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Positivity Bias

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It hardly sounds like a bad thing, does it?

What I’m referring to, is the overwhelming amount of gushing, rave reviews that dominate every tech blog and news site that I’ve come across so far. Being an Apple sceptic, let’s take the Apple iPad 2 as an example:

I Googled “apple ipad 2 review” and opened every link on the first page.

Un-biased reporting at its finest.

All but one of the links I opened, were exceedingly positive in their comments on the device. Which, I might add, has seen the addition of more fun features, rather than addressing the most vocal criticisms of the first device’s capabilities. LIKE BEING ABLE TO USE FLASH, PERHAPS. But, I digress.

Admittedly, I wasn’t hopeful for a neutral stance from the site MacWorld, but with names on the list like CNet, PC World, and even the ABC; I was hoping for a view other than what you can see in the graphic above.

Thankfully, the reviewer for the Herald Sun, Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, approached the device with something resembling impartiality.

However, the iPad 2’s main failings are not in its features but its omissions. Its screen resolution and storage space remain the same, users must buy an adapter to plug in a camera or USB stick, and it still won’t play Adobe Flash videos.

And before you think, “you’re only saying that because she’s talking about its failings,” stop. Before the afore-quoted paragraph, she highlights in a calm and journalistic manner, the new features of the device. But, unlike other articles, considers in equal depth, both their positive and negative aspects. Yes. There are cameras. Two whole cameras. But they’re both kind of rubbish at taking photos, an important aspect, I’ve been led to believe, of being a camera.

Now, it may be that Apple have made a device as good as most are toting it to be.

I thought this may have been the case, until I continued my research. Dell’s Aero, which CNet called the worst smartphone of 2010, and is the subject of more than a few forum-rants, still had very positive reviews on the first page of Google results.

The same can be said for other poorly consumer-reviewed lemons, like Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 and X10 Mini, as well as the fading memory of Motorola’s Hiptop Slide. Which, I’ve been told by innumerable customers at my work, is the worst phone they have ever owned in their lives, ever. The first result is a 4-and-a-bit-review.

I attempted to contact various sites and blogs that review mobile technology products for comment, with the intention on asking them whether or not they receive incentives to review a certain product positively. It has been more than two weeks, and I haven’t had so much as a reply.

Written by aphelion.

May 9, 2011 at 12:51 am

Posted in Coverage

Tagged with , , ,