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Microsoft Hardware Technology

Consumer Reports Refuses To Recommend Microsoft Surface Book 2 (betanews.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier in the year, the review group said that problems with reliability meant that it was impossible for it to recommend any Microsoft laptop or tablet. Now Consumer Reports says that this extends to the Surface Book 2, meaning that the device will not be recommended. Microsoft is likely to be similarly disappointed with Consumer Reports' statement about the Surface Book 2. Speaking to Benzinga, Consumer Reports' spokesperson James McQueen said: "We will evaluate the performance of the Microsoft Surface Book 2 once we get it into our labs next month for testing, but we will not be able to recommend it. Our decision to withhold our recommendation of all Microsoft laptops and tablets is still in effect."
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Consumer Reports Refuses To Recommend Microsoft Surface Book 2

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:11PM (#55405785)

    Why bring up a recommendation when you haven't tested it.

    • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:14PM (#55405805) Journal

      They didn't change anything. Their stance is "We don't recommend Microsoft Hardware" (or there about). There is no change, and they announced they haven't changed. This is a non-story about a non-story.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

        Not quite. They had specific reasons to not recommend Microsoft hardware, mainly it was reliability. Reliability is something that can change from product to product, especially when your previous product was panned.

        Continuing with that same basis without actually testing a product is just setting fire to their credibility.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gfxguy ( 98788 )

          In a lot of ways they'd already lost credibility, especially with the magazine re-design a couple of years ago that reduced actual content in favor of flashy new design. But this is actually par for course for them... and they are actually pretty upfront about it. I doubt seriously they will simply state "We don't recommend Surface Book 2 even though we didn't test it," they will say something like "The Surface Book 2 wasn't available for testing before press time, but based on reliability of previous gen

          • Yes, because people would treat a tablet-like computer in similar ways to a standard tablet. Of course it's less reliable than a regular tablet.

          • Been considering it myself... Mainly to get both a pen and good discrete video. Held off because the high-res 4K UHD version unfortunately had an issue with a lose light diffuser leading to a black line on the screen:
            https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/f... [lenovo.com]

            Also, I'm not sure how well the pen will feel when trying to use it with a 15" laptop compared to a 13".

            I don't think the lower-res HD version has that diffuser issue though, and it is quite a bit cheaper -- so I've been considering getting one of those to repla

          • I bought three Surface Pro 1s, a Surface Pro 2, two Surface Pro 3s, a Surface RT and a Surface Book.

            One Surface Pro 3 was the first computer I ever brought back to the store for replacement... it worked well enough, but I found out that I could get a model which had one of the bugs worked out of it if I went and complained, so I backed up, cleaned it, brought it to the store and they replaced it in under 10 minutes... well 15 if you count the nice friendly conversation with the sales clerk.

            I've been told th
        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          Microsoft seem to have a history of unreliable hardware, the xbox had a very high failure rate too.

          • Yes when you get your impressions from a google search of "Microsoft product unreliable" then you get that impression. In the meantime there are many people who still have working original XBoxes since you picked one product (XBox360) from that one product line and it was widely considered incredibly reliable. Likewise the xbone seems to be perfectly fine in the reliability department as well.

            The same can be said for all their hardware.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          All I can say is: Due to Questionable recommendation practices..... I can no longer recommend Consumer Reports, and especially do not recommend the next issue, even though I have not been able to see their upcoming issue yet.

      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @04:21PM (#55406221)

        The real story here is that an organization that does professional reviews is unwilling to give a product an opportunity to convince them their preconceived notions regarding it are wrong.

        An honest reviewer must always be willing to dismiss their preconceived notions regarding a product should the real thing either exceed or fail to live up to them. They need to be able to set aside their petty tribalism, their personal preferences, and any rumors they may have heard about the product, instead judging it based purely on what it actually is.

        Pre-announcing your decision before you even have the product in your hands is a way of indicating that you're unwilling to do that. That you won't allow yourself to be convinced. That you're being intellectually dishonest with yourself. Why would anyone trust that reviewer?

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          They probably hired a "growth hacker"

        • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @07:53PM (#55407223)
          CR typically doesn't get a big enough sample size (from its subscribers during their annual survey) for a single product within a single year to generate a reliability score within a statistically significant confidence interval. Consequently, they use a multi-year sliding window average of reliability to build up sample size. This has the unfortunate effect of conflating different year models, but the operating premise is that a brand's attitudes towards quality and reliability stays more or less consistent.

          By pre-announcing that they're not going to recommend Microsoft Surface this year, they're basically saying the product's reliability in previous years was so low that even if the new model turns out to be 100% reliable in their survey, its multi-year sliding window average will still be so low that they can't recommend the product.

