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Consumer Reports reveals the ten most hyped kitchen products

Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007

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CR’s August Kitchen Package also features What to Buy Instead & ratings of countertops, flooring, cooking appliances, refrigerators, dishwashers, sinks, faucets and more

Yonkers, NY — Consumer Reports’ latest tests reveal that many of the most loudly hawked products (and often most expensive) delivered less than they promised and several were beaten by the old standards that cost far less.

The 2007 August issue is CR’s largest kitchen package to-date with over 30 pages of advice and comprehensive Ratings that will help consumers decide which appliances, countertops, sinks, faucets and flooring offer the best combination of style, performance, and value based on our independent lab tests.

Consumer Reports cooked up 850 pounds of ground beef in tests of appliances and used over 40 stain-producing materials including red wine and ink to test the stain-resistance of flooring, countertops, and other materials.

10 Most-Hyped Products and What to Buy Instead

  1. Pro-style ranges. Spending more on pro-style appliances doesn’t guarantee better quality. Consumer Reports’ tests continue to find that $4,000-plus professional-style ranges perform no better than less-expensive, conventional models. Some pro-style ranges still lack common features and have high repair rates.

    CR Advice: Consider faux pro-style ranges from mainstream manufacturers that combine stainless-steel style, performance, and reliability for thousands less.
  2. Speed cooking. Faster doesn’t mean better. Found in some microwaves, ranges, and ovens, speed cooking combines microwaving with convection or baking and broiling to cut cooking time. CR found the performance of speed cookers to be spotty in tests; some foods came out great, while others were undercooked.

    CR Advice: Look for ovens and ranges with convection, which uses a fan to circulate hot air so food can bake and roast at lower temperatures for shorter times.
  3. Steam ovens & ranges. Steam didn’t melt the fat away. According to CR tests, food cooked in some of these types of ovens, which all cost more than $1000, had just as much fat after steaming as before.

    CR Advice: Skip them.
  4. Multimedia Refrigerators. Side-by-sides with TVs and calendars promise to help consumers organize their lives and their leftovers, but none of the models CR tested out-cooled the best conventional fridges.

    CR Advice: Save $2,000 or more by buying a top-rated refrigerator and a capable flat-panel TV.
  5. Turbocharged Dishwashers. Despite claims of maximizing “washing pressure to ensure superior cleaning for the toughest jobs,” CR tests revealed that most regular dishwashers including ones without a turbo cycle do very good job of cleaning dishes, even with baked-on food.

    CR Advice: Choose a lower-priced dishwasher that blends top cleaning with quietness and shorter cycle times.
  6. Appliance Drawers. Although touted as flexible, space-saving, and stylish, CR tests of drawer versions of refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves show that their lower capacity, efficiency, and overall performance, plus their higher prices, negate those perks.

    CR Advice: For style and accessible storage, choose a good French-door fridge. Run the rinse-only cycle on a regular dishwasher for small loads. Consumers who can live without a range hood’s better venting can free up counter space with an over-the-range microwave. Each costs a fraction of what a drawer costs.
  7. Pricey Faucets and Sinks. CR found few performance differences between the least and most expensive versions of faucets and sinks from major brands.

    CR Advice: Faucets in chrome or with physical vapor deposition (PVD) finishes performed best regardless of price. All of the stainless steel sinks CR tested resisted dents, stains, scratches, and heat similarly, whether they were thick or thin.
  8. Trendy Counters. CR tests found concrete to be fragile and susceptible to scratches, chips, and hairline cracks. Limestone may start out smooth, but it scratched, stained, and chipped in CR tests.

    CR Advice: For a stone look, go for granite or quartz.
  9. “Green” Flooring. Bamboo, cork, and linoleum are all considered renewable alternatives to standard hardwood and vinyl flooring. However, some did not hold up to the usual spills, scratches, dropped plates, and sunlight in CR tests.

    CR Advice: For high traffic areas, consider plastic laminate and vinyl; both proved toughest overall in CR tests, generally for less money. Also, solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times.
  10. One-Stop Shops. Shop around. Consumer Reports latest surveys reveal that no one retailer was impressive for design help, installation services, product quality, selection, and price.

    CR Advice: Check out CR’s Ratings for the stores with the attributes that matter most. Check retailer’s return policies before buying. Consider local independent stores and personal references as highly as preconceived notions about price, quality, and convenience.
The kitchen package also features CR’s expert advice on picking the perfect cabinets, where to buy appliances, home centers versus independent contractors, and financing options for consumers interested in updating or remodeling their kitchen.The full report and Ratings are available in the August 2007 issue of Consumer Reports, which is available wherever magazines are sold and online at
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Consumer Reports reveals the ten most hyped kitchen products
Spending more on pro-style appliances doesn’t guarantee better quality.
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