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November 21, 1997

The Web, for all its strange and wacky denizens, has been sorely missing one more stolid member of the online community -- Consumer Reports. Until Monday, the magazine had made its home on America Online and CompuServe. Now, however, it's launched a nicely Web-ified edition <>, featuring both current articles, access to back issues and, "coming soon," e-mail access to its editors and discussion forums for readers. In looks alone, it demolishes the bland, graphics-impoverished AOL version, most of which CR plans to replace with links to the new Web site. You do have to shell out a few bucks, however, to see most of the content (CR's Web site is ad-free, so the organization has to pay its bills somehow). A Web subscription costs $24 a year, $19 yearly to print subscribers, or you can get a month's worth of access for about $3 -- handy if you want to research just one major purchase, like a new car. And some parts of the site don't require the cover charge: CR's "Safety Alerts" and a few sample features, such as a typically clear and concise explanation of home-theater systems. It may be unstylish to pay for a Web site, but in this case hip is a good trade for helpfulness.

-- Rob Pegoraro <>

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