December 2, 2008

'Tis the Season...

'Tis the season for shopping -- and for reference librarians that can mean an increase in requests for product reviews.
Video games were on my shopping list this year and with the popularity of the Wii, Nintendo DS, and Xbox I would suspect games might be on a lot of people's lists! Commonsense Media is a terrific resource for video game reviews. The site is geared directly towards helping parents make good decisions about games, movies, books, and other media that are appropriate for their children. Although the site is browsable and searchable, there is no advanced search that allows for searching by format; you'll have to go through all of the search results for "Hannah Montana" to find the desired format.

Consumer Products:
In addition to the traditional standby, Consumer Reports, there is a wealth of online product reviews. You could let Google guide your review search or you could use sites that aggregate online reviews from a variety of online sources.
Consumer Search does a very good job of not only compiling and reprinting reviews, but summarizing the reviews. Unlike some mass review sites, you can tell that there is a human element involved in maintaining the site. Most of the original reviews come from sites that can be freely accessed online (Amazon, CNet,, etc.), but Consumer Search also provides a summary (when possible) from subscription-only sources, like Cooks Illustrated or Consumer Reports. Although the entire review is not available from the subscription sites, you usually get a hint of the review or at least an volume and issue number to find the review in print. Don't miss the comprehensive overview available on most topics.
View Score aggregates reviews on electronic products. The site is set up to be very easily navigated by browsing through the types of products, manufacturers, prices, features, etc. All in all, this is a user-friendly site for finding reviews on consumer electronics.
Unlike the other sites listed here, Buzzillions only provides user reviews aggregated from consumer shopping sites. Generally speaking, the site is well organized and easily searched and navigated. There is an incredible assortment of products represented on this site, but be aware that the most helpful (and typically most positive reviews) are by default set to be displayed first. Use the dropdown box at the top of the reviews to sort to reviews in the way that is most useful to you.
Kaboodle isn't specifically for finding product reviews; although, reviews can be found on the site. Kaboodle is a combination of shopping and social networking. Here's how it works: You sign up for a free account, save a bookmark, and as you are browsing the Web for holiday shopping, when you find something you want to remember, you clip the product to your Kaboodle account. (It could be a more secure to clip a gift item to your private account than to save a bookmark to your computer and have your spouse or child find your saved bookmarks!)

Happy shopping!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bobbi - I work for and I found your summary of all the review sites to be very helpful and balanced. One thing I thought I would mention about Buzzillions is that we just switched the default sorting of reviews from "most recent" to "most helpful", because most helpful is voted on by the shoppers that are reading the reviews in their shopping research process, which we thought was the most relevant to other shoppers. In analyzing the order this generates, it tends to be reviews that are longer, where cons or negative comments are included (therefore perceived as "thorough"), and specific examples of how the product was used are included.

    Also, one thing that may not be very obvious - the vast majority of the reviews come from our own review survey forms that are sent out to consumers via the retailers they shopped at. That way we can verify that the person doing the review actually bought the product they are reviewing.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this blog and help make people aware of all the shopping research help they can get online.

    - Darby


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