With wedding season about to shift into high gear, Consumer Reports has compiled its list of top registry items for 2011. You probably don't have the means of Will and Kate, so you'll want your knives, sheets, small appliances, and more to last at least as long as your wedding vows.
Our buying advice covers kitchen essentials, including cookware and coffeemakers, plus our highest-rated linens, some must-have small appliances, and even electronics. If you're about the get married and don't subscribe to Consumer Reports, consider a subscription (or add one to your gift list). Beyond the baby gear you might need, we can help you with a lifetime of buying decisions, including cars, electronics equipment, and appliances, as well as personal-finance advice, and much more.
Coffeemaker Single-serve coffeemakers seem to be popping up in kitchens everywhere, but in our coffeemaker reviews, these pod models don't yet deliver the flavor and brew performance of our highest-rated automatic-drip coffeemakers. Our tester especially liked models by Cuisinart, Kalorik, and Hamilton Beach, all around $100.
Cookware Le Creuset is the name you see a lot on registry lists. In Consumer Reports tests of non-stick, uncoated, and mixed cookware sets, however, several other options rise to the top, including a $200 set by Emeril. It's important to sample a few options at the retailer to find the one that feels best in your hand.
Food processor This countertop appliance can help get your marriage off to a healthy start. The best models in our Ratings offer maximum versatility, and are good for making veggie-packed stir-fries, hearty soups, homemade hummus, and more. A pair of $200 Cuisinarts are our top-rated models.
Grills More couple are adding high-end grills to their wedding registries. Vermont Casting, Weber, and Char-Broil are among the top scorers in our Ratings of medium-sized models, while Jenn-Air and Kenmore grills stood out among large outdoor cookers.
Knives The top spots in our latest knife Ratings are dominated by Henckels and Wüsthof. Forged from a single piece of steel, both manufacturer's knives are sturdy and sharp, with a heavy bolster and heel to protect the hand during cutting. Because forged blades are generally less flexible than stamped, they're less apt to bend.
Sheets Hopefully you and yours are on same side of the soft-vs.-crisp debate. If it's softness you like, opt for a satin or twill weave. Wamsutta has the top two picks in that department of our linen reviews. For crisp sheets, choose a percale weave. L.L. Bean is the only recommended model in that category, delivering very good fit, strength, and resistance to shrinkage.
Stand mixer KitchenAid dominates the tops spots in our Ratings, with several models that deliver excellent whipping, mixing, and kneading. We also have reviews of hand mixers, in case your kitchen isn't ready for the full-sized stand mixer.
Vacuum cleaner Housework is a fact of life, but it will be a little less tedious with a vacuum that scores well in our tough vacuum tests, which subject the units to dirt, dust, and pet hair. The Kenmore Intuition line excels among upright and canister vacs. Miele is another brand to consider, especially if you're looking for an upright.
Camcorder Pocket camcorders are lightweight, compact, and convenient for sharing videos over the Internet, say from the big honeymoon. The tradeoff? In our camcorder comparisons, their picture quality was far below that of even our lowest-rated standard-definition camcorders. High-definition camcorders, meanwhile, use more-advanced recording technology, though they cost more and you'll need to watch the videos on an HDTV to get the full effect.
Video-game console The Nintendo Wii is high on Amazon's list of most regiestered items. In Consumer Reports market overview of video game consoles, we called the Wii a fun system for families and kids. If you're a more serious gamer, you'll appreciated the superior graphics of the Sony Playstation 3, and its built-in Blu-ray player lets you watch movies. We also looked at the Microsoft Kinect for XBox 360, which is best if you want to store games and movies, and its controller-free gaming will help keep the fun in your marriage.