back to article Reader input required: review our reviews

The Register has been running hardware and software reviews for some years now, mainly though not exclusively through its sister-site, the written-for-consumers Reg Hardware. We're planning to make some improvements, but before we put them in place, we'd like to hear what you, the reader, would like to find when you click to …

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  1. Phil W

    Quality writing (i.e. better proof reading), evidence for opinions and statements, more balance.

    As per the title.

    A number of reg articles recently have had very poor writing. Either in a grammatical sense, or simply typo's misspellings and repeated words. It's not hard to get this right, just get one or two other people to read it before publishing, I presume there must be at least 1 grammar nazi among the reg team.

    If not I'll happily take the job, for an extortionate fee of course.

    Secondly, opinions and statements given about products should be backed up by fact, and quality facts at that.

    A review a short while back of Google Drive for iOS is a prime example, the "screenshots" provided were fairly poor quality photos of the phone screen taken with a camera (or another phone?).

    Additionally there seems to be a tendency for the writers opinions to be stated as fact. The Google Drive review (apologies for focusing on one article (but it was so dire it provides a myriad of examples of fail) stated in somewhat factual way the Captcha used was unreadable when this was clearly not the case as I and many others could read in the poor quality images used in the review, not to mention the many people who have successfully used the app.

    Overall, less bias please and less writing in the style of a guy showing of his latest toy to his mates down the pub. More writing in the style of a balanced, unbiased quality technology publication (since that is what The Register purports to be).

    For examples of quite good reviews The Register has done, I would point you in the direction of:

    http://www.reghardware.com/2011/01/24/review_smartphone_htc_desire_z/

    http://www.reghardware.com/2012/10/03/review_samsung_galaxy_note_2_gt_n7100_android_smartphone/

    http://www.reghardware.com/2009/12/07/review_phone_nokia_n900_smartphone/

    All of which helped convince me to buy the particular device, and were fairly well written and were nicely balanced in pointing out the good and bad in the products.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Quality writing (i.e. better proof reading), evidence for opinions and statements, more balance.

      Thanks for that, Phil. Some very useful pointers.

      Small point: the Google Drive piece wasn't intended as a review per se, more a piece describing the writer's (exasperated) experience with the software. You're right about the pictures, mind.

    2. DF118
      Headmaster

      Re: Quality writing (i.e. better proof reading), evidence for opinions and statements, more balance.

      Muphry's Law in action there Phil?

      "typo's" ... "myriad of" ... frequent punctuation errors, nested/unclosed parentheses.

      I don't think I'd pay you to be my resident "grammar nazi" if I was the Reg. ;o)

      1. DRendar

        Re: Quality writing (i.e. better proof reading), evidence for opinions and statements, more balance.

        "typo's" is arguably OK as the word typo is itself a contraction of the phrase "typographical error".

        So without an apostrophe is OK if the "s" is a multiple of the word "typo" (is this now accepted as an English word?) and with an apostrophe is OK if it's a contraction of "typographical errors".

        Unless there's an English teacher/professor who wants to weigh in on that. :-)

    3. N13L5

      some actual tests would be nice, especially for the displays

      If a review won't tell me what actual kind of display is installed, its pretty useless.

      1) We need to know if its an IPS, SPL or just a cheap TN panel.

      2) Color Gamut, brightness and contrast varies massively among displays, would be nice to know how close does it get to sRGB color space etc.

      3) We need to know if the viewing angles are so bad, that a single color will look different at the top of the screen from what it looks like at the bottom or center of the screen.

      4) Let us know how well the display works under sunlight. laptops, smartphones and tablets do get used outside...

      So far, they all seem to be making stuff up according to subjective impressions, caused by personal preference, coincidental surroundings and other unknown factors.

  2. Raumkraut

    Alternatives

    When I go reading reviews, it's generally not because I want to know if something is worth buying, but because I want to know *which* something to get. So, for me, comparisons with other similar products are important (especially in the introduction/conclusion paragraphs, which are often the only parts I read).

    Doesn't apply so much to game reviews, but I don't care much about those, because modern games all suck anyway.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Alternatives

      Absolutely agree - comparisons is it. I would also suggest that best buy tables be kept live and up to date - add the new item into the existing table, including value for money. I know it's all a judgement, but you are probably better qualified than the rest of us to make that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      Yes, I'm all for comparing alternatives as well. But occasionally I can't help feeling that the 10-product-roundups you do have their selection determined by who has paid you to have their stuff included rather than some mechanism that would benefit readers.

      E.g., as readers on the comments have pointed out the "Ten... external battery packs" article had just totally overpriced stuff while there were several affordable and great alternatives available from amazon and elsewhere. Getting that sorted for future articles is my one and only request.

  3. Kirk Northrop
    Megaphone

    The problem with reg reviews all too often is that they are "I thought this product was this, it's not, so I'm going to moan about it for three pages".

    Balanced, objective reviews please. Less benchmarks, we don't need a page of tables, just a paragraph (but always doing a battery life test if applicable), as there are sites out there that will do the benchmarks better than you can anyway.

    Product photos are good, but not the ones from the manufacturer as we've seen them all already. If there's a special thing about a product, let's have a picture of it. If not, more shots of it on a white background from far away are pointless.

    Obviously I expect a good deal of irreverence from El Reg, it's why I've been coming here for so long.

    But please keep up the good work, I like your reviews on a whole, but the ever increasing minority are letting the side down.

    1. WatAWorld

      Numbers are objective. Opinions depend on point of view.

      I agree products should be evaluated on what they do, not what the reporter thought they would do.

      However, reporting variations between what a product is advertised as being capable of and what it actually is capable of is very useful.

      I need the numbers. Numbers are objective. Opinions depend on point of view.

      Compare battery life in a table. Is 8 hours good or bad compared to the competition.

      What we get too much of on North American review websites is a nice touchy-feely story woven around a re-print of the distributors press release.

      I could see adding more photos to what the manufacturer has produced.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Numbers are objective. Opinions depend on point of view.

        As a general point to all raising the notion of comparisons, I hear what you are saying but it occurs to me that we'll end up hearing nothing but 'why didn't you compare it with X???'

        With the best will in the world, any given reviewer is unlikely to have tried all the rival products in the same category as the kit he or she is looking at.

        But I will see how we can develop this further. Thanks for the feedback, folks

    2. Michael Thibault

      I agree: stock photos from the manufacturer should be nixed.

      I'd prefer to see animated gifs or VRs of the item--especially for the 'edges' i.e. the ports and buttons and whatnot found around a laptop, notebook, tablet, phone, etc.. That particular photo (often) could be full-width and in-line within the review, as it would be contextually relevant (to the text) and not take up much vertical space. A front- and back-side-inclusive image (whirling dervish style) could be shown at quarter-width or less, with that image itself being a link to a pop-up/new window/new tab displaying the full-size GIF/VR/what-have-you.

      Benchmarks are data sometimes useful for making a comparison with other, similar hardware, so their inclusion in reviews is sometimes warranted. Perhaps reviews citing benchmarks could include links to external resources specialising in hosting complete benchmarks e.g. geekbench.ca. (El Reg tends not to provide links to external sites, it seems. For reviews, this general approach could do with a muscle relaxant.)

      The use of consistent summary tables for gross attributes (specs, basically) would be a useful thing to provide, either at the head or tail of the article, rather than mid-way through. Such tables allow for more direct comparison of items within a category or class of hardware. Placing them consistently first within the body allows, for example, someone shopping via El Reg reviews, to open multiple tabs in their browser and be able to see all the salient info for each item, in its own tab, immediately, sans navigation.

      Camera reviews: page after page of images produced by the camera seem unnecessary when in-lined. Fork that aspect of such reviews into a different tab/window/pop-up, but retain small samples, or pull-photes, in-line with the text, to keep things nicely-decorated.

