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who believes in consumer reports?

kamiam

Banned
Dec 12, 1999
2,638
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Just saw someone post in a thread recommending another member look at consumer reports...being an electronic technician for 20 yrs I saw a comparison of various vcr's in CR once and recognized 2 "name brands" as being the same vcr made by the the same manufacturer I.E. identical vcr's...CR rated them differently(1 better than the other) so why do most people believe in consumers report when it seems obvious that there is some sort of politics going on in the background?
 

Mday

Lifer
Oct 14, 1999
18,646
1
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well, besides going down to the store and looking at the models yourself, how else is one suppose to see how a vcr performs :p

i don't use CR often, but #'s mean nothing to me, i read the comments... but it's been a while since i even picked up an issue.

besides, my sister bought the vcr by word of mouth, which means her friend had one, and she liked it. so after a few years, we have 2 panasonic vcrs... and she bought one that was cheap (refurb) which was not panasonic.

frankly i don't have much experience with consumer electronics...
 

Double Trouble

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
9,273
103
106
<<why do most people believe in consumers report when it seems obvious that there is some sort of politics going on in the background? >>

CR has been around for a long time, and I trust it way more than any other 'review' source out there. It's independent, doesn't take any money from any manufacturers, and usually does an excellent job at thoroughly testing the products. They don't get the products sent to them by the manufacturer (which often leads to the company 'cherry picking' the best and sending it to them). They haven't built the reputation they have by 'playing politics' with their products.

As a matter of fact, there have been 17 lawsuits brought against CR by manufacturers that were unhappy about the way their product was reviewed -- most notably the isuzu trooper. CR has won EVERY SINGLE ONE of those lawsuits by proving to the court that their testing methodology is unbiased and scientific. They've never lost a lawsuit yet because they can show that there are no 'shenanigans' taking place behind the scenes.

The fact that two VCR's are made by the same company means nothing. Just like with overclocking PC's, there can be a variance between the performance of one CPU versus another CPU in overclockability even if they are both made by Intel. Obviously, even though the VCR units were made by the same company, one performed better than the other.
 

WombatWoman

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2000
5,439
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I believe in Consumer Reports' integrity, and I am certain that their tests are performed without bias. Since they use a very small number of samples, the results are not ironclad, but they are nevertheless useful. Regarding the identical VCRs from the same manufacturer, kamiam, surely you will agree that they may have performed differently when tested. I once had two Memorex VCRs that were externally identical, yet one made noticeably better tapes than the other.

What I find objectionable about Consumer Reports is the obvious leftist political agenda in areas that have nothing to do with product safety. This publication used to be relatively neutral, but it has become increasingly pink, and I am annoyed by its activism in areas related to socialised medicine, environmental extremism, and welfare entitlements.
 

kantonburg

Platinum Member
Oct 10, 1999
2,975
1
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Well said tagej

When it comes to small electronics any one can be a lemon. Just the luck of the draw especially when there are millions made of a particular model.
 

Ornery

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
20,020
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The premise of CR is great. No advertisements and they purchase all the equipment that they test...

BUT, THEY SUCK!

Either there is something fishy about who is chosen as the better product or their testing methods are screwed up. Take what they recommend with a grain of salt and see how they weight the results.

Personally, if I'm in the market for a product, I buy a trade magazine on the subject or research the same magazines at the local library. You can tell what is hot by the mail order ads in the back of the mags. The items that say &quot;Call For Current Price&quot; are the front runners.
 

Michael

Elite member
Nov 19, 1999
5,281
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I subscribe to CR. I trust their reviews (not their lawyer-friendly politics). They take no money from suppliers at all.

They do note when a model is just a &quot;rebrand&quot;. Sometimes that info is not available and you also have to understand that some companies rebrand two or three cores to the same model. Also, it is quite possible that the two units they bought did perform differently.

Stop to think about all the web-based reviews we read. No site (to the best of my knowledge) discloses what support from the vendors they are receiving (banner ads at least you can see - not the amount paid for them, however). What if the website's ISP bills were being paid by a company whose products were being reviewed? What if a comany provided all the hardware for the test sytems (tweaked to give max performance, of course)? What if the reviewer holds stock or is shorting the company being reviewed? It is bad enough that the companies provide most of the hardware to be reviewed (the review will say can overclock like all heck!!! but the average unit off the shelf doesn't even come close), but there are many, many more issues as well.

There is very big money to be made, especially by the big sites.

All that makes me wish that Consumer Reports would start to do hardware reviews on their website.

Michael
 

Ornery

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
20,020
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Oh goody Michael, pray tell who they currently recommend that a consumer purchase their next PC from. (this ought to be good :))

I bailed on them years ago when they recommended a Toro rider over others they tested. Trouble is, they didn't test the better mowers out there! What a crock. Do you know how many consumers live and die by their results? And when they trash a good product because of a &quot;bad sample&quot;, the consumer loses as well as that manufacturer.

