In the pursuit of clarity we've decided to draw out Pocket-lint.com's policy of naming particular types of articles. We feel this is important because it means you know exactly what you are reading, and where it is coming from.
We deal with products in a number of ways on Pocket-lint.com: we give you news, we give you features, and we give you reviews. Within these sides there are various types of articles that we write and publish, but the only ones that we feel need clarification are: Hands-on, Hands-on review, and Review.
When we put something out as "pictures and hands-on" it means we've actually seen it in the flesh. Sometimes we're not allowed to touch an item, or we choose to photograph it in someone else's hands, but the aim is always to bring you the visuals so you know what it looks like out of the professional studio, and what the user experience is like free of marketing spin.
A pictures and hands-on piece might be dealing with a market ready product, it might be a prototype, it might be far from ready, it might be a service, a single feature or an addition to an existing product. Sometimes hands-on time is extremely short - the chance to grab pictures only. Sometimes a Hands-on is based on a longer briefing with the item, but rest assured, if it says "hands-on", we really did see it ourselves.
Sometimes we run hands-on stories on products we don't feel are suitable for reviewing - why draw a meaningless conclusion without context? Some hands-on stories are short if there is nothing to say, sometimes they will be more comprehensive.
They were at first called First Looks and now Hands-on review. We've been writing previews for many years and we've always been clear that this is us bringing you an opinion of a product based on our time spent with it. We aim to be as clear as possible in telling you that we've only spent limited time with an item and not explored every facet of it, but we're also clear in saying that we have actually spent time with it, and more than just a fleeting moment on a trade show stand. We never write a Hands-on review without investing the time in the product in the first place.
In a Hands-on review or First Look we will bring you more information than we would in a quick pictures and hands-on. We know more, we've experienced enough of a product to convey something deeper to you the reader: we're fleshing out the story, drawing a conclusion, but not one that is definitive. We might write First Looks and Hands-on reviews on products we spent an hour with, or a day with, or sometimes, if we have a prototype.
Sometimes we'll write a First Look on beta software, or a service we get to preview before it is released. It can't be a full review, because many services lack content until they go live. It's review content, but it isn't the final word and we make this absolutely clear in the text.
What we never do is write a Hands-on review when we've only seen something in a presentation, passed quickly around a table, behind glass or detailed on a piece of paper. There's no point in that, it doesn't let us convey any meaningful opinion outside speculation. Sure, we'll use our broad experience to interpret how something might perform based on the specs, but never if we haven't actually had it for long enough to see how it gels together.
If a product is shown to us, but we feel the operating system is too incomplete, then we don't bother, it becomes a Hands-on. Specs sheets are great, but you don't buy a house or a car based on numbers alone: you have to see it in the flesh, you have to explore, touch, feel, prod, poke, smell, stroke and shake.
Hands-on reviews will always have the title beginning with "Hands-on:...", and it will be as clear as possible from the outset how and where we've seen the product, so you know exactly what you are reading.
Reviews are based on living with a product. We have it, we've tested it, we introduced it to our lives and we all sat down for Sunday dinner at the table. Our reviews are now longer than ever as we want to convey the experience of owning the device to you. As far as possible we'll only publish a Review of retail-ready devices, as you'll find them in the shops. If we've been told otherwise, we'll make sure that's clear.
Of course so much of what we deal with is software based: the features of your mobile phone or tablet will change over the course of its life. We won't go back and re-write reviews as things change.
More often if there is a new software feature or update that changes the experience, we'll write it up on the news side and stick the appropriate links in the review. Besides, you can always leave a comment to reflect that something has changed and add to the story yourself.
Across all these different types of articles we write, the aim is to inform the reader in the most appropriate, clear and honest way possible.