decided that internet radios aren't quite for me yet - although in hindsite I might have been better buying one than a solely DAB radio.

But reviews? Consumer reviews are handy I guess but don't take them at face value the Great British Public isn't the sharpest tool in the box.


Anonymous said...

This is food for thought because I like streaming radio the best and send it from my desktop on the second floor to a speaker downstairs. However, yr idea of a wifi radio sounds lovely. Are they all returnable on Amazon? This one looks way cool: Logitech Squeezebox Radio Music Player with Color Screen (Red) you can even watch ball games on it....

Pete said...

I don't know if they are returnable... but Amazon are pretty good.

holdingmoments said...

I always take reviews with a pinch of salt Pete. A good guide, but that's about all really. One mans meat....etc

Tricia said...

I think we can get too caught up in reviews; after all the review is only as good as the author's capability of writing a well reasoned/balanced assessment of the product and having realistic expectations. Although I do look at them to get feel for any recurring recommendations/condemnations.