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Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports March 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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United States
Consumer Reports, Inc.
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min.
thank you!

JUNE 1, 2019 - MAY 31, 2020 $100,000+ Joleen & Craig Dudek in honor of Jozef Dudek • Energy Foundation • Ford Foundation • Forsythia Foundation • Heising-Simons Foundation • William & Flora Hewlett Foundation • Omidyar Network • Craig Newmark Philanthropies • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation $25,000 to $99,999 Rita Allen Foundation • Woody Carter • Elliot & Eileen Entin • Anonymous (3) $10,000 to $24,999 Terri & Tom Davis • Susanne & Douglas Durst • Phyllis M. Gardner • Anki & Larry Gelb • Sheila, Dave & Sherry Gold Foundation • Richard D. Lee & Vera M. Lee Foundation, Gerald A. Sherwin, Trustee • Russell G. Noles • Dr. Cherri M. Pancake • David A. & Janet Rice • David & Marian Rocker • Sabino Strippoli • Ellen Taus • Arthur & Charlotte Zitrin…

1 min.
a trusted marketplace

FOR THE PAST 85 YEARS we have played a vital role in delivering trusted, independent, rigorously tested information to help consumers navigate the marketplace. That was essential when we started in 1936 and remains just as critical today as we emerge from a pandemic and the economic devastation caused by it. Because just as when we first hung the sign on the door, we are now seeing the perils of misinformation run rampant in society, and a lack of trust in our institutions. As the articles on genetic home-testing kits (page 34) and credit score mistakes (page 46) attest, the issues confronting consumers today are more complex and consequential than ever before. The potential for good on both fronts is enormous. There is the possibility to get a glimpse of your…

4 min.
building a better world, together

Ending Surprise Medical Bills WHAT’S AT STAKE Long before anyone ever heard of COVID-19, U.S. consumers were plagued by surprise medical bills. These are typically charges for medical care that a patient believed would be covered by insurance but turn out to have been provided by an out-of-network doctor or other provider. Almost 1 in 5 emergency room visits triggers a surprise medical bill. And they often amount to many thousands of dollars. The pandemic has only made the problem worse. Loopholes in COVID-19 relief legislation have left many consumers vulnerable to large medical bills for tests and treatments they reasonably assumed would be covered by insurance. HOW CR HAS YOUR BACK CR has been fighting surprise medical bills for much of the past decade, most recently as part of the No Surprises coalition. CR…

7 min.
your feedback

I HAVE TO SAY the Ecobee thermostat that we bought has been amazing. Apple HomeKit has worked great with it. It turns on when someone comes home or says “good morning” to Siri and turns down when nobody is at home or we tell Siri “good night.” It has started learning these things on its own, too, so if we miss something, it usually figures it out. We plan on getting one for my mother. It’s simple enough to use that she won’t be intimidated by all it can do. —Sean Carson, via Facebook I HAVE THREE ZONES in my house, and three Honeywell WiFi thermostats. They aren’t particularly “smart” in that they have no sensors in addition to temperature, and no selflearning, but they work with Google Home/Google Assistant and Honeywell’s…

1 min.
what should i look for in a laser printer for my home office?

THE BEST LASER PRINTERS deliver crisp text with great speed, making them a smart pick for a home office. Black-and-white models, such as the two above, are cost-effective when printing text and don’t waste ink the way inkjet models do. But if you need to print graphics, try a color laser like the HP above, which rates Very Good at printing charts. Also look for a model with autoduplexing, which prints on both sides of a page, and WiFi Direct, which allows printing directly from an in-range smartphone without being connected to your home WiFi. If the printer has a scanner, having OCR (optical character recognition) software included is useful for making scans editable in a word processor. *Estimated based on the current year’s average national electricity rate. Local costs may…

2 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. Energy-Efficient Refrigerators WE TESTED: 97 models WE TEST FOR: Thermostat control, temp. uniformity, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: BOTTOM-FREEZER Median: 71, Range: 40-81 TOP-FREEZER Median: 61, Range: 40-78 SIDE-BY-SIDE Median: 66, Range: 45-79 Top-Notch Bottom-Freezer LG LRDCS2603S $1,400 ($72 energy cost per year)* 81 OVERALL SCORE Low-Cost Top-Freezer Frigidaire Gallery FGTR2037TF $900 ($55 energy cost per year)* 78 OVERALL SCORE Spacious Side-by-Side Samsung RH25H5611SG, $1,700 ($77 energy cost per year)* 73 OVERALL SCORE Laser Printers WE TESTED: 77 models WE TEST FOR: Graphics quality, text quality, speed, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: B&W ALL-IN-ONE Median: 76, Range: 69-81 B&W REGULAR Median: 76, Range: 69-81 COLOR REGULAR Median: 63, Range: 54-69 Includes a Scanner Brother HL-L2395DW (black-and-white all-in-one) $180 80 OVERALL SCORE Speedy Text Printing Lexmark B2338dw (black-and-white regular) $150 80 OVERALL SCORE Color Laser Printing Deal HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw (color regular) $300 67 OVERALL SCORE Latte-Capable Coffee Makers WE TESTED: 152 models,…