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Pint

    More BOFH's

    As per title

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phil W is pretty much correct...

    I totally agree with Phil W, the proof reading has been piss poor recently, and some of the articles on my favorite Lesbian journal (Yes, I've been reading the Reg for some time!) have been really bad. It doesn't take me 2 minutes to read most articles, so why can't someone there proof a colleagues work? It would so improve the quality and add gravitas to the article it's self. Is the plan to become the "Guardian" of the digital age maybe? (In reference to the news paper "Guardian"'s often terrible proof, historically?)

    Technical reviews are excellent and really appreciated, and Reg Hardware has often guided me in purchase decisions. Most of which I've found have lead me to making good purchases. I wonder though, if Hardware can do a technical breakdown, and then another section, "Lifestyle" for example could give us a real world, life with said device story? Both styles would be absolutely excellent.

    For example, I'm using Rasberry PI's at the moment in work. I need to know the technical specs because in this case I'm using them as Nagios boxes. I'm also now using them at home to replace some full on desktops, for the lower power usage. So two totally different applications there. I'd like to see the tech review so I have some back ground before I order something, but I'd also like to see how they are as Day to Day devices.

    Hope that helps a little and makes some sense?

    Keep up the good work, just keep cheeking the poof reading and the speeeling,

    Bon

  6. WatAWorld
    Thumb Up

    I love your 10 whatever reviews of consumer products, where you review 10 competing products

    For consumer product reviews, I love the 10 reviews, where you review 10 competing products and compare them.

    Other organizations tend to have shameless "reviews" that are little better than re-printed vendor press releases.

    On the other hand, The Reg tells us the good and the bad, and compares products openly -- which is what makes the reviews worth reading.

    For the consumer product reviews, I think the approach is very good. If you want to improve it, maybe go into more detail about each product being reviewed, and compare on more points.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: I love your 10 whatever reviews of consumer products, where you review 10 competing products

      Actually testing to see if a device meets claimed specifications would be the next best improvement to individual consumer reviews you could make. And if you could do that testing on samples anonymously purchased from random suppliers (rather than specially tweaked samples provided free by the vendor) that would be perfect!

      Tom's Hardware does a pretty good job of this with the enthusiast (hobbiest) products they review, such as top-of-the-line consumer graphics cards. But they seem to use specially provided samples, which the vendor may have tweaked. (Sometimes there is no alternative, where a product is not available for sale, but then is a pre-release sample with pre-release firmware something a later production product can be evaluated on? Probably not. But they're in a hurry because their enthusiast readers (hobbiests) -- their target audience -- want to be on the bleeding edge of technology.)

      Also they tend to ignore what is most important. For example, they don't test SSDs for stability in desktop situations where supply voltage may vary, they only test speed. What is more important for accessing your data? That it be 10% faster or that the data be there? That the data be there of course. But testing reliability might be embarrassing to vendors.

      So yes, adding actual tests of samples obtained by making anonymous purchases would be a valuable addition to consumer reviews.

      1. WatAWorld

        Re: I love your 10 whatever reviews of consumer products, where you review 10 competing products

        The other website I mention, they do fall into the category of over use of tables. They'll run 8 different sets of benchmarks on each (say) video card and report on each in detail. They'll have 20 histogram tables in one review comparing graphics cards.

        That is over use of tables to the point of unreadable boredom.

        But a tables to compare resolution, power consumption, dimensions, and 3 columns with frame rate on each frame rate test, a table with 6 columns and one row per product is fine.

        Mobile phones, a table to compare battery life, O/S, weight, dimensions, screen size, screen resolution, at a glace, is very useful -- much more useful than the same info buried in separate paragraphs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I love your 10 whatever reviews of consumer products, where you review 10 competing products

          Agreed that a feature comparison table would be useful in comparative reviews. For example, a printer review should summarise things like cost, cost per page, DPI, printer language, speed, interfaces, OS support, extras (e.g. duplex printing, second paper tray, scanner, etc.). Picking through each review to find the devices that have the exact features you need is a chore.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I love your 10 whatever reviews of consumer products, where you review 10 competing products

          C'mon guys - GSM Arena already has a feature that allows you to compare side by side the specifications of any two mobile phones... likewise, Tom's Hardware, Anandtech, and DPreview (for cameras) throw more time, benchmarks and controlled tests at things than the Reg could hope to. You benchmark junkies are well served by the internet. It is pointless for El Reg to compete with them on that front.

          I see Reg reviews as a good first port of call. Before dumping £300+ on anything, I would seek a second opinion. It is only a few keystrokes away.

  7. WatAWorld

    for business products, how about adopting a 10 whatever review style? also testing

    For business products, how about adopting a 10 whatever review style, like you have for consumer products?

    At a minimum do more comparison of competing products to the product or service being reviewed.

    Again, the willingness to report both good and bad aspects of the produce or service, and to compare competing products, is what makes reviews worth reading.

    Of course for business products (big ticket items or items where a buyer will be buying 100s) a longer more detailed review is greatly appreciated.

    Actually testing to see if a device meets claimed specifications would be the best improvement to individual reviews you could make. And if you could do that testing on samples anonymously purchased from random suppliers (rather than specially tweaked samples provided free by the vendor) that would be perfect!

  8. Andres
    Thumb Up

    Fix the scoring

    Do you never review bad items? What is the point of percentage points if nothing scores below 50%? In fact I reckon 80% of stuff come ins between 70% and 90%. Just have 5 stars and be done with.

    Apart from that, the comparisons are always good to read and you could do with a few more, and the other reviews are a good balance.

  9. Psmiffy

    Mostly been said

    It's all been mostly said already although I have possibly a few ideas.

    I really like the comparisons and the 10 whatevers, because these often help me to decide which is the best product for my needs.

    There are times when I want a long in-depth review but mostly a shorter review covering in the good, the bad and the ugly points are what I am after.

    Benchmarks are sometimes usefull but if there is a lot of technical waffle and tables I end up skipping those in favour of how well does it work in the persons hands.

    Technical specs i can get from the products webiste, don't waste your valuable time and space copying it from them.

    YES for keeping the percentage rating, I like to know what the Reg guys rate things as. The star ratings would just be a different representation of the same thing but less flexible.

    Photo's are good only if they show something important, if I want the glossy cover shots I will look at the products site.

    "We review products as users" ... thats perfect because most of are end users of the products.

    One last point, the spell-checking could be a bit better, not only on Reg Hardware but on Reg itself, there have been a couple of bad ones recently that should really have been picked up by a proof reader, or even a spell checker (unless JSUT is part of your regular spelling)

    Otherwise keep up the good work, I love coming in to see whats new or to check how new goodies measure up in the hands of my favourite IT site.

    Cheers

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tagging and am I asking too much?

    Like some of the other readers here, I have been reading the Reg for many years - actually since 2000, so whereas I am not so arrogant to say that I can discern all the other readership,based on comments made and articles chosen to publish , I think that there is a fair proportion that have a lot of similar requirements as myself.

    As a result I would expect to rely on the Reg for reviews that I can pretty much count on, but I don't for the majority of the time because they seem to come across more like a consumer review (which you said in the article - I never thought of erg hardware as that kind of site before but it now makes sense) from a 'tech' section of a sunday paper. The reviews I like are the ones where you KNOW that the reviewer has used the item and finds it amazing or hated it completely. When that happens then they write about it in depth and chances are, I will too.

    So If I wan't a review on something to help make a decision I rely on a combination of Cnet reviews, Amazon reviews and google searches for the other part I will come to.

    There are several things that I want to know from a computer regview (see what I did there?).

    Build quality.

    Drive performance - At the moment this is the biggest singular issue for performance bottlenecks on non-ssd

    Screen on a laptop.

    Keyboard.

    Warranty.

