As anyone who took the ACT or SAT tests remembers, shortly after you get your scores, your mailbox is flooded with brochures, pamphlets, and catalogs from schools that want your tuition money. This isn’t a coincidence, as The College Board and ACT, Inc. — the companies behind these tests — sells test-takers’ information to colleges. But a new lawsuit alleges that this practice is a breach of contract as it’s done without the test-takers’ consent. [More]
Toilet paper: almost everyone uses it, but do you put much thought into which brands you buy? Do you have a brand preference, or just pick up the biggest and cheapest package available at Walmart or Costco? Our colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports put on their 2-ply lab coats and got to work stirring, pulling, and caressing various brands of toilet paper to find out which brands really are the best. [More]
It’s the problem that has vexed cat and dog owners for centuries: How the hell do I get all this damn fur off everything. There have been countless inventions that promise to lift animal hair off your furniture and carpet, but do they work? [More]
The twistable, change-your-life-forever Smart Mop that’s sold via infomercial looks sort of handy, but does it work? Wired tested one out, and says no, it does not work. In fact, it leaves behind liquid instead of sopping it up, falls apart frequently, and scrapes across the floor if you don’t hold it just right. Wired wraps up the review with this very non-infomercial suggestion: “If you’re sick of taking paper towel to floor every time Junior dumps his milk, well, tough, that’s part of being a parent.” [More]
It’s a big deal when Consumer Reports awards a “Don’t Buy” rating to a vehicle, and when it announced earlier today that the 2010 Lexus GX 460 should be avoided because of safety risks, the story started popping up all over the web. Now only 12 hours later, Lexus has announced that it is asking dealers to temporarily stop selling the vehicle while it looks into the situation, and that it’s taking the Consumer Reports claim “very seriously.” [More]
A judge just invalidated the patents on two human genes whose mutations have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The genes were isolated by a biotech firm called Myriad Genetics, which argued that because it figured out how to isolate the genes outside of the human body then they were patentable. The judge called that “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies.” The company sells a $3,000 cancer screening kit and has maintained a monopoly on the test because of the patents. [More]
Last Thursday, the FCC started collecting information from consumers about the quality of their broadband service. If you’ve got a PC that can run Java, you can go to Broadband.gov and run the test now. (The FCC will collect your IP address and physical address, but not your name or email address, reports Wired.) If you’ve got an iPhone or Android smartphone, you can download an app to measure your connectivity and report it. [More]
In my household, there’s an ongoing argument about whether bagged salad can be eaten straight from the bag, or whether it should be washed first, or why did we buy this bag of salad instead of more beer. When not championing beer, I’ve always come down on the don’t-bother-washing side, but I might finally agree to change my food prep habits after this recent Consumer Reports study that says 39% of bagged salads are contaminated with bacteria. [More]
Okay, honestly this sort of stuff doesn’t really bother me, but if you’re a neat freak or just enjoy making gross-out faces when it comes to biology, remember to always wash your new clothes before you wear them. Good Morning America tested some new blouses, pants, a jacket, and underwear to see what sort of grime they could find. Here’s a tease about the results: the term “vaginal organisms” is mentioned at one point. [More]
Consumer Reports decided to test the now famous “racist” HP webcam for themselves, being product testers and all, to see if they could replicate the problem or even find a solution to it. The solution: the webcam needs foreground light to function, and the more pigment in your skin, the closer you seem to have to sit. [More]
When the CPSIA—the toy safety law that requires independent lab tests on toys—was passed, a lot of smaller toy manufacturers complained that it was really a dirty trick by the big toy companies to increase overhead for the small ones. Now comes word that the government has secretly exempted Mattel from the law’s testing requirements—even though Mattel was responsible for 6 lead-tainted toy recalls in 2007.
Consumer Reports Evaluates Cool Surge Portable Air Cooler, Made By Same Folks Who Brought You The ìAmish Heaterî
The company behind the “Amish man’s new miracle idea”—a heater—is back! Here’s Consumer Reports’ evaluation of the Cool Surge.
Why let banks have all the fun? Run the numbers on your own personal finances, suggests a certified financial planner in the Dallas Morning News, and see whether or not you’re prepared for disruptions like a layoff or sudden interest rate increase.
Jennifer Reese decided to make six common food items and then determine whether it was better to go the homemade route or to buy from the store. We briefly considered making our own crackers last month in a fit of anger over how expensive generic saltines have become, so we’re glad someone did the research for us.
Spring is coming! Consumer Reports tests scooters and motorcycles for the first time since 1981. [Consumer Reports]