depends which skis you are talking... some skis will come ready to ski out of the wrap both tune and wax, some come razor sharp and will need some detune, and there are those that don't even have flat bases!
I'd say go ski and check it out...
Surely without demoing one will simply never really know if there is another ski which better suited them vs the ski they decided to purchase. But this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Once getting accustomed to the new ski as long as one is able to perform to their relative ability and have fun even with some adjustments nothing else is really going to matter much anyway.
Most people who ski are not like many here. This is a unique community where a good percentage of members are skiing very many days per season, live near enough to resorts, are always up on the latest and greatest marketing and tech, and may possess several pairs of skis and also may be replacing them often enough too. Whatever the case, most people who ski are simply not of the same mold.
Imo opinion most people who have some good knowledge and understanding of how they ski and where they ski and what skis are available will do just fine picking a pair by making a solid effort for obtaining as much info as possible. That pair will be all they know because its what they have and with few exceptions they will go out and have fun and ski just fine.
Demo days are not so practical for very many skiers. There is resources of time, and money not to mention travel that has to be coordinated with a given demo day. For many there are only so many ski days in a season to begin with. Then the weather plays its part. What good is coordinating time and money and travel 2 hours to go demo and having to then do it in horrible conditions? So then you have to try to do it again at another place on another day. Once again spend your limited resources of time and money and again drive (perhaps further this time) to hope for conditions and even if you get lucky, then also hope you now get to run enough skis and in enough lengths to get good enough comparisons that you go home with some really worthwhile information from the experience. There is no guarantee you will.
. Its a different animal when one lives in a ski community and/or has the time to do this and/or perhaps season passes which of course in itself means one has all the time and convenience in the first place. People can do demo several days. Most people just don't have this luxury. Its just not so easy or practical for many to do demo days. Very many people who ski and ski very well but have family obs and other obs and lead lives that only allows for given amounts of limited days to ski and have to travel to do it. So they research, investigate, obtain knowledge, and try to make the best decision they can. And in most cases end up happy (even if by default) with their new pair of skis for the next several years.
That's how I bought my skis last year. (fwiw, blizz - xpower 810ti) and I absolutely love these skis and couldn't be happier I am on them. Could there be another pair I may like even better? Sure I guess thats very possible. But it doesn't matter now because these are what I own and they work great for me imo. They are what I'll be happily skiing during my limited amounts of ski days each year for the next several years. If demoing was more convenient and more practical for me to do so I would have because I actually attempted it twice but it wasn't and I didn't.
As for reading reviews, imo they need to be taken with a grain of salt. We can throw out about half the reviews to begin with. Its not so easy to find good sources but as one reads very very many reviews you tend to develop a feel for which ones are meaningless and written for the wrong reasons and/or with the wrong emotions. But one can also collectively gather similarities from the better reviews and after a while compile traits about a ski provided enough reviews are indeed available to read and nowadays view. Then along with your size as long as one has some good understanding of their own ability and how one likes to ski and where you then consider it all together and make the best decision you can.
You make many good points and I appreciate having to grab what you can, when you can. As ticket prices go up due to ski area holding companies becoming real estate hedge funds, it will only become harder and harder for outlying folks to afford to ski. I feel that a $100 day ticket anywhere is robbery and areas should consider that they are pricing out a huge segment of the population, but they don't care. As long as they can build condos and rake in billions, the little guy is not their concern, but that is another conversation. For those of us for whom skiing is lifestyle, it is just part of the gig. We save for and expect to pay for our passes each year. $300-$1500 for a season pass, $1000 for skis and bindings, $600 for boots and another $1000 for outerwear...hell, we don't even bat an eye because we know we are going to use it as much as we possibly can before the spring thaw. So I can totally see your point. OTOH, everyone should be a smart consumer. Gear is not a cheap investment and purchases shouldn't be taken lightly if you are in fact going to commit to skiing, whether it is a 100+ day season or 5 days on the annual family trip. You don't really have to coordinate a demo day in many cases any more. Rental shops are more and more offering demos of skis they have on their retail wall to help increase sales. $40 most places for the whole day and switch out anytime you want. The downside is that if you ski a really small area with little to no retail space, you could be hung out to dry just as you mentioned. Great post.