magazine best buys

  DrHoliday 12:39 16 Jun 2006

Sometimes wonder how much to rely on the best buy pc reviews in some magazines, as you dont know if one mag is biased to one or more companies. Often you can be influnced to buy from a good review in one mag, some seem to write the same review in one or mare mags owned by the same publishing group.

So what is the best pc or laptop to buy. And who's reviews should you listen to or who's should you see as being biased to one company?

  rmcqua 13:01 16 Jun 2006

Not sure how long you have been visiting this forum, but the questions you raise are regulars, albeit maybe with slightly different wording.
Try "search forum" for MAGAZINE or MAGAZINE REVIEWS and you will see what I mean.
You will also see that any suggestion of bias is vigorously rejected (and rightly so) by the PCA Forum Editor.

  SG Atlantis® 15:20 16 Jun 2006

Best way is to read all you can on the items in question. Then buy the one you liked in the first place ignoring what you´ve read.

Read the reviews, visit shops and look at the goods. If your budget is say 500 look at the model above and below yours... see if it´s worth the money for what you´re getting spec wise, maybe go lower or higher.

Then come online ask questions here, chances are someone in the forum owns one. And google for other reviews. Don´t take any one review as gospel truth.

  spuds 16:33 16 Jun 2006

Reviews are generally based on the reviewers opinions and expertise, hence disclaimers by the magazine. Read the review, then ask on any forum like PCA, the general opinion of the audience.

Whether the magazine was bias towards certain manufacturers, that again would be a matter of opinion. Some manufacturers will provide test products, others will not.

  Forum Editor 22:10 16 Jun 2006

I think it's good to bear in mind that what you're reading is an assessment, prepared by one person (or sometimes a small group of people, based on personal experiences of using a specific computer, device, or software application. No review can ever be (or is ever intended to be) a definitive work, because it doesn't include comparisons with every other similar product that happens to be available at the time.

A review is necessarily somewhat subjective in certain areas - if I say something has a high build quality I'm expressing an opinion. It may be an opinion based on many years of experience with similar products, but it's an opinion, nevertheless. You may value my opinions or you may not.

Certain aspects of reviewing are easier - one can use benchmarking software to test file-processing times for instance. Value-for-money judgments on computers can be reasonably accurate too, because it's not difficult to add up a list of components, factor in the software bundle,the benchmark results and the build quality assessment, and come up with a value-for money score.

Sometimes you'll see a machine that simply has 'charisma' (for want of a better word), and you're tempted to review it above it's nuts and bolts level - lavish praise on it, simply because you're in love. It's a human failing, but you know that others will feel the same, and so you say so. Then along comes someone who doesn't see it your way, they analyse and probe, and .........rubbish your review. That's life, I'm afraid, and try as you will you'll never be all things to all men and women when it comes to reviewing.

Bias? Of course reviewers are biased. They're biased towards products which do a job well, or do it inexpensively, or with style, or with all three. Biased towards specific manufacturers? Maybe, but not for the reasons that some people imagine. I'm biased towards IBM ThinkPads; it's a somewhat strange bias, because others make laptops which are faster, lighter, cheaper, and sexier. Show me a ThinkPad however, and I'll show you an object of desire. When it comes to laptops they showed the rest of the world how it's done, and I love them with a passion.

You see? Bias exists in all kinds of ways, and in all kinds of people - reviewers included, but what doesn't exist in our magazine is favouritism towards advertisers - and I suspect that's really what you were getting at when you asked your question?

For what it's worth, I know that such an attitude simply doesn't exist where our magazine is concerned. Put simply, it would spell commercial suicide, and we're just not interested, thank you. I for one would be out of here faster than a very fast thing if I had even the slightest inkling of such an attitude.

  Totally-braindead 22:39 16 Jun 2006

I read all the reviews I can when I'm considering buying an item but I also like to see someone who has the item, if possible, and see how he/she likes it. Obviously this is in many cases not possible but word of mouth to me is the best sort of information available on a purchase. Magazines in my opinion do not have the items for a long enough period of time to make a full judgement.
I use magazine reviews as a guide only as I've bought items they thought were great only to find that I thought they were rubbish.

  LinH 14:15 17 Jun 2006


You are quite correct, of course, any non-aligned magazine that showed bias toward any particular product or service would soon be history.

However, my experiences as a rep for a large national trade association before taking early retirement suggests that one should always be vigilant in such matters.

In the beginning, it was drummed into us to be commercially neutral at all times, we were employed to represent the association member (retailer) and should not be influenced by outside sources i.e. freebies or suchlike from companies trying to gain access to the membership via personal recommendation. However, over the years the membership base decreased due to cost cutting therefore other revenue streams had to be identified. So the concept of exclusive suppliers was introduced and suddenly commercial neutrality was put on the back burner. In the end we even had targets to meet for specific commercial deals.

The important thing, though, was that many of these deals were not the best in the marketplace for the individual member, but instead gave the association an override commission and therefore had to be 'sold in' whenever possible.

So, although the above example is cited only as an example as to what can happen and is only loosely connected to the main thread content, in the instance of PCA (and almost certainly the other top selling PC mags out there) commercial bias, though highly unlikely, is in certain circumstances always possible, so we should not become complacent.

  Ancient Learner 21:36 17 Jun 2006

I admit to a fair level of cynicism on this matter, albeit that I read reviews avidly and am prone to eventually being swayed by them.

My cynicism in this respect, was born some 40 years ago, when, as a young man, I was involved, closely, but not employed by, a firm of Insurance Brokers, and I had the opportunity to ask the senior partner how on earth he decided which Insurance company he recommended to his clients, because I wasn't able to discern any bias at all, as they recommended any one of 4 or 5 excellent companies in the Endowment business. His reply was very simple, it all depended which company had last taken him out to lunch.

  DrHoliday 13:12 18 Jun 2006

It was just a general comment, as a pcadvisor mag subscriber i often read the magazine then come over to look here.

I only decided to use the forum as i feel i can pass on my knowledge to others with pc problems. It's always good to get a broad range of views every now & then.

Ancient Learner, argh the free lunch ;-)

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