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HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Small appliances at Black Friday prices all year long

Good buys from Consumer Reports' tests plus a few splurges

Last updated: November 21, 2014 09:00 AM
KitchenAid KHM926

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 $100 or much less including a hand mixer and a coffeemaker for $40 each. Of course, if you want to spend more, we also test small appliances with big price tags. Here are five good buys and five splurges that  were impressive in Consumer Reports' small appliance tests.

Hand mixers
A good buy. Cuisinart Power Advantage HM-50, $40
Cuisinart’s 5-speed hand mixer had no trouble powering through stiff cookie dough in our hand mixer tests and it was very quick at whipping. We also like the well-priced mixer’s wire beaters, which are easier to clean than the traditional center-post variety. But this mixer is louder than other hand mixer top picks.
Splurge:
KitchenAid KHM926, $100
The $100 KitchenAid costs more than many other hand mixers, but it performed very well in our tests, combining 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.

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 in our tests. 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. (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 coffeemaker 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.

Blenders
A good buy. Ninja Professional NJ600, $100
Ninja's conventional 9-cup blender whipped up superb smoothies and frozen drinks, pureed soup very well, and crushed ice into fluffy snow. It just missed our list of top blender picks but costs hundreds less so is worth a look.
Splurge. Blendtec Designer 725, $650
Part of the trend of high-end, high-priced blenders, the Blendtec Designer 725 was superb in our icy drinks tests, which means it’s a good choice for smoothie lovers. It also aced our puree and durability tests although like the Ninja it was only so-so for noise.

Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL

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 toaster oven 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 one of the higher-priced models in our toaster oven Ratings, but its top performance and sleek, sturdy design might justify the cost. It was very good at baking and broiling, and it 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. In our steam iron tests, 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.
Splurge:  Panasonic NI-W950A, $130
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.

—Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)

Holiday Planning & Shopping Guide

For more ideas and inspiration, check our Holiday Planning & Shopping Guide. You'll also find lots of suggestions for top-rated products from Consumer Reports' tests.


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