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New CHOW Product Reviews

Dave MP Jun 24, 2013 01:46 PM

We're excited to announce the launch of CHOW's cookware and kitchen gadget reviews. In the weeks and months to come, we’ll publish reviews on a wide range of kitchen tools: knives, pans, blenders, bakeware, coffee makers, and more. All products are tested in the CHOW Test Kitchen, a 1,300-square-foot facility in downtown San Francisco. Each will have a star rating from CHOW’s Product Review Team, as well as detail breakouts on how each item is made, how it performs, and whether it’s a good value. You’ll see quick summaries of the Good, the Bad, and the Bottom Line for each product, and a more detailed review that describes the tests we put it through to come up with our results. Product selection is based on several factors, including what’s new and trending in the market and what the home-cooking experts on Chowhound are talking about.

Today's soft-launch includes five reviews. We’re launching a new thread for each on the Chowhound Cookware board to stimulate community discussion. And we’ll eventually embed Chowhound discussions right on the same page with our kitchenware reviews, so everything will be in one convenient place.

General comments or questions about the Product Reviews? Feel free to post those here. Also read our About Page for more information: http://www.chow.com/about-reviews . We hope these reviews will be an essential resource, particularly for our community of home cooks on Chowhound. If there are cookware items or small appliances you'd like to see us review, let us know.

Finally, if you’d like to discuss the products themselves, head to the discussions on the Cookware Board, which I will also link below.

Dave MP

  1. d
    Dave Feldman Jun 29, 2013 08:53 PM

    As someone who might spend more than 99% of my time here on the Chowhound boards, the product reviews are one of the first things that will get me to mosey over to Chow more often. So far, I'm impressed.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dave Feldman
      k
      kaleokahu Jul 1, 2013 07:47 PM

      Hi, Dave:

      They're kinda light and fluffy, though, you think?

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      1. re: kaleokahu
        k
        kariin Jul 1, 2013 07:55 PM

        Yep. Like Kaleokahu, I thought there was a fuzzy - its all good
        quality to them. Lots of detail/expansion on the positives. Very diplomatic on the negatives.

        There are so many poor quality, crappy items in this marketplace. I really wish some site had the cojones to just state it flat out - wish CHOW would decide to be like Consumer Reports. My beginner-cook friends have blown $$ on stuff that has big hype/marketing and doesn't deliver.

        Looking forward to see what direction Chow goes in.

        1. re: kaleokahu
          d
          Dave Feldman Jul 1, 2013 09:11 PM

          Here's my take on it: I don't think the products selected were random. I think the staff intentionally chose worthy products. I think when there is more of an emphasis on brand new models, the tone might change.

          My problem with many reviews of all kinds, and not just restaurants and food, but theatrical productions, television series and automobiles, is the emphasis on specs and how things perform when brand new, and not enough emphasis on how products/plays/restaurants do when they are "aging."

          1. re: Dave Feldman
            k
            kaleokahu Jul 2, 2013 09:26 AM

            Hi, DF:

            Oh, I doubt they were randomly selected. It is quite obvious to me that the products reviewed are all mass-marketed items carried by big chain home-kitchen product retailers. Good luck, for instance, seeing Vollrath, Sitram, Forschner, Hobart or any of the solid brands offered at restarant supply houses. If it doesn't tie-in with the ads that are pushed at you, you're not likely to see it reviewed.

            You make an excellent point regarding "aging". For example, wouldn't it be nice to have the reviewer of a new model toaster to have a benchmark, e.g., the 1960s Sunbeam T-20? OR, to have tested the item for 6 months or a year in real-world conditions?

            We consumerists worship the new, revile the old, and so disqualify ourselves from judging the better. Thankfully, there is a repository of knowledge here on ChowHOUND to fall back on, the best case-in-point (so far) being the Great 2013 Vitamix 5200 Rebellion.

