When it comes to testing products, Consumer Reports stands alone. You might know us best for our Ratings, which enable you to compare the performance of many models at a glance. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the unique testing process that helps you get the most for your money.
How we test
Products are tested by engineers and technicians with years and sometimes decades of expertise in their field. They live with the products for several weeks, putting them through a battery of objective tests using scientific measurements, along with subjective tests that replicate the user experience. We test products against existing industry or government standards and develop our own benchmarks when we encounter new technologies or issues that require further testing. All models within a category go through exactly the same tests, side by side, so they're judged on a level playing field, and test results can be compared.
Testers focus on a product's primary function (evaluating image quality for TVs and cameras, for example) and some secondary functions, too (sound quality for TVs or photos shot with a cell-phone camera). They evaluate whether features add to usability or just make an item more complicated. They check ergonomic functions (how intuitive controls are and how comfortable a keyboard is) and, where appropriate, consider battery life, speed, and other attributes.
We use a product as any consumer would. For example, we assess how long a laptop computer's battery will last when running everyday applications, such as word processing and photo editing, or how quickly a digital camera can shoot photos at a fast-moving soccer game.
Visit our electronics-testing page for details on what, when, and where we test and what we report on our findings.