Consumer Reports is my go-to resource when in the market for something more expensive than a pack of gum. I am confident that I can rely on the good people of CR for objectivity, thoroughness and figuring out all the features of an appliance that I would probably never notice, much less use.
What I can't rely on from CR is an intuitive pictorial rating system. Here is the system that CR uses:
The system goes from left to right, with the "best" roducts and features marked with the little red circle with the whitedot in the middle. On the other end of the spectrum, the black circle represents the worst. It's like a Likert scale on colorful steroids.
Why is this system so confusing to me? Let me count the ways:
- To me, red says "stop," (except if you're on a pseudo-highway in New Jersey like Route 1), "danger," and "warning Dr. Smith!" - not "go ahead and buy this puppy!"
- Similarly, to me black is "good" as in "being in the black," "black leather" and "black caviar." Black doesn't conjure up a washing machine that's going to spit soap suds all over the laundry room as soon as the warranty has expired.
- I look for symmetry in my life (my therapist says I'll overcome this as soon as he has enough money for a down payment on the lake house). Why is there a little circle in the middle of the red dot, but none in the middle of the black dot way on the other end? This makes me itch.
Because of these inconsistencies, I need to constantly refer to the "key" as I scan the CR ratings. This slows down my research and threatens to make me late preparing dinner. Which is ultimately not such a big deal as my microwave, oven and dishwasher aren't working anyway. What goes around, comes around -- even in a black or red circle, with or without a dot in the middle.