Consumer Reports shares their holiday gift favorites, all priced under $300. All gift picks are CR tried and tested, and there is something for everyone on this list!
Gifts under $50
The Sennheiser CX 215 headphones, starting at $31, come in five fun—and funky—colors. The unusual contoured shells can be easily gripped by your fingers. Overall sound quality is very good, and the ear-insert design will help muffle external noise.
Norman Love Confections Signature Gift Box, $49, offers 25 excellent candies that include unusual fillings such as peanut butter and jelly, as well as truffles, creams, nut bits, and fruit purées. Shipping is extra and pricey ($36).
Columbia Crest Grand Estates cabernet sauvignon and Bogle chardonnay scored Very Good in our tests by expert tasters and were just $10 per bottle. We assessed 2008 and 2009 vintages, respectively, though more recent vintages shouldn’t differ very much.
Gifts Under $100
You could spend $75 on a single knife from a premium knife maker. That same investment gets you the entire eight-piece Ginsu Chikara, starting at $73 on Yahoo! Shopping, including paring, utility, serrated, chef ’s, and santoku knives (shears, sharpening rod, and storage block round out the set).
The blades are forged from a single piece of stainless steel for maximum sharpness, precision, and durability.
(See also: 10 DVD and Blu-Ray gifts for the holidays)
The Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader, $99, is among the best e-book readers we’ve tested, and it’s low-priced for a model with a touch screen. It’s fast and easy to use and has crisp type that’s readable in bright or dim light.
Impressive power for sweeping and loosening leaves help the corded-electric Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599, $90, perform almost as well as the best gas blowers.
It also weighs less and delivers impressive vacuuming without a gas blower’s fueling, fumes, and maintenance. Its metal impeller stands up to vacuumed debris.
Excellent at making smooth icy drinks, chopping foods, and puréeing soup, the Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004, $60, has interchangeable containers and blades that make the combo blender and food chopper easy to use.
Gifts Under $300
The Garmin Nuvi 2455LT, $170, offers very good navigation and a redesigned interface. This 4.3-inch wide-screen model comes loaded with maps covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and it includes free, ad-supported traffic reports.
For more features and perks, check out the top-of-the-line Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT, $300.
The 10-cup Krups Grinder &
Brewer KM7000, $164, offers
top-notch brewing, and its burr
grinder has three levels of grind.
You can choose among five
settings to control the coffee-to-water ratio. The many pieces
slow down cleaning, though.
Love your TV but wish it had better audio? Consider the Vizio VHT215, $240, a 2.1-channel soundbar speaker system that can rock your room without rattling your wallet.
It includes the main
soundbar speaker, which can be placed below or
above the TV, and a wireless subwoofer. Its very
good sound quality should please movie and
music fans. A plus: It can pass through 3D signals
from a 3D source to your TV via HDMI.
With its phenomenal battery life, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, $199.99 with 2-year contract at Verizon, can really go the distance. This speedy Android smart phone has a beautiful 4.3-inch high-resolution display, intuitive navigation, and a very good camera. It runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
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