Multitasking appliances often do nothing well

Consumer Reports News: December 10, 2010 01:24 PM

As desperation sets in on your quest for holiday gifts, you may be tempted to buy a breakfast station that makes coffee, eggs and toast or a vacuum that can be used as an upright or canister. Two or even three functions are better than one, right? Not necessarily. In Consumer Reports tests of combination appliances, we've found that multitaskers often get poor marks on at least one task if not all.

In fact, in our lastest tests of toaster ovens, which will be online and on newsstands next month, we tested a $200 DeLonghi toaster oven that its maker claims can “do the work of multiple machines but uses minimal counter space.” The toaster oven has an integrated panini press but broiling was mediocre and baking even less impressive. Here are some other duds from our tests of dual appliances.

It's a toaster. It's an egg cooker
The odd-looking Back to Basics Egg and Muffin Toaster TEM500 ($30) comes with a cup at one end for poaching an egg or warming bacon. But it ranked last among 4-slice toasters we tested for performance, and our user reviews were replete with reports of frequent breakdowns.

It's a coffeemaker. It's an espresso machine
None of the combo coffee-espresso makers we tested—the Emerson CCM901, Krups XP1500, Mr. Coffee ECM21, and DeLonghi BCO130T—were able to beat out our top-rated single function drip coffeemakers or espresso makers, although the Emerson and Krups models came closest.
It's a juicer. It's a blender
We judged the West Bend Performance 7010 ($130) good as a juicer, with above-average convenience although it was a tad noisy. As a blender, it excelled at grating and pureeing. But don't try making your favorite frozen drink—the 7010 was only mediocre at mixing up icy concoctions.

It's an upright. It's a canister
The bagless Germ Guardian 2-in-1 GGU30 ($220) can be used as an upright or a canister vacuum. Like most canister vacuums, it was excellent on bare floors, but fair scores for carpet cleaning (where uprights usually perform better) dropped it down to the cellar in our Ratings. It was also fairly noisy.

Bottom line: Like most of us, appliances do better when they concentrate on one task at a time. Find more Ratings in our Appliance section.

—Gian Trotta

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