Reviewing Video Review Sites
Want to Hear Hillary Clinton sing the National Anthem off key? Head over to YouTube. But sites like YouTube, along with ExpoTV and others, can be also practical. These sites have videos of laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, and other portable tech products being demonstrated and reviewed by those who own and use them.
Not surprisingly, these short videos are often crudely shot, and many of the reviewers appearing in them aren't exactly polished presenters. But amateur video reviews can give you another perspective on a product that you're considering buying. The best of these videos feature users who are enthusiastic about the product they're reviewing, yet willing to point out its shortcomings.
Here's where to find video reviews of portable technology.
With over 100 million videos, YouTube is a must stop when you're prowling for video product reviews.
I found intriguing user videos of everything from the long-discontinued Apple eMate 300 (a poorly lit video illustrating the laptop PDA's drawing program) to the hot Slingbox (with several videos, such as this one showing what it's like to view your TV on a laptop).
You'll also find lots of curious TV ads for products, such as Spanish-language video for Sony's Vaio TX ultraportable. Some off-the-wall videos could even be considered performance art, such as the pointless but oddly intriguing "Laptops in Heaven."
Along with computers and consumer electronics, ExpoTV offers amateur "videopinions" of just about everything you can think of, from baby food to vodka.
Most of the tech product reviewers I watched were in their 20s and were so casually dressed--sleeveless T-shirts, shorts, and such--that I felt as if I were watching a college TV channel. But the informality is part of the charm. More than once I'd be watching a reviewer show off a laptop as a dog barked or a cell phone rang off camera.
Unfortunately, a large number of video reviews aren't properly lit. And while some videos offer good information, they don't show the product as well as I'd like. Still, many "videopinions' are quite helpful, such as one in which a woman showed how she set up her Slingbox. Another plus: Each video has a text transcript, so you can read the review as well.
There are about 20,000 ExpoTV videos, all of which run about 5 minutes or less. By comparison, some product reviews I watched at YouTube ran as long as half an hour.
By the way, if you're interested in uploading your own video: Reviewers on ExpoTV earn 1 cent each time one of their videos is viewed.
The ShopWiki shopping site includes product review videos interspersed with price-comparison results. Overall, the caliber of reviewers is a bit more professional here than those on ExpoTV and YouTube.
You can watch a sampling of reviews, but as of this writing, there was no way to search for video reviews only--a big drawback.
PC World Video
While amateur videos can provide a refreshing perspective on a product, professionally shot and edited online videos are worthy of a look, too.