I bet they are on the money, as far as best bang for the buck, less than half the time. The products not tested are a perfect example. And they are so far behind the curve that their results generally useless by the time you read them anyway!
 

kamiam

Banned
Dec 12, 1999
2,638
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TAGEJ.... using a cpu that can be overclocked to compare against a vcr that &quot;usually&quot; cannot be modified is like comparing oranges to apples

WW you are right... it is &quot;possible&quot; to get 2 identical units and get different results... but unlikely... also you will agree there is a difference in being externally the same and internally the same... the 2 units in question were &quot;internally&quot; the same

Mday... yes in my opinion(unless your an expert on the particular item in question and KNOW how well built it is and the quality of its components as how well the unit is designed)word of mouth is the best advertising for a particular product


Onery... your absolutely right about being behind the curve....I have also seen them bash well known products that have been rated by others(auto's in particular)as an excellent product

also how can thier tests be accurate when, in consumer electronics as other items,sometimes it takes a year or 2 for a flaw to develope in electronics(poorly designed circuitry or substandard parts) to properly &quot;test&quot; it would take hundreds of test hours...I kinda dought CR tests these units for hundreds(thats multiple) of hours...probably 20- 30,maybe 50 hours they test at most
 

Michael

Elite member
Nov 19, 1999
5,281
0
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First, I did say their website should contain their computer hardware reviews. Print magazines are often way behind the times.

I sorted through the recent issues and here's their latest laptop recommendations (from the May 2000 issue):

They rated the IBM Thinkpad i1480 the best. eMachines was rated the worst. The Mac iBook would have beenin the middle of the Windows machines (they discuss it in a different section). They liked a Sony and a Dell machine as well.

They discussed three classes of laptops - All-in-one, Modular, and Slim-and-light.

They tested battery life and they also dripped a premeasured amount of water onto the keyboard to test against spills.

The article was well written and would serve a non-hardware knowledgeable reader well (most that post here don't need the beginner-level explanations).

Michael

ps - they were bigger on Macs a few years back but have been much more positive about Windows-based machines since W95/W98 (they like the Mac's easy of use).

pps - their issue also had a great review of car waxes. plus an excellent article on how Doubleclick tracks web users.




 

PCAddict

Diamond Member
Nov 19, 1999
3,804
0
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I've read CR on and off for years. Sometimes they are right on the money, sometimes they are totally clueless. I don't particularly care for their automotive reviews. They are usually pretty accurate when it comes to things such as kitchen appliances, lawn equipment, etc. I've bought a few pieces of electronic equipment partially based on their recommendation and was sadly disappointed.
 

Double Trouble

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
9,273
103
106
I agree with WW that they're veering in the polical direction a bit much.... But on the whole I do like their tests, their reviews etc.

Sure, they won't be able to find a flaw in a car or machine that might not become obvious until a couple of years later -- but neither can anyone else, so they are no worse than other reviewers.

Since they do wield significant power with their reviews, their methods are scrutinized by a lot of people -- and they've stood the test of time. I don't like everything they do, but when it comes to fairly unbiased reviews of products, they do a good job on the whole.
 

Michael

Elite member
Nov 19, 1999
5,281
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CR actually does do long term testing. They're testing paints right now, and I think they're at the two year mark. I think they're running another, similar test on deck stains.

They also have the history of whatever make of car it is to draw on. I know they survey their subscribers, I get a request several times a year.

Same goes for electronics. Obviously, you can't predict what will happen with the latest and greatest, but they do track repair history by brand name.

Michael
 

Celstar

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
2,092
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CR is good if you're completely clueless about stuff. Something's better than nothing.
 

Ornery

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
20,020
14
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Uh, yeah, AOL comes to mind I guess :D

I'm trying to think of something i might want to buy that I would be &quot;clueless&quot; about...

Damn, that's tough. If I want something it's because I know something about it. Let's see, I need a roof, would I look up the best shingles and gutters? We need a kitchen floor, but I don't know if we're going with tile, one piece floor, congoleum, pergo, wood, carpet... let alone deciding who makes the best of those products.

How about lawn fertilizer? Is Scotts that much better than generic stuff? Liquid or dry? That's something I'm not sure about, but I doubt I'd look to CR. I will be in the market for an AV receiver that can do Digital Surround. How many of you would look to CR for help with that? What about the speakers to go with it? CR? Not me!

