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MacBytes
Nov 17, 2005, 11:32 PM
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Link: Consumer Reports Doesn't Get Macs (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20051118003210)

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nagromme
Nov 17, 2005, 11:40 PM
No, they really don't.

They're supposed to help consumers, yet they almost completely sidestep the issue of choosing BETWEEN Macs and PCs??

winmacguy
Nov 18, 2005, 12:58 AM
No, they really don't.

They're supposed to help consumers, yet they almost completely sidestep the issue of choosing BETWEEN Macs and PCs??
Well they probably dont want to upset Microsoft:rolleyes: ;)

Photorun
Nov 18, 2005, 07:13 AM
One would think they'd be fair, this is rather disconcerting. For cars they're always good because they don't kowtow to the big US three (who though are not even arguably are behind on quality to the Japanese still get glowing reviews over other cars in other magazines) but for Mac vs. PC? Lessee, Macs have better resale, they don't get viruses, malware, spyware, (usually) have more uptime, crash less, I mean... all one would think really big things to a consumer?!? Maybe CR is just bought and paid for like everybody else.:mad:

macnulty
Nov 18, 2005, 07:24 AM
Not surprising, I have always found CR has had problems thinking outside of the box on many products. Haven't subscribed in awhile (for that reason) so I would be hardpressed to give an example. But I think one example (not only) was praising Toyota Camry's as a quality car but complaining about the cost, not making the connection between quality and cost.

Gasu E.
Nov 18, 2005, 08:23 AM
Not surprising, I have always found CR has had problems thinking outside of the box on many products. Haven't subscribed in awhile (for that reason) so I would be hardpressed to give an example.


I once read a review of "teas" where they considered 9 brands of Orange Pekoe and 1 brand of Earl Grey, and rated the Earl Grey "unacceptable" because it didn't "taste the way tea is supposed to taste." At that point, I stopped taking anything other than their auto ratings seriously.

gerardrj
Nov 18, 2005, 08:55 AM
Not surprising, I have always found CR has had problems thinking outside of the box on many products. Haven't subscribed in awhile (for that reason) so I would be hardpressed to give an example. But I think one example (not only) was praising Toyota Camry's as a quality car but complaining about the cost, not making the connection between quality and cost.

I finally let my subscription lapse. I'll point out a few examples of why but first some irony.
CR continually kicks and screams about personal privacy and nasty advertising practices of corporations. Just before my CR subscription ended I started getting calls from some company that would always hang up instead of leaving a message on the machine. If you called the number you got a very vague message about an important message about your subscription and the offer to leave a message for them. I got about 40 of these calls in the span of two months. I started leaving increasingly pointed messages to stop calling me, with no effect.
Trying to contact someone at CR about it was difficult and unhelpful. Emails went unheeded and I was never, with limited drive to research it, locate an appropriate phone number for their corporate offices.

What kind of "pro-conumer" company would annoy people like this? I don't think I'll ever subscribe again.

On to the things that they don't "get".

That price is indicative of quality. They rarely to never review or recommend expensive, high quality brands like SubZero, Miele, Bosch, etc. Yes these brands are more expensive but look and work better, quieter...

That there's more to a vacuum than suction. After 12 years reading the mag, they finally had a decent article touting the benefits of built-in vacs. They're a hassle to get in to older homes but clean better, quieter and need less maintenance.

They increasingly seem to take on the view that any product that could possibly cause even one injury is defective. They have been a leading proponent of putting all liability on the producer instead of the user. This is an insane view in my opinion. They would probably try to make a case that baseball bats should have foam rubber covers because children could get bonked on the head.

The commentary and reviews have continually leaned more toward forwarding their political agendas than providing objective reviews of products based on empirical testing.

jkhanson
Nov 18, 2005, 09:02 AM
I love Consumer Reports and have been a subscriber for years. I agree with many of the points in this story, but not all of them.

Actually, during the past year CR has made some pretty strong statements in favor of the Mac platform. For example, in their Quick Picks section on desktop computers, they say, "For the best reliability and support: iMac G5 2-GHZ and Mac Mini 1.42 GHz. As our tech surveys indicate, Apple's reliability and tech support have been top-notch. . . " They also ran a big article on viruses. Although they reported misleading survey data that said some modest percentage of Mac users reported a virus on their machine (which undoubtedly was their virus software catching a Windows virus), nobody could have been left with anything but the impression that the Mac is far superior in this regard.

