My take on PGI's recently released 'year in review' volume. Please read and feel free to comment, or add your opinions of this magazine.
I recently received my copy of PGI's What Paintball Gear?
, a 195-page annual volume dedicated to covering all the new gear released this year. Upon first glance, it looks very nice. True to form with PGI magazine itself, every page is in full color, and one nice addition is the plastic-coated cover, which wont leave your hands multicolored even after reading the magazine a billion times. I only wish they had done the same with the inner pages! Despite the presence of the usual advertisements, the layout is very nice. A single page introduction by the editor introduces you to the volume's review team, comprised of Ravi Chopra, Jack Wood and Justin Owen, all regular contributors to PGI. Other reviews are done by TJ Lambini and Robbo himself.
The table of contents is nicely illustrated and gives a page by page rundown of each of the 30+ markers, 18 barrels, 12 air systems/regs, 5 Feed Systems, 7 masks and 9 paints the volume covers. In addition, the reader will find several pages of smaller reviews for upgrade parts and more obscure PB paraphenalia. The markers in this book were reviewed on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest. The reviews were further broken down into several categories: specification, build, performance, cosmetics and value. Other products were simply rated on performance and value.
The quality of the reviews seemed to vary from tester to tester. Ravi Chopra seemed to me the most impartial, stating the good AND bad points of each piece of gear he reviewed, and giving the reader his honest opinion. I was particularly amused when he said in one Angel review, 'I donít believe ANY paintgun over $1000 to be a good value'. I would agree. Followed by Ravi was Jack Wood. I enjoyed his reviews as well, he seemed to have a knack for explaining the most intricate mechanical workings in a way the layman could understand, and for the most part he was brutally honest about a piece of gear's shortcomings. He also seemed to be a stickler for a pretty gun...but who isnít? Justin Owen was next. Although I can appreciate his nice-guy writing style and his technique of balancing pros with cons, in some instances I really wish he would be pickier, and find more to dislike about the gear he reviewed. It seemed like every piece he wrote about was good, which may have been the case, but his reviews occasionally sounded like product glorification.
The reviews themselves were well-written and concise, short and to the point. Very few took up more than 2 facing pages. However, as I read these reviews, I often found myself experiencing an inexplicable sense of Deja Vu! Closer inspection revealed why: The majority of reviews for gear that had previously appeared in PGI were either cleverly reworded or in some cases, blatantly cut-and-pasted. Although this in no way detracted from the quality of the reviews themselves, it did leave me with a rather 'cheated' feeling. Still, it is a superb volume for under $4 (yeah four dollars). I might also point out that the reader who does not subscribe to PGI would not have noticed this.
One feature this mag had that I really liked was a section called 'Stargear', which featured a prominent PB personality, then listed their vital statistics. This section also featured a resume of PB accomplishments and a list of gear used by that player. Interesting stuff. There was also a section on new apparel, and even a handful of PB websites were reviewed (PB Nation wasn't mentioned, however)
All in all, a very nice volume, a great value and entertaining reading. Despite the problems I had with the reviews themselves, it was still very informative and fun. Although not meant to be a comprehensive yearly volume, What Paintball Gear?
does do a great job as a PB 'year in review' magazine. To my knowledge, there is currently no other annual volume quite like this, and for the price, you can't beat it. Another winner from the publishers of PGI.