The Problem With YouTube Tech Reviews

Should You Trust a Review That Was Done In Days, While You Have To Live With It For Months and Years?


Just a few weeks ago, my YouTube feed was bombarded by UGREEN NAS reviews from many famous “NAS Experts.” The scale of the marketing campaign absolutely dwarfed many prior campaigns, comparable only to a new Apple hardware launch.

As a hobbyist reviewer myself, I spend money on products I'm interested in testing, hoping to deploy them in my lab so the money isn’t wasted. But how many of these tech reviewers can say the same about NAS systems? A NAS isn't something you'll replace quarterly when a new model comes out. And the most important thing about NAS systems in my years of working with them? YOU DON’T F#@K WITH IT.

It's amusing when these reviewers have no idea what they're talking about, just reciting talking points from the sponsoring company.

For example, one reviewer claimed that the UGREEN NAS might lack software now, but he can see it surpassing Synology in the future. This shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to develop enterprise-ready software. But can I blame him? He's just a reviewer reciting the sponsor's book. Another NAS expert, who prominently displays NAS systems in his videos as a backdrop—obviously sponsored by UGREEN—also gave the system rave reviews, stating the only downside is the software. Well, it seems these guys got the same sheet of talking points from the marketing department, as UGREEN NAS can be fitted with other NAS OSes like UnRAID and TrueNAS. But here’s my question: What do customers get if they have to use 3rd party software? Do they get tech support from UGREEN? Does UGREEN void their warranty if a third-party OS is installed? Is there test data for compatibility issues when using the NAS in an unsupported environment?

As a viewer, it's easy to forget that while reviewers can review something for days, you, as the consumer, have to live with the device for months or even years, especially for a NAS. I'm not saying that the UGREEN NAS is bad, not at all, though I am irritated by their marketing campaign on Kickstarters, where they jack up the price and then offer a discount for the various NAS systems to attract people to give them money before the product ships. Trust me when I say this: UGREEN is NEVER going to sell the systems at the prices they list on Kickstarter. This is just a sales tactic whitelisted by Kickstarter, since every dollar you give to UGREEN, Kickstarter also gets a cut of it.

So, back to the problem with tech reviews. If you have to live with the system for months and years, these reviews should have no place in your buying decisions. In my last blog post about how to make a NAS out of a Mac Mini, I used the same M.2 HBA from my prior reviews because it is something that I actually used and have been using for my systems. But if you look at that NAS review expert’s background, how many NAS systems has he used for more than a week? A month? Or even made it to a year? For a YouTuber, I think he has some serious need for a capable NAS, but is he using the product that he was given for free in his production environment?

I’ll leave my dear readers to answer those questions. As for UGREEN NAS systems? It’s nice if you are a reviewer who can get it for free, but if you have to pay for it, get something else.

Oh, here is one of the mini PCs I’ve reviewed and deployed to my lab. You can trust me when I say it passes the 100F California garage stress test with hot exhaust from another system blowing at it.

The Sticky Issue of Bias in Tech Reviews

Let’s dive into the messy world of tech reviews, where the lines between genuine opinion and sponsored content can get a bit blurry. Picture this: a reviewer gets a shiny new gadget for free from a company. They're psyched! But here’s the catch: the company expects a positive review in return. After all, who wants to keep sending products to someone who keeps trashing them?

Now, imagine that same reviewer relies on sponsorships or affiliate deals to make a living. They’ve got bills to pay, so there’s a financial incentive to say nice things about certain products, even if they’re not all that great. This can lead to biased or misleading reviews that don’t really help you decide if a product is right for you.

Moreover, when they talk about sponsorship, they would always added that although the review is sponsored, but the company sponsoring does not get to have any input. Now, do they have to have input if they just want someone will give them good reviews? No! If you trash their products, you are done with them, and they would just move on and find someone else who can get the job done, there are no shortages of YouTubers, after all.

The real issue here is trust. When you watch a review, you want to believe that it’s honest and impartial. But behind-the-scenes deals and unspoken agreements can muddy the waters. You might end up buying something based on a glowing review, only to realize it’s not all it was cracked up to be.

So, what’s the solution? More transparency. Reviewers should be upfront about any freebies or sponsorships they receive. And as consumers, we should take reviews with a grain of salt, knowing that not everyone is giving us the full story.

What’s Next?

I am working on retrofitting a Synology RackStation RS3413xs to a much more modern platform.

Besides, I am actively using the Mac Mini NAS with *Arr stack Docker containers, and a few local services. It has been performing quite nicely, but there are some problems that I need to address in the Part II of the Mac Mini NAS guide, which I am actively working on, just waiting for some more parts to arrive to turn it into a beast.