What has happened to technology journalism? Microsoft FanBoy Club member CNET pits an Acer laptop against an Acer Windows laptop.
The judges? Hans and Franz. The winner? What would you expect? In the opinion of many, CNET is anything but a bona fide technology news organization. They’re arguably America’s best literary member of the Microsoft FanBoy Club, and a charter member of the PC-of-the-Month Club.
In yet another of the classic CNET Presents PrizeFights, technology writer, and associate editor (sic) Michelle Thatcher puts Apple’s new MacBook Pro up against the AcerTravelMate 8200 in a winner take all bout.
Or, is it a whiner take all? Mac360’s investigative team is well known for digging through the dregs of CNET and other journalistic rags to find the real truth behind product comparisons.
In this case, we’ve learned through sources that must remain anonymous, that Michelle Thatcher is listed as the “editor” of the CNET PrizeFight because the actual product comparison was done by Hans and Franz.
Yes, the dynamic workout duo of Hans and Franz apparently was hired by CNET to put the MacBook Pro and the Acer through a workout that would reveal the true winner in a head to head to head competition.
Not content to remain historical footnotes of Saturday Night Live episodes of days gone by, Hans and Franz have become the back street boys of CNET’s most intriguing and revealing product reviews and comparisons.
Mac360’s sources have obtained excerpts of the Hans and Frans transcripts provided to CNET’s editorial staff for the product reviews and comparisons.
While CNET’s PrizeFight featuring the MacBook Pro and the Acer is displayed as a nearly even score until the last round, Hans and Franz’s actual comparison review, before being “edited” by the CNET editorial staff, or an associate editor intern, shows remarkably different account.
CNET’s review lists eight separate “rounds” to compare the similarly equipped MacBook Pro to the less expensive and Windows XP-clad Acer laptop.
As you would expect in a tit-for-tat shootout prize fight, each machine wins a few rounds to keep the reader in suspense; and clicking on page after page, which reveals advertisement after advertisement.
CNET is long known as an advertiser’s paradise with their ability to generate seemingly argumentative and multi-page editorial content mixed with a plethora of online advertising.
Apple wins Round 1 for design, with Hans and Franz calling the Acer “pudgy.” Round 2 is the display. The MacBook Pro is tops in any class. Apple is up after two rounds.
Round 3 is laptop features and Apple falls short as Acer’s pudgy looks also hold holes for every port-loving connector under the sun. Round 4 is multimedia performance which goes to Acer.
After four rounds, it’s a dead heat, according to CNET editor (sic) Michelle Thatcher. What do Hans and Franz’s actual comparison transcripts say about the real performance between the MacBook Pro and the Acer?
Round 1 – Design
Hans: Franz, this Apple MacBook Pro looks like it was made by real engineers. It is one beautiful machine. It pumps me up.
Franz: Hans, look at the girly-man fat on this plastic tub of a PC from Acer. This is not a contest. Ya, ya. Miss Thatcher will not be pleased.
Round 2 – Display
Hans: Ya, just look at the screen on this MacBook Pro.
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Besides me?
Franz: My eyes are sore just looking at this girly-man screen on the Acer.
It is so weak. And pudgy (laughs).
Round 3 – Features
Hans: Now we have something to compare. The Acer has more ports and connectors than the Mac. I just want to Pump It Up!
Franz: But Hans, I can’t get all these ports to work using Windows XP. What’s wrong?
Hans: Don’t worry, Frans. It’s the number of ports that matters, not whether they work properly.
Round 4 – Performance
Hans: How can we compare performance if the machines are almost identical?
Franz: I know. Let’s compare software that wasn’t made to run on the MacBook Pro—Photoshop.
Hans: Ya, ya. That’s a good one, Franz. You pump me up. The Acer will always be faster because Windows is faster than old Mac software.
Franz: Uh, Hans. Wait. I’m running Windows on the Mac and it’s faster than the Acer. Let’s scratch that off the report. CNET will approve. They approve everything.
Hans: Do you think CNET knows that the MacBook Pro can also run Windows and Linux and Mac OS X? Better not put that in the report.
Well, what a shock. Tests skewed to show results favorable to a PC vs. a Mac? Are you as shocked as me? How could CNET let that happen? And what about Rounds 5 through 8? What did Hans and Franz really find? Read on for Page 2…
continued from Page 1…
Round 5 – Battery Life
Hans: OK, Franz. Let’s test the battery life of the MacBook Pro and the Acer TravelMate. Battery life is important to laptop users. The Acer is recharged
Franz: I haven’t finished recharging the MacBook Pro yet.
Hans: Don’t worry, it won’t matter. The Acer is made of plastic so it will last longer than the Apple laptop.
Round 6 – Software
Hans: There is no way the Mac has more software than the Acer. There is more software for Windows, ya Franz?
Franz: Ya, Hans, but the Acer does not have iLife. This pumps me up.
Hans: iLife? What is dat “iLife?”
Franz: iLife comes on every Mac, even the low-priced Mac mini. There is iMovie, iTunes, iDVD, GarageBand, iWeb, and iPhoto. Windows on the Acer only comes with a clock and a calculator.
Hans: That’s funny, Franz. You can have so much fun with a clock and a calculator. Maybe Apple should say that in a TV commercial.
Hans and Franz: Bwahahahahaha! That pumps me up.
Round 7 – Warranty and Support
Hans: Franz, the warranty and support is about the same cost on each machine, we must call this one a tie.
Franz: Hans, ya, dat is good. Macs do not need the same support as PCs and they don’t break as much, but the Acer can only win if we call this a tie.
Hans: You have a strong brain, Franz. You pump me up!
Franz: This PrizeFight looks like a real competition, Hans. Seven rounds and a tie.
Hans: Maybe we should compare total cost of ownership, Franz. How about Windows vs. Mac OS X. Oh, we forgot to mention the keyboard lights on the Mac, and the iSight camera, and the Firewire 800 port, and…
Franz: Forget about those things, Hans. That will only confuse the editor. You know how easy the CNET editors get confused.
Round 8 – Price
Hans: Franz, this is it. Everyone knows that Macs cost more than PCs, so the Acer TravelMate will win this PrizeFight for sure.
Franz: How about this girly-man sentence, Hans: “… we return to our starting premise, which asks which laptop is better if you configure a PC and a Mac with identical components.”
Hans: Ya, dat is good. But the two are not identical. The Mac has many features not available on the Acer. Is that OK, Franz?
Franz: Hans, you must stay pumped up! CNET editors are girly men. They won’t know the difference. PC users are girly-men, too. They don’t know the difference.
There you have it. Is that a revealing look behind the scenes of CNET’s product review process? CNET jiggers with test results simply to get a multi-page article and more advertising? Say it ain’t so, Hans.