Worst non-review ever!

I continue my quest to find the Worst. Review. Ever.

There have been many worthy candidates, but today’s entry from Om Malik deserves special praise.

Microsoft sent him a Zune for review. So instead of sitting down and actually opening the box, he reads a bunch of other reviews and in the time he could have been, you know, writing the review, he pens this:

It is now 10.09 AM and the box remains unopened. The reviews have soured me on the device already. Is there a point to another review of the device, given that the gigabytes of coverage already devoted to Zune? What do you think? Should I open the device, and give it a shot? I have a new Lenovo laptop sitting next to me, loaned by Lenovo people just for this specific review. (Now that laptop is seriously sweet, despite the WindowsXP!)

Gee. Maybe you could answer some of those questions if you actually opened the box. And your credibility might go up a notch if you formed your own opinion independent of all those other reviews you read.

I’ve never seen a more graphic representation of the Silicon Valley Echo Chamber in action.

News flash! My esteemed colleague Carl Siechert notes that Om has opened the box and updated his post. Carl calls special attention to the sentence I’ve bold-faced below:

I have opened the box, and set up the Zune and have played around with it for an hour or so. I need a few more hours to do an in depth review, but the initial reaction has been mixed. The device when it come to looks and usability is definitely though not quite as smooth as iPod, is still pretty intuitive. The software side of things, well that is another story. But need more time to make an honest assessment. More tomorrow!

Carl says, “He should’ve left it in the box.” Me? I am sincerely hoping that Om will give us a detailed account of the back-in-the-box experience when he packs the device up to return it to Microsoft. That would be the perfect counterpoint to this and this and this.

…Further update. That “more tomorrow” part? Hah. That was Thursday. It’s now Sunday. Not a word.

This has been another episode of Short Attention Span Theater.

14 thoughts on “Worst non-review ever!

  1. Sad. Truly pathetic. On the other hand, when people do write legitimate reviews, one has to wonder how ‘colored’ they get by other reviews on the web. What do you think?

    Does everyone follow the pack to some extent?

  2. evilkat:

    I have a few friends that are reviewers (for food and film) and they rarely even notice other reviews, except if they disagree, then they call them idiots. It’s matter of pride in most reviewers and journalists that they can approach things objectively, regardless of what others have said. If anything I’d say other reviews sometimes have the bad effect of making the reviewer want to disagree with everyone else, just to be different.

    When other reviews do come into play a professional reviewer or journalist will read them and usually make sure that they either take another angle, so their piece is fresh and interesting, or they’ll probe those features that are getting all the press to see if it’s really as bad or good as people say, or they’ll look for the smaller, more hidden things that the other press has missed.

    Basically other reviews usually do less ‘coloring’ and more ‘steering’.

  3. and yet these are some of the same bloggers who decry things like ReviewME.

    Scoble gets a free Zune (actually two but one is a loaner) and blogs about and at the same time goes on about the mistakes MS has made with the product.

    Om can’t even be bothered to open the package and yet he bitches about it.

    what is the difference between that and some who gives an honest product review for 20.00

  4. Ahhh, good one Ed! Brightened my day. I thik Om was giving his audience wanted they wanted to read.

    I was offered a Zune for the launch day but I turned it down and pushed the date forward on it because I didn’t want to bother writing “yet another launch day review”. The more I read online “reviews” the more my heart sinks. Fully 90% of the reviews I read are nothing more than first impression pieces or those wierd reviews where you get to see the product being “unboxed” -what’s with that anyway? Is it some kinda strange product pornography?

    I’m not all that keen of writing first impression pieces and calling them reviews but it’s a growing trend (encouraged by PR compaies who want loan items sent out and back in a week or so). I like to have something in my hands and actually in use for a while before writing a genuine review.

    Keep it up Ed!

  5. Here’s my candide for worst Zune review so far:


    The guy spends the first third of the article griping about Microsoft’s review terms. Then he gripes about Zune marketing, Zune DRM, the Zune marketplace, and Microsoft’s deal with Universal. The marketplace bit could have been on target, as the marketplace is an important part of the Zune suite, but the guy just gripes about how songs are priced in Microsoft points instead of dollars.

    I can only find two sentences about the Zune itself, and they are dismissive without providing any justification. This is not even a first-impressions piece. It’s just mindless Zune-bashing.

    Makes me feel sleazy just to link to the guy.

  6. Steve and Shawn:

    I was thinking more along the lines of tech reviews which are much more influenced (IMHO) by the web and the plethora of reviews that are out there. Unlike most print-reviews, anyone can get anything on the web and call it a review.

    Professional reviewers on the web can be considered worse actually. For instance they depend on their industry contacts to get not only free demo products, but also to get them first.

    Sometimes I have to wonder just how fast these ‘reviewers’ had to scramble just to get NDAs signed so that they can start reviewing products early. You know SOMETHING in the review had to have been affected by this.

    In my mind, unless the reviewer is able to actually BUY the product themselves, it is difficult to imagine if they could truely be objective in their reviews.

  7. Quote: “It’s matter of pride in most reviewers and journalists that they can approach things objectively”

    It’s a matter of professionalism!

    Here’ the problem. He’s a journalist!!! Nothing against journalists, but the skill-set to be a journalist is not the same as those required to be a reviewer – unless you are reviewing reviews!

    I am an electronics technician – I am technically qualified to evaluate electronics devices in terms of their stated, and actual performance specifications. Of course, that assumes I have the necessary test equipment to make those tests, and know how to use them. And it means I know how to compare those specifications to “reference standards” – whether objective (taking measurements) or subjective (closing my eyes and perform critical listening tests/comparisons).

    But expertise in that area does not make me an expert journalist – in spite of the fact I have done technical writing!

    I’m not a mechanic but I can write a review on my car.

    Zune’s primary function is to play music! What is the frequency response? Distortion? Output power? What about speed? Storage? Ruggedness? Battery life?

    Should he open the box? Definitely not! What’s most amazing to me is his credentials – they are impressive! So why tarnish himself? I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with loving the sound of his own voice (or reading his own words).

  8. But Bill, even professional journalists can write bad reviews.

    Take this one at Time:


    I’m only about two-thirds of the way through it, and already I’ve seen two clear factual errors: one in which he says that the iPod can sync to multiple PCs (it can’t) and another in which he says that the Zune’s radio doesn’t have programmable presets (it does).

    Even if you’re a pro, you’ve got to get your facts straight.

  9. Now, let’s be fair to Om. In an update to the, um, review, he says he has opened the box and adds this insight:

    “The device when it come to looks and usability is definitely though not quite as smooth as iPod, is still pretty intuitive. The software side of things, well that is another story.”

    He should’ve left it in the box.

  10. chuckles I never read other reviews. I rely on those of my friends who are already using such items.

    If Microsoft wants to send me a Zune, I’ll put it through the Old Bat Testing Grounds and send ’em an honest, Old Bat summary.

  11. If you’re tired of bad reviews (as am I) then check out my website computergripes.com. For one, I focus only on the bad things about a product – consider it a heads-up. For another, I write about things I live with for a long time. And my gripes are never ending as opposed to published once and abandoned. The “feel” of the site is disappointment, not anger. Its only a hobby, I could spend hours a day on it, but don’t have the time. There are soooo many gripes I haven’t had time to write up (take my word for it, avoid Domain Direct).

    And for Ed: when entering comments such as these, you ask for a URL, but don’t say whether to include the HTTP prefix or not. An author should document things better.

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