In this article you'll be informed with the ways how BSN* Labs evaluates all the equipment that comes to testing. We have developed a unique 140-point checkmark table where all the aspects of the evaluated product and we will update this table with a story how each of the Labs operate.
Our 140-point procedure is used in all of our five global Labs:
- Bright Labs Florida: Consumer equipment testing
- Bright Audio Labs Croatia: Night Club Sirup, Consumer and Commercial Audio Equipment
- Bright Video Labs Croatia: AEON Multimedia, our in-house video production company, Apple and PC cinema and broadcast equipment
- Bright Labs Germany: Commercial and Enterprise - Server, HPC, GPGPU equipment
- Bright Labs Singapore: High-End Desktop, Workstation
Here we cover almost all aspects of consumer product testing. But our lab is not just concerned with product reviews - we also take a look at the manufacturers behind the products. As well as other consumer related information such as support, availability, ease of use, and environmental impact. We want to provide you with the most complete information we can to help peel away the layers of misleading information cluttering up the Internet.
To do this we have developed a testing methodology that covers more than just the basics of performance. It goes beyond the synthetic time limited testing that many sites conduct. This testing methodology touches on all of the items that are of concern to a potential purchaser but also have the added function or providing the manufacturer with a measurable means to improve their products.
Let’s dive in and see how this new testing methodology works in practice.
Just like when you first look at a product, the first thing we test is the packaging. Here we want to see if the packaging not only has enough information about the product to grab your attention but will it also not end up sitting in a landfill afterwards for eons. The box that a product ships in must have a good level of detail; it should not be awkward or disproportionately bulky. Packaging should also find a balance between difficult to tamper with yet easy to open by the consumer, packaging that damages the product or the consumer is bad [raise hands who didn't cut a finger on a razor-sharp edge of the box].
As more and more manufacturers are waving the Green flag we want to hold them to that standard, shrink-wrap, tons of plastic bags [Static prevention bags are of course acceptable - and recommended], and Styrofoam are just some of the items that a really Green product can do without. We will let you know how each manufacturer stands up in this often overlooked area.
We also check out the product packaging for its ability to withstand shipping damage. To do this we have our "Drop and Kick" test. This ominous sounding test is not as bad as it would seem. We simply drop the package on the floor from about waist height and then give it a little kick as might happen if you were attempting to pick it up or reach for it quickly. Now there will be some products that we will not do this with as there is too great a risk for damage but we will still evaluate the packaging’s ability to protect the contents from damage. We also evaluate the reusability of the packaging.
Once we are done playing around with the packaging we take a look at the goodies inside.
To pass our muster a product needs to have the basic items required to make the product work.
A modular power supply that requires you to purchase extra cables won’t cut it here. Extras thrown in to add more features or functionality are added touches that show a manufacturer is concerned about the consumer. Documentation is also a must , quick start guides for those that want to jump right in, should contain enough information to get the product working right out of the box while an easily accessible manual [print or digital] should fill in the more detailed parts of the products workings.
We also look for a company to break the proprietary mold; listing third party accessories that will work it a nice plus as is a list of workable but unsupported products as well.
Support is the bane of many consumers and it is something that is sorely lacking in the electronics world these days. Even from companies that have great products we see a tendency to neglect the support side. At BSN* we will dive into these sticky subject and let you know if you can expect good support for your money.
Every product will be evaluated to make sure it has a clearly defined and easy to access warranty stamen, a complete manual [also covered under the accessories section] drivers appropriate to the products [covering multiple operating systems for the most support] and an easy to understand RMA procedure if replacement is needed.
For most the experience is nothing more than a few performance tests or a write up about how easy/hard it was to build a system into a case. At BSN* we want to cover more than that; we start our process from the moment we unpack the product.
We take into account the design and construction of the product; making sure it has a clean and easy to use layout that all features are marked and easily identifiable. If there is a configuration utility it needs to be intuitive and clean. A clutter Web based setup with confusing labels and links will fail out standards. We also are looking for aesthetics in our reviews is the product ungainly? Would it be an eye sore in your home or office? While some of these might be over shadowed by performance they are important nonetheless.
Each product will need to meet the minimum industry standards for that type of product in terms of design and performance. It must also be able to meet any claims made by the manufacturer. If a GPU says on the box highly overclockable we expect and will check for that level of performance. Details such as high-quality capacitors or improved construction materials will be applauded while shoddy or cheap materials will be lambasted.
This is where the metal meets the meat for most people; you want to know what level of performance you can expect from any product. BSN*’s testing will be continually evolving to cover the widest possible performance aspects. Since no two people will buy the same part for the exact same use we will do our best to cover as many usage angles as possible.
As an example, in the case of computer components we would test a graphics card in multiple systems with different CPUs brands, each test system would cover power consumption synthetic and real world gaming performance with the leading games to give you the best understanding of the cards ability to perform.
For concepts such as audio fidelity or aesthetics we will clearly define our opinions and not attempt to present them as fact. We will attempt in each evaluation to give you other opinions on these very subjective concepts. Our Bright Audio Labs will handle all or almost all audio equipment that comes to test http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2009/3/28/introducing-bright-audio-labs.aspx .
Each product will have a short synopsis to combine the relevant information into an easy to digest section. This is useful for anyone looking for "just the facts" we will also provide you with an immediate response mechanism. If you read an evaluation you can respond under our exclusive "Would you Buy" feature. This section allows you, the reader, to let us and the manufacturer know if their product is worth the asking price and why you feel it is or is not.
In the end we at BSN* want to provide something more than the stock performance review, we want to give you, our readers a broader picture of the products and provide means to get this information to the manufacturers to help improve the products we all buy.