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Technology Product Rating System

The following is a quick guide to the rating system that our technology reviewers apply to products.

The Red Dots

Our reviewers give each product a score on a scale of one to five Red Dots. One dot means the reviewer generally didn't like the product for reasons such as usefulness, ease of use, design and/or manufacturing quality.

At the other end of the scale, five dots mean the reviewer liked the product and found few, if any, faults with it.

An Editor's Choice designation means the reviewer liked the product, thinks it is exceptionally cool, and highly recommends it to others.

Ease of Use

A green rating means the product is easy to set up and use, and even a novice should encounter few problems. In the case of a video game, a green rating means the control scheme and menus are clearly designed, and the game is child's play to master - you'll probably won't even need to crack open the manual to get going.

A yellow or "medium" rating means the product is generally easy to set up and use, but there are some areas that require a reasonable amount of technical expertise. For example, you may have to poke around inside the computer to install things or tinker with system and software settings to get the product up and running. In the case of a video game, you're probably going to have to spend some time with the manual and getting used to things like the control scheme in order to master it.

A red or "difficult" designation indicates that you are going to encounter some significant technical hurdles in order to set up and use the product. It means that if you're not comfortable with complex new technology, and if you're not willing to do some tinkering to get things working smoothly, then you should find an expert to install the product and show you how to use it (and if you try it yourself, don't say we didn't warn you...). In the case of a game, it means our reviewer found it very hard to master the controls and general game play, and/or that the computer opponents are extraordinarily tough and nasty.