            Aloha,
            Kale

      2. Melanie Wong Jun 25, 2013 08:23 PM

        CNET also reviews appliances and kitchenware. Is there any plan to cross-post or otherwise reference that content in Chow's reviews or coordinate some how?
        http://www.cnet.com/8301-13553_1-57590279-32/everybody-loves-a-sharp-dressed-kettle/

        Though I'll mention that many of the pages have no opinion on them. For example,
        http://reviews.cnet.com/built-in-oven...

        1. davis_sq_pro Jun 25, 2013 07:10 AM

          Please make the link to the Chowhound discussion much bigger and much more prominent.

          I just came here to complain that there was no way to comment and/or give feedback on the reviews. Not until reading HillJ's reply did I go back and look more carefully, only then noticing the link -- hidden at the bottom between two huge images.

          5 Replies
          1. re: davis_sq_pro
            HillJ Jun 25, 2013 07:12 AM

            Isn't that space only leading readers to the Cookware board though or did I miss an actual comment box attached to each product review on the CHOW page.

            1. re: HillJ
              davis_sq_pro Jun 25, 2013 07:42 AM

              There is no comment box, but there is a link to a thread.

              Personally, I'd prefer a full-blown discussion, embedded, right there in the comments section -- for EVERYTHING on this site. I've asked for that in the past... And as it turns out, you replied there too.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887495

              ... but linking to a specific thread is almost as good. If the link can be made much more obvious, I think the same technique can and should be applied to everything else on the site -- blogs, recipes, videos, etc. (Especially recipes. My current annoyance there is the fact that you can't comment without applying a rating. Really stupid design; how is someone supposed to ask a question?)

              1. re: davis_sq_pro
                HillJ Jun 25, 2013 07:44 AM

                Thanks. I share your preference. And yes I typically comment on the choices made to separate or blend both sides of the site.

                1. re: davis_sq_pro
                  Dave MP Jun 25, 2013 12:13 PM

                  We're also investigating the possibility of adding a full-blown discussion to all pieces of content on the site. We agree that we'd like a way for users to leave a comment and discuss a recipe, regardless of whether they choose to rate it.

                  Again, not sure of our timeline, but fixing the issues you describe here are definitely on our radar. Thanks!

                  Dave MP

              2. re: davis_sq_pro
                Dave MP Jun 25, 2013 12:11 PM

                Hi davis_sq_pro,

                We're planning to do what you suggest....put the Chowhound discussion straight under the Product Review, in lieu of a comments section. See more here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9067...

                Not sure of our timeline yet, but hopefully this will be coming soon.

              3. HillJ Jun 24, 2013 05:32 PM

                Dave, I have a few questions on the new product review section:

                Past the initial launch, will you be the go to person for all questions as they relate to individual CHOW Product Review questions or will the CHOW Test Kitchen testers take direct questions from the Chowhound community?

                Will testers contribute their own comments on each related Cookware thread or will there be a CHOW product review comment area as merchandise is tested?

                How often are the testers going to be reviewing products? Is there a set review schedule to tune in?

                2 Replies
                1. re: HillJ
                  Dave MP Jun 25, 2013 12:10 PM

                  Hi HillJ,

                  Thanks for the questions. I'll do my best to answer each of them:

                  1) For questions about the products themselves, or the content within the product reviews, I generally won't be the go-to person. If there are specific questions aimed at the CHOW Reviews team that show up in the discussions, they will likely be joining in to answer them.

                  2) I am not sure I totally understand this question, but maybe this will help. In the near future, we'd like to put a Chowhound discussion on the same page as each product review. So, people will be able to discuss the product right on that same page. This is the idea that davis_sq_pro outlines here, too. We still also plan to have these show up in the listing on the Cookware board, so you'd be able to access the discussion from either place. We're working on doing this, so it's still a little ways away, but it's in the works.

                  3) Our schedule may change as we move forward, but right now you can expect around 2 new product reviews per week. You can regularly check the Product Review homepage, or follow along on the Cookware board, since both of these will be updated each time a new review is published.

