True.As someone in the manufacturing area, though, I don't think a statistically reliable reliability survey is within SR's means or any major hardware review website. Shock/vibration testing is more realistic, but that is also hugely expensive. The testing budget for one product line for one of our customers is over $500,000 a year, just for shock/vibration/thermal, and they are just able to get conclusive reliability data within that budget.
Agreed about the reliability testing. It takes hundreds of drives and hundreds of hours to get meaningful results. And then you need engineers to accurately diagnose the failures to see if they were the fault of the drive, the test-bed hardware, the test software, the user, etc.
But, maybe SR could add something beyond performance, such as a compatibility test? Get maybe 20 motherboards and/or drive controllers with different chipsets, and see if each drive+controller combination passes a basic functional test of an hour or so.
Good compatibility might be indicative of how hard the HDD manufacturer works to iron out problems...