Well, while I've not been that lucky yet, I'd be pretty happy to try out hardware and review it in various places, primarily my blog. I do that already with hardware I buy. There's two possible situations though.

  1. You're a professional reviewer. You have a stack of these things and happen to be a HWR regular. You have no real preference for any brand

  2. You're a hardware enthusiast who happens to work for a company that makes stuff. You basically get to muck around with a product line so you know it like the back of your hand.

To me with 2, The standard disclosure thing works. For one tho, least ethics wise, would something like "I got one of these free from the manufacturer for review, and this is based on my experiences" be needed?

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If I were in the professional-reviewer position, I'd be inclined to disclose that. You got it for free, that can (positively) affect your view of a product. However, I don't think we need to worry about this. If they are making good, high-quality recommendations, why should we care? If the recommendations are inaccurate, they should gather downvotes.

This goes back to my other answer on a promotional-material question:

Now, if we only have informative posts, voting will take care of the rest. The spammed product doesn't work? It'll get downvoted into oblivion and won't really be a good advertisement. But if it does do the job... why should we care? That's exactly what we want.

Replace 'spammed product' with 'product some big company happened to gift me', and you get the point.

Of course, for your 'happens to work for a company that makes stuff' example, that's self-promotion. That needs disclosure just like if you owned the company. Standard policy.

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  • Yeah, I think the overall quality of the recommendation is the most important aspect. I personally don't see any harm in having a better-than-average review because you got it for free since, in the end, it's the OP's pick. – Adam Oct 21 '15 at 4:43

I think there is a difference between purchasing a piece of hardware and being given a piece of hardware at no cost to yourself. It's important enough, that I think it needs to be disclosed.

The user was given the hardware, presumably, to promote it to the public. They are writing a review to do just that. If they are getting such hardware, there is a good chance that they are already decent at writing a "good" - as in high quality - review. However, their potential bias toward "good" - as in "this is awesome!" - should be disclosed.

This disclosure doesn't and shouldn't disqualify a user from participating in a post.

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