Consumer Reports – December 2007

Consumer Reports has asked me to eliminate the content of my summaries and any other references to the content of Consumer Reports. I have complied.

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  1. Lauren says:

    I bought a KitchenAid food processor in July (I got the 760 model for the extra attachments), and I have to say, I can’t imagine my kitchen without it. I use it at least 2-3 times a week for things such as making hummus, falafel, or salad dressing, shredding cheese and veggies, grinding up chicken, kneading pizza dough, etc. However, if you do get one, make sure you clean it right away–the bowls have so many nooks and crannies that once something dries, it can be difficult to clean.

  2. Diane says:

    I concur with Lauren. My KitchenAid food processor is truly a marvel. There is very little it can’t do.

  3. Kai Schaller says:

    Yes, go Mac! To be honest I used to be very anti-Mac about 3 years ago. Then I played around with my friend’s 17″ PowerBook G4 and fell in love. Shortly thereafter I purchased my own 15″ PowerBook, and will be buying a new 24″ iMac in December.

    While I’m sure you’ll follow your usual pattern of making careful buying choices, I would recommend you consider a 15″ over a 17″. The 17s are beautiful to look at, but unless you’ve got the thing sitting on a desk most of the time (or you need the extra screen-space for graphic work, etc) it can be too bulky to comfortable carry around. Just something to consider before you buy!

  4. dong says:

    I second the Mac purchase. I have and iMac at home. Used to own two powerbooks. The computers are great – I never have any problems. I can’t remember the last time I had to restart my computer because it froze or something.

  5. Justin says:

    It’s purely subjective, but I’m with Kai. I moved from a 17″ PowerBook G4 to a 15″ MacBook Pro, and was much happier. It’s a small but very critical size/weight difference. The 17 does have a higher resolution, but I’ve found the 15’s to be plenty dense for me. Plus, with Leopard’s new Spaces features, you have 2-16 virtual screens available at your fingertips. It’s great.

  6. Brett says:

    I want a Mac, too! But I don’t think I’ll be getting one for a while. This Christmas, presents and Christmas money will be dedicated to revamping my wardrobe for my future legal career. Trying on a new dress shirt just isn’t as fun as playing with a new gizmo on Christmas morning.

  7. Steve says:

    Recommend a Mac too. Same as Kai above, I used to be ambivalent to Macs just about a year ago. Never understood the appeal. Then last year when it came time to change my old 1999 Dell, I thought I’d try something new. The old PC was slow to start up, very noisy, and I was dealing with random pop-ups and taskbar “notification” popups most of the time. So that was my criteria for the new buy: should start up like a TV, as quiet as a mouse, and should allow, nay assist, me to get my work done without interrruption. I read and read, researched it to death (hey it was 2000 bucks I was putting down here), and finally decided to go for a trial Mac: a nice cute Mac Mini which cost me about 650 with our corporate discount program. Boy, am I happy with it. It’s perfect! It may not seem like much in the stats (cpu speed, whatnot), but is it a neat little device, and do I get my work done with speed: absolutely! The user interface is very “usable” and intuitive for the most part. There are minor annoyances, but less than on Windows. I think it’s a good buy (speaking of the Mac Mini). The new OS they came out with last week (Leopard) has problems that will probably be addressed in the next couple of months with automatic updates, so you might want to either buy a second-hand with the Tiger version of the OS, or wait till January to buy your new box.

  8. Steve says:

    Oh, and if you’re a techie sort, the killer feature for me, besides the noise and speed of startup, was that it runs BSD (Unix) underneath – an OS I’m _very_ comfortable with – and runs on Intel chips, as opposed to the earlier PowerPC chips which were outdated.

  9. Jillian says:

    Excellent choice on the sauv. blanc :-)
    Their pinot noir is very good too…

  10. Dan says:

    Have to disagree with your Mac purchase; however, it’s not on the grounds that Mac-Linux-Windows is better or worse.

    It’s just that Apple is VERY good at creating product lines that expire. The people I know who use Macs complain to me the most about how there’s a new one available–if only they could afford it! The new iPod makes the old one obsolete, Leopard is better than Tiger, there’s some new innovation in the latest laptop.

