Skip to comments.Why Do You Believe Consumer Reports?
Posted on 04/06/2011 2:41:32 PM PDT by Swordmaker
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. 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. Well, at least CR didnt find any bogus antenna issue with which to downgrade Apples iconic gadget, but they arent entitled to much more credit than that, simply because they still havent a clue how to properly review products of this sort.
They have, for example, an ephemeral ease of use category, but they dont really explain the criteria for such ratings. If they were really paying attention, it would seem highly questionable for the Xoom to rate very highly because, if you consider what you can do with this gadget, it barely rates a xero make that a zero.
You see, you can rate CPU and graphics performance, and whether the interface is snappy or not. You can certainly judge the features, such as onboard cameras, or, in the case of the original iPad, the lack thereof. You might also look at accessory ports, such as an SD card slot, or an HDMI port, neither of which Apple incorporates, even though they offer convenient and relatively low-cost adapters for both.
But none of this matters if there are no apps to run. Apple has over 65,000 specifically designed to run on an iPad. In contrast, the Motorola Xoom, which uses Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, has a few dozen.
As a result, the argument is over. Your usability options on a Xoom, or any other Android-based tablet, are extremely limited, unless you want to stick with regular smartphone apps, which look horrible when blown up to the full size of the display.
Other Android tablets, using older versions of the OS, are in worse shape. Those products are dead ends, because they werent designed with tablets in mind, and new apps will never be compatible. Thats their fault for not paying attention to Google. This, along with the growing and irritating fragmentation issue, are the reasons that Google is asserting greater control over the ways licensees can fiddle with the interface and bundled software. Indeed, they are also holding off on releasing the source code, with no definite date as to when it might be available.
Unfortunately, CR doesnt grok any of this. They seem utterly unable to judge these products on the basis of real usability, which means having enough apps to actually afford a choice of what to do beyond email, Internet access, and access to your favorite social network. Indeed, one of the reasons that the Mac was denigrated early on was the myth that very few applications were available for that platform. In that case, it wasnt true for the most part, except for certain vertical applications for business consumers that were only available on Windows.
When it comes to an Android 3.0 tablet, the situation is dreadful, utterly dreadful. Worse, app developers arent going to have much of an incentive to build apps for the Xoom and its ilk, simply because the iPad has swamped the marketplace. Developers who want to make money know which platform is best.
Understand that CRs 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, Im concerned why the media, tech, mainstream and elsewhere, largely accepts CRs 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.
I can see where manufacturers might avoid public criticism, simply because it will sound like sour grapes. Indeed, when it comes to auto testing, CR has it right when handling tests revealed certain vehicles nearly tipping over or swerving out of control in extreme handling tests. While CR was once sued by an auto maker over this issue, more recently Toyota promptly responded to a reported handling flaw by rejiggering the onboard software so the electronic stability control would kick in faster. But you wonder why they never noticed during the product design phase.
When it comes to consumer electronics gear, Apple didnt suffer in any noticeable way because the two flavors of the iPhone 4 werent recommended, based on that alleged Death Grip. Certainly, if there was an ounce of evidence that sales might be hurt, Im quite sure Apple would have gotten ahold of CR in order to set them straight. Certainly what CR reports flies in the face of Apples tests, once posted online, and still mirrored all over the globe, not to mention blogs populated with antenna experts, and all those people who posted YouTube videos demonstrating that antenna sensitivity issues can be duplicated on many smartphones. Im most troubled, however, that CR doesnt seem to know about warning labels, and those cautions in user manuals about the unsavory impact of holding a mobile handset the wrong way.
Or maybe their test team doesnt believe in reading manuals. While I realize consumers dont either, a magazine that prides itself on thorough and balanced product testing ought to know better.
Trouble is, very few car review sources take reliability into account other than Consumer Reports.
CR has recommended buy ratings for Mercedes M- SUV and C-, E-, and S- sedans, as well as Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, and other “American” models.
CR does not differ radically from other publications in their ratings if reliability history is taken into account. Truth is, GM and Chrysler do indeed make a higher percentage of mediocre and poor vehicles than other manufacturers; that’s why the government bailed them out.
