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Thread: Magazine reviews and monkeys...

  1. #1
    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Magazine reviews and monkeys...

    I've noticed a certain, how can I put it, scepticism with regard to certain magazines' reviews on these fora (comments upon What Hi-Fi in the A/V forum leap to mind ), and I'm wondering how some people get to review stuff AND GET PAID for it, when they're clearly in desperate need of clue...or are receiving *ahem* guidance when reviewing.

    Example; I said "Yes" at the wrong moment in a phone call, and as a consequence receive a free magazine dedicated to mobile computing which might share a similarity in title with the previously mentioned audiophile rag. October's issue features a group review of "Ultraportable laptops". Four machines; a little skimpy, but we'll let that pass. What struck me was that only one of these machines weighed in at less than 2kg; the others, two weighed in at 2.5kg and one at 2.2kg. Does this sound ultraportable to anyone here? Naturally, the one that weighed in at 1.3kg won (a nice-ish but pricey Stinkpad); but all three other manufacturers produce machines of similar or lesser dimensions (or in the case of one, similar or lesser latitudes ) at similar or lesser cost.

    Now I've seen comments suggesting editorial bias with regard to the mag mentioned above, but it seems to me there's a broader problem here. The mag I receive is primarily targetted at non-technical users, as I suspect WHF is. I suppose what I'm wondering is how many other cases of seemingly biased "comparisons" have others seen and what do people think should be done about it? What strikes me is that non-technical people buying computers rely upon reviews in mags like this, and when they discover that they've been misled (as I've seen happen) it doesn't just reflect poorly on the mags that they relied on. It leads them to make general assumptions about techies as a whole - either that we don't know what we're doing or are generally dishonest. Do techies have a responsibility to counter this tendency? Or is it in our interest to do so?

  2. #2
    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    I've seen articles in all sorts of magazines that I know to be wrong. Two examples that leap to mind are:

    - Camcorder mag advising its readers that footage shot with a high shutter speed (e.g. 1/1000th of a second) looks jerky because the picture played back is on the screen for less time than normal.

    - Home cinema mag reckoning that Component video is a variant of RGB.

    Granted, those two pieces of bad advice don't necessarily lead the consumer to spend money incorrectly, but they're still publications that the uninitiated would have reason to trust.

    Like most magazines, hi-fi and home cinema magazines are reliant on advertising for most of their revenue. If they started saying that expensive cables are worthless, then a large proportion of their revenue will disappear just like that as advertisers take their business elsewhere. I don't think there is a solution to the problem that doesn't involve the magazines going out of business or the cover price going up by a factor of three. It's up to us as knowledgeable people to try and spread the truth any way we know how. I've made it known to most of the people in my office that I'm a technology geek, and I give willingly of my time if they come to me for advice.

    Rich :¬)

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