          You can see this in action in their auto reports. In deference to their subscriber base (who is typically clueless about statistics) they won't throw around terms like confidence interval and standard deviation. But some of the less-popular cars will have an asterisk saying they have an insufficient sample size. Even if they do have a big enough sample size, I actually prefer the sliding window method (with decreasing weighting the older the data is). It avoids the situation where with the new year, everyone's slate is wiped clean. If you have a history of making crappy products, it makes it harder for you to pull yourself out of the pit you've dug yourself into.

          Personally, I really like the specs of the Surface of Surface Books. But I won't touch them for the simple reason that they're impossible [ifixit.com] to repair [ifixit.com]. If you're gonna buy one, make sure you get a multi-year extended warranty with it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's based on their survey results. In order to jump from buggy POS to solid gold turd will take a lot of polishing from a company not noted for releasing polished or reliable products.

      https://www.consumerreports.org/laptop-computers/microsoft-surface-laptops-and-tablets-not-recommended-by-consumer-reports/

      • Microcrosoft Surface Laptops and Tablets not recommended by CR [consumerreports.org] ::

        To get at reliability, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveys our subscribers regularly. There are millions of these folks, and many of them supply us with information on hundreds of thousands of individual products, including everything from pickup trucks to washing machines.

        A number of survey respondents said they experienced problems with their devices during startup. A few commented that their machines froze or shut down un

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        It's based on past experience setting expectations for a new and as yet unproven product.
        Previous microsoft hardware products were unreliable, so any new hardware product from them needs to prove itself and proving reliability takes time.
        If their previous products had been highly reliable, then you'd have a reasonably expectation that new products would be too.

  • I have nothing against people saying they "hate" or "love" a product but it might help to have a reason? Does it cost too much, have short battery life, ect, ect? At least give a reason slashdot! :)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:22PM (#55405869)

      The reason is given in the first sentence, where it says they won't recommend due to hardware reliability problems with past Surface models. Once they receive concrete reliability data for this model, they may change their stance on recommendation if the reliability measures well. Until then it's fair to not recommend it.

      Also, I'm going to make fun of your "ect, ect" where you misspell a simple, common, three-letter abbreviation wrong not once, but twice in a row.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        ...Once they receive concrete reliability data for this model, they may change their stance on recommendation if the reliability measures well. Until then it's fair to not recommend it.

        I guess they should be doing the same with the Tesla model 3, yet they marked it as likely to be 'average' even though the model X was 'least reliable'. I'm sensing a MSFT vendetta and maybe a Elon fanboi somewhere on their editorial staff...

        Just speculating of course...

        On the other hand Elon is not reciprocating and probably feels the same way that MSFT feels about CR...

        “Consumer Reports has not yet driven a Model 3, let alone do they know anything substantial about how the Model 3 was designed and engineered. Time and time again, our own data shows that Consumer Reports’ automotive reporting is consistently inaccurate and misleading to consumers.”

        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          To be fair, a large portion of the Model X reliability issues centre around those absurdly ridiculous and completely impractical doors. The Model 3 doesn't have those, and in fact is missing most of the complicated things that drag reliability down on the other Tesla vehicles, so "average" isn't a bad guess absent real data.

          It's not enough to say "past products had X reliability, therefore future products are likely to have X reliability" it's also worth investigating what things tended to fail, and see if

  • by omibus ( 116064 )

    If it was post-review to say "we don't like this product" I could understand. But this is a pre-review "aint no way we are going to recommend this...because Microsoft".

    Suddenly I think a lot less of consumer reports.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:27PM (#55405901) Homepage Journal

      As long as they explain their reasoning, I think not recommending it at this time is a good alternative to waiting for a year's worth of repair data before publishing the review.

      • As long as they explain their reasoning, I think not recommending it at this time is a good alternative to waiting for a year's worth of repair data...

        Not when their reasoning is just "Microsoft has had problems with reliability in the past so we refuse to recommend anything from them". The reliability of a product is not known until it has had a year of repair data by which time the product will be out of date. So it is fine for them to say that "like every review, we have no way to test longer-term product reliability and MS has had problems with this in the past". It is not reasonable to say that we refuse to recommend any product from a company becau

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
          But wouldn't writing "MS has had problems with [reliability] in the past" and then recommending the Surface Book 2 send a mixed message?
          • It might be mixed but it would be both honest and completely consistent with what they already do. They know nothing about the long-term reliability of the products which they do recommend so it would be completely consistent to recommend or not based on what they can test and then make a comment on "be aware of past history of reliability from this company" (either good or bad).
    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      If your characterization of what happened was correct, I'd agree with you, but they don't hate MS. At one point they definitely has a bias for Apple, but even that has waned in recent years. They've certainly recommended MS products in the past. The simple fact of the matter is that Surface Book had a lot of problems. I wanted one based on specs, but opted not to get one because of so many accounts of hardware problems.

