To help answer some of the uncertainties, Consumer Reports created its first-ever annual guide to the best products of the year. They put more than 400 products to the test — curated based on lab testing, user surveys and first-hand endorsements from the organization’s staffers — in order to determine which items deliver on both quality and value. Out of the extensive list for 2021, 88 products rose to the occasion.
So, if you're looking to gift the best of the best this year, you're in luck. Consumer Reports Digital Lifestyle Editor Elliot Weiler joined TODAY to share seven of those 88 picks that, as of the time of publication, are available for purchase in time for the holidays.
Whether you're searching for something to "wow" your in-laws or want to treat yourself to something special this year for the holidays, keep reading to see what's worth grabbing, from a cast-iron skillet to wireless earbuds.
Weiler says this top-rated frying pan "does everything well." Whether you need to sear a steak or bake something in the oven, it's the right tool to have by your side. Plus it's easy to clean.
Your average coffee maker just got a serious upgrade — this model from Ninja might make you feel like a barista in your own kitchen. It includes a built-in milk frother so you can make lattes, macchiatos and more, while features like a brew-over-ice mode mean you can make iced coffee in a matter of minutes. According to Weiler, Consumer Reports testers "rated its brew performance as excellent."
Weighted blankets have become increasing popular in recent years thanks to their soothing and calming effects. This version from YnM comes in several different colors, weights and sizes and you can even purchase a duvet cover if you ever want to change up the look. If you try it and don't like it, you can always return it within 30 days of purchase. To choose the best blanket for you, you'll want to select a weight that is about 10% of your body weight.
Pillow too soft? Too flat? Coop Home Goods presents a pillow that you can customize to help solve the dilemmas. The pillow comes with a bag of extra fill, so you can stuff it exactly to your liking. Weiler says it impressed CR lab testers, "getting excellent scores across the board for back support and side support."
Noise-canceling, comfortable and great sound quality — these headphones are checking all of the boxes, according to Weiler. They won't break the bank and you can expect them to be on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We'll call that a win!
If Wi-Fi "dead zones" in your house are getting in the way of you working from home, a mesh Wi-Fi system might be worth investing in. You can set up each "beacon" around your home to help evenly distribute the Wi-Fi signal from your main router, thus increasing speed and connectivity, wherever you are in your home.
Know someone who's not ready to head back to the gym just yet? Amp up their home gym and gift them this adjustable dumbbell set. It's perfect for anyone short on space but still wants to get a good workout in, since they can be adjusted with just a switch of a lever. Key features that stood out during CR testing include a "good" hand grip and the fact that the dumbbell is shorter at lighter weights.
More Consumer Reports Top Picks 2021
Air fryers are slowly becoming a mainstay on our kitchen counters. They can crisp and “fry” meals to perfection without any of the added oils you would typically need for the traditional method of frying. Plus you can use them to dehydrate fruits, vegetables and meats, too.
Dubbed a “best buy” from Consumer Reports, this electric toothbrush is an affordable option for anyone who wants to switch from manual to electric, without the price tag. It uses a two-minute timer to help guide your brushing and a four-hour charge will help the battery last for thirty days.
Compatible with Amazon Alexa, this security camera is wire-free and only requires a Wi-Fi connection to operate. It records video in 1080p and features color night vision to help you see details such as faces and license plates at night.
As the temperatures keep dropping and we are tempted to raise our thermostats this winter, it might also raise our bills. That’s why Google Nest automates temperatures and can help cut down your utility bill. CR testers say it’s “one of the best we’ve tested at learning your household routine.”
No holiday party is complete without music for some ambience. According to CR, it keeps all of the features of your favorite boombox from the '80s — “volume galore and loads of bass” — but stays modern with a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth capabilities.
For more stories like this, check out:
- You don’t have long to shop these early Black Friday deals from Kohl’s
- The countdown to Christmas is on! Here are 40 of the best Advent calendars so far
- Mark your calendars! The 2021 holiday shipping deadlines you should know