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Author Topic: How I interpret the review rankings  (Read 31479 times)
N5INP
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Posts: 1324




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« on: September 13, 2013, 06:35:55 AM »

I was just reading some reviews on antennas and was struck by how a very bad rating can seemingly sneak in when most of the other ratings are 4s or 5s. How does a Zero get in there?

Working hypothesis: An inherently good product can get a bad review, but an inherently bad product can't get a good review (by fair unbiased reviewers).

Here's what I mean. An inherently well designed product can get a bad review for several reasons. First is that it may have been damaged in shipment but not visibly, so the reviewer gets a product that is not working properly for no obvious reason. Second is that an inherently good product by design can be operated improperly and so does not perform as it should, possibly because the reviewer can't follow instructions.

An inherently bad product (a product that by design cannot work well or properly) cannot get an unbiased good review by fair reviewers. There is not normally any misreading of instructions or mis-adjusting of settings that can make a flawed electronics design work properly. It could get a good review, but only because of a person wanting to bias the numbers for personal or company gain.

So what I'm saying is that in the case of a product with many good reviews, and only a few very bad ones, it is wise to throw out the bad reviews.

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AC9FM
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 07:41:47 AM »

Agreed, I have always used that premise when reading reviews. There is also the "I bought it so it must be a 5" group and the "It's a 'Brand X' so it must be the greatest. But all in all I find the reviews here to be of great value to me.
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KG6AF
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 09:09:48 AM »

An inherently well designed product can get a bad review for several reasons. First is that it may have been damaged in shipment but not visibly, so the reviewer gets a product that is not working properly for no obvious reason. Second is that an inherently good product by design can be operated improperly and so does not perform as it should, possibly because the reviewer can't follow instructions.

Suppose there's a product that's competently designed but poorly assembled.  Four out of five reviews are favorable, but the remaining reviews complain about cold solder joints, poor cabinet paint jobs, parts rattling around in the case, etc.  My question is, does a product so poorly assembled that one out of five are unacceptable out of the box constitute an inherently good product?  I might argue that it's well designed, but I don't think you can call it inherently good if the assembly process is that poor.  I'd say this is a case of a product that isn't inherently good but gets legitimately good reviews.

Quote
An inherently bad product (a product that by design cannot work well or properly) cannot get an unbiased good review by fair reviewers. There is not normally any misreading of instructions or mis-adjusting of settings that can make a flawed electronics design work properly. It could get a good review, but only because of a person wanting to bias the numbers for personal or company gain.

Take a look at the reviews for the Eico 753, arguably one of the worst transceivers ever sold.  Yet you'll find seemingly sincere five-star reviews.  Why?  Because some people thought (a) it was cheap, and it met the expectations that the low price established, (b) fixing it to work halfway well was a valuable learning experience, or (c) it was better than what they'd owned previously.  True, one or two of these reviews might be from people who have a tenuous relationship with reality, but most of the five-star reviews seem to be from folks who are genuinely thoughtful.  Like it or not, the criteria for what constitutes a good product will vary from person to person.

Quote
So what I'm saying is that in the case of a product with many good reviews, and only a few very bad ones, it is wise to throw out the bad reviews.

I'd also say that in the case of a product with many good reviews, I'd throw out the few bad ones, but only after reading them to see if they mention an objection that might be relevant to me.

The bottom line is, the written portions of the reviews speak louder than the numeric ratings.
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HAMMYGUY
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Posts: 88




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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 01:19:55 PM »

When reviewing a radio on eham I tend to ignore the 5's.  Most are hyped up and the owners have owned the rig for a very short time.  What gets my interest the most are the 3's and 4's.  These tend to point out major or minor flaws of a rig.  A good example is the Elecraft KX3.  Most of them are 5's and the owners are tickled over the operation of this recent new toy.  Yes I own one and I gave it a four because of various reasons.  I just don't think it's the greatest invention since sliced bread. 

What really gives me a chuckle are the groupies of various rigs.  When they spot a very low review of 0 or 1, they tend to rush to arms and begin to post 5's in an effort to drown out the negative number.  It doesn't matter if they have already posted a review, the new one will be a 5.   
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N5INP
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Posts: 1324




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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 04:15:09 PM »

Here's a perfect example of review weirdness. I've pretty much settled on an Icom IC-7200, because of the very good reviews.

Yet what do I see today? A person gave it a 1/5! That just isn't believable -

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/6933
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K0OD
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Posts: 2591




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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2013, 01:00:51 PM »

K4MT:
Quote
I just had the opportunity to A/B the 7200 with some old Drake twins and TR-7 radios. I tested weak signals on 20 and 15 meters. The weak signals that were clobbered by all the receiver noise in the 7200 were perfect copy on both of the old drakes. The signal strength was the same on all radios but the old Drakes were so quiet that they could pull signals out of the noise.

Yes I had the preamp off and even tried various levels of noise reduction but signals were heard but not able to understand on this noisy receiver.

I now use my TR-7 more than the 7200. Thats Sad.

Yep, that 1/5 review on the respected 7200 is head scratcher.  

My guess is his QTH was subject to oddball local noise that the old Drakes could handle and his new 7200 could not. He admitted that he had tested the receiver only on 15 and 20 meters.

I've done quite a few eHam reviews; all were written after I used the equipment for several months at least and in every operating mode. I've done several reviews after a full weekend of DX contesting with the radio.

I notice that K4MT doesn't appear in DX summit in the past three years. He doesn't appear to be very active on the air.

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WA7SGS
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2013, 11:05:07 AM »

"The exception proves the rule" is another handy rule of thumb for evaluating reviews.  Good gear and good places get mostly good reviews.  Bad gear and bad places get mostly bad reviews.

Now when getting into mixed reviews, one sees the problems and then it is up to the reader to decide if those problems are dealbreakers.  Those are the more interesting decisions!

Hams make good reviewers for the most part so a smaller sample size works okay on eham but a large one really brings out the details.  Yelpers are all over the map for quality of reviews but when one has a large quantity of reviews, there is a pretty good indicator of what you as the potential customer will be facing.  It is fun to read reviews and figure out how to peg them!

As for the ICOM-7200, I own one and it is a good receiver with plenty of adjustments to work with.  The xmtr is the usual for these times 100W PEP so it is nothing special.  It's not a contester radio or a big time AM performer but it does have more bang for the buck than the IC-718, which is a bare bones HF rig.  For my needs it works well.  Shoes have to fit their owners so know your "size" (operating preferences) in order to wind up with the right fit.

Rick
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