What are you referring to? The iPad has a 9.7" screen and the Xoom has a 10.1 inch Wide angle screen... both are quite usable for their purpose as tablets. The 7 inch screen "tablet" are what I would consider too small to be useable at just 45% the area of the iPad. The Xoom is just 2.9 square inches larger than the iPad.... it's a bit longer than the iPad screen by about an inch while the iPad is wider than the Xoom's screen by about 3/10 inch.
Reviewers say the Xoom is designed to be used in most conveniently in landscape mode while the iPad can be used either way.
Then all those articles from respected NON-Apple sources are slinging FUD? I don't think so. Your Xoom is therefore just a big Android phone? No, those apps are NOT tablet optimized apps.
Then using your criteria for counting apps, then the iPad has 350,000 apps plus the 70,000 apps that are iPad optimized. You Xoom is simply not in the same league.
No, you can't have it both ways. Either the apps are optimized for the tablet or they are not. Just because it CAN run them... it doesn't mean they run well... and most of the reviewers say the phone apps DON'T run well or fit on the wide screen format properly, often operational screen buttons spill into areas where they are simply unreachable! On the iPad, because the form factor was maintained, they do fit and work. Many times these reviewers are ANDROID fans... and they are not happy with the state of app availability.
I remember back in the early 80’s CR declared the new Coleco Adam as the “Computer of the Decade”, maybe even the century.
ahh then I sit corrected. the only non-ipad tablet I have seen in the wild has been of the 7 inch varieties.
still I wish the windows tablets, like the asus, were much less expensive.
What? Someone believes Consumer Reports? NFW dude!!
Not for a review of anything more high-tech than a wooden toothpick.
Let me propose an analogy.
When I was a kid I had a transistor radio, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Like every radio, it has a speaker. The sound comes out of the speaker. If the speaker is covered, it sounds weak and horrible. But if you hold it right, the speaker is open to the air, and it sounds good.
Depending on how you held it, your fingers or palm could either a) cover the speaker, or b) not cover the speaker.
Nobody back then made a Big Freakin' Deal out of the fact that if you held it in such a way as to cover the speaker, it sounded like drek.
Instead, they said, "Well, don't hold it that way, duh!!"
I fail to understand how people don't see that the iPhone4 antenna issue, which revolves around a well-known characteristic of antennas, is any different.
The antenna issue was real, but so was the "speaker issue". As a kid, it was obvious to me how to avoid it.
How did people get so much stupider in 40 years?
Constantly repeating the number of apps that are “tablet optimized” is an attempt to make it sound like apps that are not “tablet optimized” won’t work and thus the Xoom only has a few apps that work on it. This is the definition of FUD because it’s a completely false attempt to steer people away from Android with propaganda.
Tablets, including the precious iPad, ARE little more than big phones. Why do you think so many non-computer making phone manufacturers are jumping in? Because they already manufacter most of the parts.
As I said, Android coders have already made most apps scalable to different screen sizes perfectly, because they’ve been dealing with different resolutions for years. Thus every single app I use on my phone looks perfect on my Xoom too. Should I believe your reviewers or my own lying eyes?
If you have any integrity at all, you’ll stop posting FUD like this.
If you have any integrity at all, youll stop posting
FUD like this.
Having been on the receiving end of many, many Mac Pinglist posts, with much, much relevant information, I'd think you need to apologize to SM. Just because you like your few apps on your android device does not mean they are a viable competitor to the Apple devices. There tens of thousands of iApple apps. There are a few dozens of apps for your toy. 'Nuff said!
Try listening before you open your pie hole, troll!
I think I will trust the ANDROID APP REVIEWERS who know what they are talking about, in judging usability for these apps, over a random guy who tells me that a scan doubled blocky 3x4 graphic design screen of a small phone app has somehow been stretched to fit a 16x9 screen with four times oversized pixels "looks good" and claims that is somehow the equivalent of being "Tablet optimized," when those apps were not ever designed for tablet sized or HD Rez screens. Android is NOT resolution independent and never was! Each App has to be customized internally for each device and each screen size it will be displayed on. Thats what the fragmentation problem of Android is all about. That's just BS, Echo, that your phone apps count! As I pointed out, we are NOT counting screen doubled iPhone apps among those 70,000 optimized iPad apps.
