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Verdict on Consumer Reports iPhone app: Helpful but incomplete

I enjoy Consumer Reports magazine, even though sometimes the camera and electronics reviews drive me crazy. The ratings seem sometimes arbitrary, and don't always take what I think are the 'right' features into account and don't weigh those features the same way I would. Nevertheless, I find their reviews useful and another data point to throw in when I'm about to make a purchase.

Some months, ago, Consumer Reports launched an iPhone/ iPod touch app, and updated it again recently. The app, appropriately called Consumer Reports, [App Store link] is free, and has a lot of interesting info, but you don't really get links to the wealth of data back at the magazine. Even if you are a subscriber, you can't log in from the app and see magazine content.

You do get a lot of worthwhile news about consumer products, leaning heavily toward Electronics, Cars and products or services for the Home. You also get videos that are sometimes interesting, sometimes bizarre. I didn't make it all the way through the toilet paper tests.

There is some up to date reporting on topics of interest to consumers, like retailer bankruptcies, and what I would call 'tip' articles, like how to shoot a panoramic photo or tips on buying a Netbook.

There is a bit of Mac coverage, most recently a test to see if the MacBook Pro really lasted for 8 hours running on batteries. It didn't in the CR test.

Strangely, the app doesn't have any kind of search function, so if you are looking for just news about Mac laptops, for example, you're out of luck.

I still find the app full of beneficial news, and I give it a browse a couple of times a week. I wonder how Consumer Reports would rate this app? 'Recommended', 'predicted reliability good', but 'could be much better with a few changes'. On the app store users gave it an average rating of 2 stars out of 5. A bit harsh, perhaps. It's generally downgraded because there is no access to the magazine content.

Also interesting is that CR has not been a great fan of the iPhone, complaining, for example, about call quality when it first came out, but they did feel compelled to do this iPhone app. Funny old world.

Here are some screen captures:



I enjoy Consumer Reports magazine, even though sometimes the camera and electronics reviews drive me crazy. The ratings seem sometimes...