Consumer Reports Technology Blindness Confirmed

More evidence of what MoD already indicated, when it comes to technology CR is woefully out of their element. From Daring Fireball;

“Curiously, Consumer Reports’s list of “Recommended” smartphones includes all of the smartphones suffering from “holding it wrong” attenuation I’ve linked to tonight (Palm Pre, HTC Incredible, Nexus One, BlackBerry 9650) as well as three of the phones Apple posted videos about (iPhone 3GS, Droid Eris, BlackBerry 9700). I’d link directly to Consumer Reports’s web page for this list, but can’t, because it’s behind a paywall that their coverage of the iPhone 4 antenna is not. I’m sure they’ve been performing the exact same attenuation testing with all of these phones that they have with the iPhone 4, and that they have published precise technical standards regarding how much attenuation is acceptable to still qualify for a “Recommended” rating.”

So CR does not even standardize their tests. Unless the iPhone is being held to a totally different standard than the other smartphones. And if just one of those statements is true, all of the credibility that Consumer Reports has tried to build is pretty much shot.

But it gets worse. In their recap of phones for July, they break down the phones into different categories of Multimedia, Office, and Compact. Multimedia is basically the iPhone 3GS and Android phones, but here’s the other categories (from Daring Fireball again)

Best Choices for Office-Like Tasks
HTC HD2 (71)
HTC Touch Pro2 (71)
BlackBerry Storm2 9550 (70)
BlackBerry Bold 9700 (69)
BlackBerry Bold 9650 (68)

Best Compact Choices
Palm Pre Plus (68)
Palm Pre (66)

The office choices are two Windows Mobile phones (admittedly the best Windows Mobile phones which is like being the leper with the most fingers) running an OS so shitty that Microsoft itself is deep sixing it, and two BlackBerry phones whose key “office” feature appears to be a physical keyboard and the Storm which has been plagued by software issues and customer apathy (no one is buying the phone, because there’s no reason to own a Blackberry unless you want a hardware keyboard). Now the 2 BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard as a de facto corporate supplied phone standard is understandable. But ranking a Windows Mobile device ahead of the iPhone 3GS with thousands of business applications and full exchange capability is pure blindness. iPhones are used in the enterprise by millions of users at thousands of corporations. It’s almost like CR just thought that a Windows phone must be like a Windows PC, and be a corporate standard. The Storm choice is just inexplicable.

The best “Compact” choice is laughable as well. Palm’s future as a cell phone company is in complete doubt with no one clear on HP’s plans. The devices listed here have perilous upgrade futures for their OS, and their application development community is almost non existent. Finally, the Pre has had all kinds of build quality problems (the very things that CR should be tracking), but is still recommended. MoD will acknowledge that the OS is very solid, but that’s about it. And is the Pre more compact than the iPhone 3GS or the HTC Eris (we’re talking a half inch in length)?

Really the whole list and recommendations by CR on smartphones is laughable bad, and shows no real understanding of smartphone usage and capability. It’s almost like CR wanted to recommend each major US vendor (both OS or hardware) and just plugged them into seemingly logical buckets without using the phones.      CR should be embarrassed by this list, and rethink their entire recommendation process for smartphones (remember that MoD is asking for this acknowledging that the iPhone is their best evaluated phone).

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