When is a consumer review not a fair review?

Last year I bought a new camera. It’s a Pentax Optio W30 and was hailed as a great camera by some of the review sites.

This review really rates it with the only apparent downside being that it can’t shoot in raw. That’s okay, I don’t know what Raw is anyway. Why would I need that?

And so does this apparently independent review. In fact it is the one that I referred to when I bought it.

So why then is the camera, just a bit rubbish?

No-one seems to tell you that the pictures it takes are fine in blazing sunshine, but really bad when the light even fades a little. They are so grainy as to be unusable – even as tiny pics.

If you compare the shot I got with my camera to the one that my colleague Tim Garratt captured at the Little Boots concert in the Bowery Ballroom, New York, there is simply no comparison. He was using a Ricoh Gr Digital.

Tim Garratt's shot of Little Boots at the Bowery Ballroom New York - Brilliant
Tim Garratt's shot of Little Boots at the Bowery Ballroom New York - Brilliant

Compare and contrast with…

My own rather poor effort at capturing Little Boots in all her shiny glory in poor light
My own rather poor effort at capturing Little Boots in all her shiny glory in poor light

Now I’m no brand slut. I tend to pick a brand and stick to it until I find something better comes along, but I was soooooo disappointed with the performance of the Pentax Optio that I can’t really consider many positives about the brand overall. Because my expectations were so high having read so many positive reviews, my disappointment is compounded to destroying my trust in the entire Pentax brand. The reviews had raised my expectations, the product couldn’t deliver on those promises.

So are they really independent or are they part of a blogger outreach programme. They give cameras and cash to well respected bloggers and ask them to write technically sound and positive reviews to drag in gullibe muppets like me.

Maybe I’m being cynical (again) but I now finding myself doubting any reviews and feedback unless I know it’s independent. If there were loads of independent reviews then I’d be more inclined to trust the supplier again.

Perhaps I should have looked beyond the first two reviews that Google threw up. Perhaps I should look for a mark of independence such as Feefo offers, or perhaps I should just go and buy a Ricoh GR Digital?

In fact, that’s just what I’ve done, so the Pentax is going on Ebay tonight and I’ll refer my potential buyers to the exact same great reviews that are out there for them to see!

The Sheriff of Nottingham in USA – Part Sixteen – Off duty in New York

We’re off duty, we’re finished, we’re shattered and we’ve learned loads. Its impossible to not learn if you’ve seen 31 attractions over 12,000 miles in 8 days. If you manage to not learn here, you shouldn’t be here in the first place. I’ll write out the full conclusions from my own viewpoint and get them on here in the next few days, but first, I’ll wrap up with the last few things we did, in our briefly hectic time in New York.

Having left the Museum of Natural History, we headed off to Seaport, on the east coast of the Island and underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a brash, sprawling shopping and entertainment centre that few love, but hundreds still flock to, in order to shop, eat and drink.

Looking down into Seaport - a huge mall of shops, eateries and entertainment stuff
Looking down into Seaport - a huge mall of shops, eateries and entertainment stuff

This is NOT my scene at all, but it was another to see and tick off. Perhaps to ensure we don’t rip the heart out of the city of Nottingham by overdeveloping the riverside, when this is eventually done and turn it into a vile tourist mecca with shops and a distinct lack of character.

We did stop at a restaurant that looked okay and had the Arsenal game on (replayed in full, but time delayed by five hours) in the background. Being the cultural tourist that I am, this was as much of a draw as the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the tall ships.

The food portions, were the most ludicrous yet. Being slightly healthy and wanting to avoid accusations of salad dodging, I went for a Caesar Salad with chicken, only to be presented with a family size bowl that had two chicken breasts in it and at least a cubic metre of lettuce. It was simply enormous. I’m not sure if I got much over half way through it before giving up and even leaving some of the chicken. You can see my choice of drink, to give me a real sense of home. I waddled back to the hotel to get ready for our night out.

The salad that beat me - easily!
The salad that beat me - easily!

When we got back to the hotel it was just turning dark and two doors away at a tiny cinema called the Sunshine Cinema, was Charlize Theron, who just happened to be premiering her new film ‘The Burning Plain’ in New York. Either that, or she was just hanging around our hotel, just hoping to get a glimpse of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his men.

Charlize Theron hanging around outside our hotel
Charlize Theron hanging around outside our hotel

It was remarkably low key, with no red carpet, almost no Paparazzi (except Tim Garratt – who got this shot – Thanks Tim) and very few people hanging around. I didn’t bother staying to see her on the way out as we had a date with Little Boots at The Bowery Ballroom.

This is rated by many in the music industry as one of the best venues in the world and with a capacity of around 575, a superb sound system and a stage that allows everyone on the floor or the balcony to get a perfect view, I’m not surprised.

Victoria Christina Hesketh, or Little Boots by her stage name, was supported by two other bands, ‘The Plastiscines’ who I (with my feeble musical taste and knowledge) thought were ok and ‘Yes Giantess’ who I thought were great. I had chat with them afterwards and despite the fact they come from Boston, they were still prepared to speak to me (unlike many others of the fair city, after me upsetting them last week). They’re in UK on the NME tour soon, so if you get chance, go and see them and tell them I sent you.

Little Boots can really sing. Whether you like her music or not, listening to her live shows the power and range of her voice and how well received she was by the people of New York (and Nottingham).

Again, I have to thank Tim Garratt and his excellent photographic skills for the quality of this shot.

Little Boots, singing her heart out at the Bowery Ballroom
Little Boots, singing her heart out at the Bowery Ballroom

I also got to speak to her road manager and asked him about the tour. He described it as a mini tour, that was far more about PR than finances. Thinking about it logically, at only $15 a ticket and playing to only 500 odd people, they never had a chance of ever breaking even, but I’m sure the people adding images and videos to their Facebook and Bebo pages (and blogs like this) will help her profile no end.

Good luck to her. She is one hell of a live singer.

More later for my last day in the USA, taking in Liberty Island and a walk along Broadway.