    And for me - WILL IT RUN (CRYSIS^H^H^H^H^H^H) LINUX?

    Weight is not really a focus. If it is a 15 inch gaming laptop, I know it isn't going to be light. If it is a 11.6 screen, a pound here or there is going to make not one change to my decision. But Linux is *very* important. I also understand there are so many flavours etc and not all will work the same. The fact manufacturers don't seem to really help much is a right PITA, whereas a significant proportion of your readership will find that invaluable.

    Now obviously there can be a lot of playing around to get everything working and the time to do that isn't necessarily cost effective, but trying to install a base version of Mint, or even Ubuntu and say what doesn't work would be a real winner for me.

    In my case I would like to see basics like multi-monitor support, wifi, networking, what hardware keys do or do not work out of the box. That way it gives me somewhere to start researching to see if these problems are solvable within a reasonable timeframe before purchasing the kit.

    Plus Tagging - I know there was a review on a mouse recently, (in the last year), that you really rated. i couldn't remember it. I searched on Mouse, Mouse reviews, tried the reg hardware category for peripherals and couldn't find it anywhere. If you could categorise things with, I dunno, tagging things like; Review, Mouse, Brand, model etc - would make finding things a lot simpler and not picking up any review that just mentions a mouse.

    Thanks for the chance to ask about all this...

  11. sebacoustic

    pictures

    I love the photos in your camera reviews: Catherine Monfils' pictures are always an inspiration. Howevwer, in addition to those i'd like to see some sort of boring "comparable" test screens that make it possible to compare the capabilities, or lack thereof, particularly of phones & such, real cameras these days all take bloddy good pictures anyway.

    For things like printers and phone screens, you could do close-ups of a standard image's reproduction (no doubt a vulture).

    Perhaps that's asking too much, but even the tinny (that's a horrible word!) -ness of phone or laptop speakers could be exposed by recording them through a quality microphone?

    In summary, a (brief) set of "standard tests" that allows people to compare seperate reviews' results.

    Oh and thanks for the reviews in general.

  12. b166er
    Thumb Up

    Summarize the review so it appears brief, but have expandable sections (like the comment forums) for those that want to read the full review (me).

    Before doing a round-up (ie best 10 whatevers), do a poll to see, out of say 20 items (include an 'other' field), which 10 we want reviewed :p

  13. deadlockvictim Silver badge
    Happy

    Objective measuring of percentage scores

    Hi,

    I find the product reviews and I read them whenever they come out. I find them informative and they have guided my spending choices in the past, e.g. powerline adapters.

    I am, however, often puzzled by the percentage score though. How is it calculated? I reckon that it is simply the reviewer's gut feeling.

    What I would like are some objective parameters, each with their own weighting, the sum of which would give the overall percentage score. Once the methodology is explained, then we can interpret the results ourselves. It would allow for an accurate comparison amongst similar types.

    Kind Regards

  14. Pete 2

    Full disclosure

    > we'd like to hear what you, the reader, would like to find when you click to read a Register review.

    First, I would like to know which items the reviewer (or any other member of the staff) have bought for their own use, with their own money.

    Failing that, I would like to know which things have been loaned / given solely for review purposes (I suspect the answer is: all of them) or which items were picked randomly off the shelf i.e. are not "special" - and so have a level of quality / reliability that a normal purchaser could expect.

    I would like balance. No bits of electronic (or software) wizardry are perfect, so it's reasonable to ask for the faults to be given as much page-space as the benefits. If you want an icon for this I would suggest replacing "stars" with "Curate's eggs"

    Finally, don't bother just repeating any or all of the stuff in the promotional flyer. We're big boys and girls and are quite capable of discovering the makers' publicity for ourselves. So please, please, please write about your own, personal experiences as a USER, don't just parrot the sales blurb.

  15. Grikath

    More Vulture

    The Reg as a whole has a distinctive style which people either love or hate in presenting factual information. I'm quite often missing the Vulture Touch in a lot of the reviews, which is a shame, as there's tons of sites that review the same gadget/item/equipment, but none have that typical Vulture style.

  16. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Linux

    Laptops

    How about saying that all laptops that don't have what Linus calls "reasonable resolution" are crap.

    Likewise glossy screens.

    On a slightly more realistic level, why not add a "Will it run Linux*" section to the review. Surely I'm not the only one who will not be using Microsoft software on any future platform.

    *Or more likely, how much faster will it run under Linux.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Laptops

      Many reviews do point out the shoddy resolution of laptops, but since rival machines don't tend to do much better, what's the point? Perhaps a Reg Round Up of Top Ten Laptops with Decent Resolution would be a better way of approaching the subject? There are some daftly expensive Sony VAIOs with good resolution, but I can't even find Lenovo mobile workstations with more than 1080 vertical pixels these days.

      It amazes me that all these 'Ultrabooks' copy aspects of the Macbook Air, but neglect the screen, both ratio and resolution. Perhaps Intel's top-down requirement that an Ultrabook must weigh less than X, be no thicker than Y, and run on batteries for Z and bugger all other consequences is NOT the way to bring a great machine to market.

      And Mystic, people don't don't run Windows because they love it, they run it because of the software available for it. For many people, Linux just isn't an option, even though they might want to use it. Some software might run faster under Linux, but some won't run at all. I would have thought that penguins have their own colonies on the interwebs to share information about suitable laptops, being advocates of learning from each other's experiences and all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Laptops

        Agree with you over the screens. I had a dell with a 1900 plus res screen back in 2002!

        However disagree with you over Linux.. For many people, yes, Linux isn't an option. It still is the only option for 'many' people. Whereas there are sites to go and find out if this works or that works, they only build up after something is in use for a while. Since most new lapbooks aren't tested with Linux, people don't tend to buy them new then go straight to linux. Those that do, do so out of necessity. So with that in mind, it would be useful for a common distro to be test installed on a lapbook to see how it fares.

        I would find that more than bloody useful.

        Anyone else?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laptops

        I guess it depends on which target market you are aiming for, if its corporate than carry around weight is going to be the most important metric and not the screen size.

        I dont see that the top 10 for laptops is really going to tell you much, I use amazon for reviews for laptops a simple top ten is to open to reviewer bias.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      WTF?

      Re: Laptops

      Define "reasonable".

      Personally I reckon that having anything above 1080 on a screen of less than 24" is on a par with having umpty-something megapixels on a phone camera.

      i.e. Technologically impressive, but makes sod-all difference due to the fundamental limitations of the device.

  17. nigel 15

    That iPhone 5 review.

    Was about the most embarrassing, sycophantic love in i have ever read. the fact that it made it on to the front page calls in to question the editorial standards.

    other than that. the witty titles are good but you do need to be able to extract some meaning from them. sometimes so elaborate is the pun that all meaning is lost.

    like everyone i like pictures, diagrams and tables. this is 2012, if you want me to read you have to entice me.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: That iPhone 5 review.

      This isn't about whether or not you personally like a device, it's about how el reg can improve its reviews. When a major player in the industry releases 1 new phone a year it is fair for the review to be on the front page. The Samsung Galaxy series releases among others seem to make it there also. About the only reasonable thing you can complain about is that reviews should be more objective, but then comparing spec sheets doesn't tell you all about a device either.

      1. nigel 15
        Windows

        Re: That iPhone 5 review.

        I don't mean that i didn't like it. i mean it was crap. of course the iPhone 5 review should be on the front page. it's just that iPhone 5 review that should have been read by someone and stopped. it's also factually in accurate (first line, pricing), and despite dozens of people sending it was never changed.

        if you read it you'll see what i mean

        http://www.reghardware.com/2012/09/21/apple_iphone_5_review/

        'its slimness, lightness and smooth matte aluminium back continue to take the breath away.'

        Unbecoming of El Reg.

        1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: That iPhone 5 review.

          This is getting off topic, but two points.

