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Minibois

Shady review practices from drawing tablet companies.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Sorry for dumping this in General discussion. There is not enough substance for Tech News and this doesn't quite fit the peripherals section, as it is more about the review practices, not the actual product category.

 

TL;DR:

It is pretty well known that companies send out free products to YouTuber to review, some companies are very shady about their practices with it though, like for example asking reviewers to cut out negative parts. Giving a negative review may also mean these channels wont receive products from these companies, making it so some YouTuber reviewers will actually comply. 

 

This is by the way more of a text version of the videos linked below, I will give a bit more context, but watching these two videos will also give you the full story.

Also, I understand business is business, but when YouTubers often don't disclose how they got the product, it's hard to gauge the accuracy/bias of a review.

 

Some context:
Drawing tablets are peripherals for desktop/laptop computers to better interface with drawing programs (and used for photo editing.. 3D modeling.. etc. too). These devices are connected via USB (typically) and use a pen to draw.

These pens simulate a mouse, but with a pen. These can be a tablet or a screen you draw on (the latter being a lot more expensive).

 

The biggest brand in this spectrum (with like 90% market control) has been Wacom. As with any product category, if you have one particular brand that does particularly well, there will be a lot of companies trying to do a similar thing.

That is good, competition will only evolve the market further and will lead to good options existing.

 

A lot of the 'Chinese brands' have in the last years used a lot of YouTubers to review their products, but apparently these companies have had some reasonably questionable practices with these reviews (in terms of censoring opinions).

 

Video I will talk about:

 

Professional digital painter Aaron Rutten (with a rather large YouTube channel in the artist community) has recently published a video called 'The Painful Truth About Drawing Tablet Reviews', where he shares his personal experiences in dealing with these companies.

In his video, he talked about how companies would send 'art YouTubers' a drawing tablet/screen for free* and they just had to make a review on it. Simple enough, this happens in the entire tech review community. These companies would however require these YouTubers to show the review of their product to the company first, before publishing it. They would 'suggest' tweak in the review to make it appear less negative (sometimes also telling these YouTubers to give excuses for certain design flaws like a bad stand on a screen).

 

Some reviewers might be inclined to do that, because otherwise they might not get products from said company again.. Apparently sometimes these companies would send out products for 'review', only to require the YouTuber to give it a '5 star review', which some of these people might be inclined to do because they got a free product (and the potential of more free products)..

He later also pointed out he does reviews for Wacom products, which he also gets those for free, yet he doesn't need to censor/lighten his opinion upon their request.

 

You could see this as 2 problems:

- These (unnamed I might add) companies are trying to skew public opinion on their products

- Reviews in this field are not as creditable anymore.

 

You could add 'integrity of YouTube reviewers in this spectrum is going down', but the people that reviews these products often don't make a living reviewing stuff; they are usually creating different content that happens to make use of these drawing tablets.

 

Other YouTuber opinions:

This video will probably be seen by a lot more people in the coming days I suspect (being at 7331 views, 280 comments now), but at the moment some other YouTubers who reviews these items have already commented on the situation.

Brad Colbow (Visual designer/artist, who also does many reviews on this stuff, including Wacom and other brand stuff):

Quote

"I can confirm that everything Aaron says here is 100% true."

Brad has also done a response video today:

He added some examples from own experience too. Some company sent him a drawing display to review, he noticed ghosting on the display and mentioned that in the video, this company later emailed him and asked him to remove that part from the video because they had tested their units of that product and had not experienced those troubles..

So their experiences apparently invalidate his experience - which means he should cut it from his own review.. in the company's opinion of course.

He also talked a bit about receiving products for free while remaining unbiased and also about review embargo stuff - that of course also plays a role in a successful YouTube review channel.

 

Crowne Prince (Animator, who has done a ton of reviews too):

Quote

"I absolutely agree and have had the same experiences. I've had companies become more demanding over time. I've been conned into doing free product testing (not even review), wasting several days of my time. I've been footed with unexpected customs/import bills. I'm also concerned some of these Chinese products do not meet safety specs for electronic devices, but I don't have the technical background to be able to test that aspect."

Of course the latter part of this comment is speculation, but the first part of it shows some shadiness around this.

 

Conclusion:

Seeing things like this going on, makes me appreciate how Linus says he reviews items from all companies, it also makes me appreciate how these companies don't try to censor the reviews.

