Best Blender For Your Buck

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Best Blender For Your Buck
Looking for a new blender to make those smoothies? With so many models on the market today, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Before you start shopping, here are some tips to help you find the best blender to fit your needs, and your budget.

First, when choosing a model, think about what you'll be using it for. If you're only going to be making shakes or smoothies, then a personal blender can be a great option. Not only are they easy to use, but the mixing containers double as travel mugs, which is perfect if you're always on the go. Plus, most sell for around $20, making it convenient for your budget, as well.

However, if you need something larger, check out a standard countertop blender. These cost around $150 and can mix up to 64 ounces of homemade salsa, whipped cream and frozen beverages. If that's more than you want to spend, there are smaller options for around $40. They don't hold as much, but they can perform just as well as the larger standard blenders.

If you need to do more with your blender, then look into a high-performance model. They'll allow you do things like make homemade sauce, puree soup, or make your own peanut butter from scratch. These can cost up to $500, but be careful, paying more money doesn't mean you're getting a better blender.

Look closely at the functions of your blender, too. How many speeds do you really need? Three is usually enough, and anything over 12 can be overkill. Consider what the controls are like, too. Dials are easier to clean than push buttons, but they're also less precise when controlling speed.

In terms of wattage, most manufacturers will claim that higher wattage means higher performance, but that's not always true. According to tests by Consumer Reports, many lower wattage blenders performed just as well as more powerful options; they just take a little bit longer to get the job done.

The next time you're blender shopping, remember these tips to find the right one for you. You'll see that you can still get one with high performance, without the high price.

10 Overhyped Kitchen Products
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Best Blender For Your Buck -- Savings Experiment
Whether you're updating your appliances or planning a full remodel, seeing past the hype can be tough when everything looks so good.

Here are our nominations for the 10 most overhyped kitchen products and the smarter options that beat them.
Pro-Style Ranges: Viking claims its range "captures the professional performance of a commercial range and places it at your command and in your home." Yet our tests find that $4,000-plus pro-style ranges perform no better than cheaper, conventional models.

Smarter Option: Faux-pro-style ranges from mainstream manufacturers combine stainless-steel style, performance and reliability for thousands less.
Speed Cooking: Speed cooking combines microwaving with convection or baking and broiling to cut cooking time. But performance was spotty in our tests. Some foods came out great, while others were undercooked.

Smarter Option: Ovens and ranges with convection use a fan to circulate hot air, so you can bake and roast at lower temperatures for shorter times.
Steam Ovens & Ranges: Sharp claims that in its oven, "super-heated steam cooking melts away fat" and is "simplicity itself." Using the countertop model we tested was simple enough, as was a KitchenAid range with a steam option. But the built-in steam oven from Miele was less user-friendly. We also found that food cooked in some of those ovens had just as much fat after steaming as before.

Smarter Option: Skip them.
Multimedia Refrigerator: Side by sides with TVs and calendars promise to help you organize your life. Samsung says its Wireless ICE will help as your family "plans their schedules, leaves messages, posts pictures, watches TV, and shares meals." But none of the multimedia fridges we tested out-cooled the best conventional fridges.

Smarter Option: Buy a top-rated refrigerator and a capable flat-panel TV.
Turbocharged Dishwasher: Kenmore claims its TurboZone's spray jets blast "into every corner of dirty, baked-on dishes to get everything clean without soaking or scrubbing." But we found that most regular dishwashers do a very good job of cleaning dishes, even with baked-on food.

Smarter Option: Pick a cheaper dishwasher that blends top cleaning with quietness and shorter cycle times.
Appliance Drawers: These drawers are touted as flexible and stylish. Our tests of various models show that their lower storage capacity, efficiency and performance, coupled with their high prices, negate their perks.

Smarter Option: Choose a good French-door fridge for style and accessible storage. Run the rinse-only cycle on a regular dishwasher for small loads. Free up counter space with an over-the-range microwave.
Pricey Faucets & Sinks: American Standard gushes that its faucet "provides a lifetime of smooth handle operation," while Kohler claims its thick, 18-gauge stainless sinks provide "exceptional resistance to stains." We found few performance differences between the least and most expensive versions.

Smarter Option: Faucets in chrome or with physical vapor deposition finishes performed best regardless of price.
Trendy Counters: "Practical artwork" that requires "virtually no maintenance other than normal cleaning," heralds Trueform Concrete. Limestone is "velvety smooth" says another company. Our tests found concrete to be fragile and susceptible to scratches, chips and hairline cracks. As for limestone, our wear tests left it scratched and stained.

Smarter Option: If you crave the stone look, go for granite or quartz.
'Green' Flooring: Bamboo, cork and linoleum are all considered renewable alternatives to standard hardwood and vinyl flooring. But some in our reviews didn't hold up to the usual spills, scratches, dropped plates, and sunlight in a typical kitchen.

Smarter Option: Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times, while plastic laminate and vinyl proved toughest overall.
Home Depot and Lowe's tout services that simplify kitchen remodeling process. But our surveys show that no one retailer was impressive for design help, product quality and price.

Smarter Option: Check our ratings for the stores with the attributes that matter most to you. Consider local independent stores and personal references as highly as any preconceived notions about price, quality and convenience.
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