Nov 082011

Pity the conventional magazine’s plight. They’re beset on all sides by free content that, in most cases, matches the value of what some publishers wants to charge you $3.99 an issue for (or $.02 an issue with a subscription). For many, adding alternative revenue streams via online content has proven more cannibalistic than complementary. Small wonder several of them turn to the dark side, making shit up more shamelessly than a collision between OK and InStyle magazines (hopefully in flaming vehicles packed with their writers).

Enter Laptop Magazine, a publication that I’ve never heard of before but you have to assume has been around due to the obviousness of its title. They desperately need to separate themselves from other computer magazines and tech sites in a way that’s sure to maximize clicks, preferably in a way that requires very little research. Perhaps by posting some kind of technology competition? One that uses a universally-recognized bracket system? And now the twist: taking the obvious favorite in the competition – from the perspective of every available metric – and ousting them in the first round. Ladies and gentlemen: the Tablet World Series.

Who wins? Who fucking cares?

To give you a feel for how closely this “World Series” meshes with reality, last year’s winner was the BlackBerry PlayBook.

So if a publication can’t use inflammatory and intellectually-insulting clickbait that blogs scrape and don’t link to (hi!), how are they supposed to survive? It just so happens that I have a back-issue strategy for them.

Now available in 2-ply!

 Posted by at 1:57 pm
Nov 082011

There was a time at the turn of the century when Consumer Reports was a valuable resource for those looking to make an objective purchasing decision. They did research and compared products based on standardized criteria (as opposed to the “I know 3 friends who say” criteria some analysts use in their reviews). As the consumer product landscape moved from “mostly mechanical” to the “mostly silicon”, the publication spiraled into Flowers for Algernon-esque sudden-onset retardation when it came to tech, with larger and larger swaths of the reviews resembling a 4th grade production of Macbeth.

One of the more recent topics on which CR was staking its faltering reputation was Antennagate, the condition under which an iPhone 4’s antenna could be attenuated by contorting your hand around the aluminum band that frames the device. When the blogosphere finally thought they found a criticism to hang on the newly-released iPhone, Steve Jobs himself dismissed the issue pretty comprehensive during a press conference held around the issue. Once he pointed out – correctly – that several major smartphone offerings suffered from the same contrived signal loss, the bloggers and tech press were left to find something else about which to foment. But Consumer Reports would not relent. After disqualifying the 4 from its vaunted “recommended” devices, even though it was the highest rated smartphone tested, it maintained its condemnation even as the device was released on Verizon with improvements to the antenna. When CR refused to recommend its highest-rated smartphone, despite universal praise for the device and everyone else’s willingness to admit Antennagate wasn’t that big of a deal, the publication’s official Luddite status was confirmed.

So even though no one gives a shit about what Consumer Reports has to say about smartphones, that hasn’t stopped them from weighing in on the iPhone 4S. And guess what? They no longer have an issue with the iPhone’s antennae! But alas, despite cleaning the clocks of all Android shartphones 6 months ago, several of the latest crop are now ranked higher because of their pocket-busting screens and battery/wallet busting 4G.

You guys don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Why don’t you leave technology for the myriad publications that understand it and go back to rating coffee makers?

 Posted by at 11:24 am
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