Yeah, I am doing what many game review websites are doing currently- and it makes sense. I was also had a conversation with a friend about the rating system and that pretty much made up my mind.
Most review websites in India post vague reviews that don’t talk a lot in detail- mainstream websites and magazines, blogs and even forums. In fact, the same lot do not have any benchmark graphs or list their test setup properly, let alone list the tests that they’re doing. Hardware BBQ might have very limited resources, but I’ve learned a lot in such situations. In many cases, Hardware BBQ is the last review website that gets a review sample once everyone is done with it. That’s good enough for me. We’re good in our niche and we’re growing accordingly since 2010. A lot of people ask me for advice and help via our contact form, email and even in few situations, they’ve managed to get my personal mobile number (which is a little concerning). Mind you, I am talking about people outside my friend and acquaintance circles. One small site seems to make that difference.
Hardware BBQ posts information as much as possible with the resources in hand. In many cases, when we ask for resources from brands, they are able to provide it no strings attached. In many cases, we get them in brand new “retail pack” conditions, such as 4 units of WD Red 3TB for NAS testing and also few things from Coolermaster. Some things that end up with us gets used on our test bench. Companies may see it as ‘product placement’ when we mention it, but we see it as getting the foundation to do things right. Win-win for everyone irrespective of the reason at hand. I know in most cases, it depends on the individuals working and not the brand, but I am happy regardless.
It helps in audio too. Mostly, audio reviews carry a certain subjective opinion, so it depends on one’s attention to detail and understanding. The stuff that stays with Hardware BBQ helps to compare the older products with newer products in real time- irrespective of the brand and even price range.
So far, we’re doing it right. Unfortunately, at times I don’t get the hardware in the best of conditions. From peripherals with strands of hair, food particles and fingernails to layers of dust, missing accessories, bent motherboards, etc. Heck, a long time ago I got a storage drive with a very disturbing collection of bondage porn. That image of that poor skinny guy with some fake leather-ish gas mask strapped upside down still stays fresh in my mind. Oh, the things I do…
I also don’t understand how do reviewers end up mutilating a box- torn corners, twisted and hard plastic. We’re not talking about blister packs. We’re talking about boxes that we open by removing a small taped seal.
The Funny part is that they don’t emphasize on the packaging.
In any case, I prefer to review them in ‘as is condition’. I hope brands becomes serious on this and request other reviewers to be considerate. Unlike them, we post the pictures of the package because it’s equally important. When you’re buying one product does a lot of traveling before it reaches you. You’ll never know how the product delivery is handled and if something is damaged. I’ve pointed this out clearly when I talked about Nvidia GTX 980’s promo packaging. Heck, we even pointed this out in Corsair 400R and Corsair 500R review but dealing with Corsair India’s PR was a terrible experience since they were more interested in convincing me to hide cons since ‘the company executives don’t read them’ except the conclusion. Yes, they did say that. We asked to dispute the cons, they didn’t. In the end, they implied I am in cahoots with their competition. LOL!!
Oh, the things I do…
Which comes to the point- why are we ditching the rating system? Simply because I feel it has outlasted its usefulness.
Many times I notice disadvantages in components where usually it’s not supposed to be in, even in previously tested products in the same brand. In such scenarios, I simply think of adding a sub-category in a rating system. But then if I do have, I think about doing the same with previously written reviews. In other words, the average scoring system gets screwed up.
I also make efforts by installing hardware components inside Lian Li A70F full tower that I own. Trust me when I say- it’s insanely stressful, but it’s necessary because it gives me a good idea if a layout is good or not. It’s not easy to drag out a full tower case with fully loaded components, remove, swap, install, etc. The desk setup I made can easily accommodate two systems- one for testing and one for prepping content. I hope things go according to plan. Everyone benefits out of this. It should significantly increase my speed since I can prep review of one product and test another in many cases.
The point is, the effort is made- and it’s reflected in the reviews.
Then there’s another question of putting a value for a rating sub-category called Value. In a country like India where certain components cost way more than pricing from other countries, the price change seems to be based on the mood. There have been times where after pointing out that, the prices in known Indian retail outlets have reduced to a more reasonable range. We mention the price of the product in Indian, American, British and now French currency- the top four out of five countries I get the highest traffic from. And at the same time, I post affiliate links where I get a very small referral fee. It does play its part to pay the bills for this site.
Furthermore, brands have given more importance to have listed their products in Flipkart and Amazon as soon as possible. There were a couple of times where a PR agency of one of the products I’ve reviewed here sent a link of its listed product in Amazon India and Flipkart and asked if we could add that- and I did. I appreciate that, though.
Furthermore, we mention the pros and cons along with our closing opinions. Still, Hardware BBQ has a ridiculously low bounce rate of well under 10% (the more pages are turned, the lesser the bounce rate) even on the daily and monthly basis, and average time on site is pretty encouraging. The rating system seems to add a lot of clutter and adds confusion rather than helping people. People who are serious enough to purchase a component will run a search via Google or the site, read properly, understand and see if the pros benefit them and if the cons affect them.
My concentration is towards what readers want to know, and towards manufacturers who want to know what our readers require- and gain feedback to improve their product. As far as buyers and readers are concerned- they’re real people, they purchase with real money and they want to know if its really good- or at the very least the cons of a product would prevent them from purchasing. As always if there’s something you want to add, you can comment here or shoot in the forums or via the contact form. After all, Hardware BBQ is Your Source for…