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Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports February 2021

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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.

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Consumer Reports, Inc.
Frequency:
Monthly
SUBSCRIBE
$24
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
our privacy, our rights

AS OUR LIVES have migrated more and more online since the onset of COVID19, we have had to further wrestle with the concept of privacy and how it a€ects us every day. That means more than just the occasional worry that your child’s teacher or an o.ce colleague will catch a glimpse of the breakfast dishes on the countertop behind you when you appear on camera. The bigger worry for all of us is learning that the online platforms we now use for work, school, and social gettogethers might not be keeping our communications or our data private. It’s far past time for privacy to be an ironclad right and not simply an optional setting on our devices. As Zoom ballooned from 10.million daily meeting participants in the months before the pandemic…

3 min.
building a better world, together

Curbing Debt Harassment WHAT’S AT STAKE Debt collectors routinely contact consumers by phone, of course. But a new rule put in place by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this past October will—starting in November 2021—explicitly let them do so by email, text message, and even social media messaging. It also lets collectors make up to seven calls to each person every week—more if they have multiple debts—and send unlimited electronic collection messages. These changes are being made in the midst of a historic economic crisis. What’s more, this new rule doesn’t require debt collectors to verify that the money in question is still owed—even though they are notorious for trying to collect debts that were already paid or weren’t owed in the first place. HOW CR HAS YOUR BACK CR has been working to protect…

6 min.
your feedback

THE PRACTICE OF across-theboard adjustments to medical test results based on race is outrageous. Dr. Roberts correctly dismisses “the idea that Black people as a race are distinguishable biologically—just because of their race—from other human beings.” It seems that these principles are not taught in medical schools. Yes, skin color is a genetic trait, as are “differences in measures of organ function,” resistance to malaria, and undoubtedly others. Dark skin, resistance to malaria, and high retention of salt are more common in people of African descent, but they’re not caused by the same gene. You can’t take an individual with a particular shade of skin and predict resistance to malaria, the need to adjust a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) blood test score, or anything else. Medicine needs to be a…

3 min.
what we’re testing in our labs …

For the latest ratings of these and other product categories, readers with a Digital or All Access membership can go to CR.org. Stackable Cookware Sets WE TESTED: 5 sets WE TEST FOR: How evenly the frying pan heats, how quickly water heats up in the largest pot of the set, cleaning ease, handle sturdiness under stress, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 76 Range: 70-81 Best Overall Performance Anolon SmartStack (nonstick 10-piece) $400 81 OVERALL SCORE Includes a Dutch Oven T-Fal 10-piece Stackables Titanium (nonstick) $100 73 OVERALL SCORE Sturdy Stainless Steel Set Calphalon Premier Space Saving (8-piece) $400 00 OVERALL SCORE Antivirus Software WE TESTED: 34 products WE TEST FOR: How well software protects against live attacks, ease of use including installation, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: WINDOWS Median: 75 Range: 41-82 MACS Median: 66 Range: 25-71 Best Security for Windows Eset Internet Security-2020 $70 82 OVERALL SCORE Excellent Windows Protection, Free Avira Free Security Suite $0 81 OVERALL SCORE Best Free Anti-Malware for…

3 min.
i’m not driving my car much this winter. how do i keep my battery from dying?

Car batteries need regular use to stay charged, so if you’re not driving your car for an extended period of time—even just a week or two, in some cases—the battery may drain enough to keep it from starting. And a drained battery can void some battery warranties. To avoid the headache of a dead battery altogether, consider buying a “trickle” or “maintainer” charger: These are plug-in devices with clamps that attach to a car’s battery terminals to keep it charged while parked. Basic trickle chargers are inexpensive (usually less than $50) and slowly replenish the car battery, but they need to be monitored and manually disconnected when the battery is fully charged. A maintainer charger is probably a better bet: It aims to preserve the car battery’s charge level, turning on…

2 min.
space heater solutions for chilly rooms

$ Comfort Zone CZ499R $55 OVERALL SCORE 83 ROOM HEATING SPOT HEATING FIRE SAFETY FIFTY-FOUR PERCENT OF people didn’t have a home office before the pandemic, according to a recent survey of more than 2,000 consumers conducted by YouGov, in partnership with USA Today and LinkedIn. Since then, many remote workers have carved out new office spaces at home, perhaps in a far-flung nook or previously unused space. But as winter sets in, you may realize that you’ve picked a drafty—or downright cold—work spot. Want to know whether a space heater can help? In our tests, we’ve found many stand-alone heaters that work well and kick off a good amount of heat—if you choose wisely. First, decide whether you want the space heater to heat just you or warm up the whole room. Our tests find…