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The Internet

A Look At Free Reviewer Swag 144

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
chicl3t writes "It used to be that the lagniappes that came along with hardware for review were things like USB drives — makes sense, one 128MB drive for a 100MB presentation. But...iPod nanos? As in more than one? That's another story entirely. It's damn nice swag, of course, but at what point is it too much? A DailyTech writer talks about his experiences with swag."
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A Look At Free Reviewer Swag

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:31AM (#21148023)
    Does anyone actually bother reading those reviews? I sure don't. They usually tend to say nothing but positives about the products being reviewed, especially when the reviewer got them from the manufacturer free-of-charge. Of course, that's to be expected, since they want to get more such free products (which I don't doubt they use for themselves afterwards, until they fall apart a week or so later).

    The only reputable source I've found for reviews is Consumer Reports. Other than that, the pickings are slim.
  • by ojs (93878) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:44AM (#21148119) Homepage
    First I hear of the terms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagniappe [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swag [wikipedia.org].

    On another note, isn't this comparable to the free gifts that pharmacutical companies give doctors on their conferences. It is just that this doesn't have the obvious connection to peoples health and well being and perhaps is a bit smaller in scope. A bit far fetched perhaps but the same principle or what?
  • I'm a reviewer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darien (180561) <darien&gmail,com> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:22AM (#21148319)
    I'm a reviewer for a UK-based PC magazine, and I have to say, though companies do tend to give out freebies at press events, I've never been given anything remotely as interesting as an iPod. Normally it's a USB thumb-drive and a branded pen or two. For major launches you might get a rucksack.

    But be that as it may, surely giving out gifts of any size is only a problem if it actually influences reviewers. And on that count I see no grounds for concern at all. I think anyone who works in this industry quickly develops a healthily cynical regard for manufacturers, and if we feel like a company's being unusually nice to us our immediate instinct is to wonder why, and to look at their product with extra suspicion. The magazine market's just too competitive for reviewers to get away with endorsing lousy products: readers aren't stupid, and I think most of us love our jobs far too much to sell out our reputations for a few hundred pounds' worth of free stuff.

    (That's how it seems to be with print journalism, anyway. Web reviewers... well, I can't speak for them.)
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:28AM (#21148349) Homepage Journal
    I've seen a lot of articles where the writer says they have to return the review unit too.

    Consumer Reports can be a bit odd at times, they've marked down things heavily things that are somewhat minor in my opinion. Sometimes they don't make allowances for the target market, such as marking down a sports car for it's rough ride when that's a sacrifice that needs to be made in order to get better performance.

    Even though they don't get their review samples, I've heard of one way that their no-ad system can be subverted. The companies can buy up large blocks of subscriptions, and the magazine can live under the threat of cancellation if their product is reviewed poorly.
  • review freebies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@eaRASPrthshod.co.uk minus berry> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:39AM (#21148409)
    Doesn't the value of the freebies awarded to the reviewer depend directly upon the number of stars awarded by the reviewer?
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @12:52PM (#21149275) Journal

    That is the only real way to seriously review a product. Buy a real version of it from a real retailer who had no idea who you are. That is how consumer watchdogs do it, they want to avoid any potential that the producer tries to influence the results.

    We all seen the stories about reviewers being send special versions, geared to do really well in the used benchmarks.

    Do it like the pros do it. Seperate yourselve completly from the people whose product you are reviewing.

    Offcourse, that means the public has to start A paying the reviewers B wait till the product has already been released before the review can be done. Not going to happen, I am afraid.

  • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @04:01PM (#21150853) Homepage
    I see it every year in the Jeep reviews, they get dinged for the rough ride. But they should. I've never understood why people criticize Consumer Reports for doing what they're supposed to be doing -- criticizing things from the point of view of an average American suburban family and then spelling out the reasons why things do well or poorly in a review, so that you can decide if those reasons are important to you.

    I've owned a Jeep Wrangler for a decade, and certainly wouldn't recommend it to someone with 2 kids as a replacement for their Honda Accord. It DOES have a rough ride, it lacks amenities, it has no storage space, etc etc. If you don't really want a convertible 4x4 that it easy to tinker with, there's no reason to buy one. Yet every year Jeep groups get up in arms over Consumer Reports giving it a low score because it has a lot of negatives that Jeep owners tend not to care about.

    If you're buying a sports car, you might not care about trunk space or back seat leg room, but that doesn't mean Consumer Reports should just ignore those factors in their review. if you want a review from the point of view of a sports car writer, buy a sports car magazine.

    Consumer reports does a great job, I think the people who complain about it just don't understand what job Consumer Reports is doing.
  • by KiahZero (610862) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @05:28PM (#21151523)
    How is that bribery? From what you've said, it wasn't that the drug company had paid for the vacation / samples that influenced his prescribing behavior, but rather the availability of the samples and his heightened knowledge of how it worked. Thus, even if a neutral third-party had provided him with the information and the free samples, his prescribing habits would have changed.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @05:33PM (#21151555) Homepage Journal
    Yeah right. You don't need to carry a wheelchair, therefore it's something nobody should care about.

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