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I was catching up on my weeks-old RSS feeds this morning and I came across this article on Triple Pundit. I’m a sucker for cool-looking computers (my colleague Stacey recently gutted my productivity with a link to this site), so the image of the rocket-ship-like computer caught my eye. As I started reading, I noticed a problem that plagues many green product reviews — a lack of insight into the actual performance of the product.

I don’t know about you, but I need my computer to be a workhorse, especially if its my desktop. A PC may be green in all the right ways — designed for longevity, sustainable materials, free of heavy metals and toxins, etc. — but  if consumers end up with a product they can’t (and ultimately don’t) use, its a waste of both their money and the time and resource that went into manufacturing the computer.

In all fairness, I haven’t evaluated the Iameco products, and as modular systems, they might be awesome. But earlier this year, when Earth2Tech reported on Tangent “Evergreen” PC launch, I learned how important it is to do your homework. I asked a hardware-savvy colleague to weigh in with her feedback before we reported the story. Her take?

So, it has a really wimpy processor at 1GHz (high-end Atom for netbooks have 1.6GHz and my lame-ass 13-inch powerbook at 2GHz). but the processor is one way to cut power costs. VIA is known for that sort of thing. also it has a SSD, which cuts power draw because it has no movable parts, but those are pricey. 64GB is kind of lame for a desktop. Essentially, the compromises they made make this a low-power desktop that functions less well than a laptop.

Also the screen is resistive touch, which is odd to me, because those tend to produce a crappy opaque-ish screen looks kind of like the HP Touch. […] You could look at the power consumption of the latest Dell eco-machine, but that doesn’t include a monitor, I think. Monitors are huge power draws.

Those are assessments I wasn’t able to make (at least not quickly) on my own. The whole exchange, which I have consolidated from gChat, took us 15 minutes, including her digging up those links. Tapping into our networks is a great tool for responsible reporting.

Greentech reporters have many masters; when we’re evaluating new products, it’s important to look into more than just the truth of their “green” claims. Otherwise, we risk promoting products with little environmental benefit and high costs.

[Read the Tangent post on Earth2Tech]

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