We’re beginning a new way to review tech products on this site — long-term reviews.
We’re not going to test drive new products and software; we’re going to live with them. We’re going to do work and see if these products and software can fit into our lives long term.
You can find all kinds of tech reviews where reviewers spend a short period of time with a product and then pass judgement. We’ll be focusing on long-term reviews — products that we have used for a significant amount of time in our daily lives.
How can you accurately gauge the durability of a produce if you only use a tester unit for a day? How can you understand what it’s like to use an operating system if you don’t use it for your daily work for a month or more? How do you know which keyboard you’d really like to use after six months?
This doesn’t mean we won’t give our thoughts on products we haven’t used for awhile; we’ll be terming those as initial impressions. When I use a new cell phone for a week and write about it, I’m writing more about my initial impressions and less about how this product has worked for me in my daily life. Part of using a new smartphone OS is adjusting to that, and I don’t want that adjustment to cloud how I actually think about that new OS.
Our long-term reviews will generally be of products that we have actually been able to use for a sustained period of time. If we can’t stand to use a product for more than a few weeks, it’s not worthy of a long-term review. We’ll give you our initial impressions and tell you that we won’t be looking into it further.
There are other reasons to focus on long-term reviews as well. Durability and longevity are certainly concerns, but so is the lifecycle of a product. An operating system should get updates that help make it more stable, secure and enjoyable to use. If that doesn’t happen that’s an issue, or if these patches make the OS much better to use, we need to relay that to people. ChromeOS and Chromebooks come to mind, where the early builds of ChromeOS were rough, and the OS lacked a lot of polish, but two years later, ChromeOS is much better.
A Chromebook that was purchased a year ago is a much better machine today than it was then. And maybe our initial impressions will be contradicted a bit by our long-term reviews. That’s okay.
I personally try a lot of new software. Some of it excites me a lot, but what’s really important is what I stick with. There is a honeymoon period with technology, software and user interfaces. We want to get beyond that.