Consumer Reports' product specialist were on hand at the latest Hot Housewares show in New York, hosted by the International Housewares Association. Some of the items left us scratching our heads, like the iStraw, billed as "the world's first drinking cup with an integrated straw that holds your smartphone!" But a few products could, just maybe, bring true innovation to the housewares category. Below are five with maximum gee whiz appeal. We'll see if they actually do the job when we get them into our labs for testing.
Ronco Ready Grill, $60. This has As-Seen-On-TV written all over it, but hey, some of those late-night wares actually do well in our tests. Built like a toaster, the Ready Grill is a vertically-oriented indoor electric grill with a removable basket designed to hold steaks, vegetables, chicken breasts, or other commonly grilled items. As food roasts between flanking infrared heat shields, juices drip down to the exterior drip tray. The "set it, and forget it" analog timer promises to free you up for other kitchen tasks. The Ronco Ready Grill will debut on the Home Shopping Network on June 23rd.
Brim SW30 Size-Wise Programmable Coffee Station, $60. Convenient pod coffemakers have become extremely popular, but they don't brew the most flavorful joe in our tests, in part because the pods use pre-ground coffee. Brim's new machine promises to change that, without compromising convenience, by being the "only machine on the market that enables you to brew a single cup, travel mug, or full carafe all with the same machine." Look for it at Target starting in September.
Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master, $600. Available now, the Kitchen Master is supposed to combine the function of eight appliances in one unit. Steam rice, blend smoothies, stir-fry vegetables, cook sauces, whip up sorbets, and more. It reminds us a bit of the Kenwood Cooking Chef Kitchen Machine, which ended up on our "Don't Buy: Performance Problem" list. But if the Bellini lives up to the promise, it could be a useful multi-tasker, especially in small kitchens.
iDevices iLP liquid propane monitor, Pricing not available. If you've ever run out of gas for your grill in the middle of a barbecue, you get the logic behind this gizmo. Place it under the gas tank and the Bluetooth-connected device will send detailed information to an app on your smartphone, including how much gas is left in the tank and at what rate you're burning through fuel. The product doesn't launch until early autumn, but if you're shopping for a grill now, several winning models in our gas grill Ratings feature a gauge showing how much gas is left in the tank.
Omega NC800/900 Nutrition Center, $375. As juicing grows in popularity, manufacturers are adding more and more functionality into the devices. This masticating-style extractor can supposedly turn out nut butters, baby food, almond milk, and more, in addition to the usual fruit and vegetable juices. It can also extrude pasta ands grind spices, claims the manufacturer.