          First, the pricing. We can't read all of a story's comments in case of an error. We try, but there aren't enough hours etc. But we do see all messages sent by the 'Send a correction' link at the bottom of each page. But it's fixed now.

          Second, you can disagree with the review, but there's no reason why a reviewer shouldn't say a product is breathtaking if he or show believes it is. Not my review, so not my words, but even though I'd probably agree with most of your views of Apple the company, I do think the iPhone 5 is gorgeous. If Dave Phelan is even keener on it, that doesn't make him wrong. Or that we were wrong to allow him to say so.

          Now, back to the task in hand...

          1. nigel 15

            Re: That iPhone 5 review.

            Corrections: in the comments many people said they had sent corrections using the send corrections button. i know i did as soon as the review was published.

            The Review: Dave Phelan is even keener on it. He is even keener on it than i am on my wife. But that aside it was an awful review. it read like a promotional piece. i can't believe that nobody read it and said come on Dave, when you two have finished, review the phone.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: That iPhone 5 review.

          >'its slimness, lightness and smooth matte aluminium back continue to take the breath away.'

          >Unbecoming of El Reg.

          Yeah, but that can't be mistaken for anything other than a subjective judgement, so what's the issue? Personal items, from spectacles and cigarette cases to wristwatches are often chosen for their material and finish, and the review is just giving credit where it is due. Personally, my plastic laptop has a screw missing and a warped case, but I like it- other people, especially the less tech literate, gain confidence from from a feeling of solidity, it gives them faith that the thing will reliably do what it does, and removing this doubt aids their learning.

          If the appearance isn't important to you, just read on to the bits that are relevant. Processor speed in that iPhone5 review was given in qualitative manner - which is appropriate, since comparing raw CPU power against rivals running a different OS and software isn't too useful a comparison. (Other sites have the resources to conduct, and are better known for, benchmarks... Anandtech, for example)

          And after that, a large part of a consumer's decision to buy an iPhone or not comes down to the OS, the apps available, the individuals previous investment or not in the Apple 'ecosystem'... and other things beyond the scope of the phone, and this the review, itself. As was noted in the last paragraph.

          The forums themselves are an additional resource for potential buyers, highlighting features the reviewer might have missed, linking to benchmarks or other reviews, or suggesting alternative products. Which is why it is a shame when they get filled with chaff, pointlessly abusing other people for their choice of gadget or computer.

          The Reg has reviewed less prominent phones, such as the Sony Xperia P, for example, and they have received positive reviews because they have been very competent and not daftly expensive. The Samsung Galaxy Advance was praised for similar points. The battery life of both these handsets has improved since their reviews, due to power saving features in the Android update to ICS. (That's a point about reviews in itself- with phones, especially Androids, the features can change over the model's lifetime)

          1. nigel 15

            Re: That iPhone 5 review. Dave 126

            The whole review could not be mistaken for a subjective judgement. that was my point really. it's not that it was a positive review. or that it was so gushing. it was that it was El Reg's one and only review of a significant piece of technology and it was a light weight luv in. no reference to any drawbacks at all.

            it has been changed since it was written. originally it had such gems as I'd rather have the Lightning adaptor than yet another USB AC transformer.

  18. Phil W

    +1's

    +1 for new photos of the product, not just the manufacturers press photos. Additionally for things like mobile phones, a photo of the back with the battery cover off etc would be nice. Not asking for a complete tear down, just to be able to see all the bits of the phone the manufacturer doesn't show off.

    +1 for what Pete 2 said. Tell us whether it is a product supplied by the manufacturers for review, bought by El Reg for review purposes, bought by the reviewer for personal use etc. Also even more importantly, tell us when the review is solely based off paperwork and research, not from physical testing.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: +1's

      For the record, almost all reviews samples are sought from vendors or their agents. El Reg has no budget at the moment to buy product.

      Occasionally we buy stuff for personal use and review it because it's the only way to get hold of the kit. We will in future make this clear when this is the case.

  19. Phil W

    Review Redux

    Consider going back and re-doing a review, or updating the old one, even if only briefly. To answer some of the question the commentards have asked following the original review article. Or maybe post a notice that you're going to review something, so we can ask questions pre-emptively.

    Telling us what you think we want to know is great, telling us what we actually ask about is even better.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Review Redux

      Posting advance notice of reviews is often not practical - and it gives our competitors an advantage - but I like the notion of giving you folks the opportunity to ask questions ahead of time. I will give this idea some thought as to how it could be done. Thanks.

  20. Owen Sweeney
    Flame

    Competitions!!!!!

    Open to non UK residents would be nice for starters - I suppose I'm pissing against the wind on this one.

  21. Joe K

    Hmm

    Ditch the game reviews. Yes, a lot of us are gamers, but those of us who are have already read reviews that matter on our usual, more focused, gaming sites. They are often out of date anyway.

    Pretty pointless, and don't fit in to the site in my opinion.

    Also the lack of photos of the thing you are reviewing is annoying, and makes it look like you never had the item, or got 10 mins to play with it at a trade fair.

    Seeing a manufacturers CG render, or heavily photoshopped pic, of a phone hovering in the air tells us absolutely nothing about how it fits in your average gnarled, pint-grasping, hacks hand.

    Follow up reviews are good, showing how someone has got along with the item while using it for what was intended. Example was the Nokia 808 trip to Stromboli, which convinced me to get it.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Hmm

      Follow-up reviewage is a good notion, but often impossible from a practical standpoint: vendors don't let us hang on to the kit for long enough.

      No, sceptics, we don't get to keep all this stuff.

      It also tends to appeal only to folk who have bought the kit or, six months ago, thought they might do so. Few others care if our past experience of trying is anything to go by. Likewise when we look at old kit with new firmware. Never say never, though.

      'Real' pictures are very definitely on the agenda, though

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      I'd prefer the continued review of /all/ things tech, including games, even though I hardly play them any more.

  22. rbryanh

    Since You Asked

    You could start by not apologizing for reviewing Apple products or otherwise catering to the tech equivalent of religious fanatics who confuse that particular fruit with the one in Genesis. (Pro or con - it's all the same.) The Register is justly famed for quality snark, and what could be snarkier at this late date than to refuse to put on that sort of us/them Punch & Judy show? At least in the colonies, courtesy, rational discourse, and tolerance for differing opinions have become so rare as to constitute daring transgression against the pathetic bourgeois norm. Adolescent self indulgence went out with, well... adolescence. "Thank you" is the new "kcuf you."

    "We review products as users, not as procurers or engineers…"

    Well that is a problem. Consider reviewing them as critics, and more specifically, as journalists. Given that few now alive have ever experienced "journalism" and couldn't define "criticism" at gunpoint, you'll have the pleasure of baffling idiots everywhere. The only thing worse than the subjective trash that passes for criticism amidst the masses are the regurgitated press releases that pundefecators try to pass off as analysis. Eschew both. Subjective, unsupported opinions are as common as cold sores, but considerably less attracting and definitely deserving of less compassion.

    As for content, reviews with objective parameters and some sort of transparent scoring system are more useful than those without. User reviews being a sewer of subjective worship and loathing (see "religious fanatics," above), I look to the pros when I want another perspective on what's best. A report card without grades is as useless as grades without a transparent scoring system are unjust.

    Finally, if your purpose is to communicate, well-crafted language isn't optional. Your editors are either absent, stoned, or far too concerned with being well liked. Too often, your writers put me in mind of what online comment sections become without a character limit. Cute is seldom anything of the sort, and if I need to read something chummy, I correspond with friends.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Since You Asked

      We are indeed looking at revising the scoring system - and then publishing it.

      To be honest though, when 90 per cent of what we look at does what it says on the clichéd tin, it's hard to see scores changing much unless we start applying very subjective criteria.

