Archive Page 2

ConsensusBest in the News

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Poughkeepsie Journal business reporter Sarah Bradshaw came to campus last week to speak with the ConsensusBest.com team. She asked a lot of great questions. Her article from today’s paper is here. As it says, ConsensusBest is still in its infancy. With your help, we know we can build the site into a great shopping resource for Poughkeepsie, the mid-Hudson Valley, and beyond.

We’ve already gotten a bunch of great e-mail responses to the story. Some from business owners wanting their stores listed alongside the ConsensusBest-listed products which they carry. Others from people offering thoughtful suggestions for improving the site. Keep the great feedback coming. Oh, and Go Red Foxes!

New Category: Digital Voice Recorders

Samson Zoom H4Testing 1…2…3: We’ve kicked off our latest category, digital voice recorders, with four great models (more to come) that can record everything from your work team meeting and class lecture to live music and the waves of the Pacific (via O’Reilly Digital Media).

Is it Local Search Without “Local” Stores

krillion.png VentureBeat has a writeup of new local appliance search site Krillion. It’s a good-looking site with a nice UI. The problem I see is that it “solves” the easy part of the problem. A search on “white General Electric refrigerators,” for example, yields 95 results across a handful of national chains (Best Buy, Lowe’s, etc.). All these retailers, of course, have big Web presences with extensive product and inventory information, much of it specific to stores in a particular area code.

The real challenge, we (and many others) believe, is helping customers discover the local independent dealers that stock a desired item and which may be closer and/or cheaper. Of course, that’s a tough challenge and plenty of other businesses are taking a crack at it (including, of course, ConsensusBest). Among them, StepUp (now part of Intuit) and Yokel. Of course, I’m sure Krillion is working on this, too.

Update: The other concern we have with Krillion is with what appear to be ads (in the right column of results pages) under headings like “Looking for a unique dishwasher?” and which take you to manufacturer Web sites, but which aren’t labeled as such.

New Category: Dishwashers


Originally uploaded to Flickr by Independentman

Photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Independentman.

In our effort to be an all-purpose shopping research resource (say that 10 times fast!), we’re always making decisions about which product categories to add next. The handful of categories with which we launched the site a few months back were determined based largely on areas that our research showed to be especially lacking in easy-to-find and digest sources of good, independent information.

Now that we have visitors to the site and tools for seeing where they’re spending their time, we can direct our efforts to the areas where our users are showing the most interest. One of those area is home appliances. And so we’ve added dishwashers to the mix, starting off with five great machines across all four of our price categories, with more on the way.

Office Printers: Because We’re Still Waiting for the Paperless Office

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Remember the concept of the paperless office? Well, we’re not sure about you, but it has yet to arrive here at the Consensus Best HQ. Until it does, you may want to check out our newest category of recommendations: printers for the home- and small-to-medium size office. Happy printing!

Winner of the _______ Award!

“Best product” awards are like Boy Scout merit badges – sooner or later everybody gets at least one to sew on their chest for all to see. But, unlike a Boy Scout, it’s not always clear that these products have really earned these distinctions or even that the “distinction” is worth having in the first place.

Most of us are familiar with this one jdpower1.jpg. It’s the J.D. Power and Associates Award and we’ve seen it so often associated with products that we know are good that it’s become a pretty reliable and authoritative symbol of quality.

Similarly, when they see this cnetaward2.gif or this pcmagaward.jpg , most seasoned electronics junkies know that the CNET Editor’s Choice Award or PC Magazine‘s Readers’ Choice Award means you’re looking at a top digital camera or laptop.

But what about this buyerslabinc.jpg? It may be less familiar, but does that mean that it’s less trustworthy. On the flip side of that question, just because it looks respectable and a manufacturer slaps it on an ad or their Web site, does that mean we should put any faith in it?

Well, from a marketer’s perspective, if you have to stop and think about these questions, then these awards haven’t done their job. But what about the consumer’s perspective? You can be dismissive of them or trust that they have some merit. But in both cases, making an uninformed decision may come at a cost.

So central to our research is investigating not just the product review and the awards it’s won, but the sources behind those opinions and distinctions. For example, we learned that Buyer’s Laboratory Inc. is, in fact, a respected source of business equipment information based on its extensive real-world tests.

We won’t ever trust an award, even from the best sources, to tell the whole story on a product, but one from the likes of  a Cnet or a Buyer’s Laboratory certainly helps determine what’s best.

But there are other “best of” awards that give us pause. Often it’s an unfamiliar source that lacks a clear statement about their independence or lack thereof and gives few, if any, details on their researchers or their methods and sources. They may have fancy looking awards that they bestow on products, but if we can’t tell — even after much effort — what their case is for doing so, you can be sure that they mean nothing to us and will carry no weight in our recommendations.

Get the Latest, Greatest Product Recommendations Automatically with our RSS Feed.

rss.jpgLook for this RSS (Really Simple Syndication) at the bottom of any category page and use it to subscribe to that page. Be notified of new products and/or whole categories automatically, without having to check in at consensusbest.com. New to RSS? Sign up for one of the free online readers (My Yahoo!, Google Reader, or Rojo, to name a few), and then subscribe to any site offering an RSS feed.

As the name says, RSS feeds are super simple to subscribe to and manage and, consistent with our goal of saving you time, they allow you to make the most efficient use of yours by letting you automatically see only the freshest information of your choosing.

If you spend much time at all online, you’ve surely seen this or other similar symbols on news sites and blogs. If not, or to just learn more, read this.