Skip to comments.Consumer Reports Deck Stacking — or Incompetence — Exposed
Posted on 01/11/2017 9:47:26 AM PST by Swordmaker
Macs tend to fare second best in Consumer Reports testing, partly because the magazine lives in ignorance of the differences between Apples computers and Windows boxes. But theyve always been recommended, until recently. I can quibble about the way the tests appear to emphasize features over performance, usability and reliability. In fact, I have.
But it took a poor rating by CR to trigger a dialogue that revealed a serious flaw in their testing. The tests also triggered an obscure bug in Safari for macOS Sierra that might otherwise have remained undiscovered and unfixed.
It all started when CR reported wildly divergent battery life results, ranging from 3.75 hours up to 19 hours over three tests for each product. The latter is way more than Apples estimates, which range up to 10 hours.
Now all three MacBook Pro models exhibited similar behavior. A clue that something might be amiss was the fact that CR uses the default browser, in this case Safari. When the tests were rerun in Google Chrome, battery life was within acceptable limits.
Now Apple usually ignores test results from the media, but not CR, which has a circulation of millions of consumers and is highly influential when readers make buying decisions. A bad rating can kill or seriously hurt sales of some products. It can also accomplish good things, such as when an auto manufacturer has to go back and modify a faulty suspension system that might cause a rollover during a rapid maneuver to avoid an accident.
This time, Apple was in the hot seat. Even though a number of owners of the new MacBook Pros have reported an assortment of battery issues, CRs results were unique. The inconsistency didnt make sense, and thus marketing VP Philip Schiller posted a tweet the new normal for getting the word out nowadays saying that the results didnt jibe with Apples own field tests. Apple was working with CR to figure out just what was going on.
Now CRs tests are intended to be consistent from notebook to notebook. It involves downloading 10 sites from the companys in-house server until the battery is spent. So just what was going on here, and was the test deliberately designed to leave Safari and Macs second best?
Well, thats debatable, but to achieve consistent results, CR turns off caching on a browser. With caching on, the theory goes that the sites would be retrieved from the local cache, which presents an anomalous situation since different computers and operating systems might do it differently. On the other hand, it would also be using the computer normally, not in an artificial way. CRs excuse, by the way, is that the test sequence puts greater stress on the battery: This allows us to collect consistent results across the testing of many laptops, and it also puts batteries through a tougher workout.
But how can such a test possibly produce results that in any way reflect what a typical user would encounter? After all, normal users might check a site several times a day, rather than constantly bring up new uncached sites. While all notebooks are being evaluated the same way, its a curious choice. Unfortunately, CR would have to go back and retest hundreds of computers to switch the testing scheme.
On Safari, caching is switched off via a seldom-used menu bar command, Develop, which is available in the apps preferences under the Advanced category. Clearly this is not a feature most users will ever use or even know about. I use it to access the Show Page Source command from the context menu when Im examining a sites coding.
Now I suppose using a non-standard test scheme of this sort shouldnt have had a disastrous effect, but it did. It seemed that the action triggered an obscure and inconsistent bug in Safari. With caching turned off, logos would reload, thus unnecessarily taxing the battery. Its a bug that Apple discovered and fixed in the latest beta for macOS Sierra 10.12.3. You can download it if youre a public beta tester or developer, and it will be made available for general distribution in a few weeks.
In the meantime, CR has accepted Apples findings: According to Apple, this last part of our testing is what triggered a bug in the companys Safari browser. Indeed, when we turned the caching function back on as part of the research we did after publishing our initial findings, the three MacBooks wed originally tested had consistently high battery life results.
It would have been nice if they said that before the review appeared, because that clearly indicated there was some sort of software issue that might be unnecessarily impacting the tests in a way that customers wouldnt encounter. In other words, its an admission the test was unfair, and that the results didnt in any way reflect a normal use case. After all, CR is testing a notebooks battery life, not the capabilities of the default browser to render pages without caching.
In any case, CR is retesting the MacBook Pros with the revised macOS, and it shouldnt take more than a few days to deliver the results. Assuming battery life is normal, the rating will be changed accordingly, and the new notebooks will be added to the recommended list.
