If they deemed it good enough to send out, its good enough to review, faults and all.
This space is left intentionally blank. It's where our HTC U12+ flagship review would go. So why is it missing? Last year HTC won back mindshare with its flagship U11 phone, the elegance and appealing imaging and video of which made it an attractive alternative to big-spending rivals. An even stronger U11+ a few months later …
What is the point in reviewing something that may not ship to the public? If they fix the issues before any sales then a review that mentions them will be wrong. If you ignore the issues based on the promise of a fix and they don't fix them then that review will be wrong. Better to wait and see what actually ships to customers.
You can't really honestly review anything until you get the day one update with everyone else. This phone has show stoppers, but they will probably be fixed by the time everyone gets hold of it. If they publish now, they run the risk of publish an inaccurate review.
This, unfortunately, also enables the hype machine to work (see film, videogame embargos).
Almost since it's inception, Stereophile (and many others of their type) have encountered the same conundrum. It has been their position, though, to review what is given to them- except in the cases of something obviously damaged or defective- be damned.
If the company under review wants you to review a beta-quality product, then that is their prerogative. I remember Infinity being signaled out specifically because their loudspeakers might be revised two or three times between the time that the review set were sent to the magazine and the "final" version shipped to stores or customers. In effect, the magazine was accusing Infinity (and others) of having the reviewers beta-test their devices.
It would be no different than to delay posting a review of say, Windows, until it is EOL'd, and passing judgement only on the final, final version with all the patches and feature updates that it will ever receive. If they want you to review the final product, they should send you the final product- if they want you to review the beta, half-baked version, then that's what you do. Doing otherwise is dishonest.
Waits for you for a phone review or a nil
Phone to face no buttons just squeezing, feel the chill
Pre-release bothers you, but they know the changes making
Still overseas, could it be the whole landfill opening wide
Scared to try without new firmware inside
A week is why, until we
Get a more updated model
That fatal pause is all Reg needs
View it as a buyer
To fatal sounds of broken phones
View it as a buyer
That fatal pause is all Reg needs
The choice for you is the review or a nil.
so if it has bugs then so be it. As you said, some are so basic that the device should not have been sent out for review.
Say so in the review and hope/pray/wish that HTC eventually get around to fixing them.
HTC made the bect Android phone I owned but basically EOL'd it three months after I shelled out for it.
Damned if you do - danmed if you don't.
- Yeah, they sent it to you, they felt it was ready for action.
- But obviously they need to fix it and hopefully will. Which will make the current review that of a handset that is not in the shops. This would be a bit like going to a theatre rehersal and publishing a scathing critique of the opening night - a month before the opening night...
(and that's the difference to the "when Windows is finished" argument above, it is released to the public, not something only a select few see).
If the firmware update HTC promised is going to change the functionality significantly then the device you have to review isn't going to be indicative of what customers will finally get, so a review of the product at this point is premature - don't publish it.
However, if the firmware update HTC promised is just going to tweak the functionality of the device, so the device sent for review is indicative of what customers will get, then publish the review.
As the article says, El Reg is not under the pressure to publish that gadget review sites are. In circumstances such as this I'm very happy for them to publish a short story along the lines of "HTC is about to launch the U12+, it has these headline features and we will publish a full review on/near launch day".
Reviewing non-production product is fraught with dangers, particularly because (as someone pointed out above) that review is often higher up the search results than the subsequent "now we've had it for a month, here are the caveats" article. A case in point that hit us a couple of years ago was a Sandisk Ultra SSD where most of the reviews we found were very positive for this relatively cheap device, but we found them so-so. I can't find the reference now, but I think it was Anandtech who did some digging (they were the source of one of the glowing initial reviews) and found that Sandisk had changed the controller between the review / early production devices and the mainstream production devices, leading to a significant drop in performance, while keeping the exact same model number.
"replaced the traditional mechanical switch buttons with rigid, touch-sensitive knobs that provide haptic feedback"
I've never ever used so called haptic feedback that wasn't garbage.
You can feel location of real buttons by touch BEFORE you click, and know which one it is.
I'm frustrated by a growing quantity of things using touch or swipe when a 10cent button per function, or even cheaper is HUGELY better ergonomics.
We need a few more buttons, not less.
TVs, radios, HiFis, eReaders, Tablets, Phones, cookers, microwaves. It's madness. Ergonomics sacrificed to style and cost saving cents.
"I've never ever used so called haptic feedback that wasn't garbage."
Then you haven't used the haptic trackpad on a Mac. If it wasn't for the fact that it didn't click when it was turned off, you'd genuinely not believe it wasn't a physical button. Haptics done right.
I also have to say I like the haptic (Taptic?) engine on the Apple Watch; it's not in the same league as the Mac trackpad, but good nonetheless.
I wholeheartedly agree. Try being blind & trying to use something that might as well be a flat, featureless slab of glass for all it matters. "Soft" buttons that trigger when we've run our fingers over something trying to figure out WTF it is, what it does, & how to make it do it? Whose bright idea was THAT? Please take them out back & beat them like a pinata.
