Vintage Consumer Reports - Testing Gaylord the toy dog

Consumer Reports News: May 12, 2010 05:08 AM

Back in 1963, one of our engineers walked Gaylord—the Zhu Zhu pet hamster of its day—on a wire leash connected to a machine that calculated the dog’s appetite for D-size batteries. The toy pooch, shown at right, gobbled up four Ds every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, which would have cost parents a lot more than Gaylord’s original $10 sticker price if he needed weekly feedings. (See Does my child need high-tech toys?)

Similarly, you don’t want your camera to conk out while you’re on vacation or that cute toy to run out of juice before the kiddie party is over. To cut down on battery bummers like those, we test hundreds of batteries a year to see how long they last.

Today, AA batteries are the most commonly used size. We test them by snapping digital pictures until our cameras poop out. In our tests last summer, the top-rated Energizer Ultimate took 678 pictures. By comparison, the bottom-rated CVS Long Lasting battery lasted for just 92 pics. For toys and other battery-hungry gear, rechargeable batteries like the Sanyo Eneloop can be a cheaper and greener way to go. (Learn about the best batteries for toys.)

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