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Consumer Reports reveals top gadgets of summer

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Tech to Go report features over 150 CR recommended mobile devices; Guide to beach-proofing your tech gear

Yonkers, NY — Even as handheld devices have become more versatile, the average person will likely be carrying around more than one of them this summer. The August issue of Consumer Reports includes a special “tech to go” feature, which includes more than 150 CR Recommended tablets, smart phones, e-book readers, tablets, and other mobile devices, as well as a guide to keeping those gadgets from being damaged at the beach or near water.

The beach is a popular place for fun in the sun but a potentially dangerous place for unprotected electronics. To protect gadgets from sand and water, Consumer Reports recommends using zipper or slider food bags, though also available are special bags that makers claim offer maximum protection. To determine how well they worked, CR tested Hefty Slider Bags, which costs as little as a dime, against five specialty bags that ranged in cost from $16-$29. The special bags stayed dry inside when CR gave each a brief dunking in water and also kept out sand sprinkled along their seals. But so did the Hefty bags, meaning that roughly one dime is all it costs to protect gadgets from sand and water damage.

“Bagging your gear is a chore, but we recommend it for the beach or any place where handhelds might be ruined,” said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor, Consumer Reports. “Even a special bag will probably be less expensive than say a weatherproof case, which also permanently adds weight and bulk.”

The full report is available in the August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale Thursday, July 5. The CR guide to beach-proofing tech gear is also available online at ConsumerReports.org and includes the following tips:

  • Any zipper or slider bag will probably provide passable protection.
  • Buy a few bags in different sizes to see which ones fit their devices best, and consider replacing the bags periodically, particularly if sand has scratched the surface and affected how clearly the device’s screen can be seen and its controls can be used.
  • Beachgoers should place gadgets in bags before they leave home, and try not to remove them until they’re back home and have brushed off the sand and water.
  • To take decent photos at the beach, the phone or camera will have to be unsealed and removed from the bag.
Consumer Reports notes that a smart phone is the closest thing to an all-in-one mobile device, but it still doesn’t offer all the capabilities of a standalone camera for capturing images, a tablet for Web surfing and gaming, or an e-book reader for readying type, especially when outdoors. The report lists 24 models that qualify as CR Best Buys, including the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-book reader, the Apple iPad 2 tablet, and the Nikon Coolpix S9100 digital camera.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

 
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