Consumer Reports is a well known source in the US and Canada for impartial and well researched product reviews and ratings. This month, they filled one of their 50+ testing labs with small, lightweight, cheap netbook computers. One of these, the ASUS Eee PC, even became the cover boy for the issue.
The magazine article is short and sweet, presenting the pros and cons of lightweight computing. It brings up good points about usability and should be helpful in deciding if a netbook will satisfy your computing needs. They conclude that netbooks are sufficient for most typical tasks with the exception of video editing and gaming. I disagree with one of these conclusions.
Despite the upfront cover honors for the ASUS, it did not walk away with the competition. It ends up as one of the three Consumer Reports Recommended units, but shows up fourth on the list of all netbooks compared. First place goes to the offical tracyevans.name netbook-of-choice, the Samsung NC-10. Click on the image to the left for a condensed version of the comparison table, or buy the magazine for all the details.
For the most part, I agree with CR’s conclusions. They gave Sammy highest marks for screen quality and for Portability, a category based on battery life and weight. No argument there. Both ASUS, Sammy and all but one tested netbook received the lowest rating of Poor for speaker fidelity, bass response and loudness. The HP Mini 1030NR’s speakers were rated as Fair. I think the ASUS speakers are slightly less awful than Sammy’s, but Poor is a good description of both.
The ASUS and the Samsung have slugged it out before on this blog. Note that Consumer Reports rated the ASUS Eee PC 1000H, not the 1000HE, which is the one I used for my comparison. Had they rated the later model it may have appeared higher on the list. Improvements in the HE version include the very comfortable “chicklet” keyboard as well as longer battery life.
Consumer Reports is an interesting publication with a unique business model. The magazine is published monthly by Consumers Union, an “expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers” based in Yonkers, New York. The organization generates more than $200 million in yearly revenue, has a staff exceding 600, and over 50 state-of-the-art testing laboratories. They accept no advertising in the magazine and purchase all products reviewed at retail.