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Small appliances at Black Friday prices all year long

The Best Buys from our tests plus a few splurges

Published: November 20, 2013 08:00 AM

KitchenAid KHM926, $100.

You don’t have to wait until Black Friday to get a top-rated small appliance at a good price. Some of the best performers in Consumer Reports tests cost $80 or even much less including a $30 hand mixer and a $40 coffeemaker. Of course, if you want to spend more, we also test small appliances with big price tags. Here are five CR Best Buys and five splurges that did great in our tests.

Hand mixers
CR Best Buy: Cooks 10-Speed HM820, $30
Exclusive to JC Penney, this 10-speed mixer combines excellent mixing and whipping time, outperforming much pricier models. It has a digital speed indicator, interchangeable beaters, and a separate dough hook. On the downside, its center-post beaters aren’t as easy to clean as the wire beaters found on some other models. And it doesn’t have the slow-start feature that’s helpful for containing spills and splatters.
Splurge: KitchenAid KHM926, $100
The $100 KitchenAid costs more than many other hand mixers, but it performed very well in our tests, combing very good mixing and whipping time. It also scored points for versatility, thanks to its dough hooks, whisk attachment, and liquid blender rod, which is designed to blend soups, smoothies, and more. On the downside, this mixer is noisier than other recommended models.

Blenders
CR Best Buy: Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004, $60
Superb performance and outstanding value combine to make the Ninja Master Prep Professional an extremely worthwhile blender. It features a unique top-mounted motor that you press down to operate, and it comes with smaller chopping and processing containers, in addition to the 48-ounce blending jar. In our tests, it excelled at all the main blending tasks.
Splurge: Vitamix 5200, $450
From one of the biggest names in premium blenders, the $450 Vitamix has long been our top-scoring blender. Besides acing our frozen drinks, puree, and ice crush tests, it's one of the few models that makes hot soup and blitzes whole fruits and vegetables into smooth, creamy juice. While you’re paying a premium, there are even more expensive blenders on the market, from Vitamix itself as well as other manufacturers.    

Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT.

Coffeemakers
CR Best Buy: Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT, $40
This 12-cup Mr. Coffee is among the best all-around drip coffeemakers we’ve tested. It brewed at industry-recommended guidelines of 195° F or more, maintained for five or six minutes. Setup, operation, and cleanup were fairly easy, and we found its carafe easy to use, hold, pour from, and empty. (A thermal carafe is available separately.) And among attractions for the bargain price are a water filter, special cleaning cycle, and two-hour auto-shutoff.
Splurge: Cuisinart Crystal SCC-1000 Limited Edition Perfec Temp, $200
This Cuisinart drip coffeemaker is gussied up with Swarovski elements for a jeweled look, but it was a gem in our Ratings as well. First, it's the only model that can brew a full 14 cups. And while it's expensive, it had top-notch brew performance matched by a carafe we found easy to hold and pour from. It's also programmable, with both a small-batch setting and brew-strength control.

Toaster ovens
CR Best Buy: Oster TSSTTVMNDG, $80
Oster is known for making inexpensive small appliances that often perform well, and this toaster oven is another example of that. It proved particularly adept in our tests at baking and broiling, and it's roomy enough to accommodate a 4-pound chicken. It was very good at toasting one slice, full batches and at making consistently toasted bread time after time.
Splurge: Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL, $250
This Breville toaster oven is priced higher than other models in our Ratings, but its top performance and sleek, sturdy design might justify the cost. It was very good at baking and broiling, and it's can accommodate a 4-pound chicken. It was excellent at toasting full batches and successive batches and very good at toasting just one slice.

Steam irons
CR Best Buy: Rowenta Effective Comfort DW2070, $50
The least expensive Rowenta steam iron we tested was also the best. It was excellent overall and delivered superb ironing and lots of steam. The steam surge button provides a burst of steam when trying to remove stubborn wrinkles and the vertical steam feature lets you remove wrinkles from hanging garments and drapes. The sole plate is stainless steel and the ready light indicates the iron is hot enough to use. There's a self-clean feature and auto-shutoff. This handy safety feature turns off the iron when left stationary for a short time.
Splurge:  Panasonic NI-W950A, $220
The top-rated Panasonic was excellent overall, delivers superb ironing and produces plenty of steam, which helps eliminate wrinkles. The vertical steam feature lets you direct steam to hanging items such as clothing and curtains. Other features include an alumite sole plate, ready light that indicates the iron is hot enough to use, steam surge for removing stubborn wrinkles, and self-clean. The auto-shutoff is a handy safety feature that shuts off the iron when left unused for a short time.

—Mary H.J. Farrell

   

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