And would I recommend that a friend turn to CR for consumer info? Don't think so. I'd help them get links from the Web though! :Q
 

WombatWoman

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2000
5,439
1
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I enjoy Consumer Reports' side-by-side listings of data related to foodstuffs. Although the nutritional information is available on the labels of foods, it is convenient to be able to look at a group of similar items and compare them for calories, fats, number of insect parts (!) and such. The taste-testing is subjective, but I have found that the low-rated products usually deserve their rankings.
 

catseye

Senior member
Jan 15, 2000
267
0
0
I love the idea of CR, but they are far too general to be specialists in anything they review. Sometimes they are so off in thier assesments that I have given up on them.
 

kamiam

Banned
Dec 12, 1999
2,638
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hey ONERY,I agree, if I wanted to buy a stereo, I sure as hell would not use CR!!maybe a rag like stereo review...absolutely not CR
 

IronMike

Senior member
Jun 24, 2000
356
0
0
I have been reading the magazine for 35 years and can truthfully relate that I have never been disappointed by following their purchase recommendations. However they do at times venture into the land of personal taste, and that is when one's brain should report that they might miss the mark.
Much of what they recommend is based on subscriber surveys, so I understand how that can be an accurate indication of product reliability. But with the other products, it's the scoring of features to arrive at an overall best group that, for me, has not only been accurate but uncanny.
I trust in very little in today's world, but hold CR in high regard.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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The problem I see with CR is that, as another poster stated, they are terribly general, and to the extent I am knowledgeable about particular areas (e.g., bicycles, stereo equipment), I have frequently found them to be totally off-base in their recommendations. I agree you will probably never get an outright bad product by following their recommendations, but the problem is that you will also seldom get the best of what is out there.

 

Looney

Lifer
Jun 13, 2000
21,941
4
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CR is for the GENERAL public who doesn't have too much knowledge of any particular field or interest. If you're going to buy a VCR, it would be easier to pick up a CR and read some reviews of that then buying a half dozen Audio/Video mags and finding out which is the best. They can't review ALL models out there, so they review as many as they can in a reasonable amount of details. Also, because they review so much stuff, sometimes there is an occasional error (lack of info, such as Kamiam original post about the 2 VCRs infact being identical, or digression from the mean - this is particularly likely since they only review/test one of each item).

For instance, if they were to compare some video cards, they certainly won't do it in such details as Anandtech would, but for the average consumer, their comparison would be more then adequate.

 

I'm Typing

Golden Member
Oct 9, 1999
1,208
0
0
The ignorance of the reviewers in that rag can be astounding. I would go to a specialty magazine first, no matter what the subject. And, if you use your credit cards wisely, almost everything can be quaranteed for a long long time.
 

Tiger

Platinum Member
Oct 9, 1999
2,312
0
0
While I have no doubt in CR's credability I do get a little irratated with people who structure their entire lives around the reviews in the magazine. My sister is a good example. It seems she won't buy a roll of TP without it having the CR seal of approval. Whatever product CR says is the best is the one she gets, computers included, and you don't dare try to argue the fact.

She went out and bought a top of the line factory built computer and had a first class hissy fit when I told her she could have built the identical machine for 25-40% less. &quot;Consumer reports&quot; this and &quot;Consumer reports&quot; that. Bull Squalor!! I think CR serves a useful purpose in that it helps &quot;appliance operators&quot;, who have no clue about a product they are going to buy, make an informed choice.

Living your life from the pages of CR is the lazy man's way out.:|

 

Ornery

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
20,020
14
81
Gads, I said I was in the market for roofing. Just got a quote, $4,500! Holy crap! That's about $2,000 more that I was figuring!

I've got about 1,700 square feet of roof to tear off and replace:
  • $1,105 for tear off at $65 per square
  • $1,105 for installation at $65 per square for labor and material
    ______
    $2,210 Total in my book. WTF!
What does Consumer Reports have to help me with this rape?

Also, we're planning on replacing our 20 year old mattress and foundation. I'm looking on the Web at places like this:
 

CyberSax

Banned
Mar 12, 2000
1,253
0
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CR is for the GENERAL public who doesn't have too much knowledge of any particular field or interest. If you're going to buy a VCR, it would be easier to pick up a CR and read some reviews of that then buying a half dozen Audio/Video mags and finding out which is the best. They can't review ALL models out there, so they review as many as they can in a reasonable amount of details. Also, because they review so much stuff, sometimes there is an occasional error (lack of info, such as Kamiam original post about the 2 VCRs infact being identical, or digression from the mean - this is particularly likely since they only review/test one of each item).

Yup. I agree. Consumer Reports is a fairly reliable magazine. If I want to buy a kitchen appliance or a budget VCR, I'm sure as hell not going to read 10 different books on it to find out what's best. It's easier just to consult a consumer reports, because their reports are quite accurate.

And their automotive reports are quite reliable too. If you want to buy a Dodge Viper because it goes 0-60 in 4 seconds, then CR may not be for you, but if you want to find out about a convenient mini-van for long family drives, CR is the best source that you can consult. Most auto-mags focus only on the engine of the car and report on little else. If a large car has a ridiculously small trunk, Motor Trend, C&amp;D, and R&amp;T aren't going to tell you that, but CR will.

I've also found Consumer Reports hotel ratings to be quite reliable.
 

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