usatoday1371 karma2018-11-29 20:14:39 UTC
Yes. Here's an example. We reviewed a clothes dryer a few years ago and said we liked everything about it except the lint trap. It had a weird handle and was awkward to remove.
So a few months later we're visiting at that company's headquarters for a product briefing. A designer walks up and hands up this hunk of plastic. He says, "hey, I just made this in our 3D printer. It's the new handle for the lint trap. We're going to put it in all the dryers starting next month."
I don't know how, but I think we made the world 0.5% better that day.
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usatoday676 karma2018-11-29 19:06:15 UTC
Yes, sadly. It’s never from the big companies, though, since we tend to have actual relationships with them and they know the drill. (Which is basically: Send us products on loan if you can. If not, we'll buy them anyway. You're not allowed to be present while we're testing and we won't tell you the results before we tell our readers.) The bribery attempts are usually from fly-by-night companies that you've never heard of. Since it's rarely something we were going to review anyway, I don't even reply to the emails.
usatoday619 karma2018-11-29 19:37:08 UTC
Yes, this is another thing that does happen in the review world. Some of the bigger companies have samples that they run through their QA labs before shipping to us. We don't have a huge problem with this because we also purchase products off the shelf.
And when you review enough of these products, whether it's TV or washing machines or whatever, you start to get a sense of their parameters. Do these results fall in line with what I expect based on the component and technology they're using? It's very rare that they're wildly better than expected. And if we don't trust the results of a particular unit, we'll buy a second one as verification. That's happened maybe once or twice in my time.
usatoday440 karma2018-11-29 22:16:26 UTC
You raise an interesting question about the specific recommendation in that article. We've written a lot about running headphones and none of them are great. I'm going to inquire about it.
But I also know that Kate McCarthy, the author of that article, is a marathoner and has strong, informed opinions about fitness tech.
Update: Wanted to track down an answer for you so I talked to the team this morning. That particular article (25 health and fitness gifts) recommended the PowerBeats 3 because, in the writer's experience, that behind-the-ear hook design was critical to keeping them in place. In another article we've written, we actually recommend the JLab Audio Epic Sport headphones for runners over the PowerBeats. However, the design of the Epic Sport is considerably different and may not work for everyone. So for the sake of transparency and consistency, we're going to update the "health and fitness gifts" article so that it references both headphones.
tdr: headphones are super personal. none are perfect. we love feedback from readers because it makes us better. thank you.
usatoday426 karma2018-11-29 19:24:00 UTC
This definitely happens, and it keeps you humble. You can have the best test rig, the smartest and most knowledgeable team, but still not realize that you had some menu setting turned on when it was supposed to be off. In those instances, it's really helpful to have a working relationship with the brands. Because they'll reach out ask informed questions instead of flying off the handle and demanding a retraction.
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