That said, however, I agree that CR is somewhat ignorant of the Mac platform and often makes some bizarre choices when picking models to list in their ratings. For example, as the article states, for their Mac "budget" laptop, they list the 14 inch iBook rather than the 12 inch model, making the iBook appear a lot more expensive. [My personal opinion: I don't understand why anyone would want the 14 inch iBook since it provides no additional pixels.]

Another beef is that they don't make clear (in this issue) that the iMac G5 comes in a fundamentally different design with the computer sitting behind a beautiful LCD. [They have, however, given a very positive review of the iMac in earlier issues with more details.] The result in the holiday ratings guide, however, is that the iMac G5 gets compared to a Compaq Presario 2.4 GHz Athlon 64 that sells for $1,150 (no monitor, I assume). Price-wise, the iMac looks expensive, but we all know that it is very price-competitive when compared to any other computer with remotely-similar design.

Finally, they choose the high-end Mac mini as their example of the Mac "budget" desktop computer. That model is more expensive than 6 of the 7 Windows budget computers they rate. If they had instead used the low-end Mac mini, the Mac would have been cheaper than all 7 of the Windows machines.

nagromme
Nov 18, 2005, 10:14 AM
I find CR's stats useful (failure rates on cars--and computers, etc.) but the rest of their reporting is OFTEN inaccurate, on any subject I know about. Makes me suspect their reporting on the subjects I don't know about!

They've had some glaring inaccuracies in their technology articles, and I've reported the errors, but they never print a correction. OK--but what's worse is, they repeat the SAME glaring error in successive articles about the same product. Clear-cut, factual errors.

Like saying a certain camera (the one I own) has only automatic controls, not manual. It DOES have manual--that's why I bought it--yet CR downgrades the camera time after time for not having manual controls.

And they've been known to get Bluetooth and Airport reversed on Macs.

And they had a whole article on editing home movies digitally, in which they discussed camcorders and editing software. But never ONCE did they mention that your computer must have Firewire!

If they're supposed to be the experts so that you don't have to be, I'm not pleased with the job they've been doing.

I also find their car recommendations odd sometimes. Like recommending one car and not another, when their own blurb and ratings (including reliability and safety) make the second car sound better AND cheaper. So what quality is it that makes the first car get the recommendation? They never explain. It just seems sometimes that they "like" the brand or model out of habit. And when they talk about comfort and seats, they love rock-hard seats that pain me to sit in them. They HATE the seats in every car I find comfortable. That's fine if they have different tastes--but if this is subjective maybe they should talk about the different kinds of seats without calling them pros or cons.

And I'm very DISPLEASED with the junk mail and gimmicks they send--often worthy of their own back page that makes fun of such offers!

I AM pleased with their independence from outside payments/advertisers (though NOT from other bias). So I think they have potential. But something needs to change. They need to put the same diligence into overall reporting quality that they do into individual tests.

IJ Reilly
Nov 18, 2005, 10:43 AM
CR has always suffered from a "paralysis of analysis." Some of their reviews are downright hilarious -- like comparing brands of soft drinks or canned beans. They do less of this than they used to, but still, they haven't been able to keep abreast of technology very successfully, and some of their supposedly objective criteria for evaluation are simply quantified subjectivity.

They aren't simply ignoring the Mac like they once did, but as the article points out, the Mac is still ghetto-ized, which is to automatically treat it as a non-peer with Windows.

I have also written to CU over the years about their virtual silence on the Microsoft antitrust issues. The question of whether Microsoft abuses consumers never seems to enter into their recommendations. This never been mentioned even once in CR, to my knowledge.

Savoy
Nov 18, 2005, 11:30 AM
At least they've led the charge in debunking the big yellow vacuum.

And, to be fair, they've always adored Apple displays.

AlmostThere
Nov 18, 2005, 11:58 AM
Let's assume a holiday shopper - say, someone like my mom, who knows how to use computers but doesn't know much about computers. She doesn't really care whether she's using Windows or the Macintosh platform as long as she can reliably get her work done.

Where might such a shopper go to find out what computer to buy her son for Christmas? If you guessed Consumer Reports, you'd be right.