Why is it that YOUR Android reviewers, who have every reason in the world to push Android and the Xoom by claiming the same thing you are, yet they are the ones who are saying Are they being paid to promote Apple iPads? these negatives? Why are they saying things that you claim are FUD? The answer is that it isn't FUD when it's true.
If it’s so true I assume that means you’ve tested it yourself on your Android phone and Xoom tablet, right? Since you’re so sure it’s true and all? Oh, that’s right, you don’t own either, but are perfectly willing to be spoonfed nonsense by the media just like any other lemming.
To say that each program has to be customized for each device shows your lack of knowledge of how Android programming works. Come back to me when you’ve written a program in your life besides “Hello World”. In fact, with vector-based programming there is literally no drop in quality between a phone and tablet. And since the Xoom’s aspect ratio is fairly standard, there isn’t any odd stretching.
Seriously, stick to posting about Apple devices unless you’re going to take the time to actually use an Android device, rather than just believing what you read. Conservatives are supposed to be better than believing media nonsense.
And Kayaker, the only troll here is SM. Have I said any bad things about the iPhone or iPad? No, because they’re literally irrelevant to this discussion. SM posts troll threads attacking devices he’s never used or coded for before, and I’m the troll for defending them with actual experience?
“considering I own one and havent found an app I need and cant get.”
That is called “anecdotal evidence”. Perhaps you should consider that others need more functionality than you do. Which of the following apps are available on Android?
MLB.com At Bat 11
The Weather Channel
The Onion Tablet
Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘11
What productivity software is there? Any equivalent to Pages, Numbers, Keynote etc? What about something like Garage Band? How many really good games are available?
The fact is that the iPad has a phenomenal and rapidly growing software ecosystem...Android, not so much, and Android’s hardware/software fragmentation issues are a problem for developers.
Some of the apps you’ve listed are nothing for than portals for websites. I mean, The Weather Channel? Seriously? I actually have a very nice weather widget on my home screen - something that’s impossible on iOS. And yes, we’ve had Pandora (including a nice widget) for quite some time. The Netflix and Hulu apps are currently being developed, according to reports, but both are currently accessible using PlayOn thanks to another feature iOS doesn’t support - Flash.
As for productivity, there are several apps that allow for editing documents, like DocsToGo, or you can do it directly using the Google Docs site. You can also print using PrinterShare. You’ll have to forgive me if I have no use for Garageband, but I don’t think I’m the target demo for that anyway.
As for games, name for me some “really good” iOS games. You also might want to take a look at the upcoming PlayStation Suite, as well as the fact that there are numerous console emulators you can get on Android - something else impossible on iOS unless you jailbreak.
If you really think the Android ecosystem isn’t rapidly growing, I don’t know what to say to such ignorance. Have you looked at the Android market in the last month?
"Websites" aren't optimized for either the input methods of the tablets, or the screen form factor. Apps give the best experience, and provide a way for the publisher to customize and extend their content in a way you just can't with a website. So yes, seriously. ;-)
As to the rest of it, widgets might be a nice feature. Flash is a fading technology which I can personally (anecdotally;) do without very nicely. BTW, I hear repeated stories of the mobile Flash player being lackluster...and it is an acknowledged resource hog.
"As for productivity, there are several apps that allow for editing documents, like DocsToGo, or you can do it directly using the Google Docs site."
DocsToGo sounds pretty good, but IMO it doesn't compare to full featured apps with guaranteed compatibility with the desktop equivalents. As to Google Docs, I don't know about you but I'd prefer not to trust Google (or any other third party) with sensitive personal or business information. And again, you're faced with a "web experience" not a "tablet experience".
"You can also print using PrinterShare."
PrinterShare is a more limited and less convenient alternative to AirPrint.
"Youll have to forgive me if I have no use for Garageband, but I dont think Im the target demo for that anyway."
Apparently you're not the target demographic for anything not available on Android. :-)
"As for games, name for me some really good iOS games."
