While surfing around the AVguide/TPV/Playback site recently, some interesting observations struck me. I've read quite a bit of the bitching/moaning/screaming/complaining/hollering on these forums (along with the occasional 'kudos' here & there), and I'll make this my official 2 1/2 cents worth, whether invited or not. I've never posted prior to now, but as a fairly faithful reader for many years through all the various gyrations (dating back to AVguide, February 2004), it seems like a good time. The editors have made it known they appreciate all input, whether positive or negative, sooooo, OK, here goes....
First the bad - get it out of the way first; Yes, the new format is a backward step in some ways. I for one do concur with the sentiments of some who lament the loss of pdf downloads for the archives as well as current content. It's unclear who 'texterity' (apparently the new provider) is as a company, but I'm inherently distrusting of new technologies when it comes to the web and/or anything that is going to be downloaded to my PC (strong concerns over viruses, spyware, adware, malware - need I go on? It's sad, but truly the age we live in). While my instincts tell me that everything is surely fine and on the up 'n up, and that it was ultimately a cost-conscious business decision, simply put, Adobe systems has been around for eternity and is acknowledged worldwide - bring back the good 'ole pdf.
On a positive note, I will the commend the current site for its speed, snappy response times, and recent issues have certainly contained a tremendous amount of wide-ranging content. Keep in mind folks, this is an advertiser-funded site which has been delivered to us, at least until now, on a month-after-month and year-after-year at absolutely no cost to its readers. All of the people working hard (and I suspect they really ARE working hard) behind the scenes have mortgages and mouths to feed just like the rest of us. A remarkable achievement it is in this cut-throat, ever-evolving hi-tech world of ours to do what they do. I probably sound like a compensated endorser of the company writing this post, but most assuredly that isn't the case - I simply prefer to look at the whole picture (terrible pun intended), rather than nitpicking or focusing on the trite. Stop and think about business in the 21st century, particularly in light of the current economic climate, and imagine what's involved in delivering a quality product, on-time every month, which has to be profitable over the long term, and appeal to and satisfy as wide a subscriber base as humanly possible. Consider all that, and then (and only then) does one begin to grasp what must surely transpire behind the scenes.
Of course living in our world of instant gratification and 'what have you done for me lately' attitudes, one realizes that bad news travels 100 times faster, and 100 times farther than good news. Unfortunately it often is more along the lines of human nature to focus on the negative, rather than encouraging the positive. For many it seems so much easier to say something along the lines of "your jazz reviews suck", or "you guys must be on Sonys payroll", etc. etc. with what I'd suspect is very little thought behind the statement, or what ramifications it may have upon others. These broad-reaching, blanket comments serve little beneficial purpose to anyone other than perhaps the author pecking away at the keys. Picking up on certain patterns laid out by some, one could surmise that perhaps it's simply an extension of ones own personal feelings in general towards many aspects of life (never satisfied/chronic complainer, etc.), but that's speculative at best so no sense going any further there. For those with an overall negative slant, bear in mind, the current configuration is still in a 'Beta' or advanced testing mode, so clearly plenty of additional changes and tweaks are sure to be seen in the coming months. Providing some additional slack during this significant transitional period would seem to be beneficial before passing final judgement.
In any event, regarding the content of the magazine itself. There simply is not a formula, nor will there ever be, that satisfys all the people all the time. The reviewers themselves are human, and therefore prone to certain biases and opinions regardless of how effectively they attempt to remain neutral and impartial towards every plasma TV, new hip-hop record, or Blu-ray player that crosses their desks in any given month. In my opinion, it's that thought-provoking 'flavor' which each individual reviewer (or sometimes collectively) provides which makes reading a form of entertainment as well as education. Obviously it is also their job to provide the cold, hard facts such as specifications, measurements, etc. etc., but if a review were to never stray beyond the boundaries of fact, I suspect a publication would very soon dry up and blow away. We as readers then take that information we're provided as a whole and mentally distill it, then hopefully apply what we've processed in a manner beneficial to our own ultimate purchasing decisions. So, in a nutshell, I for one say... "keep up the good work".