Why does anyone believe Consumer Reports?

“Just this week, Consumer Reports posted an online review covering the iPad 2, and a small number of also-rans in the tablet PC world,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “This report was meant as an upgrade to an article that appeared in the May 2011 newsstand issue, which was prepared before the iPad 2 was available to evaluate.”

“The conclusion was predictable. The iPad 2 gets an ‘excellent’ rating in nearly every category. Curiously, the original iPad was placed in a tie with the Motorola Xoom, though heaven knows why,” Steinberg writes. “Well, at least CR didn’t find any bogus antenna issue with which to downgrade Apple’s iconic gadget, but they aren’t entitled to much more credit than that, simply because they still haven’t a clue how to properly review products of this sort.”

Steinberg writes, “Understand that CR’s editors are entitled to their opinions, and they even entitled to publish highly flawed reviews that fail to address the needs of the end user. Rather, I’m concerned why the media, tech, mainstream and elsewhere, largely accepts CR’s word as gospel. The vast, vast majority of articles about their reviews are not critical. They never consider whether or not the magazine is using poorly conceived testing methods.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: For the record, we’ve been calling Consumer Reports crap for over half a decade and counting. We’d love to see some in the “mainstream” press question those idiots’ “findings” with at least a smidgen of critical thought for a change. Just because Consumer Reports is “nonprofit” and “independent” doesn’t mean their “Expert Ratings” aren’t meaningless tripe based on flawed testing and/or ridiculous criteria. Dressing up in white lab coats for photo sessions doesn’t make Consumer Reports a bunch of scientists.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s iPad 2 tops Consumer Reports’ tablet ratings – April 5, 2011
Consumer Reports on iPad 2: We didn’t notice any significant speed improvement – March 15, 2011
Consumer Reports was wrong on Verizon iPhone 4; so-called ‘death grip’ fixed by Apple – March 2, 2011
Consumer Reports: Verizon iPhone 4 has antenna ‘problem’; not recommended – February 25, 2011
Consumer Reports continues laughable vendetta against iPhone 4 – January 14, 2011
Android sweeps Consumer Reports’ rankings as iPhone 4 is omitted – November 17, 2010
All of Consumer Reports’ ‘recommended’ smartphones suffer attenuation when held – July 19, 2010
Consumer Reports: Apple’s free Bumper case does not earn iPhone 4 our recommendation – July 16, 2010
Consumer Reports: Apple’s Bumper case fixes iPhone 4 signal-loss issue – July 15, 2010
Consumer Reports continues harping on iPhone 4 attenuation issue – July 14, 2010
Electromagnetic engineer: Consumer Reports’ iPhone 4 study flawed – July 13, 2010
The Consumer Reports – Apple iPhone 4 fiasco – July 13, 2010
Consumer Reports: Oh yeah, almost forgot, Apple iPhone 4 is also the best smartphone on the market – July 12, 2010
Consumer Reports: We cannot recommend Apple iPhone 4 – July 12, 2010
Consumer Reports: Apple Retail Store is the best place to buy a cellphone – May 11, 2010
Consumer Reports: AT&T dead last in service survey; 98% of iPhone users would buy iPhone again – December 01, 2009
Consumer Reports does their readership a disservice, says viruses target Apple Macs – December 13, 2005
Consumer Reports: Apple’s new iPod screens scratch-prone like iPod nanos – October 28, 2005
Consumer Reports dubiously finds 20-percent of Mac users ‘detected’ virus in last two years -UPDATED – August 10, 2005


  1. It is too bad. They use to report on the Mac vs PC option fairly. Now that Apple has the huge lead in these markets, iPhone and iPad have questionable reviews. I wish Apple offered to let CR confirm their testing results done in their garage-based lab facility next time they believe Apple is shipping a substandard product. Apple spent either $75 million or $150 million on their antenna labs. Which group knows what they are talking about? I will stick with Apple.

    1. That depends on how far you go back. If I recall correctly, they basically ignored Apple products during the mid-1990s. In general, I think that CR should avoid evaluating most consumer electronics. By the time that they test them and get the issue to print, the results tend to be outdated. Better and more current information is available online from other sources.

      But I don’t think that CR is worthless. Their physical testing results and reliability information for paints and stains, tires, hand and power tools, and appliances can be useful. That type of data is not as readily available elsewhere.

      It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Why does everyone seem to be polarizing at the extremes over the past decade, politically and otherwise?

      1. And all of a sudden their 2 main gripes about Macs from the 1990’s – a lack of apps and slower processors (both myths) – are suddenly not a big deal when reviewing tablets.

