Consumer Reports STILL DOESN'T GET IT

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Moof1904, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    Got the September issue of CR today and they prove once again that they do not understand the computing security landscape...

    The cover story of the issue is "Best Tools to Stop Viruses, Spam, Spyware" and "7 must-do moves to stay safe online" etc. etc.

    They offer only one comment about viruses on the Mac and it's watered down, pathetic praise that they immediately reverse with a misleading comment. To wit:

    "Fifty-nine percent of Windows users reported a virus infection during the past two years or a spyware infection during the past six months. But far fewer Macintosh users reported such infections. In recent months, though, Apple Computer has warned of and corrected vulnerabilities in OS X and Safari Web browser."

    How pathetic! "Far fewer"?!?!?!? How about tens of millions fewer. That's like saying "many people have gotten a cold of the flu in the past two years, far fewer have spontaneously human combusted."

    And then they immediately follow this faint praise with a misleading comment about Apple warning about vulnerabilities.

  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm not one to delveop and artifical sense of security about the MacOS's good history to date, but that really is a pretty lame comment.

    "far fewer Macintosh users reported such infections" is an understatement to put it mildly. I like your analogy to spontaneous combustion.

    Yes, if you count Word macro viruses, there are a few infections (what, 1%? 2%? Certainly an order of magnitude less than 59%, and they're less harmful infections). Spyware? None I'm currently aware of exists, which would put that number at 0%.

    And yes, there have been security warnings lately. There were security warnings before that, too. It would be just as accurate to say "But in recent months Microsoft has warned of and corrected vulnerabilities in Windows and IE." Both are true, but neither are ANY different from the situaton over the past several years--there are vulnerabilities, and they get fixed. The only thing that's changed is the potential temptation as a target, given the increasing market share percentage.

    There will be viruses eventually, and there will be spyware eventually, and the'll probably be some uncaught security hole that gets exploited, too. But comparing that to a 60% real-world infection rate is pretty lame.
  3. dwsolberg macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2003

    I think it's fairly accurate. Remember these people are just reporters who probably called the virus companies, got a no-comment from Apple, and then asked a security specialist about Apple computers. The security guy probably said that there were some viruses, but the Macs never caught them. Then the reporter probably asked, "So Macs are completely secure?" The security guy says, "No, in fact, Apple needs to issue security updates just like everyone else." And so it goes.

    Reporters aren't technical people who know what they're doing. Ask any specialist (lawyer, doctor, professor, plumber, etc) about some news item in their area of speciality, and you'll get a tirade about the misinformation.

    On the flip side, I read some tirade about how Consumer Reports is being unduly influenced by Mac users. That made me laugh.

    My tirade:
    CR is good for two things: reliability reports and feature comparisons. Their reviews rarely recommend the best product in any category because they rely too much on the feature list and not enough on whether it will do what the product is primarily intended to do. (e.g. "We recommend this vacuum cleaner because it has 83 cleaning attachments, a bright light, and is self-propelled decent suction power. Meanwhile, the recommended vacuum has just average reliability, a super-short cord that makes an extension cord mandatory, and weighs a ton. The one I want to see recommended is light-weight, very reliable, has a nice long cord, 5 attachments--all I need, and sucks up dirt like crazy.)
  4. tipdrill407 macrumors 6502

    May 26, 2006
    I agree, having been a journalist myself, the CR reporter probably said "far fewer" just to stay safe from criticism on both sides of the Mac vs. PC debate. Also reporters, usually base their conclusions from what their sources tell them to avoid editorializing. Like the previous poster said these conclusions are probably based on interviews with computer security experts. If the reporter used more dramatic words like Macs are almost immune from viruses, they would experience a huge backlash from PC users and since Windows has over a 90% marketshare, CR could risk having their readership numbers drop.
  5. Moof1904 thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    I must respectfully disagree. Consumer Reports is not and has never claimed to be a news magazine. They are an independent laboratory with a stated mission to uncover the truth in products without any bias or advertising influence. They claim to unconver the truth in products they evaulate through their own diligent research, product disassembly, and testing.

    As a research entity as they claim to be, they have a mission that goes far beyond news reporting and the inherent inaccuracies common to reporters and journalists.

    I would understand an article of this superficialiality from a jerkwater newspaper. This kind of superficial analysis from someone who claims to be an independent, unbiased, scientific laboratory is pathetic.
  6. tipdrill407 macrumors 6502

    May 26, 2006
    They may not be a newsmagazine, but the people they employ are still journalists. Consumer Reports also relies on the revenue from subscription, and the writers and editors will use weasel words like "far fewer" to avoid as many complaints as possible (to avoid a drop in readership). Right now the only complaints are only coming from some mac users and that's exactly what CR wants. Any publication can claim they just want to report the truth but anyone in the publishing business that ever said their work is never affected by how their audience responds is full of BS.
  7. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    Also, the consumer reports are obviously based on consumer reports, so there will in fact be quite some reports of viruses on Macs even if the problem the user had wasn't actually caused by a virus.

    Just look at the number of posts made here on macrumors with titles like "Help, I think I have a virus".
  8. poppe macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2006
    Woodland Hills
    It seems like you are suggesting that they are for PC, which I strong disagree. They acctually always always always protest that Mac support is great. They always have Apple on their top lists. Anyways I think they are always testing very fare. Perhaps they could have worded a little more to imply that Mac's in the past have been pratically free of the viruses and what not.
  9. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I agree. What's worse is that the 59% may well be from their own reader reports. They often do reader surveys. Why not say 1% of mac users reported a virus (although that's probably high--it's likely idiots who blame their problems on a virus). Then say "although there has been a very low history, recently macs . . . "
  10. tipdrill407 macrumors 6502

    May 26, 2006
    If you're referring to me, I wasn't implying that CR targets a PC audience. I'm saying that the bulk of the world (over 90%) uses Windows. Any controversial comment that a PC user finds problematic would cost CR more in readership than a controversial comment that a Mac user finds problematic
  11. poppe macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2006
    Woodland Hills
    Oh no sorry I wasn't I dont think... I forgot who I was. I think the beggining poster. But yeah you are definitely right. It would cost them at least to be flamed. To me though in all honesty I think it was just the authors poor judgment of words. Nothing else. I dont think he thought ok lets save my readers from getting upset.
  12. applerocks macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005

    The top three laptops (as rated by CR), in this order...