      1. dogged
        Boffin

        Re: Since You Asked

        Tony,

        Since "doing what it says on the tin" is pretty much the minimum level at which an item is reviewable (Sale of Goods Act, etc) shouldn't that be assigned a much lower mark than 70% or whatever it is that Reg Hardware currently pegs it at? Actually, isn't a number a rather odd way to go about things?

        I'd really rather see nothing at all given for an unremarkable device, one star (or perhaps, one vulture?) to an item which has one distinctive selling point placing it above the common and more stars or vultures for each extra distinguishing feature, provided it is executed well.

        While I'm here, unless that iPhone5 review was a troll (in which case, well done) I'd really rather not see four pages of somebody explaining how a tech item is a beautiful lustrous fetish that they want to have sex with unless it's a sex-toy. Not a phone. I realize this is a specialist site but not that specialist.

        And finally, I wanted to point out the comprehensiveness and balanced nature of Andrew Orlowski's review of the Lumia 920. Good points, bad points, gimmicks, features and comparisons all right there. Well done.

        1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Since You Asked

          I take your point, and we considered doing just that at one point, or rather assigning a base level of 50% for 'works as it should' giving us scope to push the score up for stand-out kit and room below for poor offerings.

          Trouble is, readers generally seem to assume that such a score means that the product is crap and therefore not worth reading about. We have never inflated a score in order to get readers, but at the same time we don't want to make a product seem worse than it actually is. So if a product is good, it should get a good score.

          The problem is, most products today are good, and what lifts one above another is not technical quality but the benefit a given users sees in that one product.

          For this reason I'm in favour of dropping scores altogether, but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.

          1. DF118
            Go

            Re: Since You Asked

            Reminds me of this article on Bit-Tech: When did 8/10 become a bad score?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, as your asking...

    A little more detail is sometimes wanting. The Kindle Fire HD review was particularly poor on this front. And I get the feeling sometimes that copy takes too long to run (the pricing comparisons on the Acer A110 piece were all to cock suggesting it was written before the Nexus 7 prices were changed, then run without anyone checking. Either the author or editor should have checked.)

    I'd say the balance between games, tech hardware and other stuff like cameras and cars etc is about right - the Reg clearly ain't a photography or auto site but the occasionally feature of things like the plug-in Prius or the Sigma SD1 are a welcome balance. Sometimes there's maybe too many games reviews in a string - thing four ran in the space of a few days a week or two back.

    As someone else said the Ten Alternatives too...features are pretty good and usually pretty funny (in a good way).

    Not too much needs changing imo.

  24. Corinne

    How do you choose the "Top 10"

    I can't always understand how you choose which items to feature in the "Top 10" lists. A recent example was gaming headsets, where the price range was £40 - £250 so is this really a like-for-like test? Drilling down further, if you look at e.g. Plantronics (the cheapest headset shown) they do around a dozen different over the head gaming type headsets, Razer do about 8, so how did you choose which of that particular make to review?

    I can usually understand product choice where there can be very clearly set specs e.g. there can't be THAT many e-ink e-book readers that are worth reviewing, but many consumer products have a massive variety on offer often with plenty of examples from each manufacturer

  25. The New Turtle

    Rants can be good

    I quite appreciate some of the reviews where the reviewer has been frustrated by a device and shows it quite openly instead of providing a bland, fact laden description - the Kindle Fire HD being the latest example I've seen. This gives a glimpse of 'real world' usage instead of regurgitating Which? magazine. Having said that, some hard numbers and performance comparisons ARE essential too.

    Overall I like reg reviews, and have certainly found them useful.

  26. Senor Beavis
    Thumb Up

    Useful

    Like the '10 best ...' articles - usually when I'm in the market for something, understanding how it stacks up against its contemporaries in terms of price, features and performance is darn helpful.

    While the automated benchmarks, particularly for phones, are all very nice for pretty graphs, what I'm really after is whether it works in real life, i.e. for typical mixed usage during the day, does the battery need charging at lunch? Or does the phone catch fire when attempting to flick from browsing to email to twitter, and so on?

    The thinly-veiled reprints of corporate press releases are frankly worthless from an information and journalistic point of view. I want YOUR opinion because it's not the vendor's.

    Be more irreverent. That is all.

  27. jd2012
    Childcatcher

    Remain neutral, have a score and make it comparable

    Hi, I like your reviews and the fact that you point out defects and advantages of each product. I don't care if the score is given in percentage, stars, happy faces, etc... may be percentage is nicer. 3 or 4 pages for a review is enough. More is boring. And it would be nice - I don't know how, that's not my job- if the score is comparable among new and old products. For example, if the iphone 3 had a 90% and the 5 an 85% it doesn't mean that the 2 is better than the 5. So that may be tricky

  28. weebs
    Stop

    Don't get sucked into the old ways

    For some strange reason I actually trust El Reg's reviews. Which is difficult in these days of heavily weighed review sites funded by manufacturers, publishers and the like. (by the way who funds El Reg? :))

    In terms of hardware, I would prefer side-by-side comparisons, for example benchmarks against comparable laptops or graphics cards or whatever is being looked at.

    The thing you need to do more of are the top 10's. They open my eyes to products I've not even seen or heard of, and has actually influenced my purchasing - the more recent wireless gaming headsets being the one and they're very well written, short and concise. I look at all 10, look at the recommended ones, then go to their respective websites and make my own mind up. That's what a review site should be for,

  29. Bassey

    > do you prefer longer, in-depth reviews - or are focused, waffle-free appraisals what you're after?

    It depends on the product but I'm usually in favour of longer, in depth reviews. I agree with the others though. The "10 best Androids under a fiver" style comparisons are excellent. I've used those reviews many times since they started a couple of years ago - and I pass them on to to others when getting the all to common "you work in IT. Which X should I buy" requests.

    > Are you looking for science paper-style evaluations - or do you favour short, consumer-oriented 'should I buy this?'

    Somewhere in between. There are plenty of sites that do full in-depth technical analysis and plenty that repeat the press release. I think 3-5 pages, depending on how complex the product, is plenty - with an extra page or two for camera reviews to allow for sample shots.

    > Are benchmarks important to you

    I think a few simple benchmarks can tell you a lot. A fairly standardised battery test for mobiles and laptops (we ran such and such for 2 hours with these settings and it reported x% left). I actually think the benchmarks and spec tables are excellent. The only negative is that sometimes they are omitted. Obviously this will be down to how long you got the device for etc etc but it is annoying if only 9 out of 10 laptop reviews have benchmarks - particularly if the missing one is the one I was interested in!

    > Is a percentage rating a useful quick-look measure of a product's worth?

    Yes. "Most" of us are adult enough to realise they are subjective and coloured by the reviewers opinions but, if I'm in a hurry and not sure if I have time to read a 5-page review, it is useful to know beforehand if it gets 50% or 90%.

    > Do spec sheets or tables help?

    Yes. It saves covering every single spec within the text of the review leaving the reviewer to cover only the important USPs.

    > Do you like to see lots of product picture

    Not lots, but photos of ports etc are helpful - particularly if something has a port cover or plug. Those things can be a real PITA if done badly so a decent close-up is always welcome. Also, something to show a product to scale. It is all very well stating how small, slim, huge, fat a product is but we need to see it in relation to a common, every day object.

    > Games reviews - good or bad, more or fewer?

    Not fussed personally but I'm sure you guys know how many clicks they get.

    Overall though, I love the reg reviews, use them a lot and would just appreciate a little more consistency.

  30. frank ly

    I once bought a product based on a Reg Review

    It was (and still is) a Plextor NAS box. As I started to use it, I found that it had several important characteristics that had not been covered at all by the review, some good for me, some bad for me. (Please note: I'm not complaining, I'm observing.)

