Consumer Reports May 2021

Ratings, recommendations, reliability reports, safety and price comparisons from the world’s largest consumer testing center. Helps consumers make better choices for everything from cars to cell phone service. The only magazine of its kind: Expert, independent, nonprofit. 100% unbiased. Consumer Reports accepts no outside advertising.

United States
Consumer Reports, Inc.
$6.65(Incl. tax)
$31.99(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
trusting what’s on tap

WATER IS AN essential part of life—so vital to our existence that one of the objectives of recent space exploration, including the Perseverance rover on Mars, is to identify how life may have flourished when water was present. We have tested bottled water over the years and alerted you to toxic chemicals we found, and now we are taking a closer look at the tap water in our homes and in other places where we congregate. To better understand the current state of the health and safety of our nation’s water, CR teamed up with the Guardian US news organization and with consumers to test drinking water across the U.S. The testing happens not just in CR labs but also in the communities where consumers live, including, in this case, 120…

3 min
building a better world, together

Making Baby Food Safer WHAT’S AT STAKE A U.S. House of Representatives report released in February confirmed what CR investigations have found: that many popular baby foods contain alarmingly large amounts of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Young children are especially vulnerable to the toxicity of heavy metals, says James Dickerson, PhD, chief scientific officer at CR. The substances “have a disproportionately adverse effect on developing minds and bodies.” Effects can include lower IQ and an increased risk of certain cancers. The House report also found that not enough is being done by baby food companies and the government to minimize heavy metal exposure and that parts of the manufacturing processes may be contributing to the problem. HOW CR HAS YOUR BACK The House report was conducted in response to testing by CR and…

6 min
your feedback

CONCERNING THE RATINGS on mattresses: I seem to recall that some years ago you rated the Original Mattress Company a top pick. Yet in the current magazine, there is no mention of this company. Why? —John Wagner, St. Cloud, FL EDITOR’S NOTE In our current ratings, we have tested two models from the Original Mattress Factory: the Orthopedic Luxury Firm innerspring model, with an Overall Score of 70, and the Factory Serenity Latex foam model, with a score of 67. While both of those are Very Good scores, our ratings in the March issue included only the innerspring and foam models with an Overall Score of 73 or higher. HOW CAN I FIND OUT if a mattress will work on an adjustable base? —Charles Ehmke, via EDITOR’S NOTE Our mattress ratings at indicate…

3 min
what we’re testing in our labs …

French-Door Refrigerators WE TESTED: 100 models WE TEST FOR: Thermostat control, temperature uniformity, energy efficiency, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 71 Range: 37-84 Best Door-in-Door Design LG LRFDS3006S (34” wide) $3,800 83 OVERALL SCORE Narrower for a Nice Price GE GNE21FSKSS (30” wide) $1,585 75 OVERALL SCORE Most Energy-Efficient Whirlpool WRF532SMHZ (33” wide) $2,220 75 OVERALL SCORE Bike Helmets WE TESTED: 43 adult models WE TEST FOR: The ability of a helmet to absorb the impact in a crash, ventilation, fit adjustments, ease of use, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 70 Range: 37-85 Great Ventilation & Value Garneau Majestic $60 84 OVERALL SCORE Superior Fit Smith Convoy MIPS $75 79 OVERALL SCORE Bargain Buy Zefal Pro 24 $25 71 OVERALL SCORE Budget-Friendly Blenders WE TESTED: 71 full-sized models WE TEST FOR: Smoothness and thickness of icy drinks, how well a model purees raw ingredients, clarity of controls, ease of cleaning, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 68 Range: 26-87 Super for Smoothies Instant Ace $80 77…

3 min
ask our experts

I’m shopping for a new TV and keep hearing about ‘Mini LEDs.’ What are they? This year’s hot new technology is the use of “Mini LEDs”—or miniature light-emitting diodes—in an LCD TV, rather than larger standard-sized LEDs. TV manufacturers, such as LG, Samsung, and TCL, claim that using these smaller LEDs can improve an LCD screen’s brightness, contrast, and black levels (essentially, how dark the darkest parts of images are). While we’ve tested only a few sets with this technology so far, we expect to see more over the next year. Why might these Mini LEDs work better? On some high-end LCD TVs, standard-sized LEDs are arranged across the back panel and divided into a few dozen zones that can be separately illuminated or darkened—a feature called “local dimming,” says Claudio Ciacci,…

1 min
a smart buy for seltzer lovers

AMERICANS DRANK MORE than 860 million gallons of bottled seltzer, sparkling, and mineral water in 2020, up more than 90 percent from 2015.* But drinking a lot of store-bought bottles and cans adds to your monthly grocery bill—and to the world’s waste stream. Enter the soda maker: a countertop appliance that helps you create your own bubbly at home and whose manufacturers claim will lower your seltzer bills and lessen your environmental impact. And it can—especially if you buy a low-cost soda maker, such as the $85 SodaStream Fizzi model at right. Our cost comparison analysis (below) shows how much you might save by switching from store-bought cans. Do these machines churn out a good, fizzy seltzer? To find out, our testers made dozens of bottles of bubbly on four widely sold…