With the temperature starting to drop, the race for the perfect holiday gift has already begun. But whether you're buying for someone else or just looking to upgrade some of the products you use daily, Consumer Reports' November issue can help you find the best of the best.
Consumer Reports senior projects editor Mandy Walker today gave "Good Morning America" a quick preview of some of the group's top picks. Check out the products below and 10 more, web-exclusive recommendations from Consumer Reports.
Coffee Machine: Cooks CM4221 ($40)
Because "Good Morning America" is a morning show, we can really appreciate the value of a good cup of coffee. To get the best at home, Consumer Reports recommends the Cooks CM4221.
Toaster: Hamilton Beach Digital 22502 ($40)
There are no shortage of options when you're looking to get your bread that perfect crispy brown in the morning. But the Cuisinart CPT-170 was actually rated higher than the Hamilton Beach Digital 22502 by Consumer Reports. It's also twice as expensive ($80). At one point below the Cuisinart in overall score, the Hamilton Beach product is a toasty deal.
Fire Extinguisher: Kidde FX340GW ($36)
A fire extinguisher may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think "appliance," but it could end up being the most important in time of an emergency. Consumer Reports said the Kidde FX340GW "was easy to use and discharged it's contents quickly," meaning more fire-stopping power.
Hair Dryer: Revlon Ionic Ceramic Pro Stylist ($20)
As Consumer Reports said, the Revlon Ionic Ceramic Pro Stylist may not have all the bells and whistles, but its panelists "liked its separate heat and speed settings."
Headphones: Panasonic RP-HC55 ($40)
Noise-canceling headphones do not have to be so big that they dwarf your head. Panasonic's RP-HC55 are as small as earbuds but still manage to cut down on outside noise.
Digital Camera: Casio EXilim EX-Z2000 ($190)
The Casio EXilim EX-Z2000 is actually No. 3 on the Consumer Reports list for digital cameras in the sub-compact category, but it's the top choice for less than $200. The solid rating and reasonable price keep it well within the realm of a good value, according to Consumer Reports.
LCD TV: 46-Inch Samsung LN46C630 ($990)
At nearly $1,000, the Samsung LN46C630 may seem pricey but Consumer Reports ranks the TV first in the 46-inch to 47-inch range, outpacing other televisions that are hundreds of dollars more.
Blu-ray Players: Panasonic DMP-BD85 ($250)
When it comes to Blu-ray players, competition is fierce. The Panasonic DMP-BD85 is just one of three players that scored an 83 from Consumer Reports. But this one gets extra attention for being the cheapest of the three.
Over-the-Range Microwaves: Samsung SMH9187[B] ($270)
Heat things up without burning a hole in your wallet. The Samsung SMH9187[B] was Consumer Reports No. 1 pick for over-the-range microwaves and is shockingly the cheapest one on the list (which otherwise ranged from $350 to $800).
Power Drill: Porter-Cable PC180DK-2 ($100)
According to Consumer Reports, the 18-volt Porter-Cable PC180DK-2 "offers speed and power" in addition to being packed with helpful extras like an LED work light and a smart charger for its two nickel-cadmium batteries.
Pocket Camcorders: Kodak Play Sport Zx3 ($150)
The Kodak Play Sport Zx3 appears to be built with, well, a little play in mind. It's waterproof to 10 feet, has an image stabilizer and has a "very good display and takes very good video in normal light and good video in low light," Consumer Reports said.
Dishwashers: Bosch SHE55M1UC ($850)
Consumer Reports said that all the dishwashers on its list "use much less water than washing dishes by hand and they're much quieter now." The Bosch, which lands in the middle-ground as far as price, tops the Consumer Reports list.
Strollers: Graco Vie4 ($115)
Consumer Reports calls the Graco Vie4 a "Best Buy" and gives it high marks for ease of use, maneuverability and safety.
Full-Sized Desktop Computers: Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1408NBC ($950)
If you're looking to upgrade your desktop, Consumer Reports said Dell's Studio XPS is the best way to go and is cheaper than its closest competitor on the list, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-240f.
Washers: Kenmore 4027 ($800)
For front-loading washers, Consumer Reports said you can't beat the Kenmore 4027. With an overall score of 85, the Kenmore beats out both cheaper and pricier competitors.
Lawn Mowers: Toro Super Bagger 20194 ($690)
In the self-powered, self-propelled category, the Toro Super Bagger 20194 takes the first prize. Indeed, the first three spots on the Consumer Reports list are Toro products. At $690, the Super Bagger is significantly more expensive than its second and third place brethren, but scored 2 and 5 points higher, respectively.
GPS Navigators: Garmin Nuvi 1350 ($170)
While the Garmin Nuvi 3760T took Consumer Reports' top spot in the Best Overall category, it was the Nuvi 1350 model that took first prize in the Best on a Budget category. As Consumer Reports put it, "The trend toward lower-priced models with more capabilities continues, with free traffic information becoming common even on a budget-priced units."