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Product Spotlight: How CNET reviews products
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Product Spotlight: How CNET reviews products

4:00 /

Go behind the scenes to learn how CNET determines its product ratings.

^B00:00:00 >> CNET reviews are one of the most widely used resources on the Net for helping consumers decide what products they should buy, but a lot goes into our reviews process. Many of you have written and asked us how do we do all this? I'm Tom Merritt from CNET TV, and I'll be your guide as we go behind the scenes of CNET reviews. Now, it all starts with an editor. There's one in here. This one's called Kent German. ^M00:00:22 [ Music ] ^M00:00:26 He's gonna be our representative editor, as we show you how this works. Wonder if he knows that. Hey, Kent. >> Hi Tom. >> We're gonna follow one product through the process. What have you got for us, there, representative reviewer Kent? >> Well, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G. It's T-Mobile's second Android phone. >> So, how do you get a product like this? >> We have relationships with the carriers and the manufacturers, and we talk about what phones are coming out. We follow what they're expected to release. And for instance, for this phone, we've known about it for quite a while. So we just go ahead and tell T-Mobile, "I really want a review model of the myTouch." And when one becomes available, they send it right to us. >> And then you just to keep all of them, right? >> No, have to send them back. All of the phones that we get, and we review, we do send back. >> Okay, and now you're ready to start the review process. How does that kick off? >> Well, the first step is the phone is photographed. So I think about what kind of shots I want, what kind of photos. So photos from the front, photos from the back, maybe showing details like the camera lens here and maybe these buttons down on the bottom, what's really gonna be helpful to the users. The phone is photographed, and then all those photos end up, actually, on a new review. >> Now, besides photos, we also have videos. How does that work? >> All the phones that we review, we shoot video, a First Look. That's really designed to help our users see the phone in action, see me talking about it, see how it looks in my hand, see me interacting with it. It just gives them a different perspective than what's offered in the review. So all that's done within the first couple days of getting the product and done for all phones that we get. >> So you get the photos, you do the video, then what? You sit down, you knock out a quick blog post in, like, 10 minutes, right? >> No. What I do is I actually sit down, play with the device for a while. Go through it, look at the menus, think about what's inside, play with the different features like video, music. Of course, test the call quality. Look at the keyboard, if there's one, if it's easy to type messages, if it's not, all of those details that are really gonna be important to users. Think about those, and then I sit down, write the review, including all of those details. >> Now, there's also CNET Labs. How do they fit into this process? >> Well, Labs comes in at the end of the process, but first, before then, is I actually hand the phone to Nicole Lee, who's my colleague. ^M00:02:27 Hi, Nicole. ^M00:02:28 She tests the battery life. And that's the talk time battery life. So she hooks up the phone, makes a call, and just see how long the phone will last. After she's done, for some phones -- and I will do it for this phone because it's a multimedia phone -- CNET labs will test the music battery life, so that's for the music player, sometimes the video battery life, sometimes the browser battery life. >> Now, a lot of times a review will go up before that testing is done. Why is that? >> That's because battery testing can take a while. Talk time testing can take about a day, and the labs testing can take a lot longer, and we don't want to hold up our reviews for our users. So we don't want to have them wait two weeks until a product -- after a product comes out to really get the review. We want to have everything up there, and then we'll come back in, and we'll add the battery life later. >> If a product is good enough, a lot of times we'll give it an Editor's Choice rating. How do you determine what products actually get an Editor's Choice? >> Well, a product gets an Editor's Choice, really, two criteria. One, it has to be very good. It has to good -- pretty good at everything it does. It doesn't have to be 100 percent perfect because really, no such product exist, at least I think. But it has to be very good, and it has to be really game changing. It has to change the landscape of the sector that it's in. So a phone has to really come along that offers something completely new, a new way of looking at phones possibly, just something that we haven't seen before, and also different than most other phones we've seen. >> Kent German, thanks for being our good example. >> Sure. ^M00:03:49 [ Music ] >> So there you have it. A similar process goes into our laptops, MP3 players, monitors, literally thousands of products moving through the CNET labs here. I hope that answers some of your questions. It gives you a little hint at all the hard work that goes into making sure you have the best product information you can at your fingertips. I'm Tom Merritt, CNET.com. ^M00:04:09 [ Music ]

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