The magazine surveyed more than 18,700 readers to see where they had the most satisfying shopping experience.
Readers said Circuit City and Best Buy are about average when it comes to selection and below average when it comes to price. Wal-Mart was about average for price, but the nation's number-one retailer got the lowest rating for selection.
"Our readers gave Circuit City and Best Buy a lower rating for their price," says Senior Editor Jeff Blyskal. "At Wal-Mart they were unhappy about the selection; very unhappy about the selection."
Blyskal says Consumer Reports readers liked shopping on-line. Their favorite site is one you may not be familiar with, Crutchfield.com. Crutchfield got high marks for selection, product information and ease of use.
Only two Internet sites - Amazon and J&R - got the highest marks for best price and best product selection, what Consumer Reports calls "the holy grail of shopping."
When it comes to brick-and-motor stores, Consumer Reports readers were more satisfied shopping at local independent retailers than at the big chains or warehouse clubs. No walk-in store scored highly for price, selection and service.
If you're looking for best price, Consumer Reports says Costco and BJ's Wholesale stores are your best bets. Readers said Costco also has the best return policy, whether you shop in their store or online.
Online shopping can be great, but buying a sophisticated piece of technology is not like buying a book or a DVD via the Internet.
That's why Consumer Reports recommends that you visit a few retailers to see what's available, even if you ultimately wind up shopping on-line.
You want to see if that big screen is big enough for you. You want to be sure that camcorder feels right in your hands.
For More Information:
Buying Electronics: Big-box Stores vs. Online -- www.msnbc.msn.com.