      This is how CR has always worked - if they don't have an evaluation model before pres

    • Here's what Consumer Reports actually said: https://www.consumerreports.or... [consumerreports.org]

      They never said they "dislike" it. But based on their annual subscriber survey data, they find that Microsoft laptops and tablets have a failure rate exceeding 25% over a two year period. This rate, they say, is significantly higher than other brands, and based on this difference, they cannot recommend Microsoft Surface products, for now.

  • Credibility (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:19PM (#55405847) Journal
    Consumer Reports has credibility and a dedication to science and the truth; if they don't recommend a product, they have damned good reasons backing that up.
    • by I75BJC ( 4590021 )
      My perception is that Consumer Reports is dedicated to #1, their own policies and #2, their own Political Positions. Their dedication to "science and the truth" changed over 20 years ago (that I am aware of). They began letting the Policies and Politics determine, at least in part, their ratings. Now, CR appears to be big into "pre-reviews". This is not the first case of CR making pronouncements on products that they haven't reviewed and at least one product that hasn't been released. Quite a change fr
    • Well... kinda (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      I distinctly remember CR giving the Honda Ridge-line the recommended buy for a pickup truck. It had the lowest hauling capacity, smallest bed, and lowest towing capacity of any of the reviewed trucks, but it had a really nice ride and got decent gas mileage.

      Well that's not what a pickup truck is for. Throw some sheetrock in the back. Fill the bed up with dirt. How well does it clean up with a hose? How do the tiedowns work? Load it up with tools and take it down a logging road. Yeah people buy trucks that d

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No numbers here but I was under the exact opposite impression - a large majority of pick-up truck owners do not actually use the trucks functionality.

        • My source: Close friend who works at a car company designing pickup trucks. He knows his audience.

          Most trucks don't handle well because they have a lot of leeway in the suspension for added weight. This makes them seem bouncy on the road. The Toyota, Nissan, Dodge, Ford and Chevy trucks all exhibited this "problem."

          It's almost like the Ridgeline was the only truck designed to be driven around town not hauling anything. I guess only Honda knows who *really* buys trucks.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well that's not what a pickup truck is for.
        --snip--
        Yeah people buy trucks that don't need them, but they are a small minority.

        Tell that to the parking lot full of assholes who need a spotless shiny Super Duty to get to work at their IT job in Northern Virginia. Most people drive pickup trucks as fashion accessories, not to get work done.

        There's a reason all the truck ads show them driving off-road and hauling things.

        To make men feel like little boys and get them to buy big toys they don't actually need o

        • Well, perhaps not on the regular. However I've seen many a spotless truck put to work from time to time.

          My great Aunt bought a truck, one of those "spotless" trucks you are referring to. The express intent and purpose was to haul stuff for gardening. Several times she's had soil dumped into the bed of the truck for making raised beds. A quick rinse and it looks spotless yet again.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        What does your work truck say about you [mrmoneymustache.com]

        Don't need to say more than that.

        • Good article to read! I had an experience in 2005 where I used my 1975 F250 Super-cab to take some young kids (like nephew & niece to me) fishing in the river flats and got stuck. This was on a low maintenance road with potholes, one of which I got stuck in. We walked back to a paved road and flagged a new looking Dodge pickup, I asked the owner to tow me out of the pothole and the jerk said he did not want to get his truck dirty (I kid you not!). Even then people bought trucks to look good. Well I f
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a Ridgeline owner, I can say that all of those "truck things" you mention are not a problem for it. It has a total passenger+cargo+towing capacity of 7000 lbs, which is quite enough for most people. For those that need more, Ford is going to sell you an F250 or F350, not an F150.

        Specifically:
        - Sheetrock lays flat in the bed of a Ridgeline. It hangs out the back. But it does that in an F150, too, and won't lay flat on the ones from 11 years ago, when the Ridgeline first hit the market.
        - The bed cleans jus

      • it had a really nice ride and got decent gas mileage.
        Well that's not what a pickup truck is for.

        In America, lots of people who don't do any real work still buy pickups. Some of them are just using them for leisure, some of them are occasionally transporting a plant or something, some of them are just buying it because their parents had a truck and they think they should have a truck. The Ridgeline exceeds most people's needs for a pickup truck.

        Throw some sheetrock in the back. Fill the bed up with dirt. How well does it clean up with a hose? How do the tiedowns work? Load it up with tools and take it down a logging road.

        You can do all that stuff. It's actually better at surviving rough roads than the competition [youtube.com].

