Those magazines take ad revenue from the very products they review. Consumer Reports does not take any advertising. I used to subscribe to Home Theater Magazine until they reviewed a Cary Audio Pre/Pro Amp combo with an advertisement and endorsement from Home Theater in the same issue the product was reviewed. Cary Audio glowed about their review in Home Theater Magazine in the same issue it was reviewed in. If that's not selling ads, I don't know what is.
I agree that there's a conflict of interest with the big 3 HT mags. Reviewing products that are being advertised in that issue of the magazine should send up a red flag to any thinking person. I've seen this occur many times over the years. Even if the specific product being reviewed is not being advertised, the main advertisers are always advertising one of their products. The HT mags survive from ad revenue from the companies whose products are being reviewed.
The manufacturers give the HT mags the product they test. CR buys their own.
Our National Testing and Research Center, in Yonkers, N.Y., is the largest nonprofit educational and consumer product testing center in the world. We buy all the products we use as test samples. We receive no special treatment. We accept no free samples. If a manufacturer sends us a free product, we return it.
Of course, CR reviews are not nearly as detailed as the HT mags, but I trust their overall opinions. The people who do the testing are not journalists.
More than 100 testing experts work in seven major technical departments--appliances, auto test, baby & child, electronics, foods, health & family, and recreation & home improvement, while more than 25 research experts work in three departments--product acquisition, product information, and statistics & quality management. In addition, we have more than 150 anonymous shoppers throughout the country.
State-of-the-art testing equipment is always used and is sometimes complemented by equipment designed by our engineers. The actual tests are based not only on government and industry standards but also on standards our specialists think should apply.
Taking this thought a bit further, sometimes these "ratings" include a value variable -- something tested might compare very favorably to the top-rated item, but CR drops it down in the ratings a few notches because of the price-of-admission variable.
This is not true. The "value variable" does not affect the score. The value variable is reflected by the words "CR best buy" which is next to the product. Again, the value doesn't affect the ranking ("overall score" or "test results").
There is no "price of admission variable". Where do guys come up with this stuff?