Best products for campus-bound kids

Consumer Reports

Hard times don't mean students have to give up the creature comforts of home when they leave for campus. While these products won't turn college-age cooks into an Iron Chef or a dorm room into a suite at the Plaza, they can provide healthful, tasty food and cleaner, more comfortable living spaces at a very competitive cost. Just be sure to check your college's rules on the types and sizes permitted appliances.

 

Sanyo SR-2570M

Few dorm-room refrigerators make the grade

Their very name shows how closely they've become identified with college life. But only two refrigerators we tested had freezer sections that were able to keep frozen foods from turning to mush, and all flunked ecology by being energy hogs. Choose the recommended 4.6-cubic-foot Frigidaire FRC05L5D, $150, for frequent frozen-food diners and the 2.5-cubic-foot capacity Sanyo SR-2570M, $130, for just refrigeration.

 

Brew N'Go DCM18S

More from ConsumerReports.org: 

Appliance Reviews

Kitchen Planning Guide

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on Yahoo!

Coffeemakers spur study, save money

In our testing, smaller-footprint pod coffeemakers were simple to use and created less mess, but the machines and the pods can be pricey. If your student will make just a cup or two at a time, consider single-cup machines (which brew in a thermal container that can be taken to class) like the Melitta Take2 ME2TM, $25, and Black & Decker Brew'N Go DCM18S, $25. For late-night study sessions, the multiple-cup Michael Graves, $40, Mr. Coffee GBX23, $50 (which includes a built-in grinder), and $90 Emerson CCM901 dual regular-espresso coffeemaker all provide a lot of boost for the buck and scored well in our Ratings.

 

Kenmore 6325

Microwave ovens: Get with the programmables

The best models now offer convection (which browns and crisps food with circulating heated air, adding a home-cooked touch to foods), while others have sensors that automatically shut off when food is done. Settings for popcorn, oatmeal, and pasta as well as for reheating or defrosting are also handy. Many also boast exaggerated capacity claims, so bring along boxes of your favorite frozen foods to see if they'll fit in the oven. Among our recommended models, the Kenmore 6325[2], $130, bested the sharp-looking Panasonic Inverter NN-SD697[S] $160, at defrosting.

 

NuWave Pro Infrared Oven

NuWave oven: Worth catching!

Although it's not a conventional microwave oven, the $150 NuWave Pro Infrared Oven takes up about the same amount of space as a microwave atop a countertop. In our tests, it proved excellent at cooking chicken (even frozen chicken came out tasty) and did a decent job on steaks and frozen vegetables.

 

 

Hamilton Beach Set 'N Forget

Slow cookers for fast-track courses

These can prepare tasty spare ribs, pulled pork and honey chicken wings while students are out at class (many automatically switch to “warm” mode when cooking is done). They can also make cheaper cuts of meat as tender and succulent as pricier ones. In our tests, the $70 Hamilton Beach Set 'N Forget 33967 offered the best combination of features for the money. Other worthy choices include the Rival Crock-Pot SCVC604H-SS, $60, a CR Best Buy.

 

T-Fal Avante Elite

Why a toaster oven trumps a toaster

Few dorm rooms have room for both, so choose a toaster-oven—you lose some toasting performance but can prepare crowd-pleasing whole chickens, pizza or six slices of toast at a time. Our recommended T-Fal Avante Elite, $100, offers convection cooking, a four-position rack, electronic touchpad and removable crumb tray for easy cooking and cleanup. If you want a regular toaster, one capable Proctor Silex Cool-Touch 22203 costs only $15, while the Cuisinart CPT-170, $70, offers added style and performance.

 

KitchenAid KFP715

Blenders that make liquids assets

Let's face it, the kids are as likely to brew up post-exam potables as nutritious smoothies and purees. So you want a versatile machine, and the Oster BCBG08, $40, was reasonably capable at a variety of tasks and quiet to boot. Some of our other recommended models double as juicers and food processors, and among food processors, the KitchenAid KFP715[WH], $100, excels in nearly every category except kneading dough—one category that even the neediest student won’t need.

