CBWI August 1996 Advertising Claims … Smoke And Mirrors?
Advertising claims seem to be more hype than fact these days. If you’re like me, you don’t know what to buy, eat or whom to vote for. It’s a shame, but when it comes advertising promises you’re better off disbelieving everything until you can prove otherwise.
This makes it difficult to make an educated decision. It could be worse, when it comes to almost all politicians, you bat 1000 if you don’t believe a word.
In this article I don’t intend to expose or point the finger at any particular manufacturer. The examples used are not intended to condemn them. But here I plan to show the games played with specifications and numbers.
The strategy of making products appear superior to their competitor’s is the driving force in marketing. Not every manufacturer can have the best product. They only have to make the public believe they do. Equipment may have different features that appeal to certain segments of the population, and those are pointed out through advertising.
More often when a manufacturer emphasizes a feature they imply more than should be, sometimes just in the naming it.
Cobra has been very clever in naming features on their radios. Dynamic comes to mind first. What did they want to imply with this one? Do they want you to believe that you’ll blast through Re dynamite when you turn up this control? Even it’s original name, mic gain, is misleading.
The name and the advertising hype imply that this control inserts increased gain to the microphone. In fact it does nothing more than add resistance in the path of the mic circuit. A more descriptive name would have been Mic Cut or Attenuator. But I’m sure we all wouldn’t have gone running to the store anxiously asking about the radio with the NEW Mic Cut control! If the radio didn’t have this control it would operate as if the control was up all the way.
And with the stock mic, the control needs to be wide open for you to be heard! The only time this feature has a benefit is once the radio has been peaked (power increased and modulation limiter adjusted or eliminated) and a preamp mic is used. And only then it’s a convenience to cut the gain down from the front of the radio.
Another Cobra invention was the Voicelock. This is nothing more than a clarifier, but the name implies that once adjusted you’re locked on with the other party. A feature that no other manufacturer could boast about.
Uniden got on the band wagon to a higher degree. Some of their AM radios such as the Pro 510XL has advertising claims, on the outside of the box, of 7 Watt output. Once you buy it and read the enclosed manual specifications, you find out that is 7 Watt receive audio.
In truth you’re lucky to get 2 Watt receive audio without distortion. I believe the speaker is only rated at 3 Watts. But when the public picks it up off the shelf some of them think Uniden has found a way to skirt the law and their getting more for their dollar.
The biggest offenders are the antenna manufacturers. Some manufacturer’s are forced to continue these practices of the past. Antenna gain is very important to the performance of a station, the higher the numbers the better. Well, when rating an antennas’ gain it has to be compared to some other source. Most agree that antenna gain should be measured compared to a 1/4 wave dipole.
Manufacturer’s, to increase the gain numbers compared their antennas to an Isotrophic source that is a theoretical antenna, and I feet some others made measurements compared to an un-tuned coat hanger. Today there isn’t much choice in omni base antennas.
They don’t compare their antennas to the 1/4 wave dipole. If they did, you would see gain figures from 0db to 3.5db and not the 6.5 to 9.9db claims we all see.
Fiber glass whips are another area of misleading marketing. This started back in the seventies. Claims of 5/8 3/4, full and 1 and 1/2 wavelength antennas were on specifications’. These antennas may have up to 1 and 1/2 wave worth of wire in them, but they are 1/4 wave antennas.
The truth is they won’t perform as well as a 102″ whip mounted in the same location. Although the length of wire in them may have a benefit in broadbanding the antenna, they appeal to our desire to talk the furthest by confusing the facts.
The latest marketing claim I’ve come across may actually be a bold face lie and could carry some legal consequences. In brief, K40 has come out with a new trucker antenna. Their key claim is that, it’s coil using Litz wire, is more efficient than 3/16 silver plated wire.
Wilson antenna is the only CB antenna manufacturer using 3/16 silver plated wire in their coil, thus this is directed against them. It wouldn’t be a problem if it were true. The technical data on Litz wire indicates that is looses its effectiveness above 5 MHz and initial tests done on behalf of Wilson bear this out dramatically. More on this in a future issue. ©CBWI