Consumer Reports: Appliances for your first apartment

CHARLESTON, SC – Whether you have a college student living off campus this fall or you’re a recent grad settling into your first apartment, chances are you need to stock up with the comforts of home. Consumer Reports tests all sorts of small appliances and can help with some recommendations.

The first essential is a decent coffeemaker. Pods are convenient, but they have drawbacks. The pods can be pricey, and in Consumer Reports’ tests of popular pod brands, none were as good as some specialty roasters’ ground coffees that you can use in a drip coffeemaker. Consumer Reports recommends the Kalorik CM 38933 for $60. It’s very easy to use and brews a good cup of coffee.

And no kitchen is complete without a blender. With a good one you can chop, purée, and make a smoothie. But they can be expensive. Consumer Reports’ top-rated blenders can cost a few hundred dollars. A less expensive option is the $90 Nutri Ninja Pro personal blender. The mixing container doubles as a travel mug, so you can whip up a smoothie and take it to class.

A toaster oven is perfect for cooking frozen pizza and other quick meals. The compact Panasonic FlashXpress NB-G110P is also a great stand-in for a regular toaster. And at $110, it costs half as much as other recommended toaster ovens.

To keep your place tidy, a stick vac comes in handy. The top-rated Dyson V6 is a powerful cordless vacuum, but it costs $300. For about half the price, the corded Shark Rocket HV302 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 midsized ones in areas such as heating evenness and speed as well as defrosting. One to try is the Panasonic Inverter model NN-H965BF for about $160. It’s excellent for defrosting a frozen meal.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to

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