    It took me a week of detailed furtling and fettling to figure out everything (more or less) about the operation and characteristics of this NAS box, and with a bit of detective work on the internet I deduced some interesting facts about its origins. (It was actually based on a previous Japanese product)

    The thing is, we can't expect you and your colleagues to spend a week doing detailed digging and operational observations. However, I'm sure many Reg readers would be willing, at least once, to perform a detailed review task for you. I'd be prepared to do serious work reviewing a product (of my choice) if I got to keep it.

    What do you say? (I don't mind if you're amusingly rude.)

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I once bought a product based on a Reg Review

      I'd say that's - in part - what the Comments section is for. Most writers keep an eye on these and respond to questions, though we don't (can't) force them to do so.

      We always welcome comment from folk who've used a bit of kit and have hints, tips and - yes - corrections.

  31. BigAndos
    Thumb Up

    Better quality writing, and more "round up" reviews

    As other commenters have stated, some pieces are written quite poorly with multiple spelling or grammar mistakes and sometimes poor English. Sometimes pieces seem deliberately written to be controversial purely for the sake of starting commentard flame wars and driving up page views! Depsite this initial whinging, I do love the Register's hardware section and have some positive comments below.

    For major product releases, e.g. a new flagship mobile phone, the in depth reviews El Reg publishes are very good. I think they have the right balance of technical details (e.g. what processor does it use) and more user focused information (how well does it actually work?).

    I would like to see more round up style reviews covering major product categories e.g. a monthly round up of new phones released. If it isn't possible to review them all then at least a link to any relevant news articles or marketing blurb would be a good service to readers. The "10 x that do x" type articles are also great, for the most popular product categories it would be brilliant to have these published on regular cycle. Finally, it would be really good to see some more games reviews - and please keep the antique code show going!

  32. Timbo 1

    Well.........

    Having people with vested interests in the products they are reviewing isnt particularly encouraging. For example, a recent review of a smaller fondleslab from a fruit company being written by someone who is involved with creating and selling applications (e.g 'Kate - A Royal Odyssey iPad magazine app' ) for the device...........

    A reduction in the superlatives would also be welcome.

    As would a reduction of constant comparisons during a review (unless of courses it's a 'how they measure up against each other' type of article. Fine, drop some comments in to the end of the article, but please review the device on its own merits.

  33. Popup

    A tale of two rants

    Rant #1: Be Objective!

    There are many parameters of tech products that can be objectively measured, but are typically just waffled about by people with very limited knowledge in the subject.

    Colour rendition of screens and response curves on speakers are just two examples that spring to my mind. Both are frequently described as 'warm', 'harsh' or something equally fluffy when they could be explained by a detailed plot or measurement. If you don't have the means to properly test equipment - then don't bother trying!

    Rant #2: Know what you're talking about!

    Two recent e-reader reviews spring to mind.

    In the Kobo Mini review (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/14/kobo_mini_5in_e_reader_review/) it was mentioned that the display comes from VizPlex rather than e-Ink, when in fact VizPlex is a brand of E-Ink.

    The Kindle Paperwhite review (http://www.reghardware.com/2012/11/13/review_amazon_kindle_paperwhite_e_book_reader/page2.html) claimed that it's possible to switch off the light - which is also patently untrue (at least with the current firmware (5.2 and 5.3) ).

    Both of these facts were pointed out in comments, but the article was never corrected.

    But facts and figures need to be backed up by text, and that's where we have come to expect humorous and occasionally vitriolic prose in the above-mentioned Vulture-Style.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A tale of two rants

      I can respond to the Vizplex point, because I wrote the review. That seems a minor point, but as I've said in another response, error reports will only be seen if they come via the 'Send a Correction' button. It's fixed now.

      I disagree about the 'fluffy' comments inasmuchas not everyone knows how to read a response chart especially the ordinary consumers Reg Hardware reviews have been aimed at. A frequency response chart will tell you what you will hear, but not necessarily how good it sounds. Colour rendition, however, is less subjective and worthy of more scientific evaluation, I agree.

  34. Fading Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Deal Breakers....

    When looking at Amazon reviews etc the ones I check are the negative reviews. I find trawling though the negatives in search of a deal breaker a much more fruitful exercise than heaps of gushing praise. So a simple what's wrong with it (or what's not included / operates poorly) summary in a "why not to buy" on page one of the review would be helpful.

  35. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Reviews from a different perspective:

    How about reviews for gadgets for more senior friends and family members? I'm not talking about niche phones with just five buttons marked "Daughter, Doctor, Irene, Cat Shelter' but mainstream gadgets reviewed for people whose eyesight requires more than the one pair of specs, or whose fingers aren't as dextrous as they used to be.

    I like the Reg reviews for their qualitative reviews- benchmarks and controlled tests are best done by other sites who have a name for such things.

  36. Will Wykeham

    Conclusions

    I enjoy the reviews - they're well written, and the reviewers tend to catch some of the detail that's important to me that doesn't get covered elsewhere.

    I don't have time to read every review though, and sometimes I just want to know the highlights. The last section is often a good summary of the conclusions, but in some reviews isn't useful on it's own. It wouldn't be too difficult for the smaller portion of reviews to fix this.

    It might not even be a bad idea for this to go at the top of the review, but only as long as there's room for more than a sentence or two so that it actually communicates something worthwhile.

  37. Jess

    Comparisons - and remove the horrid collapse comments thing

    I would like to see reviews of phones compared to a similar previous model (i.e. what someone might be contemplating upgrading from), and competing platforms.

    For example I would like to see a WP8 phone compared to an N8, a new android, a new iPhone and a new BlackBerry.

    I would also like to so the horrid hiding the end of long comments done away with. It makes the comments hard work to follow on a mobile, and often it causes a complete refresh so you lose you place, and if you happen to be in a tunnel you are stuffed.

    Has anyone on the staff actually used it on opera mini?

  38. Jess

    P.S.

    I did buy a hisense 1080p on the strength of a review here, and wasn't dissapointed.

  39. The answer is 42

    Who is it for?

    Make it clear who the review is aimed for; Blackberrys have good security (rumor 1) but are a fashion item down the local pub. NAS boxes are creeping further from business users down to domestic (rumor 2), so make it clear whether your review is aimed at the dolly-bird on the street corner or the sys admin stuck in the basement. Your "Best 10" are good, though.

  40. Martin

    Another one here who likes the 10 .... type reviews. I've bought a b&w laser printer and a pair of headphones based on recommendations here from those, and been delighted with both.

    Please - try to avoid too much waffle in reviews. The recent review of the iPad 4 was three pages - the first page and a bit was actually about how the reviewer did not get the point of tablets when they first came out, but now is an avid enthusiast. Nothing about the new iPad was mentioned until mid-way down the second page. Not really what we need.

    And yes - I'm with the people who really think that the review of the iPhone 5 was so astonishingly sycophantic, I had to check whether I was reading the Guardian technology pages.

  41. TeeCee Gold badge

    My two cents.

    Cars. Why?

    Smartphones etc. Can we stop dwelling at length on how great / shit the provided TwatFaceBeSpace widget is? a) Like it bloody matters. b) If you don't like it, get another one from apptunes / play school / whatever the boxful of tumbleweeds MS offer is called today.

    What would be interesting is how easy it is to rip off the provided cruft in favour of your own favourites. i.e. If you really must have Tw@ter's sewer fed into your handset 24x7 and wish to use your fave Tw@ting tool, whether the provided one can be completely removed, removed but still chew storage or must remain sat there active, chewing storage, memory and the odd clock cycle, but idle.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Told you before but nothing happened. I would like to see the score in the article title, so I can easily see which products have the highest scora. Maybe a search/sort function within each category, which would enable me to see the printers with the highest scores first.

  43. DF118
    Go

    I like the review articles on the Reg/RH. They are generally consistent and well-informed, although there have been notable exceptions.

