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Kitchen upgrades that just aren’t worth it

Spend more for that extra add-on for your coffee maker, your toaster, or even your oven, and you'll be ready to add some style points to your kitchen. Except, once you start using your new toy, you might find you paid more for something that adds nothing to the experience, and sometimes actually makes the core product worse. Here are 10 examples of those overhyped extras that don't add up to the premium you'll spend to get them.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET


LG fridges call it a door-in-door feature. Samsung calls it a Food Showcase. The premise is the same. Open an outer panel to access your door bins without opening the whole door and exposing your fridge to warm air. It's a nice idea, but in practice, it's tedious to deal with the extra partition when loading in your groceries. It also causes temperatures on the door in question to run higher than normal.

Published:Caption:Photo:Colin West McDonald/CNET

Baking drawer

KitchenAid cleverly turned the bottom drawer of its KSGB900ESS gas convection range into a baking drawer. Except, the drawer isn't tall enough to fit a lot of things you'd want to bake, and comparable models without this feature can cost as much as $1,000 less.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Luxury shelves

Supposedly, the "luxury" shelves in high-end Electrolux fridges can double as serving trays. The problem is you have to tilt them to a steep angle to get them in and out of the fridge. Inevitably, you'll spill any arranged appetizers in the process. The removable nature of the shelves also makes them more difficult to rearrange within the fridge.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Counter-depth refrigerators

Several design specific elements of large appliances rack up the price without adding to the performance. You'll pay a premium for counter-depth fridgesslide-in ranges and even a stainless-steel finish and you're not actually getting a better machine. If you're not design-minded, avoid these elements and you can find the same core machines for less.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Built-in coffee grinders

You can grind your beans and make your coffee with the same machine! What's not to love? Well, neither of the machines we've tested with this feature actually made good coffee, and they both cost a lot because of the feature. For the same price, you can get a simple grinder separately, along with a much better coffee maker.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Auto-lowering toast

Leverless toasters admittedly add a bit of unique charm to an old-fashioned machine. I got a kick out of pressing a button and watching my toast lower, or with the KitchenAid Proline, watching it lower automatically, no button press required. These toasters cost more than models with levers, though, and if your toast gets stuck, you won't have an easy way of giving it an extra lift.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Keurig 2.0

A truly disappointing sequel, the second single-serve brewer from Keurig offers little in return if you ditched your original Keurig for it. In fact, you can't use any off-brand K-cups with it, limiting your options to first-party products only. You can brew a whole pot with the Keurig 2.0, as opposed to just a single cup, but if you want to do that, you're better off buying a decent drip machine.

Published:Caption:Photo:Colin West McDonald/CNET

Sous vide water bath machines

Formerly reserved for professional kitchens, the sous vide style of cooking is now more accessible than ever to the home enthusiast. Basically, you vacuum seal your food in a bag and let it sit in a heated water bath until it hits the perfect temp. Big boxy water bath machines like the pictured Sous Vide Supreme and the Caso Sous Vide Center do the task well enough, but they're expensive and bulky. You can pay a lot less for immersion circulators that attach to any stock pot and can even pack in connected smarts.

Published:Caption:Photo:Megan Wollerton/CNET

Smart coffee makers

We're excited for the possibilities of smart small appliances, but a lot of the offerings we've seen thus far have disappointed. Yes, you can start the connected Mr Coffee machine brewing from your phone, but you still have to grind your beans, add your water, and do all of the other prep for each batch. At that point, you might as well just hit the button. You can't store multiple batches of ingredients. You can prep overnight for a morning brew, but leaving the ingredients out for that long had a negative impact on taste. Similarly, we've seen smart slow cookers that don't take much of a step forward from ordinary programmable models.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Oven smarts

Like with small appliances, we're excited by what smart ovens could be. As yet, a lot of the functionality added by the Internet is simplistic, and if you wanted to check on your food from your couch right now, it's easier and more cost effective to do that with a device like the Kitchen Thermometer from iDevices.

Published:Caption:Photo:Colin West McDonald/CNET
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