I’ll say one thing about looking at reviews for the Kindle – I now really really want one. There are lots of different sorts of reviews online for the Kindle, I’ve put together a few as a starting point.
The sheer number of largely positive reviews (3795/4900 reviewers have given 5 stars on Amazon) of makes me lust after a product which I’m already predisposed to loving (I’m a geek!). I often use Amazon reviews to assess which product I should buy, particularly for tech things. The qualitative comments mean you can see what people like and don’t like about a product and whether that would apply to you. In the past I’ve bought things which have a negative review if the reviewers’ reason doesn’t apply to me (e.g. ‘it didn’t come with software’ doesn’t apply if I already have the software).
Amazon are masters of using recommendations to tailor their advertising to you and have obviously realised with the Kindle that the reviews are particularly effective as they’ve used quotes from journalists at the top of the product page. These certainly make the Kindle look good and lend some credibility in my eyes as they are from publications I’m largely aware of and trust. For me the user reviews are just as effective as they are from ‘real people’ who have used the product over a period of time rather than just techy people given one to play with for an afternoon (I want that job!). Definitely an interesting example to consider when thinking about credibility of reviews and reviewers.
I think Amazon are missing a trick by filling the page with screens and screens of product information and features which push the user reviews right down to the bottom of the page. I think they should use more of the user reviews higher up the page or at least highlight the excellent user ratings. This would make the product more widely appealing as there is credibility in the volume of reviews.
On a slightly smaller scale, users of The Student Room forum have been discussing their experiences with the Kindle. Where Amazon has volume, this has more focus as users have more in common with each other (presumably they’re all students or about to start University) and may have similar plans for their potential purchase, e.g. academic study, use while travelling, and maybe similar questions or concerns. These ties potentially make the reviews more relevant and useful.
The format of the discussion forum allows people to interact with the comments of others, asking for clarification or adding new questions. These reviews will therefore be more tailored to the audience and specific posters.
As these posts are not written deliberately as reviews however they are often quite cursory or only focus on one or two aspects, e.g. how cheap e-books are. This means the forum is not the best place to go for a comprehensive review but could be used to refine your opinion or act as a starting point.
P.S. This is one of my favourite set of reviews online, see if you can guess the product… – Worked fine with my right hand, but when I came to use my left hand my writing came out looking like the work of a complete imbecile. I can only assume Bic have created a right-handed only pen, and would caution left-handers to “try before you buy”