    In particular I love your prosumer/high end camera reviews because they're a refreshing change from the usual choice of crazy in-depth multi-page tracts from the likes of dpreview or the ten-a-penny, barely-scratching-the-surface pointless guff populating the rest of the net. On that note I'd love you to do a review of the Sony A99 SLT camera*.

    Other than that I'd like to see something like a "league table" for each category of gear, showing a quick blurb, review date and score, along with a link back to the review itself. I know there're currently category links available from the RH homepage, but they could be improved upon.

    * If you've already reviewed it please accept my apologies - I haven't been the most dedicated follower of recent review articles.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is going to sound really negative..

    Essentially, all I can think of is my pet peeves with your reviews. I suspect that this is because the well-written ones don't stick out like a sore thumb, producing a fairly even reaction. It's the really terrible articles/reviews that jump out.

    I'm sorry, I'm going to name names occasionally, too- as it's clearer than speaking in general terms.

    First, proof reading. Recently, the Reg has become a morass of "off of", dodgy apostrophes, "should of" and similar school-level howlers. I know that staring at an article written out to a deadline can make your eyes go a little funny, so maybe have a reasonably qualified sub-editor read through things before they go live? It just looks terribly unprofessional otherwise. You expect the commentards to be somewhat variable in quality, but the articles are written by supposed professionals (even if they're sometimes mad, drunk or both.. ahem). If your writers are techies rather than writers for the most part, that's fine- just get them some help.

    Don't let people who don't understand what they're reviewing handle things, even if you find the resulting rhetoric amusing (see also A. Dabbs and his works). It can be rather irritating, to say the least- you're supposed to know more, not less, after reading a review.

    Try to keep reviews factual- rather than as massive whinefests. If someone hates Company X and all their works, and is so inflexible that they will never give their products a fair crack of the whip, give that job to someone else. The worst examples that spring to mind here are generally Andrew Orlowski, who (if I may be blunt) tends to veer into tinfoil hat whining rather than giving people a clear idea of what does and doesn't work. Reviews are to evaluate products or services. Rambling opinion pieces that can be safely ignored are probably better suited to the conspiracy theories.

    Photography! I've noticed a lot of reviews using stock shots from the manufacturers, lit and shooped to within an inch of their lives. Surely a couple of lights and a tripod aren't beyond the ken of you stout yeomans? I can manage that on my kitchen work surface, if I steal a lamp from another room- and the results are generally good. Doing better wouldn't be hard. Just make sure that you hit the focus point, and take a couple of white card shots so the colours aren't all screwed up, and it will really do wonders for your reviews. Heck, if you're talking about how icky and fingerprint-prone something is, show us!

    Fact checking.. A lot of lazy assertions get made in this neck of the woods- no specific villains to name now, as quite a few folks do it, both in news and reviews. However, if, in a review, you criticise or laud a product for omitting or offering something unusual, maybe check that it's really the case, and that it works? Too often, lazy, rushed reviews are followed by a string of comments from owners saying "actually, it does support 256 bit cat whiffling, you just need to actually press the whiffling button and enable it". A review riddled with factual inaccuracies is not a great thing.

    You asked about benchmarks- by all means include them where good and reproducible tests exist. Benchmarks are valuable when they are applied in a consistent and empirical measure over time, too, and include useful numbers of data points, but done well, they are a useful tool where relevant.

    Tables of specs are good, especially in situations where it allows a quick glance comparison with competing products. This, however, would feed back into the points above about accuracy, and having an author who understands what they're doing. If specs aren't accurate (or at least as accurate as those from the manufacturer, natch), then they aren't useful.

    Ratings- yes, if they are applied consistently and intelligently. An overall percentage or n/10 is nice, bonus points for a few sub-rating categorites like "performance" and "value", especially on longer-form reviews.

    Sorry if that sounded like a huge attack, it wasn't intended to be, I am actually trying to be constructive. If I may, here's an example of a gadget review elsewhere that I enjoyed reading and found useful:

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/07/divine-intervention-googles-nexus-7-is-a-fantastic-200-tablet/

    The author is lucid, calm, factual and somewhat nerdy. It makes the review a pleasure to read.

    Oh, one last thing (maybe more in a Columbo than Zombie Steve Jobs style).. In regards to "lucid", maybe if you're aiming at a more general, grown-up audience, it might be an idea to remove some of the rather incestuous self-satisfied baby talk that occasionally slips in- "fruity company", "fondleslab", "chocolate factory", "fanboi" and so forth. It's only a couple of rungs up the evolutionary ladder from angry twelve year-olds who write "micro$oft", "crApple" and the like. I know a few of your writers overdo it terribly as they feel like they're trying to copy a "house style". It used to be mildly amusing, when occasional and sparing. However, doing it all the time gets somewhat grating.

    Anyway, I hope you're not feeling entirely dissed at this juncture, and there some useful points survive.. and thanks for bothering to ask.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: This is going to sound really negative..

      Thanks for your thoughts, Anonymous. No offence taken.

      BTW, the Ars review runs to more than 5800 words. I think El Reg's reviews need to be longer, but I think that's stretching it, even for the Nexus 7.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is going to sound really negative..

        Yes, that review is a bit of a beast; I think my point may relate more to the style and approach- it's clear and fairly balanced without being boring or humourless, the pictures look real, the prose is coherent.

        Also, I'm glad that I didn't mortally offend you- I wasted both of my braincells dredging that lot up.

  45. Chris Evans

    More relevant links please. Use of Jargon

    Can I request again more relevant links please. Things have improved a bit on what it was like a year or more ago. But I still often have to track down the relevant website / webpages myself!

    I understand you have to use technical jargon on the site but an unexplained jargon word is often the main point of an article. Readers are often expert in their own area but total novices in other areas covered by your site, so a little help would be very useful.

  46. Troy Peterson
    Meh

    Honestly, there are a zillion review sites out there... When I read El Reg I look for an interesting read with only a kernel of factuality to it. Your reviews should be the same. I like the toungue-in-cheek style of your writing, but that rarely comes out in the reviews...

    If I want a real review of a digital camera I'll go to dpreviews, etc, etc. When I read The Register I want to be entertained. It would be great to see your reviews as the Top Gear of technology.... Take the most outrageously expensive pieces of computer gear and review how well they work underwater.. Look at the product claims and verify them to the extreme.

    However, one thing that nobody seems to do which I would find useful is pictures of the box that something comes in. When I order something I often have to decide whether it's convenient to have it delivered to my office and take it home on the tube/train or if I need to take a day off and wait at home for delivery.... Sometimes it's just impossible to guess what sort of box something will be delivered in...

  47. banjomike

    Stop! using! masses! of! annoying! Yahoo! style! exclamation! points!

    ESPECIALLY on Yahoo related stories.

  48. GregC
    Pint

    A few thoughts

    First up, overall I like the style and length of Reg reviews as they are at the moment. I echo all the previous comments about proof reading though, it doesn't take long to get someone else to look over your words before publication. Keep the irreverent tone, a few facts and figures are great but don't overload me with them, tell me what it's like to use in the real world too.

    I also really like the "Ten...." roundups, more of those would be very welcome.

    Scores - I like to have an at a glance idea of how good something is. However I agree with those saying that when everything seems to score 75% or more then why bother? I also understand your point that people in general tend to interpret a 50% score as "bad", as opposed to "it works". So how about changing to a system where the perception of an average score is different. I'm thinking A to E (with F reserved for utter, dismal and complete failure...). We're all familiar with it from school days, a "C" is regarded as average so fits well for the "it works" score and is actually in the middle of the range, and you could put + and - in there if you wanted to be more fine grained.

    Also on scores, there are the odd products that end up being dominated by one feature (particularly phones), in cases where this happens maybe an alternative "if feature X is really important" score - an example that springs to mind is cameras on phones. The Galaxy Nexus is by and large a great phone but let down by a shoddy camera, so it might get an overall A-, but an "if the camera really matters" C. The reverse could also apply to the Pureview 808 - average phone with a great camera.