God, I really, really, hope this guy's mom reads consumer reports and buys her son a Dell for Christmas.

If this magazine is as inaccurate as everyone here says, I don't see the problem with keeping Macs in a separate category. Seems like the best move.

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 12:38 PM
They don't show a great understanding of Macs, and occasionally miss the points they ought to be making to made the tradeoffs clear, but at least they don't seem anti-Mac as they once appeared to be. I remember when they treated Macs almost as if they were defective PCs. For example, when Macs stopped including a floppy drive, they didn't consider the reason for this, they just said you have to pay extra to get it separately because it is missing, ignoring the trend toward larger-capacity and much more reliable media.

These days, they mostly understand the hardware (but see jkhanson's comments above about the models they choose to rate), but they are still mostly ignorant of the software advantages of Mac OS X and the applications it comes with. I suspect they still think that counting applications on store shelves is a good indicator of platform worthiness.

nagromme
Nov 18, 2005, 02:22 PM
at least they don't seem anti-Mac as they once appeared to be. I remember when they treated Macs almost as if they were defective PCs. For example, when Macs stopped including a floppy drive...
True. When did they last comment on the "problem" that Macs lack a floppy drive? LAST YEAR :eek: But they finally let that one go. I guess they had to, or else they'd have to be willing to mention the "problem" in relation to Windows PCs ;) But perhaps when PCs do it, it's OK.

shamino
Nov 18, 2005, 02:57 PM
I gave up on CR over 8 years ago.

Every single time they run an article on something that I have expertise about, I find glaring inexcusable errors. They make recommendations without saying why. They will talk about two devices with identical characteristics, and then recommend one over the other. And they stopped printing the raw data of their analyses ovevr 20 years ago, so you have no way to re-evaluate their conclusions using your own personal preferences.

Since I know they're wrong when they describe what I know, I have to assume they're equally wrong when they describe what I don't know.

In terms of the magazine's content, they devote huge amounts of print space to political activism. And not just on consumer product issues. They also use their magazine for promoting environmentalism and even tax policies!

I would love a magazine that devoted itself to testing products and printing the results of those tests - including the raw data and an explanation of how their conclusions derive from it. But that magazine no longer exists.

IJ Reilly
Nov 18, 2005, 03:46 PM
I don't mind CU engaging in political activism, to the extent it's consumer activism. That is, after all, their mandate -- and has been, ever since they were founded in the 1930s. No, I'm more surprised and disappointed when they ignore obvious consumer issues, such as Microsoft's antitrust problems, even as one of the largest antitrust suits in history worked its way through the courts. I mean, was a bit hard to miss. Then they go on to short-sheet Microsoft's only viable competitor in the pages of CR. Makes no sense to me.

Their testing methods leave much to be desired. Even their reviews of cars, which they know and probably do the best, aren't without problems. For one thing, they collect a tremendous amount of data about reliability from their members, but then aggregate the data in such a way that a reader can't tell if a reliability issue can be attributed to one piece of equipment (which it often can), such as an optional engine or transmission. They simply down-rate the entire model, even though the car is otherwise reliable, and the problem area could be easily avoided.

mkaake
Nov 19, 2005, 10:37 PM
I gave up on CR over 8 years ago.

Every single time they run an article on something that I have expertise about, I find glaring inexcusable errors. They make recommendations without saying why. They will talk about two devices with identical characteristics, and then recommend one over the other. And they stopped printing the raw data of their analyses ovevr 20 years ago, so you have no way to re-evaluate their conclusions using your own personal preferences.

Since I know they're wrong when they describe what I know, I have to assume they're equally wrong when they describe what I don't know.

In terms of the magazine's content, they devote huge amounts of print space to political activism. And not just on consumer product issues. They also use their magazine for promoting environmentalism and even tax policies!

I would love a magazine that devoted itself to testing products and printing the results of those tests - including the raw data and an explanation of how their conclusions derive from it. But that magazine no longer exists.

Awesome post. Just awesome.

It boggles my mind that so many people will look at CR and realize that they're so far out of wack with things they personally know, but they assume that they're spot on with the areas that they don't know about (like car rankings for example)...

rose05
Jul 22, 2006, 10:19 PM
maybe Microsoft doesn't allow consumer reports (http://www.articles-free.ca/) to do it.