|Try Before You Write? by Alina Bradford
I often write for publications that assign me product reviews to write. Now, there's no way that I can afford to test these products, and often, companies don't give you samples without a lot of runaround...and then they still forget to send the samples.
So, how do you write a balanced, fair review without the product?
Very carefully, my friend. Here's my process.
First, if you are allowed, only pick products that you already have a familiarly with. For example, if you do photography as a hobby, you probably already have a pretty good idea of which camera or film brands are the best.
I like to choose reviews where I have already tried several of the products in real life for whatever reason. I may not have tried all of them, but I have a pretty good feel for the industry and what products are available.
On websites, look at the manufactor's specs for the item and compare it with the specs from another item. For example, say I was reviewing cameras, I would note that one camera had a 20x zoom while the other camera had a 10x zoom. Obviously, the camera with the 20x zoom is better. So I caulk that up as a point. Next, I'd see if the 20x zoom camera had other features that the other camera didn't, and so on. Go from there and compare these top brands using data that you compile from the manufacture's website.
Then, to top off your own knowledge about the products and the information that you have gathered, read USER (not reviews on websites written by other writers) reviews on sites like Amazon. The reviews just give you a little more insight so that you can be sure you are giving a balanced review.
After compiling all of this research, you should have enough information to write a quality review. This plus side of this type of reviewing is that it won't be muddled with your own bias; it will just have factual comparisons.