Consumer Reports: BlackJack II is best smartphone


Consumer Reports has issued a roundup that places Samsung's Blackjack II at the top of its smartphone listings. Ancient mediocrities like T-Mobile's Shadow beat out HTC's more recent Windows Mobile hotstuff, not to mention the Android-powered G1. The only Blackberry in the top 5 is the Pearl Flip. Nokia can go whistle.

Matt Buchanan delivers a whipping at Gizmodo:

Ignoring for the moment that four out of the five are Windows Mobile phones, they didn't even pick new, actually good hardware. Not one of the phones, except for the Pearl Flip–which is actually the least capable phone in RIM's new batch of devices–is even from this year. Its top phone, the BlackJack II, doesn't even have Wi-Fi or a touchscreen, and is loaded with Samsung's BS proprietary ports, rather than industry standard ones.

Matt quotes a post of mine from a couple of weeks ago criticising some dismal gadget coverage at CR, but he sharpens the point and drives it home: "Consumer Reports shouldn't review cellphones."

It's not that CR is making mainstream-oriented choices at the expense of the geeky toys that gadget bloggers might love: it is out of touch. I suspected that it thinks that the feature list is the soul of a cellphone–an approach which will be less helpful to readers the more software provision and interface design become central to the experience–but man, this top list is simply baffling ... the T-Mobile Shadow?

The Motorola Q?

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

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  1. CR is famous for having decided Pizza Hut was the most nutritious fast food by the following criteria, back in the seventies.

    Get Rats.
    Feed Rats Fast Food.
    Group of Rats that have gained most weight, have gotten most nutrition from food.

    So they probably played Hockey with these cell phones using them as Pucks, and the one that the telephone company enjoyed selling them the most, is the Top Rated Phone.

  2. They do mention the iPhone 3G:

    Best choices for multimedia use:

    “The AT&T Apple iPhone (8GB) has a superb 3.5-inch multi-touch screen, virtual keyboard and the best MP3 player we’ve seen in a phone. Google’s HTC G1, offered by T-Mobile, has a large 3.2-inch touch sc…”

  3. Are the best features of a cellphone really random kewlnesses-of-the-month? Touchscreen?

    At least wifi is about connectivity.

  4. Perhaps CR doesn’t get money or freebees in order to hype certain companies products, like some other tech blogs I know do.

  5. CR never has been great at reviewing gadgets. I remember Zillion (thir kids edition, back in the day) reviewed the big 4 portable game systems at the time: the Gameboy, the Lynx, the Game Gear, and the TurboExpress. they focused entirely on battery life, screen size, comfort, etc.

    The only mention of games was how many each had out at that point. No mention of what games, or even what sort of games. Someone reading that article would have no idea that you could only get Tetris on the Gameboy, or Sonic on the Gamegear, etc.

    CR is great at other things – things that 40-year-olds buy – but anything for anyone under that should be viewed skeptically.

  6. I’m a 40 year old guy (and my TurboExpress kicked your gamegears butt).

    Consumer Reports has a different focus than a gadget blogs. Gadget blogs rave over something *because* it is brand new. Consumer Reports passes over something because it is brand new and has no reliability or any other kind of track record. I didn’t read the Consumer Reports article (and it doesn’t sound much like Matt Buchanon did either), but not including more recent phones may well have been because they *are* too recent.

    Reading the Gizmodo article made me want to vomit. For such a junky rag written by often brain-dead idiots, they sure can climb on a high horse. (please pardon me if my annoyance with Gizmodo is showing)

    Your article, Rob, was more of a ‘WTF?’ than a ‘holier than thou’, and didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  7. Eh, for the money the Blackjack II is not a bad choice. Strictly based on a lot of reading it’s what I wound up recommending for my non-techy ex who just wanted a good phone for texting, some picture taking, and not much else (y’know the way most non-nerds use phones) and she didn’t want to have to deal with something high dollar or data plans she wasn’t going to use, which ruled out the iPhone. Blackjack II seemed to be the least bulky of the bunch and reviews were solid. The phone seems to be a very “safe” choice which is why I went with it. No crazy stability problems, not bulky, not loaded with stuff she won’t use. My main concern with it was lack of wifi, which she doesn’t seem to care about. She likes it, it works, the pics she sends look good, she can text with a qwerty keyboard and she was able to stay with AT&T since she didn’t want to change carriers. It’s not a phone you fall in love with, but it’s a phone that works without any major hassles.

    Compare that to my experiences, where I’ve bought the 2 “best” phones Sprint had at the time I purchased (the Q and the Mogul) and have been miserable with both, especially the Q. If I didn’t have the SERO plan I would have switched just for a better choice of phones by now.

  8. I still like my shadow! of course I’ve modded the heck out of it…

    but ok…. I do realize the Shadow is not this year’s smartphone anymore and I’m sure there are much better ones out there. And I never felt like it was the “be all end all” of smart phones. It’s biggest drawback is windows mobile. Anyway.

    I am glad to see that consumer reports didn’t just pull an all out “The iphone is the only smartphone there is” attitude that seems to be everywhere.

    All that being said, I would have expected the iphone and the G1 to be rated much higher. heh.

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