Shop Intelligently With Smart Ratings

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Many of us are running around like chickens with our heads cut off these days and we’re going to continue to act this way right up until December 25th. When looking for computers and other electronics, the different options can be overwhelming. That’s why you may want to turn to shopping sites like SmartRatings.com. The timing of this review request couldn’t have come sooner, especially if you’re looking to buy an iPod, digital camera, or cell phone for a very special loved one.

Shopping For a Tech Geek

If the format of SmartRatings looks familiar, that’s because the website isn’t exactly original. There are tons of other shopping sites on the ‘net that offer similar information. In a nutshell, you’ll find a long list of products, accompanied by some sort of rating and pricing information from a variety of stores. The cool thing about SmartRatings — which is still in beta — is that they have aggregated “expert reviews” on these items, much like what happens at Metacritic.com and GameRankings.com.

With SmartRatings, the focus is on consumer electronics. Looking at the navigation near the top of the page, these products are broken down into three over-arching categories: Computers, Electronics, and Photography. Under each of these categories are smaller sub-categories like hard drives, MP3 players, and digital cameras. Getting even more specific, there is a search field near the top where you can look for a particular item of interest.

What Information Do I Get?

Surfing over to the Digital Cameras section, for example, you’ll find a long list of all the different items. The default listing is based on the average expert rating, but you can also sort the list by price, manufacturer, and release date.

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The average expert rating, as you’d expect, comes from an amalgamation of several official reviews. These reviews come from what SmartRatings.com considers to be authoritative sites. This includes guys like Stuff Magazine, CNET, and dpreview.com. They translate the ratings provided by these reviews to a standardized 0-100 point scale. For example, if CNET rates a camera as 8/10, this translates to a score of 80. Three stars out of five would equal a score of 60. And so on.

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When you click through to an individual product page, like for the Nintendo Wii, you’ll also find user reviews, a price comparison, and a specifications sheet (if available). User reviews do not affect the average expert rating. Let the SmartRatings methodology page explain:

We believe that user reviews are very valuable as a research tool. However, most regular users may have limited experience with a particular product and therefore the ratings they may assign may not be representative of the overall quality of the product.

For example, if a person has only bought one digital camera the rating this person may assign has little point of comparison. This is why we don’t use user ratings in calculating our overall rating.

How Does SmartRatings.com Make Money Online?

My initial reaction to the SmartRatings.com homepage was that it looked like a MFA or landing page. In a sense, all shopping sites essentially function on this model, but they offer more utility than a simple landing page. When you search through for any particular product, you are given the names of several stores that sell this product as well as their listed prices.

When you click on any of these links — powered by Price Grabber — SmartRatings.com makes money. It’s a very simple model, but it’s also a very effective one. A section of TTZ Media functions in much the same way. From the consumer’s point of view, they’re getting valuable information. From the publisher’s point of view, they’re making money. Everyone wins.

Speaking of winning…

Win a Sony 40-Inch LCD TV

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To help build some buzz around the launch of SmartRatings.com, the site is giving away a Sony KDL-40XBR4 40″ LCD TV. In order to participate, all you have to do is answer a single multiple choice question and enter your email address on the giveaway page. The privacy policy promises that they will not sell your email address to third parties and that they won’t spam you.

In the end, I feel that SmartRatings.com is a well-designed, tech-oriented shopping site, but it’s not exactly original and doesn’t offer that much beyond any other shopping site.

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