Consumer Reports, that venerable organization known for torture testing products, ranking their results, and offering advice to consumers on how to pick the right product for them, announced on Thursday their picks for the Top Ten Electronics products for 2012. The list of their picks will appear in the December issue which is its Annual Electronics Issue.
The company said it tested over 600 products for their December issue, but “only ten standout products made the short list for performance and innovation.”
What electronics did they pick? See more below…
Consumer Reports has not always been popular with manufacturers of consumer electronics products. Many have complained that the organization relies too much on low price as the definition of value. Also, it often seems that Consumer Reports arbitrarily decides on what is important in defining product performance…rather than seeking input and thoughts from outside experts.
Still, Consumer Reports remains popular with consumers. A high rating from the service can mean a huge upswing in sales for manufacturers that meet their tough standards.
As we viewed their top-ten list something very obvious jumped out at us. As we reveal their picks…see if it hits you too. [Note: we are presenting the list in the order they appear on the Consumer Reports website containing the list. Their list does not assign a numeric ranking, but we are adding it to designate the order in which the products were presented.]
- Samsung Galaxy S III (16GB), $100 to $200 (with two-year contract).
Consumer Reports calls this phone “an iPhone 5 killer” saying it has a larger screen, better features (i.e. watch a video while you do something else on the desktop), a smart screen that doesn’t shut off when you’re viewing it, and an “ingenious” gesture- and sensor-based tools for social networking.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7-inch, 16GB), from $210 with charger.
Calling it the company’s “top of the line,” Consumer Reports says the Kindle Fire HD is “one of the best for the price.” CR says “videos look great” and you can still read on the screen even in bright light. While other tablets and readers offer more apps, CR says this one is a great choice for Amazon fans.
- Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT50, $2,500.
CR says that this 55-inch plasma TV is “one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested.” The model features deep and rich blacks, spot-on colors, an unlimited viewing angle, very good 3D performance, comes with a web browser, has built-in Wi-Fi, and comes with an extra touchpad remote.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (16GB), $500.
CR says that the Galaxy Note 10.1 has “capabilities that no other tablet” currently offers. Take that Apple! Noting its “laptop-like” ability to have multiple windows open and a stylus feature that recognizes handwriting…the model is called “an excellent performer overall.” And, it comes with a memory card slot. Suck-it Apple!
- Nikon Coolpix S800c, $350.
Noting that the S800c has many social-networking friendly features, CR says its features “opens up a whole new world for cameras.” Features include 16-megapixels, Wi-Fi enabled, runs Google’s Android operating system, and even opens up Android apps (thanks to Android).
- Samsung HT-E6730W, $800.
CR gushes over this Samsung home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) saying it “marries old-school vacuum tubes with digital amps to produce excellent sound.” Features include: 3D-capable Blu-ray player, wireless amps for surround channels, Wi-Fi, iPod dock, and Samsung Smart TV platform built-in.
- Sonos Play:3, $300 plus $50 for wireless adapter.
CR calls this product “a great, easy way to enjoy music throughout the house.” Calling its sound quality “excellent,” CR recommends you buy two to pair up in a room for sound “that rivals what we’ve heard from any home-theater system.”
- Vizio CinemaWide XVT3D580CM, $2,000.
This Vizio 58-inch LCD TV set gives cinephiles a real 21:9 aspect ratio allowing them to see movies as they were truly intended in a movie theater. However, you haven’t lost black bars forever, as CR notes that wide-format movies display fine but for many high-def content such as TV shows and even movies formatted for 16:9…you’ll have to contend with black bars. Rats!
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100, $650.
Even though this Sony camera weighs about half as much as competitors, CR says that, thanks to its large sensor and high-quality lens you will get “exceptional” photos. They also note that its logical button layout and menu structure won’t “overwhelm” you.
- Apple iPhone 5 (16GB), $200 (with two-year contract).
Apple barely made the consumer testing labs list of best products…and I’ve got to tell you, I was sensing an anti-Apple bias until I saw this item. CR didn’t withhold their praise however, saying that the iPhone 5 is “head and shoulders above previous iPhones.” Features it noted included a thinner profile, a bigger and sharper screen, 4G, and even an expanded role for Siri – the built-in voice assist. CR also noted the great built-in camera. “It’s the best phone camera we’ve seen.”
As I mentioned above, until reaching the last item – the CR listing appeared to us to have an anti-Apple bias. There is no question that Samsung products tend to dominate this list. Nonetheless, the organization has a solid roundup of products that – for the most part – are oriented for the mass market.
The December issue of Consumer Reports featuring their Annual Electronics issue is available at newsstands now. Subscribers can also find it online at www.consumererports.org.
Did Consumer Reports miss anything? Tell us your top ten electronics picks for 2012 by leaving a reply on this article below. Let’s create our own list.