Youtube Product Reviews

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 1 out of 5
Yeah, but: Hey, internets.

The Long Version: Here's something I don't understand: the Youtubed single-take video review. I've been shopping for a new pocketknife recently, and these things are the dominant form of experiential information about it. Let me tell you, most of them are just plain bad, and many of them are much worse than that.

Coughing, bumping the camera, um, let's see, dropping things, focus hunting or locked on the wrong thing; um, background noise, hiss and wind noise; shaky camera, um, I don't know if you guys can see this; helmet-POV, hand-on-each-side demonstrations, um, webcam, hey youtube; missed framing, drifting auto exposure, fidgeting; dumb catchphrases, um, random backgrounds; bad video and worse lighting; scantily researched, improvised, self-indulgent and rambling presentations.

Seriously, I've seen considerably higher production values – and better scripting – from some very average efforts at amateur porn.

Writing a good review is hard work: look at just how rarely I accomplish it despite my many attempts. Taking photos is also an acquired skill, and one that most casual reviewers lack. That's usually okay, since the goal is description, not art, and a still photo can be puzzled out or skipped over as the viewer prefers. But when people take a video camera out to the garage because they think that it's easier than acquiring and/or combining those two other skills, bad things happen.

Making a good video is a lot of really hard work, which is why I don't do it. I can't say that I won't ever create a video review – they have their place and can draw a lot of attention – I absolutely promise that it won't be recorded with my cellphone.

last updated 24 sep 2012


  1. The worst is when they don't even talk about the product. I remember looking at some headphones in the past and the internet had somehow guided me to a youtube video "review". It claimed to be a review about the headphones, but the guy just unboxed it. The end.
    I guess content is more important than performance or even opinions..? I may never find the answer.


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