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May 21, 2005

The Inconsistent Hypocrisy of CNet's Review of Opera

I really don't like writing about or responding to reviews and generally getting too involved in what so many people write about, but I thought it important to point things out about CNet and its inherent, but inconsistent, bias. CNet, quite rightly, is a profit driven enterprise, and all power to it for that. However, it's rather conspicuous in favouring its coverage towards the highest ends of the markets - writing about big ticket items like HDTVs, and more recently, cars.

Just a side note now to say that this penchent, as occurs with so many tech newspapers, leads to what the Inq refers to (at least in part) as Megahurts - basically the inflation of hype. There will always be a market for the new and the expensive, but in certain ways I'm always sceptical about how outlets, like CNet, encourage a "we have to have the best, who cares if it costs me my left testicle" attitude towards technology. They do this at least in part because that is where the advertisers are - though to be fair, the people paying the most have a right to read the most coverage.

But yes, CNet has never really struck me as a place that was shy about price - sure they'd warn you if something was hideously overpriced, but they often shrug it off as "well, you pay for the best". They've also tended to privilege "the best" in their ratings, over "value" - so very good things get a high rating, even if they are expensive. So the high ratings tend often to be reserved for the most expensive items with the most established reputations etc.

So when they decide to put that aside and say, well, Opera is a fantastic cutting edge browser suitable for early adopters (as if Opera were a constantly beta browser) but it's not worth it due to the fact that it costs money, I'm baffled beyond words.

I think the fact that they figure the cost and availability of tech support into the review should be a real issue to take with the way they do things - one time "support" for FireVole and IE cost as much, if not more than unlimited (if e-mail only) support from Opera. Which would be fair if they stuck to their ethos of "rate according to how good it is, not by how much value it provides" - since IE and FireBadger have phone support - but it's not at all borne out in their overall reviews of the browsers at hand.

You'll notice I'm not writing about the quality of, or a great deal about, the "substance" (who was it that said quotation marks of protest?) of the review, because if I did that, I'd want to bite my hands off with a spoon. Can anyone say flashily irrelevant?

And oh man do I regret it when I write these things, because it makes me think I need to tell everybody that I'm not really like that.

Oh, and I actually rather like Netscape now that I've played around with it for a bit - I'm really rather indifferent to it in relation to FireRodent. I don't mind saying, that the option to use IE rendering isn't the worst idea in the world.

Posted by subtitles at May 21, 2005 3:07 AM | Opera Boggling