Consumer Reports Must Be Stopped

Because a tablet isn’t a refrigerator.

Consumer Reports’s new tablet recommendations are out today. The new iPad manages to come out on top, despite CR’s earlier alarmed report about how “hot” the iPad could get. This seems like a great big “duh” — almost every other tablet in existence is terrible — but consider that CR refused to grant the iPhone 4 a recommended rating year ago, even though it was its highest rated smartphone.

Still, I can’t quite put my finger on what makes Consumer Reports seem so hopelessly out of touch. Maybe it’s also listing the Sony Tablet P, a piss-poor dual-screen tablet that netted a 5.0 aggregate score on gdgt (a “pass on it” score for gdgt), as “recommended”:

Also recommended is the Sony Tablet P. Shaped somewhat like a large eyeglass case, the Tablet P is a dual-screen device. It’s great for reading e-books in a more traditional, two-page “book” format. The two 5-inch screens also make viewing photos easier by displaying a gallery on the lower screen and the selected photo on the upper. When playing some games, the lower screen also serves as the controller. But in performing other tasks, such as Web browsing, the dual-screen format got in the way.

Or maybe it’s recommending the waterproof Pantech Element for “beachgoers,” even though the Verge’s negative review noted that it becomes “unusable when wet.”

Beachgoers might be interested in Pantech’s new 8-inch Element, a tablet claimed as waterproof that also has the longest battery life among smaller tablets: It lasted more than 10 hours. Sun worshipers might need to set up their beach umbrellas, however—the Element is not as readable in bright sunlight as some other tablets.

A smartphone isn’t a refrigerator, and a tablet isn’t a washing machine. The difference? Today’s gadgets are as much about software as they are about hardware.

And Consumer Reports has no idea how to “test” software — just a core belief that everything can be objectively evaluated and quantified. But software, in many ways, is about taste. Consumer Reports has none. (Seriously! It rated juicers without considering how the juice tasted. It has no taste.)

Or, you know, maybe it’s just that video.

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