Bling’s not the only thing to recommend these small appliances
A coffeemaker embedded with Swarovski crystals seems a little over the countertop but maybe it takes a little bling to make an everyday appliance seem less prosaic. Fortunately, the Cuisinart Crystal coffeemaker had other attributes including the fact that it made a fine cup of coffee in Consumer Reports’ tests. It’s not the only product we’ve recommended lately that has a little swagger. Here are some other stylish top picks that would make a good Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone.
Cuisinart Crystal SCC-1000 Limited Edition Perfec Temp, $200
You’ll pay for every Swarovski crystal that adorns the Cuisinart 14-cup drip coffeemaker, a limited edition model, but it indeed shone in our coffeemaker tests. It brewed at industry-recommended guidelines of 195 degrees F or more, maintained for five or six minutes. Setup, operation, and cleanup were fairly easy, and we found the carafe very easy to handle. Among other attractions: a water filter, an indicator that prompts you through periodic cleaning, and auto-shutoff.
Smart Café My Invento, $120
A choice of which beverage packets you can use is one of the Smart Café pod coffeemaker’s main attractions. The manufacturer sells dedicated pods, but Senseo pods—available from numerous sellers—work as well. You can also use two pods at once for a larger or stronger serving, or to brew two servings at once. Two caveats: The first cup took longer than we expected, and most other single-serve models in our pod coffeemaker tests brewed at a more consistent temperature.
Blendtec Total Blender Designer Series Wildside, $460
Take a walk on the wild side with Blendtec’s Total Blender, which it claims is “the world’s most intuitive blending machine.” We don’t know about that, but the blender did do well enough in our blender tests to make our list of top picks. It crushed the ice crush, puree and durability tests and did almost as well at making smoothies. It was middling on noise and ease of use and cleaning. But Blendtec blenders have a devoted following and an active online community that shares recipes and other tips.
Magimix Vision Toaster (Williams-Sonoma), $250
If you don’t mind spending a bit more for an eye-catching toaster that also does its job exceedingly well, consider this model from Magimix, which is a top pick toaster. It features unique see-through sides that allow you to watch your toast turn an even shade of brown with nearly every batch. Its single-slot design is helpful if you toast wide pieces of bread. Special features include bagel, defrost, and warm/reheat settings. It comes in red and stainless steel, which pairs well with the glass viewing windows for a toaster that looks good on the countertop.
Crane Hello Kitty EE-4109 humidifier, $40
This Crane Tabletop comes in a variety of animal shapes and colors including the super-cute, very-pink Hello Kitty. In our humidifier tests, all of the models are very good in overall performance, and are intended to humidify areas up to 500 square feet. The moisture output was good and the Crane was very good for convenience, had a low noise level, excellent energy efficiency, and its output with hard water was excellent too. Daily output was 1.69 gallons. Perfect for a child’s bedroom.
Dyson AM04 space heater, $400
The Dyson brand has come to be associated with style and this space heater doesn’t disappoint. Fashioned in an oval, the heater riffs off Dyson’s circular fan. The AMO4 was very good at both spot heating and heating a room in 15 minutes in our space heater tests. It didn’t get too hot to the touch and was blessedly quiet. And it aced our fire safety test, which measures the potential to ignite certain fabrics when on the highest setting.
KitchenAid Artisan KSM150PS stand mixer, $300
This popular stand mixer scored a trifecta in our mixer tests for whipping, mixing and kneading. It has a five-quart stainless steel bowl and comes in a bounty of colors. We also liked its brandmate, the KitchenAid Classic (250 watt) K45SS, $200, but the Breville BEM800XL edged out both KitchenAids in our tests. That one only comes in stainless.
Kirby Sentria vacuum cleaner, $1,350
You might balk at the price, but this Kirby bagged upright was stellar at all cleaning tasks in our vacuum tests and is among the least repair-prone upright brand in our reader surveys. It’s self-propelled, which is good since it’s especially heavy, and comes with myriad features and attachments. But the vacuum is not without its minuses: The attachments are cumbersome to attach, requiring removal of the powerhead, and the Kirby was fairly noisy. Still, it’s an iconic brand that screams status.