        You shouldn't buy the Ridgeline if you plan to go rock crawling, o

      • I happen to own a 2006 Ridgeline, and I love it. Because it doesn't have wheel wells in the bed area, it hauls plywood and sheetrock far better than an F-150. It hoses down just fine.

        No, it doesn't have a big bed, but this is fine for your typical pickup owner. These days, most pickup owners live in cities.

        Sure, it competes more directly with SUVs than with full-size trucks. But that works for me!

  • I don't think much of CR recommendations.
    • In 1998 or so they recommended the Mercedes 320 ML SUV. IIRC they said it was one of the best things they ever tested. I bought one partially based on the recommendation.

      The next year they said Mecerdez-Benz products were so shoddy they advised people not to buy them. And they were right the second time, my car was a POS. I'm pretty sure it was really a beta test version for working the bugs out.
      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Much like Tesla fanboys you're mixing reliability and the functionality of a product. They can test one, they'd need a crystal ball to predict the other.
        • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:42PM (#55406001) Homepage

          Not really. If Toyota releases a mid-range commuter car you can assume it will be reliable due to the company's history and that the vehicle is based on established technology. Likewise, if Ford releases a fuel-cell sports car, you can assume it will be less reliable.

          Microsoft has a history of making shoddy hardware, and the fact that they've upgraded the latest model doesn't mean they get to start with a completely clean slate.

          • Microsoft has a history of mixed bags. Part fantastic, part absolute turds. Any generalisation of a company like that doesn't make much sense, unlike your Toyota and Ford example who's products have been very consistent over many years.

            Mind you as of late I wouldn't touch a German car with a 10 foot pole for all their reliability problems either. So things can and often do eventually change.

  • by tempo36 ( 2382592 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:49PM (#55406033)

    First they make a statement that they think the Tesla Model 3 will have average reliability despite noting they haven't looked at it or had enough discussion with anyone who has looked at it to make any kind of statement...and now they preemptively have a recommendation (or lack thereof) about the Surface 2 despite not having received it yet?

    If they can make statements about products without actually laying hands on them, that's some impressive skills. But where's the actual "Reporting" come in if they're going to make statements about unreviewed products?

    • https://www.consumerreports.or... [consumerreports.org] They're basically crowdsourcing reviews by surveying product owners. It's tougher for Microsoft to pay for good reviews or Microsoft's competition to pay for bad Microsoft reviews this way. On the other hand, you're left with people who actually bought the stuff. Whether you're getting Microsoft fanboys giving reviews(and it still ended up negative), or they managed to get a sample with a negative Microsoft bias that willingly bought Microsoft gear to use in hopes of being
      • Probably actual consumers of Microsoft products. There is a reason why Apple mice only have one button. Give the user a choice and they will invariably find a way to break it.

        Linux nerds try to hack it and install Linux, and it doesn't work.

        The lady in accounting finds some way to freeze up the USB bus while trying to print to an Apple II printer using 12 different adapters to get it to connect. (Same person who prints on a letter size page, then does a copy to enlarge to legal paper. Then scans it agai
        • Linux nerds try to hack it and install Linux, and it doesn't work.

          Probability is against you on that one.
          Linux nerds try to hack it and install Linux, and it does work. Shortly after an update is pushed to disable the method that allowed installation to work.
          That's what has actually happened in most circumstances.

          • By it does work, I assume yoi mean that Linux is installed and boots on whatever device was hacked.

            In this instance I'm more referring to support of whatever hardware the device has. Its one thing if you can get an iPhone to run Linux. Its another for the experience to equal or best Android on a Samsung Galaxy phone.

            In the case of a Surface device "hacking" shouldn't be required given it is a PC device. Its probably just a matter of "Zero Day" driver support for the device.
  • Like do CR actually report on products anymore or do they just ask a magic eight-ball?

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      A good...oh... quarter of the content (maybe) is still reviews. The rest is politics and health. Every issue has less useful consumer content, and more feel-good politics and stuff about health (including, I kid you not, recipes).
  • .....wgo fucking reads or gives a shit about consumer reports other than marketers?

  • i dunno, i cannot justify getting a new surface mostly because my original surface pro refuses to fkn die. which seems inverse to CR claims.
  • So, you can visit Amazon.com and read customer reviews. You can Google. Search forums, etc...

    Consumer Reports did recommend the BMW i3. I however would not. As a matter of fact, because of the reviews from CR and multiple other sources praising the vehicle raised my expectations a great deal. I decided to get the BMW i3 as it's one of the cheapest cars you can possibly buy at this point in time (consider electric + retained resell value) and it has been the worst new car I have ever owned. I've owned used T

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