EC&M currently publishes short text summaries of new products we feel would be of interest to our readers. The summaries feature some basic specs and are typically supported by a photo.
We've recently started discussing how we might better support our readers by offering them a more in depth review of products. One option we're considering is a group review of certain product types where we compare the features and performance of competing manufacturers products.
I'd like some feedback from the group on the perceived value of this type of review. Do you find them to be of value? What types of products would you like to see reviewed? What types of specs/features would be valuable to compare? etc.
Naturally a solid review of TRMS multimeters would be of interest for electricians and HVAC techs.
The brands most asked about on this site are fluke, fieldpiece and UEI. There are some features more important to our field than others such as microamps and temp abilities. You would want to differentiate the review into two fields so that it was tailored. You would also want to break the review up between residential and industrial as those require very different meters.
Another question often asked about meters is whether to get one that has an intergrated amp clamp or a separate amp clamp.
The other area's that cross over are drills, hand tools(screwdrivers, wire strippers, etc), non contact voltage sensors, flashlights, head lamps, ladders, and more.
There seems to be a lack of clear, unbiased, professional reviews, so yes I think that would be helpful.
Electrical test & measurement equipment is definitely a category we would include. In addition to the manufacturers you mention above, we also cover AEMC, Extech, Ideal, Greenlee, Megger, Hioki and others in our magazine. I agree with you that breaking them down by type of use would make good sense.
All of the crossover power and hand tools would be another great category.
One question I struggle with is how best to complete the review. Do you feel reporting on lab test results provided by the manufacturers themselves is good enough? Or do you find field reviews by real users to be more valuable and trustworthy?
Editor-in-Chief, EC&M Magazine
When it comes to reviews, I always click on "user reviews" on CNET, and never "editors" choice.
The best track record for reviews was set years ago by Consumer Reports. They never accept free merchandise to test. They go out and buy the cars they test from car dealerships, so they can test a car in the same condition, sold at random, just like a consumer would.
Same for the other things they test.
So, to test stuff:
1) you buy it
2) you have real users (HVAC techs, electricians, etc) test it
3) and then you publish the results.
Most of the time, advertisers don't like this kind of testing, because it can be a little too truthful for their taste. And, their product.
So, you end up with Consumer Reports, CNET, or a softball info session controlled by the maker.
[Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.] 2 Tim 3:16-17