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Instant Pots and LG fridges: Give a practical gift with a high-tech appliance for the holidays

These gadget-minded in-home upgrades make great gifts for that special someone (or for yourself -- we won't judge).

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Ryan_Crist2.jpg
Ry Crist
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Brian Bennett Former Senior writer
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
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andrewgebhart.jpg
Andrew Gebhart Former senior producer
Ry Crist
Brian Bennett
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1 of 21 Wacaco

Wacaco Nanopresso

Shopping for the holidays and looking for good, gadgety appliance gifts? You've come to the right collection of pictures and captions, my friend.

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

Let's start things off the same way a lot of us start our days off: coffee. At a retail price of $79, the Wacaco Nanopresso is a manual espresso maker that you can take anywhere. Just supply the hot water, the filter and the coffee grounds, then add a little bit of muscle to prime the pump. The Nanopresso will do the rest. 

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2 of 21 Brian Bennett/CNET

Bonavita Metropolitan

If your loved one prefers standard drip brew to espresso, then consider the Bonavita Metropolitan. It's an excellent coffeemaker from one of our top-tested brands, and it comes at a very fair price of $100.

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3 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Ember Smart Mug

Another good gift for the coffee snob on your shopping list: Ember's smart coffee mug. Not only does it hold your beverage at the optimal drinking temperature, but it'll even track your caffeine intake, then share the data with Apple Health so you can track it.

Java-lovers take note: Our resident coffee expert Brian Bennett uses Ember's smart mug just about every day, and he swears by the thing, calling it "catnip for coffee geeks."

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4 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

June Intelligent Oven 2.0

The second-gen June Intelligent Oven costs $600, which is obviously a lot to spend on a countertop cooking device. Still, that's less than the first generation cost, and for the money, you're getting an excellent appliance with software and built-in cameras capable of recognizing what you're trying to make, then automating the cooking process accordingly. It won the overwhelming approval of our taste-testers, too.

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5 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Tovala Smart Oven Gen 2

If even the June sounds like too much work for you or someone you know, the Tovala and its meal kits make cooking even easier. The second-gen model costs $350 and allows you to use it as a countertop oven and cook from scratch if you'd like, but it works best with the mail-order kits you can simply pop in and eat a little while later. 

6 of 21 Breville

Breville Pizzaolio

Shopping for a pizza fanatic? You could always splurge on a dedicated, countertop pizza oven like the Breville Pizzaolio. At $800, it definitely doesn't come cheap, but it certainly costs a lot less than a full-size pizza oven for your wall. Besides, can anyone really put a price on fresh-baked pie ready in just 2 minutes?

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7 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Whirlpool Smart Front-Control Range

Speaking of ovens, here's a new one from Whirlpool that works with Alexa and Google Assistant to let you start preheating with a simple voice command. Prices vary, but I'm currently seeing it on sale for about $1,300.

Worth the cash? Maybe, maybe not -- but that voice preheating sounds like the kind of simple little feature that I'd end up using all of the time. If you've got a family member who uses a voice assistant and loves to cook, an appliance like this could make for a sneaky smart splurge (especially if you get to eat the things they cook with it).

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8 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Instant Pot Ace

The Instant Pot countertop cooker is a bonafide breakout hit, so the brand doubled down this year and released a blender to go with it. And wouldn't you know it, Instant Pot cooked up another winner. At $99, it's one of the best-reviewed blenders we've ever tested, and would make a great gift for your favorite foodie.

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9 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

FirstBuild Paragon Mat

Here's another countertop cooking gadget worth considering: the Paragon Mat from FirstBuild. It's a new accessory that comes with the Paragon Induction Cooktop, and once you set it on top of the cooking surface, it'll let the cooker sense and regulate the temperature of your cookware. That brings a whole new level of versatility to an already likable cooking gadget. The total cost for everything? $299.

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10 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Picobrew Pico Model C

The Picobrew Model C is almost perfect when it comes to making your own beer at home, and you can often get it for less than $300. It's a slam dunk gift for your favorite beer snob.

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11 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Simple Chef HF-898 Air Fryer

We tested a whole bunch of air fryers this year to find the ones that are actually worth it. Much to our french-fried delight, the Simple Chef HF-989 -- the most affordable option we tested -- was also one of the best. This holiday season, we say give the gift of air-fried everything.

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12 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Char-Broil Performance XL-1

We also tested backyard grills this year, and the Performance XL-1 from Char-Broil was one of our top finishers. At a retail price of $300, it's a budget-friendly pick that'll have whoever you're getting it for all fired up for summer to return. Bonus: They pretty much have to invite you to their first cookout.

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13 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Orca Classic Cooler

What's that next to the Char-Broil grill from the previous slide? Why, it's the Orca Classic Cooler, of course, and it's another sneaky good gift for anyone who's already planning ahead for fun in the sun next summer. It was one of the top-performing coolers out of all 12 that we tested this year, and it offers significantly more space than its rival, the Yeti Tundra 45. The cost? Under $300.

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14 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lifetime High Performance Cooler

If $300 is too steep for your budget, then consider the Lifetime High Performance Cooler, which we snagged at Walmart for about $100. It isn't quite as high-end a build as Orca or Yeti, but it offers a terrific balance of performance and design for the price. Plus, it has a built-in bottle opener!

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15 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

LG LSXC22436S

OK, let's head back to the kitchen. If you've been thinking about replacing your home's fridge, then buying a really nice one for the holidays could make a great gift for the family. For my money, I like this premium side-by-side model from LG -- one of the best fridges I tested all year. The retail price is a hefty $2,100, but as of writing this I'm seeing it marked down to about $1,700 at numerous big box retailers. At that price, this side-by-side is a steal.

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16 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Thor Kitchen HRF3601F

Speaking of fridge deals, this counter-depth French door model from Thor Kitchen offers near-perfect performance and a distinctive dual-drawer freezer for less than $2,000.

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17 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Samsung RT21M6213SR Top Freezer with FlexZone

For a simpler option if you want a fridge upgrade, this top freezer from Samsung costs a reasonable $850. It looks great, it performed well in our tests and it lets you switch the freezer to fridge temps if you need the extra space for a holiday party. 

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18 of 21 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Soraa Radiant LED

OK, so maybe you aren't looking to spend thousands on a new large appliance this holiday season. That's fine -- how about some new light bulbs? These Radiant LEDs from Soraa would make a great upgrade for anyone with lots of colors in their home, because it uses a special design to help those colors look their best. It's a great pick for a kitchen, a walk-in closet, or anywhere else where vivid, accurate color quality could make a noticeable difference.

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19 of 21 Philips

Philips Deco Vintage Filament LED Light Bulbs

For a light bulb that's more of a conversation piece in and of itself, consider these enormous, vintage-style bulbs from Philips. Your loved one can hang them on their own for a warm, distinctive aesthetic.

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20 of 21 Ry Crist/CNET

Eufy RoboVac 30C

For $300, Eufy's RoboVac 30C offers automated cleaning that you can control and schedule from your phone thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi radio -- a first for the brand. On top of that, it works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, letting you tell either one to get the floors clean. Buy it for that special messy someone, or just buy it for yourself to help clean up after your next holiday get-together.

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21 of 21 Chris Monroe/CNET

Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Controller

Perhaps you want to upgrade the exterior of your home this holiday. The $110 Tailwind iQ3 is a solid smart garage controller at a great value. It offers lots of scheduling options and remote opening and closing. Plus, it works with Google Assistant and Alexa for voice controls. 

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