Our annual Product Hall of Fame (and shame)

Consumer Reports News: April 05, 2011 03:32 PM

Our annual Best & Worst report features more than 450 high-performing products from the thousands we've tested this year. On the list of products we recommend are appliances, paints, vacuums and other everyday items from a $1.50 EcoSmart lightbulb to a $7,500 dual-fuel GE range. We've also called out some products you should avoid.

Best & Worst kitchen appliances
This year, there was no shortage of excellent large and small appliances. Ten French-door refrigerators made the list including a $1,700 Whirlpool. And there were plenty of good things to say about the other configurations. Some of the ranges feature such time-savers as high-powered burners and elements and cooking appliances with induction burners are falling in price. Our top blenders, toaster ovens and microwaves were worthy of the counter space they occupy.

However, a low-priced Hamilton Beach hand mixer made a racket and a so-called Power Juicer wimped out when fed produce too quickly.

Best & Worst laundry and cleaning
For cleaning chores we found some washing machines, dryers, vacuums and floor cleaners that make the job easier. The Energy Star top- and front-loading washers use 20 percent less water and 11 percent less energy; front-loaders were ahead in cleaning. Our best vacuums picked up dirt, dust and pet hair that others left behind. Only two steam mops cleaned better than a plain old sponge mop.

On the flip side, three cleaning products we tested had a tough time including a gel dishwasher detergent, a store-brand all-purpose cleaner and an "ultra" HE laundry detergent.

Best & Worst home and yard
We found some good performers that can help get your home in shape this spring. Some of our top paints can be found as near as Home Depot or Lowe's. And by choosing the right combination of decking materials and stain your deck will last longer. CFLs are falling in price and improving in light quality for both indoors and out. And our selection of great grills range from a $200 portable Weber to a $850 large Jenn-Air.

Find full ratings for all the appliances and home improvement products tested by Consumer Reports on the appliance, home and garden and laundry and cleaning pages.

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