    And with that, it's beer o'clock...

  49. Triggerfish

    How about stuff that we can afford

    If a bit skint, 10 gaming headphones reviewed 9 above a hundred quid, 10 dab radios all pricey for basically kitchen radios. I like looking at the shiny stuff but some of the prices for things reviewed are a bit much.

  50. Insane Reindeer
    Flame

    Don't publish the review until it has been re-written.

    And at least twice. OK. So you do not seem to be able to procure devices for very long. Well as far as I am afraid that right there is the biggest issue. I want to know what something is like after it has been used and abused for at least three weeks. Every single waking minute of every single day for three weeks. If it is a laptop then it is the reviewers only laptop. Mobile phone? Then it has to have the reviewers main SIM in it for those three weeks. Quite frankly I'll be happy to wait for a review from this site so that when it comes I know it has been really reviewed. If possible get the device to more than one person and have the review period staggered to take into account any early software/firmware updates.

    Camera centric phones (so anything from Nokia then I guess), have them reviewed by both a photographer and someone else. The Nokia Lumia 920 review was a very well done review but could of benefited from a proper photographers take on the camera bits in my opinion.

    Yes I want to see the full gamut of facts and figures as well as a good run down on what in that list effects the price.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Reg is at its finest when it stays on topic...

    #1.

    The Reg is at its finest when it stays on topic and avoids flimsy / off-topic articles not directly related to IT! So stick with IT! Case in point, why did you include this on your main page :-

    'Reefer madness blasts pot machine maker's stock sky high'

    #2.

    More reviews on every game and PC and laptop you can possibly rate. For instance why are there no articles on the latest high-end gaming laptops and PC's? For example, take the Asus G75VW-DS73-3D or G75VW-DS72, and contrast it with the latest Samsung Series 7 gaming laptop, or the best from Alienware and MSI etc. Yes, The Reg does occasionally reviews individual laptops or a collection of 10, But the problem with that is its sparse and often out of date. I want to see ongoing up-to-date reviews to help with purchasing decisions! You and Amazon could serve a great purpose here! Also, add more in-depth Game and PC reviews after months with the product and not just hours! Surely your staff have personal experience of Games and Gaming machines months in, that would be invaluable here!

    #3.

    Please stop writing commentaries that pretend to be news with inaccurate out of date facts by authors such as Lewis Page. He frequently is permitted to harp on about topics that are way out of his pay grade i.e. nuclear power! This journal is not suited to such complex and divisive topics such as promoting nuclear power post Fukushima! This is an IT tech journal not an energy policy guide!!!

  52. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Be more savage...

    By way of recent example, the iPad Mini should be ravaged for its many (trivial) defects and omissions. Its screen should be compared with the State of the Art and given a 45% rating. The (missing) GPS should be worth 5 points deduction. It ends up with a mark in the 65% 'Hey Apple, You Can Do Better' range and a recommendation to wait for the /2 version.

    Another example is the Google Nexus 4, it gets an overall rating of 'zero' because it doesn't actually exist.

    Windows 8 and the Surface fiasco would be a 500-pg review (listing all the defects and daft decisions) and a rating of about 85%, less about 1,500,000% for them being thick.

    Basically follow the example of Jeremy Clarkson's car reviews. Make them opinionated and funny, with some good details and comparisons along the way. Accuracy is not essential. Don't limit your ratings to 0-100, negative a million or positive 110 are valid.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    audio tests please

    I would like objective audio tests like the one's done in gsmarena, BUT not only for phones, do these tests to DAPs also, please. I don't know why no other site that I know do this, maybe the test equipment is too expensive?

    Thnx.

  54. Kiwi Geezer

    Wot a larf

    Your venerable on-line organ is simply brilliant. I chuckle more at your by-lines than those of any other medium. If I had to suggest a change, it would be simply to introduce more irreverence.

    I appreciate the historical articles on the dawning of ICT, primarily coz I wuz there.

  55. TWB

    Power consumption testing please...

    I think I have emailed about this in the past but for many devices I would like to know what its power usage is. Get yourself a cheap Maplin or similar plug in power meter and run the device through it while you are reviewing it.

    A single line in the review like - "We found the 'Fab-o-matic 5000'* drew 42W while starting up, 85W under heavy load, 15W in normal use and 2 watts in standby" - obviously you might want to think about a more consistent approach to measuring from device to device.

    *Don't think these are available any more, sorry....

  56. This post has been deleted by its author

  57. NeilMc
    Boffin

    Welcome Request - more of the same but perhaps a little more polish

    Well done The Reg,

    Data is everywhere and much of it is biased and confusing; please carve yourself a niche by providing a forum for enthusiastic technology users, many of which such as The Anonymous Coward contribute widely and generously from which I have personally benefitted. This is where data becomes actionable/useful "information"

    Technology is all pervasive and will continue to be so, therefore if we are to benefit from this mega-trend we need to share our knowledge. This perhaps starts with The Reg and its many thought and comment provoking articles which I feel are in the main good.

    I agree the literary content need brushing up (grammar, spellings etc), however as a low level "power user" I look forward to the morning emailer and frequently find many articles of interest.

    You might also want to test and indeed share the "background and credibility" of the contributors of the articles as this could be where review objectivity or literary quality standards are dropping off.

    Of greatest value to me are the comments that these articles spawn, as exampled by todays "comments regarding NAS storage"; an issue I have been trying to solve for about a year now as a prolific digital photographer in my limited spare time.

    In summary, keep dong what you are doing; the tech focus is a sweet spot for me; the articles need a "polish" as perhaps the contributors do or The Reg needs to put a more robust editorial process in place.

    But that aside; focus on retaining the most valuable asset "your Users" and those that contribute to the forum comments.

    Good luck

  58. yoinkster

    Only one request

    .... Single site sign on!!!!!111oneoneone

  59. pootle

    well reviews that actually inform would be nice

    I find most of your reviews are lightweight wallpaper, there is little in them I can't find out from the manufacturer's brochure and couple of amazon buyers reviews typically. After reading them I often just feel frustrated that it didn't actually tell me what I needed to know.

    For example, video streaming in stb's tv's and many other boxes (built in iplayer / 4OD etc). The quality of the stream these products use varies widely, some (like Sony BD players) stream (when available) use what looks pretty similar to the HD stream you can get on a PC / web browser - often nearly as good as live HD (if there's not too much action going on), others (like my Humax foxsat HDR) the "HD" stream is worse than broadcast SD, and the SD stream is frankly painful on anything larger than a 15" screen from the other side of the room. So tell us what we really get. And while on integrated iPlayers, the UI when trying to search varies from piss poor to diabolically dire.

    Oh yes,! and while your there, how much bandwidth the various functions use would be nice to know for those of on wetstringband internet connections.

    I'm with N13L5 on the need for proper info on displays - viewing angles, display technology, colour gamut etc. And yes displays in general do need more resolution - 1080P on a 15" laptop is good, on a 24" screen it's jut a pita. I still have a

    VisionMaster 400 upstairs (15" diagonal) that I used to run at 1600, but it's not very portable!

    If I had a couple more days I could give another hundred example - but you get the general idea.

    Very important to know the stance / affiliations etc. of the reviewer, I can definitely do without the fanboy reviews as well (well maybe if they are particularly amusing I might let is pass - maybe Verity Stob should do more?)

    Alternatively do a short sharp informed review and link to other detailed reviews for the gory detail.

    As they (mostly) are, they're as much use as my paper's "50 best....." reviews, well less use actually - I can't light the fire with them.

  60. cyberculchie

    Retro Games

    more retro, love the nostalgia when you review something I'd forgotten

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