I have been testing products of various forms and with a verity of objectives for many years. I think I've used every major brand of WLAN equipment, enterprise-class and consumer/residential/SMB alike, and many other (mostly IT) products and services as well. Often these tests have been competitive, head-to-head, and rigorous. I've also worked on the Network World Holiday Gift Guide for many years, where the testing is more informal, with the goal being the illustration of key features, benefits, the user experience, and giftability. I focus, of course, on wireless and mobile, but I've also tested storage products, computers, consumer electronics, and in general anything that involves moving electrons and is at least vaguely related to information or entertainment. I've reviewed hundreds of products and published in dozens of journals worldwide.
With that as background, I've decided to publish single-product reviews in this space from time to time. I think you'll enjoy hearing about interesting new products and services from a user perspective. And, as always, I think it's important to claify a few policy matters before getting started just so everyone is on the same page.
First, again as always, I have no financial interest in any products reviewed. Farpoint Group works with our clients on a project, not retainer, basis. We have no long-term relationships of any form, including equity, with anyone. So while I might be reviewing a product from a firm that we might have done business with in the past, we'll only review products here from firms that we have no current business dealings with.
Next, Farpoint Group is solely responsible for anything written. Specifically, you're getting my opinion, ideally with justification as to why that opinion is what it is. No one reviews these blog entries before they're published, although I may from time to time check an individual fact, but only in rare cases an entire posting, with an appropriate authority.
Finally, I receive no compensation from anyone for these reviews. I do this because I love trying new products and services, which is just an element of my personality, such as it is. Sometimes we get to keep the products we test, but, as always, anything we use in production is purchased or received as compensation for something we deliver to a given client. Anything else we keep for demo purposes, and older and obsolete (but still functional) products are donated to charitable organizations, and never, ever sold.
BTW, I also still like doing the big, Network-World-sponsored lab tests, but I fear that my days with these are coming to an end. First, they are often expensive to do - my last exercise covering three-stream 802.11n took almost a month to do, and that's not including the follow-up time spent with firms who thought their products should have done better. I was planning a comparative test of wireless mesh performance, just a simple two-station exercise to determine how much of a throughput penalty might be introduced by a single hop. Many vendors didn't want to participate at all, and others (but not all) who agreed to send gear dropped out when they found out who the other competitors in this test might (emphasis on the might here) be. Such is the hyper-competitive nature of the market today; no one wants to play unless they are sure they will win. And guaranteeing an outcome is simply not possible, of course; if it were, then why run the test? Of course, single-product tests eliminate all of thee concerns.
I may still be able to do tests involving Web services and freely-available products that are truly free or at least inexpensive (software and apps come to mind here), but we'll see. There's still the time (an element of cost) factor. I'm a nerd, but I still need to run a business. And I've even found that some completed tests need to be re-done from scratch when a new product or version is introduced after testing but before the final article is ready for publication. Again, the cost factor.
Anyway, I'll have the first of five (planned, so far) reviews for you this week or next (there; I've committed), and I hope you enjoy these. And if you're a firm that builds products or offers services and would like your product or service considered for review here, let me know. I can't promise anything, but I think readers of this blog always enjoy hearing about the new, novel, and valuable. And even though the rate of technological innovation seems to be slowing, we've still got plenty of those.