This means it's perfectly possible to find one four-star model that costs ten times as much as another in the same Product Survey, but there are nevertheless a few things you should bear in mind when looking at our scores:
- Our star ratings compare products within the same category. You can't expect the same results from a compact camera with three stars than from a digital SLR with the same rating. That's also why we break tests for monitors and TVs into different sizes, for example, or have two separate GPS Product Surveys, one for dedicated systems and one for built-in GPS inside cellphones.
- Time marches on and technology progresses. As a general rule of thumb, a newer product will be better than an older product at the same star-rating. When something truly revolutionary happens, though, we sometimes lower the scores from earlier tests to indicate the changed state of the market. When this happens, we'll also tell you why, and what the old score was.
So, here's our rating system from best to worst:
Five Stars—Recommended by DigitalVersus
This product is the best available in its class and something to which its competitors should aspire. It's not necessarily a perfect product, and we often have a surprisingly long list of 'Minuses' at the bottom of the page, but we feel that it's very unlikely to disappoint.
Four Stars—Very Good
Products with four stars aren't necessarily the reference amongst their peers, but they are very good nonetheless, and sometimes even beat five-star products on individual tests; often a single missing feature is what causes a product to lose a star and fall into this category.
Average products typically receive three stars, and they nearly always perform adequately. They don't excel, though, and are often less well thought-out, with a confusing interface or unrefined designed. Even if a three-star product will do the job, there are other products that will do it better.
A score this low means we've found at least one major problem with a product, either in our lab tests or using it in practice. We generally advise against buying two-star products, but our review will give a better idea of the problems that you might have in store if you do.
One Star—Avoid At All Costs
It doesn't happen very often, but we sometimes do hand out a one-star result. While products which receive two stars generally have one or two problems that are likely to put you off, a product with just one star will have several. A score this bad generally indicates a product that's completely unsuitable for the task at hand.