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This article was published on April 3, 2012

Consumer Reports now recommends the iPad, proving pageviews mean more to it than helping buyers

Consumer Reports now recommends the iPad, proving pageviews mean more to it than helping buyers
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Late last month a couple of sites posted up thermal readings taken of the new iPad, suggesting that it ran slightly warmer than its predecessor. This wasn’t all that surprising, given that it is also much more powerful than the previous model.

But then the product information site Consumer Reports got into the game with its post entitled ‘Our test finds new iPad hits 116 degrees while running games’. This, as it turns out, isn’t really all that warm at all. It’s about the temperature of lukewarm tea. This didn’t stop the site from using variations of the word ‘hot’ 5 separate times in the article. It was a clear effort to drum up pageviews about an incredibly minor and unsurprising detail of Apple’s new iPad.

Check out these scary images that make the new iPad look super hot

The publication said in its piece that “when it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.” This is  a huge distortion of the findings, because it is likely that it would never be uncomfortable, no matter what period of time you held it. It makes it sound as if the ‘hot’ new iPad can only be used for ‘brief’ periods before becoming uncomfortable. The term ‘especially’ is also telltale because it implies that it was sort of uncomfortable, just not ‘especially’ so, even when held for brief periods.

But today, Consumer Reports revealed its full rating list for new tablets and it recommends the new iPad wholeheartedly. It says it is the top of the heap actually. It references its own heat testing in the third paragraph:

Responding to consumer comments on the new device, and to coverage from other reviewers, we also carried out further tests that confirmed the new iPad is warmer in its hottest spots than the iPad 2. But we didn’t find those temperatures to be cause for concern….Our high overall judgment of the new iPad was not affected by the results of either battery of tests.

So Consumer Reports is effectively telling you that its previous report about the 116 degree iPad should be disregarded. Move along, nothing to see here, still the best tablet out there and it gets us more page views if it’s in the headline.

I also love that they neglect to link to that report, as it would be even more evident how much it didn’t matter in the long run.

I mentioned the core issue surrounding Consumer Reports’ handling of the issue in my last piece on this ‘iPad heat problem’. It is no longer serving as an advocate for the consumer, but instead as a publication that is making sacrifices to its integrity in the name of pageviews.

It should be doing the opposite, helping customers to realize when things are truly damaging or worth their attention. Instead, it chose to trade in sensationalism and fear mongering. This also isn’t the first time that their desire for pageviews has collided with their arbitrary and misguided ratings system, as pointed out last year by developer Marco Arment.

When a product has a real issue, as the iPhone 4 exhibited with its antenna, it blows it up to the largest proportions possible, instead of telling customers the truth: that the issue was very real, but that it wouldn’t affect the day-to-day usage of the device. Their post on the iPhone 4 antenna was preceded just days before by a glowing initial look at the device.  And when there isn’t an issue, as with the new iPad, it spins one up out of some lab tests and disingenuous wording.

By some accounts, the publication does better in regards to home appliances and the like, where the siren call of the pageview isn’t as attractive, but the current course of the publication’s online presence makes it clear that its coverage simply cannot be trusted. Consumer Reports the last place that you should check for objective reporting on problems with Apple products.