Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reviews? Or just complaints?

The new house is coming along, we close next Wednesday, but in the meantime I've had some obligatory appliance shopping to get a refrigerator, washer and dryer, all of which were necessary since it's a new house.

When buying big-ticket items, it always pays to check reviews and to take into account quality and value, at least as much as you take price into consideration. Finding reviews of tech items is usually fairly simple in this electronic age, everyone has an opinion, and usually you can find a fair share of objective ones. But appliances still tend to be trapped in a previous era, as what are touted as "online reviews" tend to be nothing more than an online complaint department.

Herein lies the problem: people who have issues are exponentially more likely to write a "review" than those who are completely satisfied with their products. Given a large enough sample of reviews, I tend to relate it to about a 5:1 ratio of poor reviews to good reviews -- for every 5 customers complaining, there is 1 customer praising. If the actual results are skewed one way or another, then I consider that a significant trend. If I go online and see 12 reviews, 10 of which are complaints, and 2 of which are praising the product, then I consider it a wash and there's probably no *real* widespread problem with the product or the manufacturer.

It's just difficult to sort it all out sometime, especially when the overally quantity is so few. I was looking for reviews on a GE refrigerator I was looking at, found about 6 reviews over the course of 2 years, all of which were negative, usually with comments to the effect of "GE sucks, never buy from GE again." I think I'd give them a bit more weight if the review was more subjective, but it was nothing but people who no doubt has legitimate problems with their fridges, and probably had bad experiences getting their problems resolved, but then trying to generalize to all products that was the case. I consider GE probably sells tens-of-thousands of refrigerators each year, and only 6 complaints over 2 years? Doesn't seem significant to me.

I have found that there are reliable, and objective, reviews and comparisons out there to be seen. Magazines such as Consumer Reports, or various online websites that really ask the right questions (pros/cons of various models, issues, etc.) Certainly there are some brands that tend to be more reliable than others, but I guess I'll just make it up as I go and hope what I want actually works.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

House Hunting Adventures

I've been a bit out of touch these past couple of weeks, because things have been a bit busy. Most know by now that I've been looking to buy a house, and for those who have been through the process, you can probably sympathize, but for those who haven't yet, it's far more work than you'd think.

So I had my ideal vision of what I was looking for in a house. Simple to explain, hard to find, and after seeing countless places that were "close but not quite", or "something's just not right", or "if only it had x", I finally found a place that fit exactly all of the things I was looking for. Problem was, it wasn't what I wanted afterall. So I decided to take a look at some places I had previously dismissed because they weren't what I thought I wanted.

And lo and behold, but two days later, what everyone told me would happen finally happened. I walked into the place and immediately thought, "This is it!"

Less then a week later... drumroll please....

... I bought a house!

It's located just off 175th in Shoreline, in the North City neighborhood. Location had as much to do with my decision as the place itself... conveniently located to the freeway, still not too far from work, right on the bus line to go downtown, Safeway is just 3 blocks away, and plenty of other stuff around. For those who want some stats on it:
1710 sqft. + 2-car garage (one of my requirements).
3 bedrooms (plenty of guest space...)
3.5 bathrooms (what do I need 3.5 bathrooms for? why not?)
brand new construction, just finished in December
semi-attached townhouse (yes, those of you who knew my original requirements would know that I swore off townhouses, but as soon as you go inside, you'd never know this was a townhouse. I decided that was OK afterall.)

I have some pictures online in my photo album. We close the end of the month, and I'll be moving throughout the month of February. In the meantime, trying to coordinate all that is involved in buying a house, I think I've been on the phone more in the past week than in the past 2 months.

Eventually we'll return you to your regularly scheduled blogs.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Back Links

The following blogs or web pages have linked back to previous blog entries on Universe of Synergy: