Small appliances with big impact

High-end and low-cost winners from our tests

Consumer Reports magazine: July 2012

Although it’s important to focus on large design issues and big-ticket appliances, also pay attention to the smaller kitchen wares that you’ll use every day.

High end: Vita-Mix 5200, $450 (shown)
It makes superb frozen drinks, smoothies, and purées, and it crushes ice with ease.

For less: Ninja, $60

You get almost the same performance for about $400 less, and it’s also a bit quieter.

Blender buying guide and Ratings

High end: DeLonghi EN680, $600
This single-serve espresso machine scored an excellent for taste and makes coffee, espresso, latte, and cappuccino. But you must use capsules.

For less: Emerson CCM901, $90 (shown)
This dual espresso/coffeemaker offers fine coffee brewing, and its steam nozzle froths milk for latte and cappuccino.

Coffeemaker buying guide and Ratings

High end: Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL, $400
It’s the best chopper by far in our tests, and it also excels at slicing, shredding, and grating.

For less: Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB, $200 (shown)
It costs half as much but is impressive at most tasks, except for chopping.

Food processor and chopper buying guide and Ratings

High end: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Profection #33049, $600 (shown)
These premium knives are forged from a single piece of steel for maximum sharpness and precision.

For less: Ginsu Chikara, $75

This set is affordable yet high-performing. And like the Zwilling, it includes a santoku knife, a cross between a chef’s knife and a cleaver that’s great for chopping.

Kitchen knife buying guide and Ratings

High end: Magimix Vision Toaster, $250 (shown)
Seeing is believing with this Williams-Sonoma exclusive. Its clear walls let you watch your bread or bagel brown evenly with almost every batch.

For less: Cuisinart CPT-170, $70

Our top-scoring two-slice toaster turns out consistent, evenly browned batches. Paying $20 more gets you its four-slice brandmate.

Toaster and toaster oven buying guide and Ratings

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