CD Freaks hardware reviews

I wasn’t sure where to ask this, so thought I’d try here. Hopefully I’m not being too nosey. :wink:

When CD Freaks reviews a CD/DVD player/burner, do you always buy it yourself or do at least some manufacturers send you a free sample? Whatever the answer, do you think that’s also the case for other computer review sites (like tomshardware and arstechnia)?

I ask because I want to buy a new, good DVD player for my living room, and am getting upset that so few sites (or for that matter, magazines) offer DVD player reviews that match the quality of what I’m used to getting from computer-oriented sites. Actually, the only good collection of DVD player reviews I found is at http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/cgi-bin/shootout.cgi . The reviews don’t focus on compatibility with other formats (VCD, DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW, Kodak, etc.) but do really tear the video processing apart. Unfortunately, too many of the players cost over 1000 dollars US, and many manufacturers aren’t represented at all because they don’t want their players reviewed. On another site, a reviewer told me privately that consumer electronics companies are often frightened by the possibility of bad reviews.

So would you say this is also the case with the computer industry…or not? And if you know of any thorough, English-language review sites for A/V equipment, please let me know!

Todd

Generally speaking, n most cases, the hardware is indeed provided by the producer of the hardware (or sometimes by an importer or so).
AFAIK, most CDF reviews are based upon samples sent to us by the producers (although it might be that some reviewed drives are owned by the reviewer himself, i’m not too sure about that).

I know certain sites on the web that post reviews that have never been by them. Some just copy reviews (or distill information out of several other reviews) or just make up a story. Some others are sponsored by the manufacturer of a certain product (free hardware, money etc)… And there’s ofcourse the category that does not know how to review or make less honest comparisons.

As you can see, it might be a good idea to read several reviews on a product before buying it. … I know that the cdfreaks reviews are of a very high quality, but I know some others that make a total mess of it.

If you want detailed information on our reviews (or some general on-depth information), be sure to contact our reviewers. In most cases, that’d be OC-Freak and G@M3FR3@K…

Thanks, that’s mostly what I expected. Hopefully with the stream of DVD players from the far east, and with established companies like LiteOn jumping the fence into A/V and making their own DVD players, the Sonys, Panasonics, JVC’s, etc. of the world will wake-up and realize that more customer interaction can actually be a good thing! :slight_smile:

Todd

Consumer Reports recently reviewed a pile of players. They concluded that there was no differneces in video/audio quality between any of them, and it is purely a matter of features that should drive a purchase. Reliability is a separate issue, but even that is much the same with the various brands.

I also follow Consumer Reports, but take their DVD reviews with a grain of salt because I don’t know their testing methodology. For example, are they checking both the interlaced and the progressive outputs? Are they testing only high-quality DVD’s or some with encoding errors and a less-than-perfect picture? How large a television is used? Do they pump sound through a high-quality 5.1 audio system or through the TV speakers? And IIRC, all their single-disk players fall into the $150-or-less category. Instead of comparing the players to each other, comparing them to a $1000 player connected to a high quality A/V system, on a wide-screen progressive TV, and with less-than-optimal material, will definitely yield differences.

Sometimes there are problems with side features like slow/grainy JPEG displays, odd directory structures limits for burnt data CD’s/DVD’s, and VCD/SVCD playback limits. The popular brands often compound this because they sell their players as “black boxes”, whose firmware can’t be upgraded without a special cable and software at a repair shop…assuming you can learn that new firmware even exists. (I assume this is one reason why the Chinese players have gained a following. In addition to low price, they treat their players more like computers and establish a dialogue with users.) Unlike the CD/DVD burner review sites, there are absolutely no professionals testing this stuff, so you have to rely on A/V message boards and other users for guidance. Then there’s the issue of Consumer Reports reviews not being freely-available online.

Don’t get me wrong…Consumers Union perform some wonderful public services, and I do trust their opinions. In this case, though, I’ve done enough research to understand that a couple goose-egg ratings per player won’t satisfy my needs.

Todd

dvdrhelp.com has quite a few stand alone dvdplayers in their data base which are not dvd reviews per say but actual reports from people that have purchased and used the dvdplayers using different media , and recording software, and their experiences with the players.

dvdrhelp.com was actually one of the sites I had in mind when I wrote “A/V message boards”. :slight_smile: But for me, distilling a review from several dozen ragged posts still doesn’t take the place of a good, professional article.

Hmm, if CD Freaks has enough ties to LiteOn to be sent LiteOn drives for testing, could they also request LiteOn DVD players? I wouldn’t expect an audio/video writeup per se, but an overview with general impressions on DVD playback, compatibility with written CD/DVD disks, maybe VCD’s, MP3’s, etc. I wonder if any computer-oriented sites have tried this yet?

Todd

Originally posted by theTAO
[B]dvdrhelp.com was actually one of the sites I had in mind when I wrote “A/V message boards”. :slight_smile: But for me, distilling a review from several dozen ragged posts still doesn’t take the place of a good, professional article.

Hmm, if CD Freaks has enough ties to LiteOn to be sent LiteOn drives for testing, could they also request LiteOn DVD players? I wouldn’t expect an audio/video writeup per se, but an overview with general impressions on DVD playback, compatibility with written CD/DVD disks, maybe VCD’s, MP3’s, etc. I wonder if any computer-oriented sites have tried this yet?

Todd [/B]

If OC-Freak and G@M3FR3@K are too busy I’d be glad to test the LiteOn player for them:bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:

CD Freaks review drives are in general provided by a manufacturers marketing department. This doesn’t always mean a free sample, some companies allow us to keep the drive, which we prefer, to be able to re-test it with firmware upgrades, media compatibilitiy changes and to compare drives. But other companies ‘loan’ us the drives. Meaning they send their drives to us and arrange a pickup. Drives are arranged by our management, reviewers only have to perform our standard set of tests.

We have good contacts troughout the industry so from most brands we are able to get what we want. We’re always looking for new reviewers for hardware and software. Certainly on areas that aren’t covered on our site e.g standalone DVD players, audio equipment, etc we’re always looking for new reviewers, if you’re intrested please setup a testing plan which contains your testing methods, how to perform the tests and why and preferably a sample of a review of hardware you already own and send an email to jw[Don’t spam]@cdfreaks.com (remove the text between brackets) and we’d happy to give you a try, if you do well you could be ending up with a load of free hardware :wink:

For CD and DVD recorders you don’t have to mail us, that areas is already covered by, in my opinion, excellent reviewers.

I’d like to do a review of a Mazaratti, and maybe a Mercedes Benz too! :bigsmile: That would fall under the heading of comparing “drives”.