Consumer Reports rates best small appliances

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Whether you've got a college student living off-campus this fall or you're a recent grad settling into a first apartment, chances are you need to stock it with the comforts of home.

Consumer Reports rounds up some must-have appliances for your new pad.

Emerald Smith just moved into her first apartment off-campus and she's coming to terms with everything she needs to buy for her new place.

"You never really know how much stuff it actually is until you get here," Smith said.

Consumer Reports tests all sorts of small appliances and can help with some hand-picked recommendations.

One of the first essentials is a decent coffeemaker. Pods are convenient, but they have drawbacks.

"Pods can be pricey, and in our tests of popular pod brands none were as good as some ground coffees from specialty roasters you can use in, say, a drip coffeemaker," Consumer Reports' Dan DiClerico said.

Consumer Reports recommends the Kalorik for $60. It's very easy to use and brews a good cup of coffee.

A toaster oven is perfect for cooking frozen pizza and other quick meals. Panasonic makes the compact FlashXpress which is a great stand-in for a regular toaster. And for less than $100, it costs half as much as other recommended toaster ovens.

And no kitchen is complete without a blender. With a good one you can chop, puree and make a smoothie, but they can be expensive!

"You might have to shell out more than you'd expect for a really great blender. Our top-rated models can cost a few hundred dollars," DiClerico said.

A less expensive option is the $90 Nutri Ninja Pro Personal Blender. Its mixing container doubles as a travel mug, so you can whip up a smoothie and take it to class.

To keep your place tidy, a stick vacuum comes in handy. The top-rated Dyson is a powerful cordless vacuum, but it's $300. For about half the price, the corded Shark Rocket gets the job done, too. It's excellent on carpets and very good on bare floors.

What about a microwave? If you're looking for a smaller-sized model, you may have some trouble finding a great one. In Consumer Reports tests, larger capacity microwaves outperformed mid-sized ones in areas like heating evenness and speed as well as defrosting. One to try is the Panasonic Inverter model NN H965BF for about $175. It's excellent for defrosting a frozen meal.
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