I'm with SierraJim and the majority on this one!
I also agree that a relatively solid format is a good idea. Those that put up quite a few reviews tend to use this, like SJ, Dawgcatching, SSH, Noodler etc. I get alot from these individuals reviews. I've skied with SJ and Dawg and in some cases we have distinctively different likes and dislikes, but their well educated perpective give me more data. Is it possible that I'm a slightly higher level skier and would like different skis based on that? Well, interestingly, I probably am a bit stronger then these 2, but I tend to like friendlier skis (read, I'm a bit wimpy). SJ really liked the Nomad one day at sugarbowl, while it felt demanding and punitive on my feet. Does that mean I don't learn from his reviews because we see some things differently? NO. His reviews tell me alot more then "I like them", or "I don't like them". They give some quality feedback on strengths, weaknesses and personality. Same with Dawg. While he has many less miles on skis then I do, he is a very good skier and is very systematic in his approach to ski testing. I read out the data that I find useful. Are their reviews more useful to me since I've skied with them? That is an interesting question and in some ways gets to the heart of this original question asked by Max. To answer that, I'd have to say yes, although that doesn't mean I need video to understand a point of view. I got good data from their reviews before I skied with them. As a bit of a technical thinker myself, I do feel that I can glean a little more data out of their reviews having skied with them. I just have more information to filter the data through. That being said, I have a similiar feeling with Noodler. I've never skied with him, never saw any video, and have never even talked to him besides in print on this forum. Why do I take what he has to say about skis to heart? Over time, I have read many of his reviews. He has described his level, age, terrain of choice, and style clearly and has provided concise feedback on his perceptions of the skis. Having skied many of the skis he has reviewed, I recognize that his perceptions are accurate and in many ways congruent with mine.
My intention here isn't to give a few regular testers votes of confidence, but to illustrate why data is valuable to me through these as examples. Someone like Phil or Cirq may have a testers data that they give higher weight to in their decisions based on past reviews, style, age, speed, etc...
Does someone have to be the highest level skier to test these skis and provide good feedback? NO! Honestly, to name drop, I've skied alot with my friend Robbie Huntoon (the ski stuntman for Hot Dog, the movie) who used to do all the ski testing for "Snow Country" when it was the mag to have. He also tested for "Ski mag". I'm a pretty good skier, but I think Robbie and my opinion of skis is almost opposite. In many ways, Eric DesLauriers is similiar. I'd put more weight on a review from SierraJim for instance higher then from Eric D. In some ways, I may ski more similiarly to Eric then Jim, but E likes skis that I would never even look at. (and mismounted at that) So, we all have video available of Eric D and Robbie (just go to the video store), should we weigh those reviews higher based on that info? I'd say not. Should we want the ski the Darren Ralves skis on? you've got to be kidding. I've skied with quite a few world class skier in my day and I was downright awestruck at how fast that guy skis all the time (see last years thread on this). Real skiers (no pun intended, Max) just don't ski anywhere near that fast and don't need the skis that support that.
Last item, word count... So, for some reason, this may be one of my longest posts ever. (maybe because i havn't posted for a few months...), but length doesn't create quality. I got a PM last week from a supporter thanking me for a review of the Head IM82. He directly stated that I gave him more info that he needed in a short paragraph than he'd had in pages. I havn't gone back and read my review, but knowing me it was short and probably not too systematic, just my quick perceptions, but it helped someone. They took what they knew about me, took those perceptions and got worthwhile data. No video, just data compliation.
Anyway, as has often been said here, use this information as a base for demoing. ski a few skis and see what you feel. If you're at an area and they are demoing a certain brand you aren't drawn to, ski a few anyway. Then as you read reviews of skis you've skied, you can cross reference your experience with the reviewer and learn something about them and yourself.
And, now to be controversial... for most of us, go wider, shorter and softer
(and be VERY aware of mounting point, but that's a whole 'nother thread...)