    The business model is to create product envy and toy-lust, and from a consumer/frugal mindset, I would recommend against becoming a part of the cycle.

    For reference: I use Linux and XP Pro.

  11. Lin says:

    That vaccum must be popular … Amazon is sold out.. LOL

  12. Pixel Kid says:

    Hey just found your site & I’m enjoying it greatly! I must add to the pro Mac comments already mentioned but would suggest if you buy a Laptop getting the Applecare coverage as well. Only because repairs to laptops are damn expensive! I have had two over the years (an iBook G3 & now a MacBook) and while I have only ever needed one repair doing amongst all of the Mac’s I’ve owned (currently on my 5th Mac in nearly 10yrs, I know tut tut I’m such a consumerist!). It is worth getting the Applecare. For a desktop I would say don’t bother.

    Just my two cents. And to Dan’s comment that Apple make very appealing products, yes they do but so does everyone. Well they try to it’s just that Apple is so good at it! But I know from experience of using Dells in work, they seem prone to power failures after about 18months, my first Mac (the G3 iBook) is still going strong and is used by a friend of mine daily.

  13. lorax says:

    Those MacBook Pros are nice, but unless you’re running heavy-duty programs or showing off the screen, they are overkill.

    Instead, you could get a vanilla MacBook. Then get an external drive for backups and a nice big screen. And put the money you save into a fund and you can get a new MacBook in a couple years.

    I have to disagree with Dan. I use Linux and XP quite a lot. Linux is great, but you have to commit to lots of time tinkering to get everything you want working. XP (especially on a laptop) has the same problems as a Mac, but without the Apple innovations.

  14. lorax says:

    BTW: There is certainly a wealth of very necessary information in every Consumer Reports issue. But I often found myself drooling over consumer items I didn’t really need. My fault really, but making these wishlists is one of the reasons I didn’t renew my subscription.

  15. Ryan says:

    I agree with the switch to Apple. Very high reliability and almost everyone loves OS X.

    You might what to consider getting a Macbook instead of the Pro. The pro is quite a bit more expensive and unless you’re editing video on the go or doing a LOT of Photoshop, you won’t utilize the extra CPU power. The 17 inch screen is going to use a bit more battery power too…

    Thanks for posting the important bits of CR. Looking to get a subscription this year.

  16. Daniel says:

    I’ve had my Macbook Pro 15″ for a week now after having to work on a Dell for a few years for school/work.

    It’s good to be back.

  17. Jared says:

    Try Ubuntu, an easy linux install. The new dell computers come with ubuntu. I was a diehard windows fan simply because I had no idea how much faster and cheaper ubuntu really is.

    Install ubuntu, its like buying a newer faster computer

  18. Andy says:

    I think its a waste of money to buy LED lights for indoor use during the winter. All that “wasted” energy that normal lights give off is actually heat. In winter, this heat helps to warm your home, and therefor lowers your gas bill. If you use the lights outside or in the summer, then LED is the better choice.

  19. Kim says:

    On Macs: we’ve been Mac users since OSX was released (we’re formerly Linux folk). Love them. The machines last! Yes, new goodies come out quickly (hardware and software) but no one’s making you upgrade your machine. And the new OS? $80. Compare that to Windows. And installing it on older machines? No problem at all. My first iBook G3, used happily by me until last year, is now happily being used by my dad, going strong.

    On LED Christmas lights: great purchase. We switched last year. Actually, the fact that they don’t emit heat is much safer — and I, for one, never saw any lowering of my heat bill in December due to my Christmas lights. I did see a lowering of my electric bill last year, though, thanks to LEDs!

    Thanks for a great post and for sharing some Cosumer Reports goodness.

  20. Dana says:

    I am a firm believer that you cannot buy knives unseen. You have to feel them. I heard amazing things about the Classic set, as you posted, but they were slippery and clumsy for my small hands. We ended up with the Grand Prix II.

  21. Jim says:

    I have a set of Wusthof Classics that I found at a kitchen outlet store. Total cost for the 7 piece set was about $150, and it has been the best investment I have made to my kitchen.

