How to buy commodity tech on Amazon with a flood of fake reviews
August 12, 2019 4:30 AM   Subscribe

I’d like to buy a DVD burner for my USB-C MacBook Pro. I could pay a premium to buy the Apple external SuperDrive, which isn’t USB-C, and seems like a waste of money. (I have plenty of adapters, it’s simply annoying.) There are tons of alternatives, some name brands, some off-brand—most with rave, and likely fake, reviews. What’s your approach to finding commodity-level tech (USB hubs, power banks, DVD drives, maybe not defibrillators), when Amazon is filled with fake reviews? And what damn DVD drive should I get for my MacBook?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Shopping (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is going to sound like a pat answer, but shop for it somewhere besides Amazon. If it’s a legit product, other retailers will sell it, and if the item you’re looking at is sold by as opposed to a third party, then most retailers will price-match it. Almost every retailer has reviews, and if not, you can google “best external dvd drive for Mac” and see what you come up with.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:37 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

The Wirecutter's recommendations are good for things like this. (Not sure USB-C is in the cards out of the box, though - most of these drives still use legacy USB. It should be possible to buy a USB-C to mini or micro-USB replacement cable for any of these, though.)
posted by eschatfische at 5:17 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]

Fakespot is your friend. Paste in an Amazon review. Its algorithm measures reviews for fakeness based on their poster's history. Result is an A to F score.
posted by Homer42 at 5:28 AM on August 12 [10 favorites]

All of the recommendations you've gotten so far are good.

In addition, there are a couple of things you can do to find real reviews in Amazon:
  • Look at "All Reviews" and then sort them by Date. This will show the most recent reviews first. When companies purchase fake reviews, these usually all get generated in a short period of time. Looking at the most recent reviews gives you a better chance of finding people who have commented after that flurry of fake posts.
  • Look for reviews that provide trivial specific details about the situation of the person using the product and the circumstances of their purchasing the product. More details that feel realistic indicate a greater chance that it's a real review.
Finally, don't be shy about returning products to Amazon. They make it easy. You generally have a 30-day return window. If you order a product and it turns out to be junk, send it back. Just make sure to save the original packaging, instructions, etc. Returning not only gets you your money back, it makes the whole junk scammers business less viable by costing them money.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:14 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Just use Fakespot like someone recommended. It's so easy. It definitely saved me many times after I got some bum headphones that were then gone from the store instantly.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:49 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Agree with the above - Use Fakespot and dont be shy about returning crap products.
posted by cgg at 7:20 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

There are a handful of Amazon-born brands that have been cheap but reliably good for our family: MPOW (for headphones and speakers), Anker and its other brands Nebula, Soundcore, and Eufy (powerbanks, hubs, cables, speakers, projectors, bluetooth scales, roombas, holy cow they make a lot of stuff), and TaoTronics (headphones). If there are multiple choices and I see one of those three, I go there without hesitation.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:23 AM on August 12

In thecase of a usb dvd drivefor a windows box, i justbought a name bran one (mine hapens to be a dell)because they weren'tmeaningfull more expensive than a random noname. just get whatever cable you need to conect.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:44 AM on August 12

I bought a LG DVD drive for my Mac. Wasn't USB-C, but they're not so expensive that it seems worth trying to go to some cut-rate brand for savings (mine cost all of $25).
posted by praemunire at 11:06 AM on August 12

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