Consumer Reports Online: Five Things You Need to Know and More...

December 4, 2017 | Ranald

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It’s almost the holidays and that means shopping. Or maybe your fridge just stopped working or you can’t go any longer without a car now that you have kids. We can help.

Consumer Reports online and its parent magazine Consumer Reports are two of the most important and frequently-used publications of consumer information available to Toronto Public Library customers. They provide ratings of thousands of products that have been tested by researchers and technicians. 

The magazine from which the online resource originates has a long history: it has been helping consumers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of products and assess their potential dangers and health hazards since 1936. 

The following are some of the online publication’s most important capabilities:

1.    Searching

From the homepage, you can search for a product (e.g. washing machines) by using the search box.

Information on the product page is organized under the tabs Overview, Ratings & Reliability, Recommended, and Buying Guide.

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2.    Comparing and filtering

Click on the Ratings & Reliability tab for a list of ratings of the product’s different brands and models, with ratings ranked from best to worst.

To compare up to 3 brands or models, first select the ones you want to compare by clicking on the plus sign under the rating, then click on “Compare” at the top right or bottom right of the list.

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To filter, select filters from the menus on the left side of the page. Filters include:

  • Product type
  • CR Recommends (to limit the list to recommended models)
  • Brand
  • Overall score
  • Price

Click on “Show More Filters” at the bottom for these additional filters:

  • Specs, i.e. specific features of the product
  • Ratings, i.e. ratings in a specific rating category

3.    Canadian ratings       

You can view Canadian product information by going to the bottom of the homepage and selecting “Canada Extra” under “Our Site.”

4.    Buying-guide videos

Short buying-guide videos offering quick tips highlighting the importance of certain features when searching for the best model are available under the Overview tab on product pages.  For in-depth information of this kind, click on the Buying Guide tab.

Click on “Video Index” at the bottom of the homepage under “Our Site” to browse or search all of the videos in the resource.

5.    Browsing

From the homepage, you can easily browse products:

  • by product category (e.g. cars, electronics, appliances) by first clicking on “Product Reviews” and then on a category
  • alphabetically, by clicking on “All Products A-Z”

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Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted consumer-information publications in the world. This publication empowers people to make better and informed choices about products and services.

You can always access the online version at a library computer; and, if you have a library card, you can access it in the comfort of your home at your own computer.

This information sheet (PDF) is a quick guide to accessing and using Consumer Reports online. Should you have any questions about accessing or using Consumer Reports, do not hesitate to ask staff, by telephone or in person, at any Toronto Public Library branch or to call Answerline at 416-393-7131.

Note: this post was updated in December 2017.

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