How We Review Products

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 14, 2011

IP Video Market Info has a specific style of reviewing products that often conflicts with common review practices. In this report, we explain how and why we review products the way we do.

Principles of IPVM Review

Let's start with the key principles of IPVM product reviews that differentiate our process:

  • Avoid any category benefits in reviews
  • Reviews must be comparative
  • Reviews must factor in cost prominently
  • Reviews must weigh feature's real world benefits
  • Reviews must recommend applications

Equally important, since our reviews are used by thousands around the world, we cannot assume what the specific use will be.

Avoid Category Benefits

Bad reviews heap praise on a product for features and benefits that any product in its category has. For instance, complimenting an IP camera's capability for viewing via a web browser is inane. Essentially all IP cameras do this and have for years. In the same way, complimenting a VMS for searching by date and time is ridiculous for the same reason.

Each product category has a core set of features that are common across the board. The presence of any of these features should be ignored as it provides no differentiating value.

Comparative Reviews

To determine how different a product is, it is essential to compare to other products in its category. At a minimum, at least 2 other products need to be selected to provide context for the product being reviewed. Saying something is 'good' or 'bad' without providing a comparison is meaningless and misleading. It might make slick marketing but it creates poor analysis.

One basic technique to providing comparisons is to pick one rival product with more feature sets and another rival with less feature sets. A more advanced technique would compare a rival with very similar feature sets, examining the subtle differences between the products.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Reviewing Cost

One of the most important elements in comparing products and performing reviews is assessing the cost of a product. Unfortunately, most product reviews ignore cost or, at best, mention it in the review's addendum.

Cost is a critical component. Reviews that say one product is the 'best' while ignoring the expense of the product does a dis-service to a reader.

Equally important, the review must relate the cost of the product to the value provided. A product that costs $100 less but is missing a critical feature may be a negative or at least a problem for a certain portion of the market.

Real World Benefits

All features are not beneficial and many 'features' are just marketing spin. A common technique by manufacturers is to create rigged feature comparisons where they take a list of their features and then rate everyone else accordingly.

Even among features that are worthwhile, some features are more valuable than another. Let's say 2 cameras were exactly the same, except one had WDR and D/N capability while the other had SNMP and WiFi support. The overwhelmingly majority of real world users care more about the former than the later.

The review should highlight the most important real world benefits that distinguish a product from its main competitors.

Recommended Applications

Finally, the review should recommend specific applications that given the cost, feature sets provided and competitive alternatives, that the product is most likely to be beneficial. Applications could be scenario based (e.g., low light, non-technical users) or market segment based (e.g., small box retailer, campuses). In a market as competitive and fragmented as video surveillance, a product is almost never best for everyone. The reviewer should clearly indicate both the best and worst applications.

Summary

With these guidelines in mind, a complete review should answer:

  • What products would you compare the reviewed product to?
  • What real world feature sets/benefits differentiate it from those products?
  • What is the price of the product and how does it compare to rivals?
  • Relative to its rivals, what are the best and worst applications to use this product?

Let us know if you have any questions or feedback.


Most Recent Industry Reports

Canon 250MP Prototype Targeted At Surveillance on Jan 17, 2017
At one point Axis declared the megapixel race was over, but now parent company Canon is showing an imager that would be a rocket ship in a...
Cut in Half, Everfocus Shifts Strategies on Jan 17, 2017
The race to the bottom impact continues. Now, Everfocus, who used to be one of the larger budget providers, is shifting strategies after years of...
Top ISC West 2017 Booth Trends on Jan 16, 2017
There are significant moves among many major manufacturers on the ISC West show floor, and very few prime spaces left unoccupied. In this report we...
Genetec Favorability Results on Jan 16, 2017
In the race to the bottom and flight to 'solutions', Genetec has taken a contrary path. The company remains independent, focusing up market,...
Free VMS Software Directory on Jan 13, 2017
Many Video Management Software (VMS) providers offer free versions, either open source, for a limited number of cameras or for a limited amount of...
Milestone Essential Subscription Removed on Jan 12, 2017
Subscriptions may be the future for Milestone and VMSes but not right now. Responding to negative feedback, Milestone has removed subscriptions...
Alarm Reporting Formats Overview on Jan 12, 2017
Alarm reporting formats are methods for communicating complicated information quickly, using plain old telephone service. It is still the main...
Amazon Sales of Hikvision China Cameras on Jan 12, 2017
Hikvision has become widely available in the US, including on popular retail outlets like Amazon, with over 2,600 results: 4MP Hikvision outdoor...
Last Day IP Networking Course January 2017 on Jan 12, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
ONVIF Favorability Results on Jan 11, 2017
ONVIF has been one of the most debated aspects of the video surveillance industry. On the one hand, its aim to increase interoperability has been...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact