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Consumer Reports

Consumer Product Ratings and Recommendations

Published 04/23/2012 and rated Ratingstars4 4 out of 5 stars
by Dorothy Distefano
What can you use the app for? offers ratings and recommendations for thousands of products from cars to kitchen appliances. Users may research items from several categories, but full ratings are only available to paid subscribers.

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What is the history and popularity of the app?

Consumer Reports was founded in 1997. It exceeded one million subscribers in 1997 and two million in 2005. Consumer Reports is a publication of the Consumers Union (CU), an independent nonprofit organization with the goal of empowering consumers. An approximate average of 2.7 million unique visitors is reported monthly.

What are the differences to other apps?

Consumer Reports tests and surveys using state-of-the-art technology and has been a staple in the product testing community since 1936. They are experts, independent, and nonprofit. Their goal is to report fair, safe information about each product or service.

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How does the web app look and feel to use?

The home page indicates the latest items tested, recalls & safety warnings, as well as links to consumer news items.

The application offers very basic information: an overview and some of the very basic costs to anyone. To see detailed information, a subscription is necessary. Users cannot even view all user reviews without a subscription.

The site rates over 5000 items in the categories of cars, appliances, electronics, home & garden, and babies & kids. Many items only provide basic buying advice, and, as noted before, ratings and recommendations are limited to subscribers.

The site offers free email newsletters for cars, health, safety, and what’s new. Many categories offer information on the main products as well as accessories – for example cars, car batteries, GPS, and tires. There are also topics within each category such as: cars blog, car prices and deals, car buying advice, and car safety.

Consumer Reports also maintains a Money category with advice on retirement, travel, family finance, and more. There are videos that outline how to use a smartphone to pay bills, cautions for purchasing prepaid phone cards, and securing a financial future. Articles in this section vary, but may include “rent-to-own” scams, avoiding extra car rental fees, savings strategies, insurance, and more.

The Price & Shop section provides lists of products, but ratings & reliability as well as recommendations are only for subscribers. Without a subscription, it would be unlikely that anyone would make a purchase through this section.

The bottom line is, though there is a lot of really great information in the articles, if users are looking for the Consumer Reports ratings and recommendations, they will have to pay to subscribe. Just enough information is given for free to whet the appetite of the potential subscriber – so if a user is not prepared to pay for the information, they should seek information elsewhere. In fact, the Consumer Reports forums are free to use, and while somewhat unwieldy, may yield enough information regarding the item in question. Of course, there are some related links for subscribers only, but users may glean some good information from the discussions.

How does the registration process work?

Users must choose a monthly, yearly or magazine subscriber yearly plan. They must then provide first and last name, street address, city, country, state, zip code, email address, user name, and password to subscribe. Payment information is asked next and users must confirm that all information is correct.

What does it cost to use the application?

Subscribers may choose one of three plans: $5.95/month; $26/year; or $19/year with proof of magazine subscription by code on mailing label. Mobile application is included with the subscription and one of the terms of agreement is automatic renewal.

Who would you recommend the application to?

This application may prove worth the cost to those people who are considering a major purchase such as a car or a computer or other expensive item. To research items such as baby strollers or leaf blowers, users might want to seek forums for advice or other free sources. Consumer Reports is definitely one of the best rating companies available, but for minor purchases, a subscription may not be justified.

  • Subscription necessary
  • Monthly and annual subscriptions available
  • Ratings and recommendations for thousands of products
  • Nonprofit agency

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