  22. MVP says:

    I personally can attest that the Washington wines CR featured are all great, and a great value. I hope you can find them in your area. Usually, it seems only the Columbia Crest is widely available, but if possible, try the Snoqualmie, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hogue and Covey Run.

    I also enjoy the Yellow Tail merlot (Australia). It’s a great, widely available, inexpensive pick for the holidays. Sold in a 1.5 liter too.

  23. Dan V says:

    I have to agree with Jared here and disagree with all of the “pro-Mac” comments.

    Apple makes an excellent product. But they really make you pay for it. I have been a Senior Systems Engineer specializing in Windows products for the past 10 years or so. For my home machines I used Windows for a long time but my interest in Linux finally won out. Now I run a Windows free home because I love Ubuntu and Red Hat.

    A few months ago I was teetering on the edge of buying a Macbook Pro for my home. But when I did a price comparison between Intel hardware running Mac OSX and Ubuntu, there was no comparison. I ended up buying an HP laptop with the exact same specs as a Macbook Pro and saved $1100. I immediately put Ubuntu on it as well as other open source software and use it as my main work machine. It works fine in a Windows, Linux or Mac environment and is still saving me big-time bucks.

    Ubuntu is so simple to install and use, I have built several computers with it for my family members. A side benefit – the support calls from my family and friends using Ubuntu have gone WAY down!

  24. Steve says:

    I agree with Kim. Whether you upgrade or not is really up to you, isn’t it? I’m a happy user of an ipod mini I received as a gift years ago, and now with my mac mini. Yes, new versions are out, but my ipod plays all the music and podcasts I need just as it ever did, and my mac is usable as is, so I have no need to upgrade. So unless you really follow the trends or have a weakness for the latest toys, upgradelust is not an issue.

    That said, I will keep in mind what Dan said, and will see if my year-old Mac Mini really becomes obsolete all too soon. From what I’ve heard, Leopard runs even faster on older hardware – that was their main focus in the release: to boost performance and remove bottlenecks.

  25. Steve says:

    Oh and I’m a Mac user today, but I don’t agree with the comments about Dell. I used a 1999 Dell tower for almost 7 years without any problems whatsoever. And I’ve done the same at work too. If it hadn’t been for my buying criteria: (near) instant bootup, zero noise, and OS usability, that resulted in a switch to Mac, I’d have been happy with a Dell too.

    Can’t comment about Ubuntu, but one thing’s for sure: with Linux, you’re pretty much on your own for any problems you have or apps you need, or at the whims and mercies of obnoxious people in the Linux forums. Linux brings to mind hours of endless trolling the forums using the search feature for your particular problem, or dealing with people to do you a giant favor by helping you out.

  26. Steve says:

    Woe be you if your networking stops working and you need to know the latest magic option to /usr/sbin/ifconfig and the correct incantation in the /etc files to set things right. Unless you’re a whiz at that sort of stuff and want to spend your time with the OS rather than your work, I don’t advise Linux as your everyday work OS.

  27. JT says:

    I invested in a Cuisanart food processor several months ago, it has quickly become an essential worker in my kitchen. A good knife set is also an essential, but avoid sets that throw in extra knives that you don’t really need. All that is necessary is a good chef’s knife, a good paring knife, and a good bread knife – plus a knife block to store it in. If you care for your knives they will last a long time.

    Another kitchen investment I recently made is to purchase a Sanyo programmable rice cooker. I eat a lot of rice and had been cooking on the stovetop, but could never get brown rice in particular to come out as well as I would like. This little rice cooker cooks it to perfection, better than restaurant quality. It also cooks porridge, oatmeal and is fully programmable…so you can dump rice in the morning, set the timer, and its ready for you when you come home so you just have to focus on the main course. Also can program porridge or oatmeal to be ready in the morning for breakfast. A huge time saver and gets used nearly daily (if not twice a day) in my kitchen.

  28. Sky says:

    About the LED Christmas lights: I think heat is the LAST thing you want them giving off if they’re on a live Christmas tree. That’s how homes burn down. And if you use a plastic tree, they would melt the needles if they really put off enough heat to make a difference in one’s heating bill.

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