Reviews are there for a consumer to make an accurate choice in the products they want to buy, making your item appear a lot better in reviews will sadly help the product sell a lot better. The way these companies are treating 'reviews' make them seem a lot more like product showcases, where the 'reviewer' can only share their positive opinions on the products.

When you Google a drawing tablet/screen that is not from Wacom, see it's half the price, see it has the same specs (these specs often are not the full truth) and only see reviews from people who got one for free giving it a glowing review.. That creates a bad spot to be in as a consumer.

 

Sorry for the longer post, just had a feeling this has been going on for the longest time and I am so glad two of the larger drawing tablet/screen YouTubers have voiced their opinion on this matter.

Just goes to show how critical you might have to be for some reviews.

 


"There's no such thing as perfect. You're beautiful as you are Courage. With all your imperfections you can do anything." - Bathtub Barracuda

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4 minutes ago, Minibois said:

some companies are very shady about their practices with it though,

Don't quote me on this, but I remember hearing somewhere that AMD used to do this.


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unknown.png?width=676&height=676nox is great comp any for power supply


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That is why bigger channels have the advantage, They earn enough from their fame and stuff that in the worst scenario, they pay for the products instead of getting free samples so they can talk whatever they want.


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They are absolutely referring to their wacom. If you want to talk about monopolies and shady business practices, forget Intel and Nvidia, wacom was the worst. Up until I think 2013-2014 wacom held patents that pretty much prevented any other brand from creating high end pen displays to go up against their cintiq line and because of that they build up the belief that ef that they are the best tablets and the only one professionals should use.

 

They don't care about little johnny trying to draw his first sonic OC in the dark recesses of his bedroom, they want the studios to buy their stuff in bulk for all the artists and animators, who generally have way to much money to spend on tablets and the decision is left to some underpaid or unpaid intern who has to find the best of the best for the studio, where money is no object. And because of all the bullshit they pulled (and still do with these reviews) they immediately gravitate towards wacom

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, Arika S said:

They are absolutely referring to their wacom. If you want to talk about monopolies and shady business practices, forget Intel and Nvidia, wacom was the worst. Up until I think 2013-2014 wacom held patents that pretty much prevented any other brand from creating high end pen displays to go up against their cintiq line and because of that they build up the belief that ef that they are the best tablets and the only one professionals should use.

 

They don't care about little johnny trying to draw his first sonic OC in the dark recesses of his bedroom, they want the studios to buy their stuff in bulk for all the artists and animators, who generally have way to much money to spend on tablets and the decision is left to some underpaid or unpaid intern who has to find the best of the best for the studio, where money is no object. And because of all the bullshit they pulled (and still do with these reviews) they immediately gravitate towards wacom

Keep in mind the Aaron Rutten video was about the competitors of Wacom, he didn't name a company specific (might be multiple one, for all we know), but it wasn't wacom.

See timestamp 11:34 in this video:

 

The Brad Colbow video didn't have snippet nearly conclusive enough for my to 100% he wasn't talking about Wacom.

He shared his experience with a company he fictionally called "Hypothetica", which he mentioned they sent over a 19" display, which wacom does not sell 19" models (they have 13", 16", 22", 24", 27", 32", but not 19").

 

But yeah, Wacom's stranglehold is not making it easier for competitors to get a footing in this industry, but these types of marketing via reviews doesn't help either.

I think Wacom would survive even without all the reviews out there, because they are the 'industry standard'. Go to any visual arts/architecture school and you will find if they have pen display/tablets; they will be Wacom units. Same for all animation studios and such.. Thus all students will want to get those too.. etc.

1 hour ago, NunoLava1998 said:

nox is great comp any for power supply

Sounds a bit like the bait&switch Kingston did on their V300 SSD's way back when. I guess even reputable brands screw up (or frankly - try to mislead).

With these tablets/displays though, it's less about the hardware and more about the software experience too.

 


"There's no such thing as perfect. You're beautiful as you are Courage. With all your imperfections you can do anything." - Bathtub Barracuda

"How can someone win if winning means that someone loses" - Scatman John

"64 bits, 32 bits, 16 bits, 8 bits, 4 bits, 2 BITS, 1 BIT, HALF BIT, QUARTER BIT, THE WRIST GAAAAAAME!!!" - Angry Video Game Nerd

Gear:                           .                                                                                                                         .

