Test and demo days are too rare to be of use.
I watch and trust the local sponsored guys. They soon tell you if any of their gear sucks (I had one local sponsored guy tell me he hated his new bow this weekend)...
Local sponsored guys still spend thier own money for kites, they just get them cheaper. As a shop rider, I awlays tell the turth about my gear, and if they see my stuff for sale early then they know it wasn't as good as advertised.
I'll buy kites with out demos, due to the hassle getting demos. I usually ride boards before I buy them. Its easy to get board demos, because its easy to borrow a board from a fellow rider, unlike kites that most people are hesitent to loan out.