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.
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My wife works at a University where just about every student assistant has an iPhone. And they have ALL bitched about this little gap on the edge of the phone that if you happen to put your fingers across the call gets dropped.
I don't have an iPhone so I'm not sure what they are talking about, but talk about it they do. Wonder how Consumer Reports got them all to lie like that?
CR has been questioned for years.
Their devotion to certain brands created suspicions.
Their unwillingness to divulge their raw data, weighting, etc is another flag being raised.
CR will not tell you what a “defect” is. In fact, they leave it up to their subscribers. Therefore, a blown fuse in a car could be considered a defect by one reviewer and ignored by another.
Sample sizes have been questioned and CR always stonewalls on that issue as well.
Anyone who relies on CR is only fooling themselves.
CR is another left-wing rag. Has been for as long as I can remember.
I find CR helpful because they give detailed info on features for products when I’m first beginning a search for a new big ticket item. I just bought a new landline phone. Yeah, I checked CR first in order to figure out what features different ones had instead of trying to get info from the kids who work at Best Buy etc. That made it easier to start whittling down the choices.
There are much better places to get consumer electronics info such as CNET.
Well, because of their ratings of SUVs I have been stuck with a dog SUV and instead of driving it into the ground, my usual model, I am selling it fast.
Yet another person who has clearly never used a Xoom before. The “lack of apps” battlecry is particularly amusing, considering I own one and haven’t found an app I need and can’t get. Macunists sound a lot like democrats - repeat a lie over and over until people believe it.
Read the article... and the reports of people who WORK with cell phone radios and antennas who could not duplicate the so called problem. I have an iPhone4 and could not duplicate the problem using PROPER test equipment in proper testing labs, unlike the junk that CU used. They found that the iPhone4 starts out with a better ability to receive signals and finishes with a better ability to receive signals than other phones even after attenuation... The drop is a percentage of the starting signal... and that was something the clueless testers at Consumers Reports had no awareness of.
I have over 25 friends with an iPhone4... and none of us could duplicate the problem, and we tried, hard, and only one had a problem with dropped calls greater than she had with her iPhone 3Gs... and she lives in the boonies where the AT&T signal is pretty spotty. All of us have BETTER reception with our iPhone4s than we had with our previous phones. The facts are different than what was being reported... which was a load of FUD being orchestrated by Google to promote sales of the Android phones.
It is very strange that the REST OF THE WORLD MARKETS could not duplicate the antennagate issues when the unchanged iPhone4 was released there. Once those facts came out, the FUD essentially stopped! In fact, the antennagate issue dropped out of site and Apple discontinued its free bumper program the started to counter the bad publicity that was being pushed so heavily in the press. In the rest of the world, they did NOT SEE THE DROPPED CALL issue at all. So where was the antenna problem??? IT SIMPLY DID NOT EXIST!
The issue was solely limited to AT&T and it's poor quality network in certain markets... mostly in cities where NIMBYS had prevented the buildout of new cell towers... particularly New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and other metro areas, where the heavy data usage of the iPhone 3G network demand overwhelmed the system's ability to carry the sheer numbers of people wanting to use to system.
The specialists in cell phone testing all tweaked Consumers Reports, pointing out that they did not know what they were doing in their "tests" and also pointed out that they did not even use proper test equipment... using the iPhone's own five bar signal strength meter as their "sophisticated" test equipment to show how strong the signal it was receiving was. The did not test real world calls at all... just squirted signals at it... Nor did they test ANY OTHER of the cell phones in their samples for signal attenuation, just the iPhone. Why? Was their an agenda?
Can I ask which dog suv you are referring to?
CR is composed of Northeast liberals.
My personal experience is that when I take the time to do the research and buy something that they have rated highly (clothes washer/dryer and space heaters most recently), I have been very pleased with the products’ performance. I can’t really say that they are “the best” because I have nothing to compare them to, but I haven’t bought something they rated highly and determined it to be a bad choice.
Just my 2¢.
These are not stats being "lied about" by Mac proponents. Are those apps TABLET optimized or are they merely Android phone apps size doubled to improperly fit on your Xoom screen? Surveys done on multiple non-Apple oriented sites that have found fewer than 70 apps for Android tablets. Tell us what kind of Apps you are using?
One Month Later, Android Tablet Platform Has 50 Apps
By Mike Isaac March 30, 2011 | 7:12 pm | Categories: Tablets and E-Readers
Motorolas Xoom tablet is the first promising alternative to Apples iPad, but the sickly condition of Androids tablet app ecosystem may end up stalling the platforms progress.
One month after its launch, the Xoom currently has about 50 native apps available for Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Googles version of Android optimized for tablets.
Thats pitiful compared with the iPad, which was released last year with approximately 1,000 native apps on launch day. The Xoom debuted with a paltry 15 Honeycomb-native apps available for download in its catalog.
50 apps is a pretty small number, and the actual total may be even smaller. The official Android online market, as well as other online message forums for Android enthusiasts, place the number of Xoom apps somewhere close to 50. But this number hardly seems accurate, as it includes existing Android applications which have been re-sized to take advantage of the tablets larger screen. The number of apps with interfaces made specifically for the tablet is probably diminutive.
