Consumer Reports Gives Apple Top Scores, But Can We Trust Their Results?

Consumer Reports awarded the unibody MacBook, MacBook Air, and plastic MacBook the gold, silver, and bronze among 13-inch laptops. But we can't accept CR as gospel without a little examination.

We aren't saying the unibody MacBook isn't a reasonable choice for top laptop. And Consumer Reports' reputation as the toughest in the business (they refuse to even run ads or accept free review units, for fear of coloring their reviews) is earned. But their history with tech products hasn't been all that hot (like when their top five list of phones included four running Windows Mobile), and this list is has some serious problems.

Laptop Magazine finds several flaws with Consumer Reports' findings, the most important of which is a total lack of transparency: How in the world did they arrive at these ratings? For example, the MacBook Air shows a performance rating of "Good," but what does that mean? The Air isn't exactly an impressively powerful laptop, and certainly its battery life leaves much to be desired, so how did it earn this rating? No benchmark standards were enumerated, and no explanation for the scores was given. Besides, CR also only tested, in the 13-inch category, six laptops, a full half of which were made by Apple.

Tech reviews certainly have an element of subjectivity, but Consumer Reports' status as the gold standard will fade quickly if they fail to explain their ratings with the detail their massive influence requires.

We at Giz recommend this fantastic site (with exceptionally attractive writers) for more detailed product reviews. [Laptop Mag]