Introduction | Acquaint
| Ask | Arrange | Apply
| Evaluation |Credits
In this age of rampant consumerism, the old adage "Let
the Buyer Beware" has never been more relevant. New and traditional
media are full of messages proclaiming the virtues of all sorts
of products from food to medicine to entertainment to electronics.
However, it is important for a wise consumer to look beyond the
advertising to avoid regret when making purchasing decisions.
Many of you will be graduating soon and may be getting graduation
gifts or money that will go towards the latest electronic gadgets.
In addition, most of you are entering the job force and may have
your own money to spend on these items. This database exploration
will guide you through an exercise in wisely selecting consumer
electronics based on value and specifications rather than marketing
hype. In this case the product example will be a digital camera,
but the lessons learned can apply to a wide range of equipment.
In this activity you will explore an independent
database of product reviews and information published by CNET,
which describes itself as a "trusted source of information
for millions of technology consumers around the world... CNET
provides expert and unbiased advice on technology products and
services to inform users and expedite purchasing. Integrating
an extensive directory of more than 200,000 computer, technology,
and consumer electronics products with editorial content, downloads,
trends, reviews and price comparisons, CNET gives users the most
up-to-date and efficient shopping resources on the Web."
A database is a collection of information that can be viewed
in different ways that enable the user to search, organize or
tabulate it as part of an analytical or decision-making process.
To familiarize yourself with the CNET technology product database,
go to the entry point of the reviews section at CNET.com
- List at least six of the main categories of products included
in the Reviews database. (You'll find this answer by viewing
the product icons across the top of the page and in the "Latest
Reviews by Category" section.
are three of the top 20 items in the "Top 100 Hardware
Searches" that you will find from a link towards the bottom
of the page?
- In the "Latest Reviews
by Category" section, click on the Digital Camera
heading and list three of the manufacturers and three types
of digital cameras covered.
Ask for Information
Imagine that you are a budding amateur photographer
and have saved up $400 to buy a new digital camera. You want to
make sure that the camera has all of the features that you will
use and you want to make sure that you get the most value for
your money. You are looking for something that provides more than
just "point-and-shoot" features and good enough picture
quality to make 8x10 prints.
- Using CNET
Digital Camera Reviews as a reference, identify at least
4-5 cameras that would fit in your budget.
- Format a new spreadsheet document (in Excel, AppleWorks or
similar program) and list each of the selected camera models
at the top of each column, leaving the first column blank. (If
you would like a head start formatting the spreadsheet, you
can use this template
- it's in Excel format, so you'll need that program or one that
can read Excel files to open it. On some computers, clicking
on the template link will open the file in a new window. On
others, it will download the file to your desktop.)
- In the first column, starting with the second row, list 8-10
camera features (zoom, flash, type of metering, type of memory,
cost, etc.) or specification categories (weight, size, resolution,
etc.) that would be important for the type of photography that
you want to do.
- Leave a blank column in between each camera so that you can
score its features in the next part of thee assignment.
- In the column under each camera you have listed, fill in the
information about each of the specifications and features listed
in the left-hand column.
Arrange the Answers
Now that you have listed the key features and specifications
of the selected cameras, you should weight each feature as a percentage
by its relative importance so that the total value of all the
features is 100%. (For example: If you especially want a compact
camera, you might assign a greater weight to the camera's size
than to how much memory it has.)
Next, it's time to assign a score to each feature, multiply
the score by that feature's relative weight and rank the cameras
according to the weighted scores you have assigned.
Apply What You've Learned
Using a word processing program, such as Microsoft
Word or AppleWorks, briefly answer the following questions:
- Which camera had the highest score based on the criteria you
- What features contributed to making it the winner?
- How close were the scores between the cameras? Was one camera
significantly better than the others or did several of them
have similar scores?
- Before you did the analysis, could you easily tell which camera
would get the highest score? Is the camera with the highest
score the one you would have chosen to purchase if you were
buying a camera? Why or why not?
- Are there other factors that you would like to take into account
if you were making this purchase (such as product reviews, "test
driving" the camera at a store, recommendations from friends,
- Are there shortcomings to ONLY using a scoring system such
as this when making a purchase decision? What might they be?
- Did the database appear to be unbiased? Are there factors
on this web site that may have affected the information you
obtained? What other information on the site could help you
make a decision such as this?
Your grade for this assignment will be based on the matrix below:
1 = not acceptable 2 = could be better 3
= acceptable 4 = outstanding
|The database was adequately searched.
|Student completed the spreadsheet task with the requested number
of cameras and features.
|Student scored all of the cameras completely and tallied the
scores according to the directions.
|In the written task, student demonstrated understanding of the
scoring system, including its possible drawbacks.
You might not want to go to the trouble of putting together an elaborate spreadsheet
every time you make a purchase, however it is always important
to be aware of aspects of a product that may not be obvious in
advertising or from your friend's recommendation. It's also important
to know that there are many tools available online, in libraries
and at your local newsstand that can provide at least somewhat
objective information about all sorts of products.
But it's also good to realize that it's not possible to quantify
every aspect of a product. Sometimes you might like what you like
just because... As long as you've done your homework and make
that purchase understanding the pros and cons, that's OK, because
you'll be an informed consumer.
Credits & References
Photos are used by license from Photos.com.
We all benefit by
being generous with our work. Permission is hereby granted for other
educators to copy this lesson, update or otherwise modify it, and post
it elsewhere provided that the original author's name is retained along
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If you do modify it, please let me know and provide the new URL.
Last updated on
Sunday, June 29, 2003 3:28 PM
. Based on a template from EDTEC