We all know that products on the market vary greatly in quality, but it’s often difficult to figure out how good a product actually is before you purchase returning to work after holiday meme. With this in mind, we researched dozens of online store reviews for each product to identify the most helpful sources of information.
1. Customer Ratings –
Customers rate products on average at a much higher level than professional reviewers – in fact, many of the highest rated products in our study received fewer reviews than poorly reviewed products. This is because customers are more likely to be honest about which features they liked and which ones they didn’t. The two sources that provided the most information were Amazon.com and Newegg.com .
2. Online Forums –
We found a small number of online forums with several hundred readers that frequently ask for recommendations about specific products, often for review purposes. The most popular forum was Tom’s Hardware (even though it does not allow non-members to write reviews).
3. Video Reviews –
You can find numerous video reviews of the same product on YouTube and other video sites. Although much of the information that’s found on these sites is biased or laced with opinion, the best reviewers will provide clear explanations that are easy to follow.
4. Manufacturer Specific –
In some cases, a manufacturer has produced a line of products that are nearly identical to one another, making it difficult for shoppers to know which product is best for them. In this situation, it might be helpful to look at what other users have to say about each brand before deciding which one you should buy. The most popular sources that provided this type of information were Newegg.com and Amazon.
5. Product Comparison Sites –
If you’re looking for advice on a particular category of products, it can be helpful to compare them before making purchase. Many sites that do this are concerned with reviews only, but we found one organized website called Shopping Lists that provides a Rating and Review feature that combines both into one site.
6. Company Forum –
You can find product discussion forums on a variety of different websites. Some are tied to large retailers like Amazon.com, while others are focused on user-generated content from individual companies. One of the most popular is Tom’s Hardware, but the only drawback is that it doesn’t allow non-members to participate (because Tom personally visits each forum).
7. Product Ratings –
If your goal is to find out whether a particular product will meet your needs and are not concerned with how much detail you get about it, products may be rated by customers on sites such as Newegg and Amazon.com . While these reviews don’t provide the same level of detail that we looked at during the research stage, they still provide valuable information.
8. Blogs – –
We found a number of blog sites that were either organized by category or provided helpful information about products in any given category. The most popular was Tom’s Hardware , which has been around since 1997 and receives over 300,000 page views per day. The second most popular was Tom’s Hardware , which will change names to Engadget when it undergoes a major site redesign in early 2011. Engadget is owned by the same company as Tom’s Hardware .
9. Consumer Reports – –
It’s difficult to tell how valuable a Consumer Reports review is going to be before you purchase the product, but it usually provides at least a basic level of information on each product. The most useful reviews were provided by magazines and newspapers (e.g., Consumer Reports, PC World).
10. Online Shopping Reviews – –
Online shopping is quickly becoming the preferred method of purchasing products. As Online Retailers continue to offer better deals and better reviews, this has become an important source for products that are in high demand or for those that are high quality (e.g., lifetime warranties , free shipping , guarantees , etc.).
11. Designer Websites – –
Designer websites such as Apple are famous for having a limited number of products that are well made and very popular. While the manufacturer’s site may contain reviews, they usually don’t reveal a lot of details. The best reviews on designer products will often be found at sites like PC Mag , which has reviewed almost all major tech brands in the past decade.
12. Product Reviews – –
Product Reviews are available for almost every product on major eCommerce websites such as Amazon.com and Newegg.com . These sites will usually submit products to review companies if they have a high level of interest and/or quality features (e.g., Lifetime Warranty). While product reviews vary depending on the type of site, usually you’ll find a minimum of information about the product or its features, with a strong emphasis on overall quality.
13. Local Community – –
A few manufacturers will have a local forum where users can post information about problems with products and request that stores stock particular items. This can be an excellent source for finding out about potential issues with a particular item before buying it, but it will generally be limited to users in the same vicinity as the manufacturer’s retail store. One of our favorite examples is Tom’s Hardware , which has numerous discussion forums located around the world in categories such as “CPU Coolers” and “Motherboards.”