worth it? alternatives?

I’m thinking of subscribing to as I’ll soon be in the market for a new TV and a blu-ray player, and I really like the rankings and ratings in their magazines.

Has anyone had any experience with them? Alternatively, can anyone recommend any other good similar online sites?


I subscribed for several years but dropped it in a budget crunch. It was very helpful. The site is easy to navigate and the search feature works nicely. You’ll get your money’s worth.

But now when I’m shopping for something, I use Amazon and look at the product reviews.

I’m a subscriber, but I rarely use it. Can’t afford to buy anything. I have used it in the past to buy a washing machine. I used the site on my iPhone while in the store. That was about a year ago. It was a bit slow (Edge network), and difficult to maneuver, since they didn’t have a mobile version of the site then (not sure if they do now, either), but it did help to compare different brands. Made the process longer, but I think I made the right choice with the help of CR.

I think Consumer Reports is a valuable resource, but I am puzzled by their incessant direct mail marketing campaigns – raffle tickets and whatnot. I would think they’d have a bit classier approach, but whatever.

I subscribe, but for the products you’re interested in (TV and Blu-Ray player), you might also look at the AVS Forum. I tend to think that Consumer Reports isn’t as good for consumer electronics, but is better for appliances and cars.

Your local library probably subscribes to databases that include the Consumer Reports magazines and you can access them at home for free. Call them and ask.

Nitpick: It’s, not .com (although typing .com will get you there) since it’s nonprofit.

I’ve been a subscriber for years, and for me it’s been quite useful. But, we’ve done a lot of remodeling, so we’ve used it to help with choosing larger expenses such as appliances, flooring, cabinets, etc.

They also have a very useful forum–that’s actually how I decided on the digital camera we bought, rather than strictly going by their ratings.

It’s useful, but don’t use it for your only source of information. There are free sites out there that perform the same sort of testing on various products, and quite a few consumer opinion sites. A word of caution on the opinion sites, though: in many cases all you will see are the people who are pissed off about a product, since those who are satisfied don’t post. It skews the information.

You can sign up for one month if you’re only going to use it for a specific purchase, but it’s a recurring billing kind of thing and you have to remember to cancel it right away or they keep dinging you.

My aunt has a login (I think she’s a magazine subscriber) and she lets everyone use her login, so I go on there from time to time.

I used it to find my new vacuum, which I love. I used it to look for a fridge but I ended up just sort of choosing a brand they like.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Web site is that no one seems to review products they LIKE. A product will get 80/100 from the magazine but every user review goes on and on about how it just sucks so bad. It’s loud! It’s too heavy! It broke and I had to have it fixed!

My advice would be to stay away from the user reviews. They’ll only scare you off. Use it as sort of a nice way to compare makes and models all in one place.

ETA: Sorry I missed Chefguy’s post. He commented that free user opinion sites are skewed…and my comments basically says that reviews are skewed as well :slight_smile:

I did a decent amount of research for my brother when he bought his plasma, and I think we did very well. I would certainly have used the consumerreports site, had it been free, but of course it is not. For some reason that really ticked me off the first time I went to their website, other sites seem to make ends meet and still provide content free, but they choose not to. I’m fond of their bubble system for ratings, and I think they research well, but I could never justify paying for a review site to get a good product, when so many others do so for free.

I would never, ever, trust just one site anyways, so why pay for one part of the total fact gathering when it can all be free?

Oh, the TV was a Panasonic Viera TH-42PX80U 42-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV. 720p fit the bill because of viewing distance, screen size and price of course. He got it out the door for a little over $600 too, which at the time was a steal. Poor Circuit City.

I second the checking with your library. And do call and ask. At our library it is included in a periodical database, so just looking for Consumer Reports on their website doesn’t show it. But I can read and print articles with all the charts and ratings in pdf so it looks just like the magazine.

I subscribed mainly as a result of becoming a homeowner. When it comes to tech and electronics, you can’t beat the net… Newegg, CNET, AVS Forum and the like are the place to go when it comes to geek stuff, but when I needed a new toilet I was lost. Time to buy a washing machine? Same deal. I don’t use it but a few times a year but I’ve been happy with every purchase that has come from being a CR best buy.

Years ago, CR rated TV sets from Magnavox, Philips, Crosley, and Philco differently-only they all were made with the same chassis (at Philips Consumer Electronics, Greenville, TN.
I had trouble understanding that one-they were simply badge variations of the same product.

Well, I ended up poking around on and found this deal, which seemed to good to pass up, and the TV is well rated on amazon.

Thanks for all your input.

I trust Consumer Reports because the DON’T rely on any user advertisments and such. For instance, when they test washing machines they actually go out and buy them just like any other consumer would. Other test sites get washing machines supplied free of cost from the companies they review.

Perhaps it makes no difference, but in my mind it does. I found after one year of subscribing to the magazine, when I chose not to renew they were begging me to and giving me very cheap rates to do so

As for consumer electronics, I think CR does a good job, but a lot of those reviews are very subjective. One poster mentioned AVS Forums which is good and I use it but it can be intimidating as it’s so cluttered an the threads go on for ages. I don’t need to read a 300 page thread started seven years ago to find out most of the thread is outdated and worthless anyway.

But if you have the time AVS forums can help.

Consumer Reports does cost, again, because they don’t rely on the the products they test to be given to them nor do they accept the ads from the products. This keeps them neutral.

Although I don’t use it all that much – it seems most products that I’m interested in are out of Consumer Reports’ scope – I still have a subscription. Besides it being useful the one or two times I do use it (e.g., a vehicle purchase last year), I see it as akin to my ACLU membership: I want to support it even if I don’t actually make use of their services.

I’ve found that – in addition to Amazon, e-pinions, Newegg, etc. – Consumer Search is a very useful source.

I came in to mention, too. They research multiple ratings sources, and rank them by reliability. They’re great!

I find consumer reviews helpful, but you need to read them critically. I often find a lot of bad ratings come from people who want features that I don’t care about, or am willing to do without for the right price. Others complain about perfectly ordinary business practices. Yeah, I’d like it if cut-rate online retailers also had Nordstroms-level customer service, but they don’t – that’s why they’re cut-rate.

Remember: “quality, economy, service: pick two.”