Here’s a post that’s not about gaming, well, probably indirectly so, but mainly not. This post is going to be about tech reviews. It’s one of the other things I frequently search on Youtube, aside from of course let’s plays, amature music videos, craft project how to’s and, let’s face it, animals doing cute stuff.
I have a pretty geeky attachment to tech gadgets. If I had money I’d own a lot more than I do. But how do you know what’s actually going to be a good buy for a new device and what’s going to end up being a several hundered dollar disappointment? I used to fall prey to shiny advertising telling me that “THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER YOU HAVE TO OWN IT JUST WAIT PEOPLE WILL CLAMOUR FOR IT AND BE JEALOUS YOU HAVE IT THEY DONT OMG”. So I’d buy new phones when they launched (though I never went for an iphone because the carrier I was with never had them until I decided I couldn’t afford any phone except a prepaid phone). About 3 and a half years ago I bought a Palm Pre thinking it would be really cool. It should be noted that when I was a teenager I had a Palm Pilot that I used as a daily planner. Yes, I was that geeky. So this new Palm product seemed cool to me, and I did need a new phone. So I bought it on release, paid too much even with an upgrade offer from the carrier, and then found out that the phone was not all the ads had promised. The OS was buggy, the phone itself not built well, and certainly not worth what I had paid. Of course you can return products (I didn’t end up returning mine because I am stubborn and thought “it’ll get better with an update”, “it’s the best phone they have anyway”, etc), but why go through the hassle of buying and returning in the first place? It probably just pisses off your credit score or triggers some alarm about you in Consumer Data Collection Land.
So I decided never again would I buy a product right off the shelf, full price, before I’d scoped out some info on it, not from ads, but from other people who buy, use, and love tech. YouTube is actually a really good place to find that. Of course, as with all consumer endeavours, there is a strong “buyer beware” attached here too. Some people on YouTube, especially the ones with fancy equipment and professional videos (i.e. TechnoBuffalo) receive items to review and so they’re trying to give honest objective reviews but might fail to mention a few downsides since they didn’t just drop $300 for the device. It’s just a fact, but if you’re aware of that, you can adjust accordingly. Often my strategy is to wait to buy a new gadget. I’m very patient, so I usually wait for at least one price drop, depending on what the item is. Also, I’ve learned first models are not always excellent and if I wait I might get a better device, even if I pay a little more, which in that case may be worth it.
But while I’m waiting, I check YouTube for new reviews from people who have purchased the item with hard earned dough and want to share with others the pros and cons and what the new fangled dealy is all about. I look for reviews that are done by people who have liked things that I like, or disliked things I haven’t. I look for reviews in which the person sounds like they know what they are talking about. And usually I’ll go for an adult’s review, someone around my age group.
Unboxing videos are great to get a look at a device and see how the company packages it. You will also learn exactly how the device is built, what the hardware is like, without even having to go to the store and touch it. I mean, going and touching would be the next step, but often you might find an unboxing you didn’t like the device and not even bother with the store trip for something you know you’d never buy.
To sum it up – reviews from the consumer market online are far more accurate and and honest than advertisments, hype in magazines (though if you’ve a favorite mag or journalist who’s opinion you trust that can be part of your consumer info source), or even the written reviews on websites. Written reviews can be faked. With a video at least you get to hear and maybe even see the person and get an idea of what they are like – probably even tell if they’re being honest and informative or just hyping the item.
So there it is, my two cents on being a well informed consumer. Next time you are considering purchasing a phone, tablet, PC, camera, etc – go ahead and pop that make and model in the YouTube search box and check out a few videos. You might save yourself some disappointment, or assure yourself you’ll be getting a good buy.