The Rest of the Story


By Steve Oppenheimer

(September 1998)

Why hasn’t EM reviewed Product X yet? After all, it has been advertised for months! Some obvious reasons are that it takes time to test a product, write the review, and then produce the issue.

Some less obvious reasons are that before we can start the review process, we have to obtain the product. But unlike some competing magazines, we don’t review prereleases, prototypes, or betas; we wait for the finished version.

Getting a review copy of software is usually easy, because providing it is simple and inexpensive; the main expense associated with software is development, not inventory. At most, we’re talking about a DVD or CD, some packaging, and perhaps a printed manual. In some cases, we simply download the software and a PDF manual (if there is one).

Hardware is another matter, however, because available inventory is a significant factor. Each review unit costs the manufacturer a chunk of change, and although we return it after the review has been completed, it can’t be sold as new. Some companies reserve the first units to fill back orders and provide dealer samples, and the press must wait for a later shipment. We understand, and we try to be patient.

Occasionally, manufacturers delay sending a review unit because they are afraid the product might receive a bad review, but that’s rare. More often, reviews are delayed because we have to replace a defective or damaged unit. And occasionally a reviewer misunderstands something about the product, and they have to go back into the studio to retest it.

Sometimes we finish reviewing a product only to find it has been redesigned or updated during the review process or has been discontinued entirely. Murphy’s Law apparently has a corollary that states this happens only after the review has been researched, written, and edited. For example, we announced the Open Labs MiKo computer workstation in our July 2006 “What’s New” column. The MiKo involves complex technology, though, and it wasn’t ready for July. So readers who expected a review by autumn may have been puzzled when none appeared. But in fact, we requested a review unit as soon as we saw the prototype. We got a MiKo shortly before the AES show and sent it to a reviewer a few days after we received it. He proceeded to edit the review and fact-check it with Open Labs. Not until the end of the fact-check process did we learn that the review was moot because the company was redesigning the MiKo and the current model had been discontinued.

The new MiKo will surely be faster and better, and we’re still eager to review the product. The upshot, though, is that if you have been waiting for an EM review, you’re going to have to wait a while longer. We hate it when this happens, but such is review biz.

As Paul Harvey used to say at the end of his broadcasts, “and now you know the rest of the story.”