Cook outside the box with these creative kitchen appliances

Innovative kitchen gadgets are nothing new, and as anyone who's seen an infomercial can attest, these kinds of small appliances often come with bold promises of revolutionizing the way we cook. However, with the occasional exception (I'm looking at you, Crock-Pot), that kind of ubiquity never quite seems to arrive.

But if you aren't getting a revolution, what are you getting? That all depends on the specific product, but more and more, we're seeing intriguing options that actually live up to their performance claims. Whether they're introducing powerful new cooking methods like steam baking and … Read more

What we loved and hated about the 2013 smart home

The CNET Appliances team has tested a whole bunch of stuff for you this year, from the surprisingly capable SimpliSafe home security system to the extremely disappointing Infinuvo CleanMate QQ5 robot vacuum. Hopefully our reviews have come in handy. And while we're excited about CES 2014, we're also feeling a bit nostalgic about the products we reviewed in 2013. So, here's a brief look back at the year in home appliances -- what worked, what didn't, and everything in between.

"Smart" large appliances

Several manufacturers introduced new ways to incorporate "smart features" … Read more

Russell Hobbs Easy Toaster keeps toast at the ready

The UK is on a breakfast roll -- or at least on a roll regarding what Americans generally consider breakfast items. Recently, we saw the iKettle, a Wi-Fi-enabled hot water kettle that can be controlled with a smartphone. Neat idea for those that never know when they'll be ready for a spot of tea. Given that there probably isn't a mysterious 'toast time' we Americans know nothing about, now they have a toaster over there specifically designed to be able to keep toast warm until it's time to eat.

The Russell Hobbs 19990 Easy Toaster (£34.99)Read more

Power up body and mobile device with the Bella Toast and Brew Breakfast Station

Every day has to start somewhere. For millions of Americans, nothing happens until the coffeemaker kicks into action. The dark elixir that is coffee fuels us forward with the all-important first caffeine jolt of the day. Others prefer a bite before heading into action; for them, perhaps the toaster is the first appliance of the day. Then, of course, there are those who must attend to more practical matters first: recharging the phone because of forgetting to plug it in.

Considering the fact that morning fog can obscure the path to multiple appliances, Bella has created the Toast and Brew Breakfast Station ($34.99).Read more

Don't call them toasters: We test out high-end toaster ovens

It used to be that the only real advantage offered by high-end toaster ovens was that they looked a little nicer than their more budget-friendly countertop counterparts. There was nothing cutting-edge about toaster ovens back then, and when it came time to cook, one would more or less do the job just as well as another.

Today's high-end toaster ovens are different. With full convection settings, presets that actually matter, and a variety of new and improved cooking elements to play with, you'll find plenty of tempting new models capable of giving your full-size oven a run for … Read more

Cuisinart CSO-300 adds steam to usual toaster oven arsenal

The kitchen is one of the most upgradable rooms of the house, and Cuisinart would love for you to consider upgrading your toaster oven. The company's top offering, the sleek CSO-300 Combo Steam + Convection Oven, promises to bring the power of steam to your countertop, transforming your standard toaster oven into a more multidimensional cooking contraption. But that expanded functionality comes at a price -- $299, to be exact. If you think $299 is a lot to spend on a toaster oven, you'd be correct, but Cuisinart would argue that the CSO-300 isn't just a toaster oven, … Read more

This pint-size toaster oven packs a punch

The $149 Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven is a cute, capable machine that consistently surprised me with its speed, accuracy, and generally above-average cooking performance. It's a midrange toaster oven that often performed as well as (if not better than) more expensive models from Cuisinart, Breville, and Frigidaire. If you can get past the Panasonic's dated display and the wonky temperature and timer settings, you will probably fall in love with it. And, over time, maybe those odd little features will become part of its appeal -- it definitely grew on me. I would highly recommend the Panasonic FlashXpress … Read more

The smartly designed Breville Smart Oven

With a retail price of $249, the Breville Smart Oven sits among the most expensive toaster ovens in our test group, second only to the $299 Cuisinart CSO-300 Combo Steam + Convection Oven. Breville's oven performs well and handled nearly every food we tested with ease. I particularly liked its easy-to-use control panel and preset cook functions. If you’re in the market for a luxury, large-capacity toaster oven, the Breville Smart Oven is recommendable, even if its "smart" features aren't immediately obvious. If you don’t need a lot of space, however, it’s hard to … Read more

Toaster completes Panasonic Breakfast Collection trilogy

The trilogy that is the Panasonic Breakfast Collection is now complete. Joining the electric kettle and the coffeemaker is the Panasonic NT-ZP1V Stainless Steel and Glass Toaster. Initially back-ordered while the other two countertop appliances enjoyed their moments to shine, the toaster is now available at a price of $199.95 and ships in one to three business days.

This brings the curtain down on Panasonic's Breakfast Collection for the moment. The three matching appliances are available in violet or in a cool smoke finish. Decking out the kitchen with distinctive design does not come cheap, however; the three … Read more

Star Apps: Counting Crows

For some audiophiles, Counting Crows and The Wallflowers will forever be associated with the mid-1990s--along with Netscape Navigator, Hotmail, and of course, Windows 95. But don't call their joint summer outing a nostalgia trip. Velvet-tongued Counting Crows vocalist Adam Duritz, hot off the heels of The Outlaw Roadshow (alongside a slew of new indie bands), prefers to view his comparatively intimate Wallflowers double bill as a much-needed respite.

Other than sharing a decade, the comradely combos have shared previous tours, a track (Duritz sang on The Wallflowers' "6th Avenue Heartache"), and even a producer (T-Bone Burnett, back … Read more