We need physical buttons we can find, feel, & hear "click" to know we've pressed it. That we can anticipate the device reacting to & thus expecting it to pause as it attempts to complete the task. "Soft" buttons mean we have no idea why the device is suddenly doing something "for no apparent reason" - except it's reacting to buttons we can't feel, don't know are there, can't find, & get no feedback (the click) that we've pressed them.
It's akin to your car suddenly activating the brakes/gas, turning the wheel, adjusting THE VOLUMe on the radio ALL by !ITSELF! and forcing you to flail at the controls trying to make it do what you want instead. If the buttons don't exist & you can't tell when you've triggered them, have fun steering your new fancy car into the bridge abutment at ultra high speed.
If your phone has buttons you can't feel & can't see to know they're there, good luck trying to get it to do anything useful.
Buttons. Put them back so us older folks can actualy use the stuff we buy. Otherwise we'll stop buying it & spend our money elsewhere. How many old people are there again? I wonder if we might have some money at our disposal...
Especially the growing trend to replace peripheral car controls (entertainment, climate etc.) with a touchscreen.
Yes often there are wheel controls for radio volume, bluetooth answer etc. but try putting the front and rear demisters on an ipad glued to the dash while travelling at 70mph....
There are reasons other than cost for using haptics on a touch panel. Waterproofing, chemical and germ boundaries (in hospitals etc) are three that spring to mind.
I can't help feeling that WallMeerkat and Shadow Systems are confusing haptics with touch-sensitive buttons. All the arguments against touch panels are valid, but have nothing to do with haptics.
A good haptic system provides accurate physical feedback akin to pressing (or running your fingers over) a physical button; where no physical button exists. Note that haptic feedback is different to just a vibration (unless it's trying to simulate a vibration).
At Interconnect in Vegas last year I tried a 3x4 haptic control panel simulating a numeric keypad - it used kilohertz vibrations along a single pixel width line, which replicated pretty much exactly the feeling of running a fingertip over a button edge. Each button had a 'rough' surface (simulated by the frequency generator), and 'pressing' a button gave a physical click, which you would swear was depressing a button. It was an out-of-brain experience looking at the keypad after navigating it by touch alone, with all the textures and sensations, to see that it was completely flat and featureless glass.
This was a startup running a demo, but clearly demonstrated the difference between haptics and touch controls. They're not the same thing.
Voice control is absolutely useless unless you have a Southern English or Californian accent.
Can you imagine a Glaswegian / Belfastian / Geordie trying to shout at a phone to turn on and take a picture?
Last time I tried voice control in my car to dial a contact it dialled everyone *but* that contact, even my previous employer.
I respect El Reg's carefully considered and politically neutral (hostile to everyone) approach to journalism - long may it continue.
Personally I like my HTC phones and as a consumer would give them the benefit of the doubt until proved wrong, but I don't even like the idea of a buttonless phone, let alone a badly-implemented one.
I'm with Mage - it sounds even more stupid than those Android phones that only light up the invisible touch-sensitive "buttons" when you touch them, and those badly-designed laptops that have no actual mouse buttons on the touchpad. Designed by the sort of twats that think 'invisible until you mouse-over' controls are somehow cool or clever.
If I were rich enough to be a generous philanthropist I'd fund an industrial design school to teach 'proper', well thought-out industrial design with a mission to rid the world of these idiocies. Looking at you, Google.
and if that puts people off from buying it now - well 'good' as that's what they'll experience.
If they patch the phone, review again, and replace the original one.
I'd like to think that a shit-load of "don't buy yet" reviews might assist somebody in their middle-management to prioritize the fix.
I'm sure the software will be even better then! If a company thinks a product is finished enough to release it to reviewers, they can't complain if reviews are poor because they shipped a broken product planning to "fix it later". What incentive is there for a company to actually fix things before shipment if reviewers give them a pass when they ship something that's not ready?
Would El Reg be as charitable if Apple released new iPhones this September with a glaring software bug that affected their usability and decide "well we'll review it in October after they've had a chance to fix it"
"Would El Reg be as charitable if Apple released new iPhones this September with a glaring software bug that affected their usability and decide "well we'll review it in October after they've had a chance to fix it""
No chance; they'd put the boot in. As they rightly should in my view.
Did the Reg just link-bomb androidcentral?
I can't access their review linked in this article:
This site can’t be reached
The webpage at https://www.androidcentral.com/htc-u12-plus-review might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
Can we stop bandying this phrase "unforced errors" around? It gets used more and more by people who think they're saying something uniquely perceptive—but almost always in the wrong context. It'll become as tediously witless as "brutal murder" soon. I i's quite ok simply to say "HTC made a mistake". They're not in combat, or even playing football right now.
There is a story that Tony Benn once sent out advance copies of a speech to the news agencies, leading to several newspapers commenting on it. However, he gave a completely different speech to the audience! This enabled the arch prankster to rant on about the lying and corrupt press making out that he had said things which he didn't say. Only those virtuous reporters who had actually bothered to attend could have reported what he had really said!
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