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alaTest.com helps process buying choices

May 24, 2010

So many choices, so little time. These days we don’t suffer from lack of choices in the marketplace. In fact, it’s just the opposite and that can introduce a whole new set of challenges. How does one ever decide on anything?

Recently, I decided to purchase a new camera. Over the past month, I’ve spent hours reading camera reviews. As I was researching, it occurred to me how helpful it would be if ONE resource existed that would bring all the information together. I think reviews from professionals and from customers are both interesting. Professional reviewers certainly have more detail and are generally more objective and systematic in their approach. However, it’s also helpful to read from a disgruntled user who says: “I really hated the fact that the lens cap had to be manually removed! What a pain!” Practical feedback from the ones who have USED (as opposed to just testing) certainly have merit.

But after a while, you forget what you read where. All the models and brands can start to become one in your mind. Making sense of it all, via one resource, would be so helpful, I thought wistfully.

Well, I’ll be darned if I didn’t discover just what I was wishing for. I found a web site that takes information from many sources and puts it all together in an organized, helpful manner. Additionally, it allows you to do comparisons on selected products and provides pricing information. The web site is called alaTest.com. It rates cameras, computers, phones, GPSs, TVs, games, MP3 players, PDAs, appliances, home theater systems, even automobiles. It provides an overall score, derived from an algorithm calculated based on a number of pieces of information including reviews. Professional reviewers are actually given more weight than consumers; that makes sense to me. In fact, according to the information provided there are four factors considered in the overall score given each product. From the alaTest website they are described below:

Factor 1: The relative product rating for each source in each category
Why? Because sources in general are very positive about the products they rate and end up giving them an overestimated score. As an example, more products are positively rated compared to poorly rated. Therefore, for every source, alaTest first calculates the relative score for each product in each category.

Factor 2: The reliability of the test source
Why? Because a test result from a source that has only tested one camera is likely to be less reliable compared to a result from a source that has tested more than 500 cameras. We believe that the more products a source has tested in a certain category, the higher the expertise of this source in the specific category will be.

Factor 3: The importance of professional reviews compared to user reviews
Why? Because alaTest acknowledges the expertise of professional reviewers and their results weight more in the rating calculation.

Factor 4: New products compared to old products
Why? Because at alaTest, we compare new products with other new products and also with old products. Each alaScore have a depreciation factor based on age assigned to it. This means that an mp3 player that was assigned a high alaScore, gradually will become lower with time. Product development is moving forward and the requirements on new products are getting more and more sophisticated. The depreciation will vary depending on the development pace in each category, where washing machines have a slower pace than mp3 players. To determine product age, we assign a fictive product age based on the average review date for all reviews in our database for that specific product.

Well, I finally made a decision on the camera. Thank you to alaTest for helping me sort through all the choices.



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