    1) 17" MBP
    2) 15" MBP
    3) MacBook

    Sure, they never show the benefits of Mac OS X and said that Apple Mail costs $130, while Outlook costs $100, had a paragraph on Mac vs. PC that says Macs have a little better security and have better support, where Windows has more software and is more compatible, but all in all, Apple Macs got the best ratings.

    They didn't price them as cheap as possible (hopefully that was for a RAM upgrade, which would be a good thing :D)

  13. poppe macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2006
    Woodland Hills
    Did you all see the MB chart with the Sony as their quick pick... I felt that was a little off... Was that sony they used a Middle Sony 13.3 also? Because if i remember correctly they said the MB was a little less adequate power wise compared to the sony (this is on the chart with cirlce thing).
  14. eRondeau macrumors 65816


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    Consumer Reports is written by the misinformed, for the uninformed. They write everything for the "lowest common denominator" reader.
  15. Moof1904 thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    Exactly. You've hit the nail on the head.
  16. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I just got the issue. Pretty bad. CR is supposed to be of help to the uninformed consumer. They're supposed to be experts, offering useful buying advice--not "just reporters." They're supposed to do their homework. They're supposed to know more than me. They're supposed to be unbiased. They're supposed to base their recommendations on real-world realities (and I don't mean selling issues).

    To that end, failure to tout Macs as safer online in CLEAR terms is deeply irresponsible. Their Quick Take summary doesn't mention the issue at all!

    Furthermore, in recommending security software, they actually lead people AWAY from the Mac with phrases like "none of the security software we tested works with Macs." A consumer who needed advice would be led to think Windows is safer.

    When they praise Macs, they qualify it as much as possible with phrases like "viruses have targeted Macs less." Honest advice for the consumer would be worded much more strongly.

    And how on earth can they talk about Mac users "reporting" viruses without mentioning the relevant factors of whether those were MAC viruses or WINDOWS viruses being detected? And without mentioning that in fact there are no real-world OS X viruses? And without mentioning the fact that Apple changed to a new OS, and those few OS 9 viruses no longer are a threat? OK, CR doesn't want to bog people down with details--so come to a reasonable conclusion at least. They don't.

    They either don't know anything about computers (and pose as experts?) or--more likely--they have a Microsoft agenda. Amazing, but there it is. Probably not a paid agenda, but a personal bias that they enforce, contrary to their own stated mission.

    And the same article rates laptops--and they don't even recommend Macs as much as they used to, which wasn't much. (They used to always mention Apple in the Quick Picks, but not anymore--despite Apple laptops getting the top score numerically in all charts.) They basically say most people should just stick with Windows, but offer no real help to consumers making that call. No mention that Macs CAN run Windows--just that Macs have less software. They do recommend looking at the 17" MacBook Pro (I've always noticed how they downplay cheaper Macs and draw attention to higher-priced ones) but they incorrectly say you can't get an internal memory card reader. 2 seconds at Amazon looking for ExpressCards says otherwise.

    And they suggest considering software bundles when shopping... but no mention of iLife??

    I always notice clear-cut factual errors in their tech articles, from computers to cameras. And I have reported these errors to them--but not only is a correction never printed, they make the SAME error the next year. Makes me doubtful about their opinions and specs on products I'm not familiar with. Is everything they print so error-prone? My favorite was when they talked about what you need for digital home video editing--they talked about cameras and Firewire ports, but never mentioned that you might need SOFTWARE.

    At least they gather stats on a large scale--which is worth more than their advice, I fear. Apple's still on top in reliability (1% from the top, within the margin of error of 3%--the differences between brands are shrinking there) and in tech support (by a landslide).
  17. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    I know CR has been lambasted by their Mac-owning readers in the past for their clueless computer reviews, but for reasons which continue to mystify me, they haven't changed their evaluation methodology one iota. They seem to assume that Mac owners are Mac owners, and Windows owners are Windows owners, and none will ever switch over to the other product. They address them as though they were completely separate markets. Of course, they don't make the same assumption when they are reviewing cars, or anything else. I don't know that they're biased, but clearly they haven't figured out some basic things about technology.
  18. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    I haven't gotten that impression from their reviews. They do separate the categories, but that's probably fairly important for the readers who are basing computer purchases on CR. One can imagine the number of readers who might assume that a Mac could run all PC software (well, now it can, but you know). Or do things just like a PC.

    I've always taken their reviews to present the best PCs, the best Mac, compared to the PC, and to make it clear that the Mac may be a better choice if you're not stuck with a PC.

    That said, their reviews are pretty basic-level and do get things wrong. But not just with computers.
  19. Jedi128 macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2005
    New York, NY
    Could not have said it better myself. I hate consumer reports becuase I always feel like they are trying to say that I am just a stupid consumer that knows nothing and they know everything (which they dont even come close to) and they are going to guide me to the right product to buy.

    Well guess what I'm not stupid and I have a brain and can think for myself. I like researching products for myself becuase I'm not going to trust any salesman from any company to tell me what product to buy cause they're going to want me to buy theirs, or they are just too stupid to give a real recommendation in the first place.


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