One reason for the proliferation of reviews is the Internet. Before, we would read reviews in the newspaper or a magazine, but now that we have the Internet and social media, we have reviews for everything, and they’re offered many different places. There are even places like Yelp, that exist only to give reviews.
Being that there is such a proliferation, though, do these reviews mean anything to you? Do reviews influence your decisions when buying new technology?
Sayak does read online reviews but admits to being more of an instinct buyer. It’s a complicated internal process for him that ensures what he wants falls in the right place. He prefers to go through tech specs first to understand all aspects and to find something exceptional at the right price point. He reads the reviews only in the end to confirm what he’s decided. “In summary, the reviews only reinforce what I already liked about the product.”
Ryan always does a lot of research before he buys anything. He doesn’t rely on a particular publication or reviewer but definitely looks around. He also reports that he tries to “consult forums like Reddit to see how everyday end-users feel about the product.”
Elsie also does research first to find out what the tech product is all about from the manufacturer’s site, then to expert reviews, and lastly average users’ reviews, though she admits reviews can be biased depending on who is writing them. The manufacturer is looking to generate sales, and some reviewers are paid to write a positive review or could be just looking to tarnish the image of a brand. So she reviews all the information, then does her own testing. “I wouldn’t just jump in and buy something or leave it because some people thought it was really good or very bad.”
Andrew notes that as flawed as they can be, reviews are an important source of information about a product. Two machines with the exact same specs can behave differently, and getting an aggregate picture of other people’s experiences is one of the few ways to figure out which products are good. He prefers 3- and 4-star reviews, as the 5-star ones are more likely to be unreliable. “In general, I feel like I’ve found a pretty good review-assessment process!”
David explains that reviews help play a role in any purchase decision he makes. There’s a good chance someone else has tested a feature he’s wondering about, so he gets an opportunity to see it in action without putting his own money on the line. Ultimately, I’ll take all the information I’ve learned from online reviews, both good and bad, and make the most informed decision I can.”
I admit to being a review snob for a couple reasons. One is because I’m a review writer and recognize not even every writer can write reviews. For 16 years I’ve been reviewing TV, movies, technology, and home products. I find it hard to try anything new and not write a review in my head. Reviews written at places like Yelp, Amazon, or Facebook are more often than not going to be negative, as people are more inspired to write something negative than positive. For that reason I skip those types of reviews.
Do you go through a process of research like most of our writers before ultimately ending up checking out the reviews? Do you respect them or feel they’re too subjective? Do reviews influence your decisions when buying new technology? Tell us how you feel about reviews in the comments below. (And sure, go ahead and leave a review about us!)