Still, its unclear why more developers havent taken the short cut and re-sized their apps for Honeycomb. It could be that developers arent sold on the idea of re-sizing their apps to fit more screen real estate, as opposed to building a true tablet experience that takes advantage of the new platforms possibilities, iOS developer Justin Williams told Wired.com in an interview.
And even if developers wanted to create such a true tablet experience, theyre hard-pressed to do it without the source code for Honeycomb, which Google is currently keeping a tight reign over. The big device manufacturers working on Honeycomb-powered hardware like HTC, Motorola and Samsung all have early access to the code, but only after licensing agreements were made with Google. Smaller developers dont have this luxury.
Apple was wise to have the tools out there months in advance of launch, Williams said, as compared to Google who made them available only a short time before.
To be fair, the Xoom is currently the only Android tablet on the market running Android 3.0. Once the glut of Honeycomb-running hardware devices arrives like the June release of LePad from Chinese electronics manufacturer Lenovo, which was delayed specifically to ensure the tablet will run Honeycomb we could reasonably expect to see more tablet-optimized applications available. Samsungs redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1 will also run Honeycomb, and will also launch this summer.
Google needs more hardware, says Williams, and they need to get developers excited about building tablet experiences, not just larger screened phone apps.
Hmmmm, 50, to over 70,000 for the iPad. Not much of a comparison, is it?
However, another NON-Apple source, Mobility Feedsa site specializing in analyzing mobile devices and mobile trends, found that Android 3.0 Honeycomb had only 14 native applications in those 50.
Almost no tablet-specific apps developed for Android Honeycomb
Second Gears developer Justin Williams, following a new check, has revealed the little progress made by Google's Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, application catalog in the month since its launch.
Only fourteen applications are truly native.
A total of fifty include both native applications and phone applications meaning resizing for a larger screen.
The report includes Googles applications and might miss certain titles, but there is no simple way to separate tablet optimized applications and tablet-only ones by applying a filter on Android Market.
Among the fully native titles, there are a few ports of their Apple iPad versions, like Pulse, CNN or USA Today.
The situation reflects an ongoing problem with application support on Android 3.0 and confirms a hastened launch schedule.
Google released the beta SDK only a month before the Motorola Xoom was shipped, while the final version was released only two days before the date of the launch.
Excepting certain developers with special access rights, most have only had less than two months to start and make ready their first applications for the Android tablet.
The lack of devices itself has reduced the accessibility to the hardware.
A second wave would not ship until the LG Optimus Pad arrives in Japan these days, while the decision of Samsung to rework its Galaxy Tab 10.1 following the iPad 2s release would push it to not earlier than June.
Apple was more careful with its tablet plan and allowed developers to have two months lead time.
The App Store started with 1,000 iPad-native applications and has about 65,000 s of the first-year anniversary of the design.
A more flexible development has been the key factor for inroads into enterprise and catering to niches such as music production.
Then there's this. Electronista is reporting that Deutsche Bank, using Google's own Android usage statistics released at the end of March, has concluded that the Xoom Tablet has sold only 100,000 units in the five weeks it has been on the market since being released February 24th.
Analyst rough estimate has just 100,000 Xooms shipped so far
by Electronista staff
Updated 11:35 am EDT, Wed April 6, 2011
Deutsche Bank guesses just 100,000 Xooms shipped
Analysts at Deutsche Bank have put a potential number on talk of possibly slow Xoom sales in a new research note. Extrapolating from data in Google's Platform Versions chart, it estimated that about 100,000 of Motorola's tablet had shipped between the February 24 debut and the end of March. The prediction also likely included a small number of hacked installs on other devices.
Motorola has never publicly discussed its Xoom shipment figures and might not quantify them until its next quarterly results, if at all.
The figure is likely to be off of the actual count without more concrete data at hand. It might still reflect a relatively tepid adoption and is supported in the abstract by Google's Android figures, which put 3.0 at just 0.2 percent and well under the 2.5 percent using a Nexus S or Nexus One with Android 2.3.
Low Xoom adoption has been blamed partly on the limited launch. The February 24 release was limited to just the 3G edition for Verizon, putting the minimum asking price at $800. Wi-Fi versions only began showing in late March, and international releases are only just beginning with launches for Canada this week and other countries soon. Apple shipped the iPad 2 to about 25 countries two weeks after the US and starts at $500 for a Wi-Fi version and $630 for 3G.
the issue is the screen size.
these are not tablets they are toys. They need true useful screen sizes of 10 inches or more to be of consequence.
Wired's Gadget Lab, hardly an Apple centric site went looking for Android tablet optimized apps for your Xoom... here is their March 30th report:
Give Consumer Reports credit for reporting the Chevy Volt is a joke.
Thanks for all the FUD, but the point is that “tablet-optimized” is itself a loaded term. As Android developers have been dealing with varied screen sizes in their apps for years, the vast majority of apps originally written for phones scale perfectly well to the Xoom’s screen size. Hence why I say these people have clearly never used one before. Just because apps originally written for tiny iPhone screens (remember, the iPad came out before the iPhone 4, which introduced better resolution) looked like crap on the much larger iPad screen doesn’t mean Android apps do.
Take for instance SlingPlayer. It’s not “tablet-optimized”, but it looks great on the Xoom. Why? Because the people who wrote it were smart enough to code their program to adjust for resolution. They’re not the only ones - every single program I use on my phone (Droid X) also works on my Xoom, with no noticeable drop in quality.
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