Amazing cheap products!

We found the best values in housewares, electronics, and more

ShopSmart: May 2012

My husband recently got into juicing, but he never makes a shopping move without asking me which brand did best in our tests. Turns out the top juicer would have set us back nearly 200 bucks—a bit steep since DIYing his own juice may turn out to be nothing more than a passing health fancy. Then we'd be stuck with a pricey dust catcher. But when I told him that the $80 Hamilton Beach did nearly as well in our tests, he went right out and bought one.

The reason I'm telling you this is to make a point: A high price tag doesn't necessarily mean something is better, and a low one isn't necessarily a sign of crappiness. Remember that when you shop.

In our story in the May issue of ShopSmart magazine, we found that there are times when cheaping out can pay you with a perfectly good product that does its job—no more, no less. But the trade-off is that in most cases, you'll get something pretty basic without the fancy frills.

But hey, if all you want from an iron, for example, is something that flattens the wrinkles, I recommend the $25 Black & Decker Steam Advantage F1060. Most irons are at least double that price.

In "Amazing Cheap Products" in our May issue, on newsstands now, you'll find 32 more examples of ridiculously low-priced items (including skin moisturizers, paper towels, kitchen gear, paint, TVs, computers, and more) that did really well in our tests.

And we've all been burned by a cheapie clunker every now and then. Our readers shared some of their biggest cheap-out mistakes (like the cheap windows that are now leaking argon gas!). If you're still smarting over something cheap that you regret buying, please write and tell me about it. My biggest lemon was a cheap haircut. I still have nightmares about growing it out.—Susan Perry, Deputy Editor

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