Picking out the right appliances for your home is a big task, and manufacturers are always looking to sway your decision with gimmicky, trademarked features that promise exclusive functionality. At CNET Appliances, we harbor plenty of skepticism for these sorts of bells and whistles -- but that doesn't mean there aren't a few that manage to cut through, offering the sort of legitimate, practical appeal we can't help but love. Click through for just a few that come to mind.
You know those prongs on your dishwasher's top rack? There are a few in this GE Profile Series dishwasher that shoot out their own jets of water. Stick a water bottle, a baby bottle or any other vessel with a narrow opening on top of one, and it'll get a thorough cleaning inside and out.
You'll find plenty of cool appliance features for washing your clothes, too. This Samsung washer has a ribbed sink that folds down into place -- an especially convenient spot for giving a tough stain a quick scrub by hand before starting a load.
If you're more a fan of front-load washers, check out the newly announced Samsung AddWash. There's a little hatch at the top of the door, which lets you add in a stray, forgotten sock after the door locks at the start of the load.
Other washing machines offer features designed to help you get more laundry done at once. The LG Twin Wash washing machine was the surprise hit of this year's Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas, with hordes of techies oohing and aahing over the additional washing compartment in its pull-out bottom drawer. That's right, it's a washer on a washer.
There are two drums in the Haier Duo Washing Machine, too, letting you run two completely separate loads at once.
Haier also offers the Intelius washer/dryer, a smart appliance with a slick LCD screen and connected features. However, the gimmick we're most drawn to is the ring of LED lights around the door. They slowly fill in during a cycle -- blue for a wash, orange for a dry. When the circle completes at the top, your cycle is done. That's a clever visual indicator you can read at a glance.
GE offers clever LED indicators, too, with a strip of red LEDs across the top of this Profile Series double wall oven. They fill in from left to right during a timed bake, making it easy to see how soon your roast beef will be ready. Plus, they make the oven look like a frakkin' Cylon.
Samsung makes clever use of LEDs in its high-end ovens, too. This Chef Collection induction model reflects blue lights onto your cookware whenever a burner is turned on. Sure, it looks a little gimmicky, but it's also pretty helpful, as it isn't always easy to tell when an induction burner is hot.
Here's another cooktop we like, from GE's Monogram Series. Apart from its classy, modern design, it features a wireless temperature sensor that clamps onto your pot and connects to the cooktop over Bluetooth. With the sensor providing readings, the cooktop can automatically cycle on and off to maintain a precise temperature in the pot -- that brings sous-vide-style cooking into play.
There are sensors in this Bosch Series 8 induction cooktop, too. They might seem like a gimmick now, but cooking sensors could be commonplace within just a few years.
Here's another sensor that wins our approval: the brainy water dispenser in this GE Profile Series fridge. Set a glass, pitcher or pot down and press go, and the fridge can automatically fill it with water without overflowing. You can also set the precise amount of water you want. It's a gimmick I'd use every day.
You could also look at the GE Cafe Series fridges which focus more on dispensing hot drinks on demand. This model even has a Keurig coffee-making system built right in. That makes a lot of sense to us -- since the fridge has a water intake, you'll never need to worry about refilling a reservoir.
Perhaps the most eye-catching gimmick we've seen this year is the disappearing window in Haier's Smart Window fridge. From a distance, the refrigerator looks like a normal appliance, albeit an expensive one. Walk up to it, though, and it'll sense you coming, then illuminate a clever panel in the door, making it translucent and allowing you to window shop for your midnight snack without holding the door open. The future is now, people!