Last Updated Oct 24, 2011 10:30 AM EDT
CR calls top pick Crutchfield.com "innovative" for offering free access to tech experts with specialized backgrounds and knowledge to help you with your order -- via either phone or online chat. The company was founded in 1974 and has since been inducted in the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame. Overall score: 95 (out of 100).
Tying Crutchfield.com for first place is BHPhotoVideo.com -- the only web site reviewed that got the highest rating for "selection" of products. The retailer also prides itself on a liberal money-back return policy. Overall score: 95.
For in-depth comparison shopping and buying ease, Amazon is another Consumer Reports favorite. Amazon offers one of the largest databases of user reviews for electronics products -- and cleverly organizes the feedback, says CR. For example, there are 160 reviews of the latest 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, ranked by "helpfulness" by Amazon shoppers. Overall score: 94.
The warehouse club scored poorly for "selection," but Costco.com's 90-day flexible return policy outweighed the negatives, earning it a spot on CR's list of best electronics Web sites. Overall score: 93.
If you're shopping exclusively for the lowest-price electronics, Newegg may be your best bet. While it ranked fifth out of all online stores surveyed, it received the best score in the pricing category. A $700 HP Pavilion Notebook (originally $775) and a $17 pair of Samsung earbuds (originally $70) were just two of the specials currently running on the site. Overall score: 93.
The popular Web site earned top marks for "product quality" and "buying ease." Its customer service also received a solid grade. The one category to receive a poor rating, however, was price. The store also has one of the smallest windows for returns: 14 days, compared to 30, 60 and 90 days elsewhere. Overall score: 93
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter/farnoosh
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