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PC:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 || Motherboard: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon || RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill TridentZ RGB 3200Mhz (running at 2933Mhz) || GPU: Gigabyte Auros RX 580 4GB || Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB + Seagate Barracuda 2TB || Cooling: Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 || Case: Thermaltake Core G21 TG || PSU: Corsair RMx 750W

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Small update:

 

Crowne Prince (whose YouTube comment response I had quoted in the OP) has also made a video about this:

In this video she mentions a lot of the same points as Aaron and Brad, but also adds some other concerning points:

- Testing the tablets for a company, disguised as a review period

- Actually buying the tablets yourself on Amazon and getting the money Paypal'ed back.

- Import fees on your review units

- Shady giveaways

- Monitoring the description of a video

 

The first thing is bad because 'product tester' is a job description, but these companies expect you to do such work (test the device.. report back bugs.. check if these problems persist with a new driver.. etc.) ON TOP of doing the review!

 

The second thing is about the companies wanting you to buy the product on Amazon and reimbursing you later. Then they want you to make an Amazon review. The reason they do it in such a way is because that way your review will show up on Amazon as a verified review.

 

When you get a review tablet, apparently it doesn't always 'just' come from Amazon or another local store, but sometimes it directly from China, which may result in you getting import fees, which not all these companies will reimburse you for.

 

Some of these companies will 'bundle' a giveaway with your review, but the way these are done may be shady at best. Some companies will do the giveaway, but tell the winner to pay shipping - which is illegal in some places apparently.

 

Apparently the companies sending you these tablets will often require you to put specific pieces of info in your description, such as the normal stuff like 'where to buy', but also additional info, different products and some more weird stuff.

 

----------

Crowne Price has stated she will not be doing tablet reviews for these companies anymore. 

This is a sad thing, as I really enjoyed the reviews, but I really understand it, seeing the info presented in the video, combined with the context of Brad's and Aaron's video.


"There's no such thing as perfect. You're beautiful as you are Courage. With all your imperfections you can do anything." - Bathtub Barracuda

"How can someone win if winning means that someone loses" - Scatman John

"64 bits, 32 bits, 16 bits, 8 bits, 4 bits, 2 BITS, 1 BIT, HALF BIT, QUARTER BIT, THE WRIST GAAAAAAME!!!" - Angry Video Game Nerd

Gear:                           .                                                                                                                         .

Spoiler

PC:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 || Motherboard: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon || RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill TridentZ RGB 3200Mhz (running at 2933Mhz) || GPU: Gigabyte Auros RX 580 4GB || Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB + Seagate Barracuda 2TB || Cooling: Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 || Case: Thermaltake Core G21 TG || PSU: Corsair RMx 750W

Peripherals:

Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT-990 250 Ohm || Mouse: Roccat Kiro || Keyboard: Coolermaster Masterkeys Pro S RGB || Mousepad: CM Storm Swift-RX XXL || Graphics tablet: Wacom Intuos Pen Small

Old PC:

CPU: AMD Athlon X2 255 || Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO || RAM: 4x2GB DDR3 || GPU: Nvidia Quadro 512MB || Case: Antec Sonata III || PSU: Antec Earthwatts 500W Bronze

Minibois' Digital Art Thread

Reviews: Coolermaster Masterkeys Pro S RGB || Wacom Intuos Pen Small || Roccat Kiro

Threads: Pokémon Thread || Dutch Talk || Super Smash Bros. Melee Thread

Setup: Current setup

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On 4/23/2019 at 4:40 AM, Arika S said:

They are absolutely referring to their wacom. If you want to talk about monopolies and shady business practices, forget Intel and Nvidia, wacom was the worst. Up until I think 2013-2014 wacom held patents that pretty much prevented any other brand from creating high end pen displays to go up against their cintiq line and because of that they build up the belief that ef that they are the best tablets and the only one professionals should use.

 

They don't care about little johnny trying to draw his first sonic OC in the dark recesses of his bedroom, they want the studios to buy their stuff in bulk for all the artists and animators, who generally have way to much money to spend on tablets and the decision is left to some underpaid or unpaid intern who has to find the best of the best for the studio, where money is no object. And because of all the bullshit they pulled (and still do with these reviews) they immediately gravitate towards wacom

Aaron Rutten has been known to be a hardcore Wacom fanboy so I don't think that's it. He has also been know to shit on competitors products too. I'm sure that he is talking about the competitors or the new kids because as you said, Wacom didn't have any for decades.

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