Online reviews are a great tool. Most websites have adopted a 5 point ranking system; allowing you to know the overall quality with a glance. Reviews are perfect when you have to make a decision about something you know little about.
I have come to learn, however, that reviews can also be an addiction.
Lets go back to September 2012. One year into my latest 2-year contract with Verizon Wireless. My Motorola Droid 3 was barely limping along. I was frustrated with the fact that my phone was never going to see another update; and with the glacial pace at which Verizon releases Android updates all together. I began polling people I knew for experiences about their networks.
After polling came the comparing of coverage maps. Followed closely by tracking down complaints and reviews around the internet.
Fast forward to October 2013. My contract was ending with Verizon Wireless. I had spent the entirety of a year researching various mobile carriers to decide whether I would leave Verizon. I had several pro’s and con’s lists weighing my options. Ultimately I left.
Now it was time to pick a phone. Dammit, back to the reviews.
During my year of carrier research, I began to read rumors of a new Motorola phone. The phone would be fully customizable – colors, resolutions, cameras, everything! The phone turned out to be the Moto X, and really only allowed color customization, but it had piqued my interest.
The Moto X scheme I ended up with – Blue with Red Accents.
When the Moto X launched I read every review, watched every unboxing, and hands on video I could find. Hundreds of blog posts, tech reviews, and videos later I found that the phone hit every check box I had in mind. The main points were:
- “Stock” Android, or damn close to it
- Useful features added instead of bloat (Active Display, Touchless controls)
- Fast Updates (during my review, an update had already been pushed to the phone; with promise of the next Android OS Kit-Kat coming)
- Affordable (this leads into my ultimate decision)
I was sold. I was going to leave Verizon Wireless for AT&T, and get a shiny new Moto X. When suddenly, the only event that could impact my decision happened:
The Nexus 5 was announced.
Just great. All that time researching, only to have the one stipulation I had show up at the last possible second.
Now how would I decide? Both phones hit all my check boxes. Both would be great phones and I would be happy with either one.
I did more research. More reviews. More videos.
In the end, the Moto X won out thanks to the Motorola Trade-Up Program. Since my Motorola Droid 3 was “abandoned,” it qualified for this program. Motorola would send me $100 for my old phone as long as I purchased a new Motorola phone.
A brand new phone for $50? Yes, please. When it was all said and done, I felt like I made an informed purchase.
But at the end of the day, I spent the better part of a year researching a phone. That’s excessive. I find myself doing this process on nearly everything I purchase. Not every research period lasts a year, but they last longer than I feel they should.
The ease and sheer abundance of reviews has made it too easy to lose hours in them. A recent Lifehacker Article hit close to home. Here is an excerpt:
“I’m what Malcolm Gladwell would call a maven. Purchasing is a sport, a hobby, predicated on making the very best decision based first a learning of everything you can about a product category. I once spent 40+ hours researching a storm shell (a hyped-up rain jacket). I looked at the weights, limitations, and benefits of every breathable clothing material available. I looked at the variations in seam sealing techniques of every major manufacturer. I watched online videos of jacket owners performing tests and looking for flaws in design and build. I looked for features like pocket designs, hood configurations, and adaptability.”
That could be me, if I wanted to purchase a jacket. I am trying to work on this issue in two ways: researching less and purchasing less.
I am hoping the two approaches will work in tandem. If I research less, then I won’t make as many purchases. And if I purchase less, then I won’t be researching as much. I know some things will still take some research (because I do not know everything); but I hope I won’t spend an entire year on one topic.
Then again… CES just ended… and there are a lot of smart watches…