Back in December, we introduced you to a site called ConsumerSearch, an online publisher and aggregator of consumer product reviews and search. We talked about the benefits of putting the time into reading reviews before you buy including time saved and money better spent. It’s definitely a great site worth checking out if you like researching potential purchases. To add to ConsumerSearch we were recently introduced to another great site called alaTest. AlaTest is all about reviews, but they take a different route for providing you with information you need before you buy.
What is alaTest?
alaTest is different from some product review sites in that they do not focus on collecting reviews directly from the consumer (they do offer these though). Instead they provide you with “professional” reviews. When we say professional, think magazines and blogs like PC World or PC Magazine. They say that they have about 600 sources and after looking through them, we’d say they are pretty reliable as well.
Their list of sources can be found here. When you go to view them, you’ll notice that there’s a “Country” drop-down list. They gather sources from various countries, so you can view which ones they use from where you live. For example, they’ve got a lengthy list of sources from the United Kingdom as well as Germany, and smaller lists for countries like Portugal and Finland. The nice thing is that other countries are represented among the mix of reviews which isn’t something we always see.
Topics They Cover
alaTest obviously caters to reviews of electronics because when you visit the site, you’ll see the following categories across the top menu bar:
Under the “more” section is where you’re going to find categories like home appliances, home & garden, health & beauty, sports & outdoors, books & magazines, and more.
Searching for Reviews
Ryan has been itching to get a Digital SLR Camera so I thought I’d perform a search for just that (although he won’t be getting one for a while…). Up at the top of every alaTest page is a box for searching. You can always just click on one of the categories up at the top as well – in this case I’d click on Photography and then select the specific type of camera I was looking to review.
alaTest makes it easy to narrow your results with a whole box of options towards the top of the screen. I could narrow my results by the following:
- Optical Zoom
- LCD Screen Size
- Camera Flash
If I knew I wanted to buy a Nikon, I could narrow my search to only Nikons. If I wanted a camera that fell into a certain price range, I could narrow my search by that. All I’d have to do is drag the left price tab upwards to increase the starting price, and drag the right price tab downwards to lower the ending price.
What the Review Includes
Once you perform a search, you’ll see a list of results that match your criteria. From there you can sort by a few different things including the alaScore (this is a score between 0-100), product name, experts level, and price. By default it is sorted by the alaScore.
One of the top ranked reviews for my search was the Nikon D60. Clicking on it will provide you will all of the reviews that they collected. Examples of sources for this particular result, just so you can get an idea, included CNET.com, DigitalCameraInfo.com, and PC World. Not only can you read the expert reviews, but many products also have user reviews that you can sift through as well.
If there are multiple products you would like to view side-by-side to compare, you can do that as well. Just look for the boxes under each item that say “compare,” check them, and then click compare up at the top.
What we like about the reviews:
Not all reviews, but many, do include the date that the review took place which is handy. I don’t know about you, but I like to know how recent these reviews are. Another nice thing about the reviews is that they tend to include something that is good about the product (shown with a plus-sign) followed by an area of improvement (shown with a negative-sign).
Additional features we like:
- The option to watch video reviews of the product
- How they outline key features
- How they show a list of price comparisons from various companies that you can buy from
Wrapping it up…
If you are in need of product reviews for anything, but particularly electronics, don’t waste your time going from site to site trying to round them all up. Just head to alaTest, perform your search, and sift through all of the reviews collected into one location.
Thanks for the tip Jack of all Trades!