Laptop comparisons compared

Submitted by peter on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 15:55

Another laptop comparison with a recommendation that does not match their test results. I find most comparisons have recommendations to buy based on something not explained in the article. Why are so many comparisons wrong?

Laptop, ultrabook, netbook, tablet, convertible, macbook, whatever you want to call a portable computer, there are endless comparisons, reviews, and shootouts. In most, the summary recommends a brand that is not the best choice based on the criteria listed at the start of the article. Could their recommendations be based on sales commissions or some other sort of payment?

Weight

A recent comparison is described as looking at "lightweight" laptops but recommends a heavy desktop replacement laptop. Weird.

Weight and battery life are two critical things you cannot change after purchase. Weight is easy to measure. You would think a review could accurately report the weights then recommend a machine that is genuinely lightweight. Perhaps the reviewers have never carried a computer in their backpack on a commute to work.

Some laptops are desktop style computers squashed into a plastic case and are too heavy to carry with you when you walk to work or out for a coffee. The recent review includes an Apple desktop replacement laptop you would never carry for more than a few minutes then recommends the medium weight laptop as the best choice for light weight.

The comparison includes at least one other laptop with the same screen size, performance, and everything else but with significant less weight. Clearly the other computer is the winner but the writer has a bias and recommends the Apple product without stating a reason. Perhaps the writer gets free trips to Apple functions or works for a company dependent on advertising revenue from Apple.

Battery life

We know the published battery life is fake. Many reviews just publish the fake battery life provided by the manufacturer. When reviewers run their own tests, they often fail to tell you how they used the computer during the test.

Based on using various brands in real life and work, I know that some big brand "8 hour" batteries last only 3.5 hours. The top of the range expensive fashion brand had a model that was described in reviews as "working all day". To use it lightly for a day, I had to charge it overnight then top up the charge during a morning coffee break to help the machine last until lunch time. The machine then charged again during lunch time. In the afternoon, I often let the poor thing sleep while I used a cheaper faster laptop that had a better keyboard.

Price

One of the reviews claims to review "affordable" laptops but includes an Apple laptop that is over $400 dearer than the other equivalent computers. The writer recommends the Apple product without giving a reason. Fail.

If the writer was honest or ethical, the writer would state a price limit then either exclude the Apple product or select equivalent priced models from the other brands.

Keyboard

The keyboard is one of the most important parts of a laptop because you buy a laptop specifically to use a keyboard. If you just want to read stuff without typing, you would buy a tablet style device, not a laptop. Occasionally I have to use Macbooks and Macbook pros. Their keyboards are just average.

Reviews appear to compare keyboards based how close they are to the way an Apple keyboard works. When a laptop keyboard is better than an Apple laptop keyboard, the better keyboard is given a lower rating because it is not like the Apple keyboard.

The overall score

Many comparisons rate the machines on a point system for each feature then convert the feature points to an overall score based on a weighting system. The overall score is often a weird value unrelated to whatever the article claims to measure.

For example, one of the reviews measures a whole lot of physical characteristics but then gives the overall score based on the subjective rating of "how it looks". The winner is, of course, an Apple product because the current fashion look is based on how much a product looks like an Apple product.

The Apple fashion look, the light metal colour, actually makes the machines difficult to use in Australia's strong sunlight. You would think that reviews written in Australia would mention the problem and downgrade the Apple products. No, most of the Australian reviews read the same as foreign reviews.

Conclusion

Comparisons should state the selection criteria first and not include machines from outside the selection criteria. The "overall" score should be based on the published comparison, not some mystery element. The recommendations should recommend the winners instead of just blindly recommending Apple or their favourite brand or the product where they make the best sales commission.