What Tested Is and Why I'm Crazy Excited About It

By Will Smith

I'm starting tested because I couldn't find a tech site that suited my obsessions, interests, and passions. Welcome to my site, I hope you'll make it yours too.

we will and won’t do, but I want to explain to you exactly why we named the site Tested. I think you’ll be excited about it, and I can tell you I am. After all I’m excited enough to quit my safe, comfortable job at Maximum PC and move into the crazy world of a web startup. 

So, why Tested? It’s easy. All of the best work we did at Maximum PC was centered around the idea of testing, whether it was lab tests, real world tests, testing some crazy new hack or trick to make your PC run better or just be more awesome. I'm proud of the work we did (and the staff there is still doing), but I really love the idea of the trial by fire, that you only know the mettle of your gear once it’s faced the flames of a test. In fact, the only thing I didn't like about Maximum PC were these two letters built right into the name—P and C.   

Now, please don’t think dumping on the PC. I love the PC and I sit in front of my PC for 15 hours on any given day. I remain convinced that the PC will have a very long, very healthy life ahead of it--we're going to be covering them extensively at Tested. There will always be a need for a general purpose computing device, no matter what the pundits say. What annoyed me at Maximum PC was that we were limited to covering topics that were (at least peripherally) connected to the PC. That was fine back in 2000, when the MP3 player was brand new and to play MPEG2 video you needed a dedicated accelerator card in all but the fastest computers. However, in today’s world of uber-fast smartphones, Internet-connected TVs, and ubiquitous computing, my interests have expanded far beyond the humble confines of the PC, and I think yours have too. We’re going to be talking about everything from TVs and cellphones to home audio gear, media players, and smartphones. And yes, we’ll also be covering PCs and PC components.

Which brings me to my next point. For many components, it’s easy to quantitatively measure performance using benchmarks. We’ll definitely be doing that here at Tested. However, there’s another side to this, as well. There’s a whole host of hardware that can really only be measured quantitatively, even experientially. That is, the best way to review and test some of these products is to report how they worked for us and even how they make us feel. I’m not talking about hard drives here, but products where quantitative measures are irrelevant, either because you’re talking about a closed platform, which makes it impossible to do apples-to-apples comparisons, or in situations where the performance comparisons are irrelevant—either because the hardware is very fast or very slow. This is how we’re going to test smartphones, set-top streaming boxes, and even netbooks; for now, at least.

It's important to remember that these divisions aren't set in stone either. As performance increases, slight quantitative differences become less and less important. Witness the quantum jump in disk I/O performance gained as we make the transition from spinning platters to flash memory in hard drive tech. As SSD technology is refined, the performance gap between slow and fast drives becomes smaller, and thus less relevant. Other things, like feature support and warranty may even take precedence over raw speed or access time. It’s even possible that performance could take a backseat in other categories too—after all, if your laptop is fast enough to do everything that you’d ever use it for, why should you pay a big performance premium (or take a battery life hit) for a faster processor that you’ll never fully take advantage of.  

Oh, there's one more thing. We’re not going to be assigning any lame/arbitrary/confusing/useless verdict numbers either. Instead, we’re going to simply tell you where each product sits compared to all the other products we've tested in a particular category—from the worst product we’ve ever tested to the best. That way, you can see exactly where new gear stands compared to the stuff you already own. We haven’t turned that feature on yet—we’re still building out our product database—but instead of looking at two products that receive the same 8 verdict and trying to figure out which is superior, we’re going to tell you precisely which product is the best in every category that we test. When we find an exemplary product, we'll hit it with our stamp of approval, which simply means that we like that product enough to recommend it to you. 

So, that’s what Tested is all about. We’ve got more awesome features coming in the next few months than I can list, not the least of which will be a comprehensive wiki that you guys can fill in with all the info you think is important about the gear you love the most. We’ll also be adding a bunch of other features that will be familiar to folks coming here from Giant Bomb, ComicVine, or AnimeVice—as well as some secret sauce that our dev team is cooking up just for us.

Like I said before, I can’t wait to get started. We’ve got a really amazing site already, but it’s only going to get better as we work together to build something that's new, different, and awesome.