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Angry Birds Rio
Fight Night Champion by EA Sports
Hot Springs Story
Speedball 2 Evolution
NBA JAM by EA SPORTS
How many of those (top rated according to toucharcade.com) titles are on Android? You'll note two EA Sports titles there, how many EA Sports games have made it to the Android store?
"You also might want to take a look at the upcoming PlayStation Suite, as well as the fact that there are numerous console emulators you can get on Android - something else impossible on iOS unless you jailbreak."
I'm glad you brought that up. Atari just released "Atari's Greatest Hits" for iOS (iPhone and iPad). To quote the review:
Early this morning Atari released perhaps the most significant single retro gaming application yet to appear in the App Store. Atari's Greatest Hits [link] is a free Universal application for the iPhone and iPad that comes bundled with their first game ever, the 1972 classic Pong. And, while the games-for-free situation ends there, the fun certainly doesn't not by a long shot.This app gives you access to a total of 100 classic Atari arcade hits - in some cases the full arcade machine versions, not a home version. You can buy all the games for a total of $15.
I'll leave you with one more paragraph from the review:
The stars of this collection are the arcade titles, certainly. And there are some amazing games in here Tempest, Major Havoc, Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, and Battlezone, among others. Many of these titles were originally vectorscope games, where the screen draws the images laser light show style, as opposed to in terms of scanlines and pixels. These games translate amazingly well to the iPhone 4's Retina display which renders them at over 300 dpi, with antialiasing to boot. But, then, the iPad's larger physical display is quite a boon for these titles, as well.I sort of wish I hadn't participated in this thread, 'cause it just cost me $15... lol
Who but CR could rate a car’s overall reliability as “average” when all but a few areas are above or much above average, and those few problem areas are minor ones (such as audio system)?
Who but CR could rate a car’s overall reliability as “much above average” when there are serious mechanical problem areas (such as fuel system)?
I’ve seen both.
They have, for example, an ephemeral ease of use category
This can be tested by numbers, time it takes to complete tasks, time it takes new users unfamiliar with the system to do things without having to be guided. Video them while they're doing it, looking for negative or positive facial expressions.
No one's lying. They're just describing a subjective experience in ways that are influenced by everything they've read about the "grip of death." Furthermore, I'd wager that your wife's retelling is also a subjective report influenced by what "everybody knows."
None of these TAs has a case on their iPhones, which eliminates the issue?
Seriously. With TWC (and Weather Bug, and some other weather apps), you can tap a button to zoom in on your current location, which is great when you're on the road. You can pinch-zoom in on the radar map to see your neighborhood, or zoom out to see a wider area and swipe to the west to see where the weather is coming from (and for how long you might expect it to continue).
There certainly are apps that are just a front end for the Web site, but you chose a poor example. TWC is, in fact, a great example of how thoroughly an app can make the same basic content more accessible and useful; when I'm sitting at my computer, if I want a quick check of the weather, I pick up my phone.
The Netflix and Hulu apps are currently being developed, according to reports, but both are currently accessible using PlayOn thanks to another feature iOS doesnt support - Flash.
PlayOn has bugger-all to do with Flash on the mobile device. And it's available for iPhone.
1. This has been going on for at least two years, so it must be a mixture of old and new iPhones. To be honest, neither of us could tell an old iPhone from a new iPhone.
2. All of the service would have been on AT&T, which is really crappy in San Antonio (which is also a hoot because they were headquartered here for many years).
3. One of her SAs from India got so mad when her iPhone cut off that she flung it hard enough against the library wall as to break it into several pieces.
4. My wife's boss has had an iPhone since the beginning and bitches about how you have to hold it, “just so” constantly. He also thought the episode in item 3 was funny, and outlined the mark on the wall with tape and put a sign underneath of it that said, “If you intend to smash your iPhone against the wall, please aim here as we don't want to have to repaint the entire library.” Everyone thought it was funny but eventually the Dean of the Library said to take it down.
5. As far as the all cel phones do this argument - the answer is no they don't. I have a Mil-Spec Samsung phone on Verizon. It does not do smart things (but neither do I). I have used it in moving cars, private aircraft, elevators, metal buildings, and held it in every conceivable manner with my gorilla sized hands - and never had a call dropped.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.