Based on their monikers, a "chill" air conditioner or "pet" vacuum may seem like just the thing to cool your home or tackle that pesky dog hair. And you'd think that a string trimmer called "grasshog" would be a champ at chomping through the weeds. But when Consumer Reports put these products through their paces they didn't live up to their names.
Vacuums. Removing pet hair is one of a vacuum cleaner's toughest chores. As its name implies, the 22-pound bagless upright Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet 89Q9 is intended to excel at removing animal hair and fur. But it was only fair at that job, had mediocre airflow and was middling at carpet cleaning. It did get an excellent score for cleaning bare floors. The Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet UH30310, on the other hand, did master the pet hair test earning a score of excellent. It was also tops at cleaning bare floors and very good at carpets. Both vacuums were a bit noisy.
Air conditioners. We tested two Friedrich Chill air conditioners, the CP06G10 and the CP05G10, but only the latter one made our list of recommended models. The difference was the ability to power through brownout conditions when voltage is low. The CP05G10 aced that test while its brandmate struggled. Both were excellent at cooling and the CP06G10 is quieter.
String trimmers. Black & Decker's GrassHog GH610, a light duty electric string trimmer, apparently lost its appetite, barely munching through the tall grass and weeds in our tests. And it wasn't too sharp at edging either. Typically, the gas-powered trimmers do a better job at cutting tall grass but if you want an electric trimmer opt for Black & Decker's GH1000, which made hay of our tests for tall grass, edging and trimming, was easy to start and comfortable to handle.
Washing machines. The Aquasmart WL42T26DW1 from Fisher & Paykel is a high-efficiency top loader that proved to be only partially effective at getting clothes clean and did mediocre on our gentleness test. But it does use water smartly, scoring an excellent on the water efficiency test. Consider instead one of the nine CR Best Buys on our recommended list of top-loaders from such brands as Kenmore, LG, Samsung, Whirlpool and Maytag.
Knives. You would expect the 15-piece Tools of the Trade Fine Edge Stainless Steel knife set from Macy's to ace our cutting performance test. But knives in the set were mediocre performers on our food slicing and cutting tasks. The Ginsu Chikara, a CR Best Buy, aced those tests and also features handles that are more comfortable to use.