Wednesday: 04.May.2005

Finding reliable online info about computer hardware & software

How do you decide which computer hardware & software purchases to make? Especially when there are so many choices? And everyone seems to have a different opinion?

Say I'm interested in purchasing a DVD burner. Which brand should I get? Which model? Single or dual-layer? +R? -R? or both?

When researching such purchases, I have always put more stock in the things I read in community bulletin board forums, than what a formal reviewer might say.

People in forums tend to talk more plainly. If something sux, they'll say, "It sux." And I can ask specific questions .. whereas formal reviewers tend to mince their words, and are unlikely to answer my queries.

continued

People posting in forums usually have more experience with a product than the typical reviewer, whose time is limited. There are only so many paces the reviewer can put a new product thru.

Say you were in the market for a BMW. Whose opinion would you value more highly: that of your cousin Ernie who once took one for a test drive, or your neighbor, who actually owns one? .. who has one sitting in his garage .. and drives it daily...

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a show recently that described how some companies actually *pay* people to register at bulletin board forums, and "talk up" their product. Primarily, GAME companies are sponsoring these posters, but the practice isn't limited to video game manufacturers. More companies are joining "the game" all the time.

People who post in forums argue that they already LIKE the product, so they're not really being deceptive. But I doubt they'd post as frequently, or as enthusiastically if they weren't on the payroll. And I'd wager they give precious little voice to any misgivings they might have about their sponsor's product.

Some of these paid proponents take their job a step further and bash the competition. So you need to read online forums with a suspicious eye. If someone sounds too glowing or too negative, maybe it's cuz they're on the take.

Pleo offered a link to Buzz Marketing on the subject, with the comment, "Sad but true." Of course, this would never happen at the RADIFIED forums. =)

I have found there's safety in numbers. The more people recommending a particular brand or model, the more likely it is to be a good buy. If something really sux, you're not going to have many people recommending it .. without contentious others disagreeing.

Google search pre-configured for the query-string: reliable+online+info+reviews+opinions+computer+pc+hardware+software

[Comments closed due to problems with s*p*a*m*m*a*g*e.]

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Posted by Rad at May 4, 2005 10:00 AM

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