 

 

Bissell Versus

Vacuums: Hip designs might inspire use

Small vacuums, sweepers/brooms, and hand vacuums can keep dorm rooms neat—how to get the kids to use them? Our recommended Bissell Versus 76T8, $80, boasts bright colors and a boomerang-shaped head perfect for tight corners. Another innovative design, the Black & Decker PivotPSV1800 $100, folds up to reach under furniture more easily.

 

 

Target Home 600 TC Cotton Sheets

Mattresses, sheets and pillow talk

Students need to rest on more than their laurels. Our mattress report found good models and retailers, but many bedsheets we tested ripped, came apart easily, popped off corners, wrinkled easily and had mismatched colors. Stick with our top-scoring L.L.Bean percale, $100, or Home 600 TC cotton sateen sheets from Target, $70. Another heads-up: The $81 polyester Primaloft Deluxe Pillow PM90 beat out feather/down and memory-foam pillows in our tests.

 

Essential information: You’ll find spirited discussions of many of the products above on our small appliances forum. To raise money for the above items, see our Money section's advice on getting your employer to chip in for college costs, finding the right tax deductions and tax breaks and tapping IRA and other retirement plan money for college costs. Finally, our Auto section includes a handy guide to packing a vehicle for college.

Copyright © 2006-2010 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Julie Bowen Faces Criticism for Joking About Barron Trump During Inauguration

      Julie Bowen has come under fire for her comments about Barron Trump. Julie Bowen made Donald Trump’s inauguration more fun to watch, but not everyone appreciated her witty banter. The Modern Family star, who often details the funny antics of her own three sons, posted a few Instagram photos during the ceremony focusing on Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of the new president and his wife, Melania.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • Michelle Obama’s Faces Upstaged Everyone at the Inauguration

      Michelle Obama may now be the former first lady, but on the Internet, she’s being celebrated as the reigning shade queen, thanks to her facial expressions on Inauguration Day.

      Yahoo Beauty
    • Trump administration suspends FHA mortgage premium rate cut

      (CNNMoney) The freshly-inaugurated Trump administration has halted a cut to the FHA mortgage insurance premium that Obama's team announced during his final days in office. The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Friday that the reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers pay when taking out government-backed home loans has been "suspended indefinitely." The cut, at a quarter of a percentage point, would have saved homeowners an average of $500 this year, according to the Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers with larger home loans would have seen an even bigger drop in their premium rate. The mortgage-fee reduction was originally announced January 9 and was

      CNNMoney q
    • Grown-up Paris Jackson hits her namesake city for Givenchy

      PARIS (AP) — Colorful fall-winter menswear shows in Paris mixed high culture, androgyny and streetwear, as Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late pop icon Michael Jackson, stepped out for the cameras at Givenchy's library show— fittingly in the City of Light.

      Associated Press
    • The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn't

      While everyone's been gearing up for President Trump's inauguration, the Clinton Foundation made a major announcement this week that went by with almost no notice: For all intents and purposes, it's closing its doors. In a tax filing, the Clinton Global Initiative said it's firing 22 staffers and closing its offices, a result of the gusher of foreign money that kept the foundation afloat suddenly drying up after Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. It proves what we've said all along: The Clinton Foundation was little more than an influence-peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons, and had little if anything to do with "charity," either overseas or in the U.S. That sound you heard starting in November was checkbooks being snapped shut in offices around the world by people who had hoped their donations would buy access to the next president of the United States. There was a strong precedent for it in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

      Investor's Business Daily q
    • Years later, a child witness fills in disturbing details in infamous Miami abuse case

      Six years ago, 10-year-old twins were discovered in horrifying condition in a pickup truck parked along Interstate 95 — the body of Nubia Barahona, a girl with an incandescent smile, was badly beaten, soaked in chemicals and decomposing inside a garbage bag in the truck bed; her brother Victor was in the cab, badly burned by chemicals. The appalling case rocked Florida’s child welfare agency, which had received numerous abuse complaints against Barahona and his wife, Carmen, but repeatedly left the children in the couple’s custody. The ongoing death-penalty case against the Barahonas has yet to be scheduled for trial, but prosecutors believe the couple starved and tortured the twins for months or more — a charge bolstered by a new and disturbing statement from the couple’s own granddaughter, who told investigators that she was so terrified of her own family that she waited for years to tell her story.

