Is This OK? . . .

“ASUS Dishonest Marketing Move” That’s what XBit Labs calls Asus putting out a press release citing one thing, then revise the purported press release later to lower the numbers but not change the date.

Everyone who reported on the initial press release reported that the V8460 was supposed to run at 330MHz/660MHz, unlike any other Ti4600 card. Most of the resellers at Pricewatch still are.

It sometimes happens that manufacturers can’t quite deliver what was promised, but is the proper response to that announcing the change, or altering documents in an attempt to cover up?

And when someone takes the latter course, who should take them to account, and how?

The XBit Labs article mentions a website that reviewed the card. It points out that the card doesn’t overclock very much from the 300MHz/650MHz reference standard, but never mentions the 330MHz/660Mhz claimed by the initial press release.

Forget about the possible whys of this. Is this approach good enough for you, the reader and potential buyer?

If it isn’t, then just who is supposed to alert you to this? Right now, this little item doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Standard Practice

I point this particular incident out not because it is so rare, but because it is so common.

It is a very common practice for computer websites to address faults indirectly.

One way is the “This doesn’t work, that doesn’t work” in the middle of the work, then concluding “This product is great” in the finale.

Another is the “We’re not going to refute any manufacturer claims, we’ll just show in our testing that they aren’t so, and it’s your job to put the pieces together.”

A third is to (silently) take the Fifth and not say anything about the whole subject.

In the first two cases, if someone complains later on, the place can say, “Look here, we covered it.” What they really did was cover the “A” in “CYA,” and this may well fulfill any legal niceties, but is this what you want and expect when you read a review?

In the last, silence can be golden, but for whom?

Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Read This Stuff?

I think the average reader of hardware reviews is not cut out to be a lawyer, just because he or she isn’t naturally anal-compulsive and paranoid whenever they read something.

You probably are a better person for it, but it leaves you at a distinct disadvantage to those who are.

Believe it or not, some readers don’t study a purchase like their lives depended on it, and they don’t view the computer world like it’s the aliens and they’re Mulder.

Is it unreasonable to at least want a more forgiving environment than one which to you seems designed to mislead you with word games, then blames you for falling for it and calls you crazy and stupid for not wanting to be a paranoid anal-droid?

I know I’ve found I have to be one. If I ever shopped for groceries the way I find myself having to shop for computer equipment, they’d put me away.

This is not a better way to do business.

Again, we’re not talking legalities and we’re not talking evading ultimate responsibility, but couldn’t there be at least the option of a shark cage in shark-infested waters to fend off some of them?

Reviewing the Reviewers?

Right now, the computer hardware scene is a free-for-all. Anybody can set up a website and say anything for whatever reason or motive, good, bad, or indifferent with no standards and no accountability. Not even the accountability a lousy movie gets.

Some are good, some are bad; I can’t think of one that couldn’t stand improvement, including this one.

Legal? Yes, but hardly wonderful.

Many places mention what other places do, some act mostly as a portal to other places, but it is almost entirely “no-fault” reporting. “XYZ did this, here’s a link.” Often they’ll say “XYZ did this, it’s wonderful.” They’ll almost never say, “XYZ did this, it stinks.”

In our surveys and others we have seen, a majority of readers indicate that they want guidance and places they can trust. Not slavishly, but they could use some help.

It seems like going to computer hardware sites is like going to the movies or watching TV or buying a book, that is, like going to the movies or watching TV or buying a book without any reviewers.

You probably have gone to movies or watched TV or bought books without the opinion of a reviewer, but I bet you have sometimes. Or at least you don’t think the world would be far better off without any reviews or reviewers.

Of course, the whole point of reviewing is to say what is good and what is bad, and the second part of the equation troubles some. At times we’ve given thumbs down to things we see, and we’ve been harshly criticized for doing so, like any criticism breaks some sacred oath or something.

Based on our experience over the course of time and what our surveying has told us, a portal that just doesn’t provide links, but also provides short and sweet guidance about those links and why they’re good (or not) may be an idea whose time has come. Just like movie or TV or book reviews. Encourage the good, discourage the bad. Who knows, maybe some healthy constructive criticism can make matters better for all of us.

So let me ask, does this strike you as being a useful and valuable aid, or do you think this is a terrible idea and that the current “every man for himself and find the sharks yourself” approach is better?

Email Ed

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