Our testing team includes SC Magazine Labs staff, as well as external experts who are respected industry-wide. In our Group Tests, we look at several products around a common theme based on a predetermined set of SC Labs standards (Performance, Ease of use, Features, Documentation, Support, and Value for money). There are roughly 50 individual criteria in the general test process.

These criteria were developed by the lab in cooperation with the Center for Regional and National Security at Eastern Michigan University.

We developed the second set of standards specifically for the group under test and use the Common Criteria (ISO 1548) as a basis for the test plan. Group Test reviews focus on operational characteristics and are considered at evaluation assurance level (EAL) 1 (functionally tested) or, in some cases, EAL 2 (structurally tested) in Common Criteria-speak.

Our final conclusions and ratings are subject to the judgment and interpretation of the tester and are validated by the technology editor.

All reviews are vetted for consistency, correctness and completeness by the technology editor prior to being submitted for publication. All prices quoted are in American dollars.


Our star ratings indicate how well the product has performed against our test criteria.

  • Outstanding. An "A" on the product's report card.
  • Carries out all basic functions very well. A "B" on the product's report card.
  • Carries out all basic functions to a satisfactory level. A "C" on the product's report card.
  • Fails to complete certain basic functions. A "D" on the product's report card.
  • Seriously deficient. An "F" on the product's report card.


  • Best Buy goes to products the SC Lab rates as outstanding.
  • Recommended means the product has shone in a specific area.
  • Lab Approved is awarded to extraordinary standouts that fit into the SC Lab environment, and which will be used subsequently in our test bench for the coming year.

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