Consumer Reports’ recommended gifts for the holiday season

Christmas is just a few days away. If you haven’t started your gift shopping, the clock is ticking!

Of course, it’s not always easy finding the right gift for everyone on your list. It helps to have some advice from the experts. Consumer Reports tests literally thousands of products of all kinds each year to evaluate their performance, quality or lack thereof.

The organization’s shopping editor Mary Beth Quirk joins us from Consumer Reports headquarters in Yonkers, NY to show us some of their top-recommended products that will make for great gifts.

So how does a product get recommended by Consumer Reports?

“At Consumer Reports, we buy all of the thousands of products we test each year at retail, just like you do – we never accept freebies from manufacturers,” Quirk said. “And we put them through rigorous tests in our labs in ways that are designed to reveal exactly how you can expect them perform at home. Our tests are comparative, so only the products that perform the best in their respective categories earn our recommendation.”

Consumer Reports then uses their tests to take the guesswork out of gift giving. Here are a few of their choices this year:

Ninja AF100 Air Fryer ($99)
Air Fryers are very popular right now. Fried, crunchy, delicious food without the fattening oil. What’s not to like about that? Here’s the real deal: air fryers aren’t really fryers at all. They’re compact counter-top convection ovens. None of the air fryers we tested really replicated deep-fried results, But they all turned out nicely cooked food, and in short order. This Ninja Air Fryer is one of our top-recommended models. Our testers really liked it because has electronic controls with pre-programmed settings that are among the easiest to see and use. And cleaning the inside and outside of this it was fairly easy.

Bella Single Serve Coffee Maker With Water Tank ($80)
For the coffee lovers in your life! “The Bella Single Serve With Water Tank is one of the best Keurig K-Cup brewers you can buy,” Quirk says. “But it also gives you the option of using loose grounds. Did really well in our tests. Comes with a removable reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, and auto-shutoff.”

And for tech lovers?

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch ($1,800)
“If there’s an Apple fan on your list, they’re really, really going to love new MacBook Pro,” Quirk says. “Yes, you’ll pay a premium, but you get a lot of performance. According to our testers, this is one of the fastest laptops we’ve tested. It’s got an excellent 18 hours of battery life, and a much quieter keyboard than the previous generation. This laptop does everything well. Call it a splurge gift.”

But for something a little less pricey…

Amazon Echo Dot ($30)
“We really like the newest 3rd-generation Amazon Echo Dot,” Quirk said. “Hard to believe it’s actually a smart speaker, but we think it’s the best cheap model you can buy. It’s smaller and sleeker than last year’s model, and it comes with this fashionable fabric covering. More importantly – it has really improved sound. Great way to talk to Alexa and tap her smarts – plus can also serve as an inexpensive way to add smart functionality to a Bluetooth speaker you already own. Amazon right now is selling it for $30, a $20 discount.

And lastly, for the family handyman:

Kobalt 24-Volt Max Cordless Drill ($99)
“Exclusive to Lowe’s, this Kobalt 24-Volt Max Cordless Drill is a whole lot of drill for the money,” Quirk said. “It will drill plenty of holes fast and perform well enough to serve as a tackle-any-task option for the average homeowner. Just a great value.”

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