      Miami Herald q
    • Kellyanne Conway Draws Laughs and Memes With Military-Style Garb

      The Gucci dress comes with a price tag of $3,600.

      Inside Edition
    • Bella Hadid Wears Totally Sheer Shirt Without a Bra -- See the Daring Pic!

      The 20-year-old model was spotted out in Paris on Friday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Even at his inauguration, Trump continues to make one of the worst men's style mistakes

      Donald Trump, who is now the 45th US president, continues to make one of the most egregious...

      Business Insider
    • Melania Trump channels Jackie O in blue Ralph Lauren dress

      Wrapped in pale blue Ralph Lauren cashmere and matching suede gloves, it looks like America’s new First Lady is taking style cues from a predecessor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, during her husband’s swearing in ceremony today.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • The inauguration is over, but these Michelle Obama memes will still help you get through the day

      Michelle Obama is all of us today. Forced to attend Donald Trump's inauguration on her last official day as first lady, Obama, who is normally the picture of grace and elegance, let things slide a little. The result? Her facial expressions at the inauguration are everything. And thanks to the internet, we can all commiserate with FLOTUS on this awful day with all of the memes. First there's all her amazing side-eye, proving that FLOTUS is a little salty, even though she's been (mostly) hiding it for eight years for diplomacy's sake: Maybe the most awkward moment of the whole day: There's this face, which is honestly perfect for all of our feels today: After all that shade, here's a good reminder:

      SheKnows q
    • President Trump’s Inauguration Crowd Doesn’t Look Like Barack Obama’s Did in 2009

      A side-by-side comparison of the crowds at former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump‘s respective inaugurations reveals that Trump’s crowd isn’t as large as he boasted it would be. Two aerial photographs of the National Mall from the two historic days reveal large patches of white ground exposed during Trump’s ceremony, spaces crowds had filled during Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Federal and local agencies estimated 700,000 to 900,000 people would be in Washington, D.C. for Trump’s inauguration on Friday, roughly half the number of people who attended Obama’s first presidential inauguration.

      People
    • Are you an AT&T subscriber? Analysts say you may be part of a dying breed

      According to a report by Cowen and Company Equity Research, the Dallas-based carrier is losing more subscribers on a quarterly basis than any other American carrier. AT&T's biggest threat is posed by T-Mobile.

      Digital Trends
    • Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut

      The contentious cut would have saved the average borrower about $500 per year and cushioned the market against rising rates. The post Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut appeared first on Real Estate News & Advice | realtor.com®.

      Realtor.com
    • Kansas City College Student Sent Cryptic Text Just Before Disappearance: ‘OMG Just Got Pulled Over Again’

      A 20-year-old Kansas City woman mysteriously vanished early Sunday morning after being pulled over by police after work — and her family is growing increasingly worried and confused. “None of it makes sense,” Toni Anderson’s mother, Liz Anderson, says of her disappearance. Toni left work at the Chrome Club shortly after 4 a.m. to meet up with a friend, Kansas City police tell PEOPLE.

      People
    • Cuba Gooding Jr. Files for Divorce From Wife Sara Kapfer After 22 Years of Marriage: Report

      Cuba Gooding Jr. has responded to his wife Sara Kapfer’s separation filing two years later — details

      Us Weekly
    • Celebrities react to Trump inauguration on Twitter

      Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, but not everyone will be tuning in. Celebrities took to social media Friday morning to share their thoughts on the inauguration, and in some cases, suggested alternative viewing. Trump, who has not been particularly popular among the celebrity circuit, inspired a #Brownout from George Lopez.

      Entertainment Weekly
    • ESPN drops commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP