Consumer Reports


'Consumer Reports' Articles

Consumer Reports Reverses Course, Recommends MacBook Pro Following New Testing After Apple Bug Fix

Consumer Reports is out with an updated report on the 2016 MacBook Pro, and following retesting, the magazine is now recommending Apple's latest notebooks. In the new test, conducted running a beta version of macOS that fixes the Safari-related bug that caused erratic battery life in the original test, all three MacBook Pro models "performed well." The 13-inch model without a Touch Bar had an average battery life of 18.75 hours, the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar lasted for 15.25 hours on average, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar had an average battery life of 17.25 hours.Now that we've factored in the new battery-life measurements, the laptops' overall scores have risen, and all three machines now fall well within the recommended range in Consumer Reports ratings.Consumer Reports originally denied the 2016 MacBook Pro a purchase recommendation in late December due to extreme battery life variance that didn't match up with Apple's 10 hour battery life claim. Apple worked with Consumer Reports to figure out why the magazine encountered battery life issues, which led to the discovery of an obscure Safari caching bug. Consumer Reports used a developer setting to turn off Safari caching, triggering an "obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons" that drained excessive battery. The bug, fixed by Apple in macOS Sierra 10.12.3 beta 3, is not one the average user will encounter as most people don't turn off the Safari caching option, but it's something done in all Consumer Reports tests to ensure uniform testing conditions. A fix for the issue will be

Consumer Reports Retesting MacBook Pro Battery Life After Apple Says Safari Bug to Blame

Last month, the new MacBook Pro did not receive a purchase recommendation from Consumer Reports due to battery life issues that it encountered during testing. Apple subsequently said it was working with Consumer Reports to understand the results, which it noted do not match its "extensive lab tests or field data." Apple has since learned that Consumer Reports was using a "hidden Safari setting" which trigged an "obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons" that led to inconsistent battery life results. With "normal user settings" enabled, Consumer Reports said it "consistently" achieved expected battery life. Apple's full statement was shared with MacRumors:"We appreciate the opportunity to work with Consumer Reports over the holidays to understand their battery test results," Apple told MacRumors. "We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life. We have also fixed the bug uncovered in this test. This is the best pro notebook we’ve ever made, we respect Consumer Reports and we’re glad they decided to revisit their findings on the MacBook Pro."Apple said it

MacBooks Top Consumer Reports Survey in Reliability and Customer Satisfaction

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows that MacBooks continue to lead all notebooks in reliability and customer satisfaction, based on 58,000 subscribers who purchased laptops between 2010 and 2015. ZDNet reports that almost 20% of the respondents experienced a breakdown in the first three years of using a notebook, but MacBooks had notably lower failure rates compared to various Windows-based notebooks from Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and other OEMs. MacBook Air had just a 7% estimated failure rate, while the MacBook Pro was slightly higher at 9%.Apple, as in year's past, has the most reliable notebooks by far - a 10 percent breakdown rate in the first 3 years - with Samsung and Gateway distant seconds at 16 percent, and the rest of the industry - including Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, Dell and Asus, at 18-19 percent. Windows machines used more than 20 hours a week - average for Windows systems - have a higher break rate. Apple users report using their machines an average of 23 hours a week, 15 percent more. More hours, fewer breakdowns, what's not to like?The most reliable Windows-based notebooks in the survey were Gateway's NV (13% failure rate) and LT (14%); the Samsung ATIV Book (14%); Lenovo ThinkPads (15%); and the Dell XPS line (15%). HP's premium ENVY line was near the bottom, with a 20% failure rate, while Lenovo's Y Series had the highest failure rate at 23%. When MacBooks do break, however, the survey found they are often more expensive to fix, which is why purchasing AppleCare is recommended. Apple provides 90 days of complimentary phone and online chat

Apple Continues to Provide Top-Rated Tech Support on Strength of Genius Bar

Apple had the highest overall customer satisfaction for tech support among more than 3,200 computer owners surveyed by Consumer Reports, unsurprising given the company has been top-rated for tech support since the not-for-profit organization first surveyed customers about the topic in 2007. Apple has also routinely topped multiple J.D. Power and Associates studies for customer satisfaction over the past decade. Apple earned high marks for the Genius Bar located at the back of most Apple retail stores, where customers can book an appointment to receive face-to-face technical support and troubleshooting for iPhone, iPad, Mac and several other Apple products and services. Consumer Reports praises the Genius Bar's free lifetime support as a differentiating factor over similar services, which generally require paying for help. Windows-based PC makers did not receive the same accolades for tech support among survey participants:"The help desks at Windows PC companies often didn’t live up to that name. For four of the six PC brands in the survey, tech support solved only half of the problems consumers brought to them. Even the best of them—Lenovo and Dell—came through just 61 percent of the time."Consumer Reports found that most Windows-based PC users were most satisfied by phoning tech support rather than seeking online help through web, chat or email support. Best Buy's Geek Squad and Staples' EasyTech services were found to be a step behind the Genius Bar, given that Apple serves as both the retailer and manufacturer and is subsequently more knowledgable about its own

Consumer Reports Tests Apple Watch for Readability, Water Resistance, Fitness Tracking and More

Consumer Reports has crowned the Apple Watch as its top-rated smartwatch in its test of 11 smartwatch models from eight manufacturers, including the Asus ZenWatch, LG G Watch R, Moto 360, Pebble Steel, Samsung Gear S and Sony SmartWatch 3. The not-for-profit organization tested the Apple Watch and competing devices for step count accuracy, screen readability, ease of use, scratch resistance, water resistance, heart rate tracking and more. In particular, the stainless steel Apple Watch scored the highest among the smartwatches tested because of its high readability in bright and low light, ease of use, ease of pairing with an iPhone, durable scratch resistance, IPX7 water resistance rating and accurate heart rate and step count tracking. Meanwhile, the Sony SmartWatch 3 finished at the bottom of the rankings, primarily because it failed the 24-hour water immersion