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Consumer Reports presents best holiday gifts in more than 50 categories

Posted Friday, November 17, 2006

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Plus Dozens of CR Best Buys from Under $50 to Over $400

Yonkers, NY — The December Consumer Reports (CR) Best Gifts issue presents the best products from its tests for everyone on a holiday shopper’s gift list—whether they like to cook, eat, shop, work out, listen to music, take photographs, or putter around the house. Great gift ideas—from boxed chocolates to treadmills—in more than 50 categories help make holiday shopping a little bit easier for consumers. This year, CR has also included a roundup list of Best Values—dozens of products that carry the distinction of being CR Best Buys—ranging in price from under $50 to $400 and up.

Free buying advice about many of these goods appears at A sampling of some of the best gifts highlighted in this package follows:

Best gifts for foodies: Shoppers can choose from a wide variety of the best tested automatic coffeemakers, cookware, blenders, boxed chocolates, microwave ovens, prime steaks, toaster ovens/broilers, and wine chillers. The Procter-Silex Cool-Touch 22450 toaster and the Black & Decker Ergo EHC 650 food chopper, both $15, are CR Best Buys in the $50 or less Best Values category.

Best for music and video buffs, CR lists a broad array of MP3 players, earphones, home theaters in a box, and DVD players. A CR Best Buy in the $101-$350 Best Values category: the Panasonic SC-HT740 home theater in a box ($335).

For kids, a series of toys for $35 and under, and strollers. Two strollers are listed as CR Best Buys in the $51 to $100 price range: the Safety 1st Acella Alumilite 01902 ($60), and the Graco Quattro Tour ($100).

Some folks, however, are rather hard to please. For this finicky group, CR recommends buying gift certificates to stores and restaurants that scored highly in its recent reader surveys. Choose from many big-box and factory outlet stores—from Costco to L.L. Bean—as well as online vendors for home electronics and small appliances. Recommended restaurants range from Bravo Cucina Italiana to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Bicycles, helmets, golf balls, and treadmills make great gift options for fitness buffs. Several indoor exercise machines and bicycles are listed as CR Best Buys in the $400 and over price category, including treadmill models from Vision Fitness, Bowflex, and Horizon Fitness.

Holiday gift shoppers will find everything the shutterbug needs in CR’s Best Gifts package—from all-in-one printers to waterproof cameras. Techies can select from a wide range of options for laptop and desktop computers, antivirus and antispyware software, portable GPS navigation units, and Bluetooth cell-phone headsets.

Wine Values in Red and Chardonnay

The December Best Gifts issue also presents ratings of 57 wines, including cabernet sauvignons, chardonnays, and zinfandels. CR identified two excellent zinfandels—Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma County 2004 ($20), and Cellar No. 8 2004 ($10), which is a CR Best Buy—and three chardonnays, Edna Valley Paragon San Luis Obispo County 2004 ($14), Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Monterey-Santa Barbara Counties 2004 ($20), and Beringer Napa Valley 2004 ($16). In all, there are 15 CR Best Buys—high quality wines at relatively low prices—spanning every category tested, including some very good bottles that cost as little as $8. CR recommends that consumers shouldn’t automatically equate high price with high quality. CR’s tests indicate that some of its highly rated wines are often relatively inexpensive.

Mail-order Food for Assorted Tastes

In addition, CR tested 11 mail-order food gifts—from meats and cheeses to fruits and desserts. The five that were judged very good by CR’s sensory testers all had high quality items and festive packaging. The price of holiday cheer can add up though; gift baskets tested ranged from $42.50 to almost $80. For those who need to choose a gift for a gourmet, CR recommends igourmet ($59.99), and Wine Country Gift Baskets ($49.95). For the fruit lover, CR recommends The Fruit Company ($79.95) and Harry and David ($59.95). Best for the tailgater: Usinger’s Gift Party ($42.50).

The December 2006 issue of Consumer Reports is on sale now wherever magazines are sold. To subscribe, call 1-800-765-1845.

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Consumer Reports presents best holiday gifts in more than 50 categories
CR identified two excellent zinfandels—Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma County 2004 ($20), and Cellar No. 8 2004 ($10)
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