      2. Re: appliances, after some poor performance with CR recommended appliances, my repairman (40 years in the business) told me he never trusts CR with anything based on their flawed appliance reviews.

    2. I think Consumer Reports should concentrate their expertise in evaluating pots and pans only and leave out more technical things to other more competent authorities to tackle.

  2. CR seems a little dated. The tech guys all seem stuck in the past. I feel their dated tech views call into question the rest of their reviews. I just don’t trust them. A lot of what they say is not what I have experienced first hand.

  3. I’ve always taken their recommendations with a grain of salt. It’s just one data-point among many that would influence my buying decision. That was for cars, washing machines, etc. For tech products, I never gave them any credence whatsoever, as they always struck me as incompetent in that category. The iPhone 4 fiasco confirmed their idiotness. Worst of all, their refusal to apologize or back off their “findings” when proven wrong just shows how arrogant and clueless they are. They still send me emails trying to get me back as a subscriber (I had web access 7 years ago when shopping for a car) and I tell them no way until they change their ways.

  4. CR loves, cheap, mediocre, middle-of-the-road, American made junk targeting the Costco and Wal-Mart crowd. Anything that’s more expensive and clearly better than their pet brands is put down. Brands like Apple, Miele, Bosch, European audio equipment, etc. are considered too posh for their LCD (lowest common denominator) stretchpant and Budweiser audience.

    1. Actually, they say nice things about expensive European applicances. And the absolutely LOOOOOOVVVE Japanese cars – they have for decades.

      They are not for the stretch pant, Budweiser, NASCAR crowd.

  5. Consumer Reports recruits people from all over the country to pose as consumers. They buy the products at retail, then send them to a separate group of testers who evaluate the products. This method works with washing machines and dishwashers, but since it isolates the tester from the purchase process, it doesn’t work well with more complex products, such as computers. Imagine the buyer purchasing an iPad by mail, then sending it to a tester who has never been in the Apple Store, has never educated himself about the iPad on Apple’s web site, and who works in an office that uses Windows. No matter how objective they try to be, the results are always going to be a little off. Or a lot off.

    I’ve bought dishwashers and I’ve bought computers. The purchase process is different, and that is one thing Consumer Reports can’t take into account.

    That is probably why their reviews of computers have been flawed since about 1981,

    1. There nothing wrong with a Skoda Fabia whatsoever. It’s made by a factory that is part of the Audi-VW Group. Heard of them?

      Under Communist control Skoda languished but after becoming part of Audi-VW quality was raised to match the best of European products.

      1. Good point. On the other hand, Dell computers are also made by Foxconn.

        The difference, I’m sure, is design. Apple designs their computers. Dell apparently just puts a bunch of computer parts in a bag, shakes it, and sees what comes out.

        1. The Volkswagen Group owns Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat, Volkswagon and Scania (trucks).

          The Volkswagen Group is effectively owned by Porsche.

          Their design and production are second to none.

    1. I found they aren’t very good at lawnmowers either.

      Actually it was a fault of their test procedure – they assumed everyone had a golf putting green for a yard.

  6. I’ve had too many wasted purchases based on their advice.

    I think my parent’s generation used them more because Consumer Reports was a new thing to them, they got the magazine—and back then their advice seemed more reliable. I haven’t believed a thing I’ve read from CR for years. I haven’t based a purchase on their recommendation in near 20 years, after too much bad advice.

    I’d rather get my reliability/performance reports direct from actual customers—easily done on the web, than from some bunch of white coats. CR is judging but not actually using the product for years in REAL situations as real consumers do when forming an opinion and posting it on line.

    I’ve made more reliable, quality purchases using real people as judges.

  7. CR used to have a nice niche with the subscriber feedback- giving the public an insight into real world performance and reliability that wasn’t available to the general public.

    Then came the internet…

    I have never been a great fan of their testing, but the survey info has merit.

    1. Actually I know a lot of conservatives that swear by the magazine. Most conservatives I know also use Windows. They all have University degrees and are quite capable of holding their own in an intellectual debate.

      Consumer Reports was the “smart man’s” magazine in the 70’s. My parents subscribed to to it and made their purchases based on the reviews. Neither of them wore Birkenstocks or smoked dope. My grandfather sold his Corvair after the Nader report, which was later found to be skewed.

      I’ve never agreed with the slant C.R. uses for Apple, but they were valuable in the pre-internet days, even though they were biased at times.

  8. They’re taken as gospel because there’s a market for that. it’s tough to actually research and spend time looking at products- CR fills the void. I find myself checking them out when it comes to detergents and cars, etc. When I find out how totally off they are about so many things, I still check them out with a grain of salt. What’s disturbing is that the media never questions them.

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