ShopSmart's Best & Worst Products of the Year

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The winners and losers from the products tested in 2014

ShopSmart January 2015

Each year, we buy, test and review thousands of products - some we love, and others are just duds. We've identified the best and the worst at all price points to help you make better buying decisions.

Not every product lives up to its claims, and others sometimes exceed expectations. The January 2015 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, spotlights the best of the best tested this year which includes more than 45 products in these seven categories: food and wine; cooking, food prep & storage; cleaning; home improvement; beauty, heath, and fitness; electronics; and cars.

The feature also calls out fifteen clunkers that weren’t up to par and reveals products and services ShopSmart helped make better in 2014 by supporting pro-consumer laws such as safer cars, free credit scores, healthier foods, and more.

“Each year, we buy, test and review thousands of products – some we love, and others are just duds,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “We’ve identified the best and the worst at all price points to help you make better buying decisions.”

Here are some examples from ShopSmart’s best products of the year list:

  • Food & Wine: Sabra Classic Guacamole, $4, tasted fresher than any other brand tested and included big avocado chunks.
  • Cooking, Food Prep & Storage: The CDN Proaccurate TCT572-W Instant-Read Digital Meat Thermometer, $85, was the best thermometer for cooked-to-perfection meat; it was fast, accurate, and easy to read.
  • Cleaning: All Mighty Pacs Oxi, 17 cents per load, beat out Tide in this year’s laundry pod detergent tests and cost a nickel less per load.
  • Home Improvement: The Philips SlimStyle A19 LED Lightbulb, $7, has super-skinny shape making it ideal for lamps and sconces over other clunky bulbs.
  • Beauty, Health & Fitness: The CND Vinylux Weekly Nail Polish (158 Wildfire), $10, doesn’t need a base coat, saving time and money, and meets its claim of lasting a week.
  • Electronics: The Bose SoundLink Wireless Speakers, $130, connects to mobile devices via Bluetooth and its sound is better than most other portable models tested. Plus, it comes in fun colors, such as red, blue, and mint.
  • Cars: The Mazda3, starting price $26,595, is the most fuel-efficient compact (33 mpg) that isn’t a hybrid or diesel, and testers loved driving it. It comes with a blind-spot monitoring system, a safety feature all cars should have.

And here are some of the products that earned a spot on ShopSmart’s loser list:

  • Panasonic Digital Power AA Alkaline Battery, $1.42. These were the worst – and priciest – alkaline brand in our tests.
  • Charmin Freshmates, $4. Clogged pipes might just wipe that “freshy fresh” smile off a face. Wipes don’t break down in water like toilet paper does.
  • OPI Glitter Off Peelable Base Coat, $8. It’s supposed to peel off – and did – but not always when testers wanted it to. And sometimes it didn’t peel at all.
  • Grillbot, $130. This noisy gadget only sounds like it’s getting the job done. It clears the grill’s surface but leaves gunk between the grates.

The full list of best and worst products is featured in the January 2015 issue of ShopSmart on newsstands now.

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at http://www.ShopSmartmag.org.

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Melissa Valentino

Cassie Eberle
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