                  Thanks!
                  Dave MP

                  1. re: Dave MP
                    HillJ Jun 25, 2013 12:13 PM

                    Answered & then some. One last question:

                    In the Product Review "About" description it refers to the testers responding to "the buzz" on CH regarding certain products. So, I'm wondering, when the new project really takes off, where do Chowhounds post a product recommendation they would like the testers to consider for review?

                    Thanks, DaveMP!

                2. nofunlatte Jun 24, 2013 04:31 PM

                  Dave--I checked out the Emeril/All Clad review. I really like that this is both text AND video. I am considerably more verbal than visual, so I don't typically view the Chow videos*. That I can READ the review makes me more likely to access it.

                  *or any other videos, save for cat videos that clock in under a minute :)

                  1. Dave MP Jun 24, 2013 04:25 PM

                    Kaleokahu asked the following here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906776

                    "Let's get this out there up front: Is CH or any of its employees being paid or offering discount advertising rates in exchange for writing these reviews we'll be seeing? How do the reviewers choose which products to review?"

                    Thanks for asking this. We just updated the about page for product reviews (linked above) to make this more clear. Objectivity is paramount in the CHOW Test Kitchen. We purchase products at retail cost, and have no marketing or promotional arrangements with the manufacturers. Each product is put through rigorous tests based on the manufacturer’s claims and what our Team believes to be a consumer’s reasonable expectations.

                    As far as choosing products, we are currently picking products to test based on a variety of factors, including new releases; market trends; buzz from our online community of home-cooking experts on Chowhound; and good old-fashioned intuition on the part of our experienced editors. As we move forward, it would be great to set up a more formalized way of taking suggestions from users on the Cookware board who have ideas of products we should review.

                    Thanks,
                    Dave MP

                    1. JoanN Jun 24, 2013 02:21 PM

                      Reviews look slick, and I mean that in a good way. Not sure I agree with 8 out of 10 for a Wüsthof Classic knife set, or that the length of the steel is the only negative, but will be curious to see how it plays out. Shouldn't there be a link from the review page to the discussion page as well as from the discussion to the review?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JoanN
                        Dave MP Jun 24, 2013 02:23 PM

                        Thanks JoanN!

                        The links are all there now, on both the reviews and the discussions. So definitely post your thoughts on the knife set in the Cookware discussion!

                      2. Dave MP Jun 24, 2013 01:46 PM

                        Here are links to the first 5 product reviews, along with links to the Chowhound discussions on these products.

                        Review of Wüsthof Classic 7 Pc. Knife Block #7417: http://www.chow.com/reviews/5-wusthof-classic-7-pc-knife-block-7417
                        Discussion of Wüsthof Classic 7 Pc. Knife Block #7417: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906772

                        Review of Le Creuset Rectangular Skinny Grill: http://www.chow.com/reviews/4-le-creuset-rectangular-skinny-grill
                        Discussion of Le Creuset Rectangular Skinny Grill: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906774

                        Review of Shun Cutlery Classic Pro Deba 8-1/4-Inch Knife: http://www.chow.com/reviews/3-shun-cutlery-classic-pro-deba-8-1-4-inch-knife
                        Discussion of Shun Cutlery Classic Pro Deba 8-1/4-Inch Knife: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906775

                        Review of 12-Inch Chef's Stainless Steel Fry Pan from Emeril by All-Clad: http://www.chow.com/reviews/2-12-inch-chefs-stainless-steel-fry-pan-from-emeril-by-all-clad
                        Discussion of 12-Inch Chef's Stainless Steel Fry Pan from Emeril by All-Clad: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906776

                        Review of KitchenAid 5-Speed Custom Metallic Blender KSB580: http://www.chow.com/reviews/1-kitchenaid-5-speed-custom-metallic-blender-ksb580-review
                        Discussion of KitchenAid 5-Speed Custom Metallic Blender KSB580: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906777

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