Of course, CR should have realized something was amiss as soon as the battery life normalized with caching on. They could have reached out to Apple before the results were published for clarification. As it was, CR got a boatload of publicity for its decision not to recommend the MacBook Pros. Of course, that result will soon be changed if all goes well.
Will CR learn a lesson from this debacle? Probably not. After all, few companies would dare protest a bad rating. Indeed most companies who build products that dont past muster probably deserve it.
None the less, it was a problem that Apple had to fix and CR wasn’t the only person reporting issue.
Did Apple pull a VW with this new Safari version?
We may see.
Have you ever,ever,ever posted anything on FR connected to elections,courts,societal trends?
No,I didn't think so.
That's the sort of slimy biased language I expect from the lying leftists in Big Media.
So, according to the story, CR made two mistakes:
1)They used the default browser supplied by Apple
2) They found a bug in Apple’s software.
Apple’s apologist goes a bit over the top with this defense.
Glad to see you posting. Hope this finds you felling better than the other night.
No, Okie, CR was the only one reporting the issue. Very few users surf the internet with the Developer's menu turned on, which is what is necessary to even turn OFF Safari Caching. It was only reported after CR found it because they were doing something no-one ever does. It is NOT a standard user mode, ever. It is a DEVELOPER mode for those who DEVELOP Websites so they can test them optimized for various browsers. Most people who do that are not going to be doing that on battery mode and would never notice it.
Quit trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. I bet you haven't a clue how to enable the developer menu, do you?
I DO have it turned on because I have a specific purpose for it.
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What is that? The fortieth time you personally have asked your insulting, snarky question? It has to be close to that.
For AT LEAST THE FORTIETH TIME, yes, I have posted many articles associated with conservatism, societal trends, particularly courts, and the election. Give it a rest, forty is enough times to keep asking that question, unless you are too stupid to understand the first first forty times I answered you, ASSHAT! Now if you want to continue to prove that YOU are too stupid to grasp that same answer, keep asking and keep proving you are that stupid.
You misquoted the actual facts, deliberately, I think.
CR also deliberately TURNED OFF SEVERAL SPECIFIC OPERATING SYSTEM FUNCTIONS which then crippled the OS's ability to function correctly because they DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW UNIX and Apple's macOS SYSTEMS WORK! For the simple reason THEY DO NOT WORK THE SAME AS WINDOWS PCs.
CR made an ignorant, erroneous assumption that bit them in the ass.
For those who don’t know...Intel’s power management is very complex and has evolved over the years.
It is now much simpler to code for but its probably some legacy software that wasn’t quite right with the latest hardware.
Now objectively, Apple did goof on the latest Macbook Pro.
I was all set to buy one and when I saw the result, I picked up a new 2015 instead.
“here on what is primarily a *political* website”
The fact that YOU have to say “primarily” means you know that this website is not ONLY for politics, and people are allowed to post on a whole variety of topics.
If you don’t like a topic, DON’T CLICK THE LINK. Problem solved, if you are not an attention whore.
“It can also accomplish good things, such as when an auto manufacturer has to go back and modify a faulty suspension system that might cause a rollover during a rapid maneuver to avoid an accident.”
As an aside, not exactly a ‘settled’ notion:
They used the same test standards for everyone. I’ll agree that CR was wrong if Apple puts a sticker on each box saying that they are entitled to the special ed modified test instead of the standard test given to the rest of the class.
I’m quite sure that Apple could design a test they could pass. Or they could change out the default browser. Or better yet, they could modify Puppy Linux to run on their hardware and use it instead of the Apple OS, and probably double battery life.
I gave up on CR when they gave Obama and interview and supported obamacare
That’s just nonsense. There have been numerous reports of battery problems. If I remember correctly Apple sent out a patch to not show remaining time left some time back.
I know you feel obligated to promote Apple’s position but some realism is required to remain believable.
That's the Swordy I know; welcome back, glad you're feeling better, FRiend!
Yes, they tend to be watermelons - Green on the outside, Red inside. So it’s a bit of a surprise they actually went after the computer of the liberal elites.
The 2016 MacBook Pro works as advertised for 99.9% of all users of the device, unless someone deliberately turns OFF several Operating System functions.
Perhaps Apple should not have permitted that option, but exactly how is that a "goof" that effects only a tiny fraction of 2016 MacBook Pro users who do it deliberately, intending to cripple the computer from working as intended?
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