Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

World

We tested the best kitchen knife sets

Published

on

High-quality, super-sharp kitchen knives make culinary tasks easier and safer. (Did you know that dull knives are actually more dangerous?) While many home cooks will fare just fine with a basic chef’s, paring and serrated knife, investing in a set, housed neatly in a handsome knife block, adds versatility — and, for real cooking nerds, even joy — to meal-making.

But with so many options and price points on the market, choosing a knife set can be confusing. To help you decide, we did exhaustive research to determine which are the best sets on the market and spent the past several weeks putting the 11 finalists to the test.

We chopped. We diced. We sliced. We minced. We trimmed. We peeled. We cored. We found ourselves repeatedly using terms like “full tang” (when a blade is constructed of one metal piece that extends the length of the handle, which is preferable), “forged steel” (pricier than its stamped counterpart, but sturdier) and “heavy bolster” (the junction between the blade and handle that helps with balance). “Please never say ‘full tang’ again,” our children begged.

We loaded our cutting board with fruit, veggies, herbs, bread, meat, cheese and more to see which blades did the best job, suffering — to our extreme surprise — just one minor flesh wound in the process. In the end, we came up with three winners any home chef would find to be — er — a cut above the rest:

A quick look at the winners

Generally, most of the knives we tested were nice and sharp out of the box and all were stainless steel grade or better, but from there they varied when it came to grip, build and weight, which affected performance. The three winners earned points for great maneuverability, aesthetics and included extras. And while each knife in our top three sets got high marks, there were individual knives in other sets that performed better. Why didn’t those win? Points for each set were tallied across a variety of factors, including price. (See below for a full breakdown of how we evaluated each set.) In other words: One incredible knife does not make a great set.

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $106.50 (originally $119.99). Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

If you’d like to step things up a few notches, it’s hard to go wrong with the Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set. Complete with four knives all forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, the precision-honed blades are extra-sharp, stylish and just feel really nice in your hand. At $330, they’re pricey, yes. But if you’re looking to make an investment in your kitchen tools, we can’t think of a better place to start.

Finally, if you’ve been saving up for a knife set you know will last for years — nay, decades — to come, reach for the Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Walnut Block Knife Set. From sharpness to balance to heft, to the sleek and sophisticated appearance of the four included knives — plus a sharpening steel and kitchen shears, in their classic wood block — we quickly discovered why this family-owned German company has been lauded for turning out high-quality knives for more than 200 years. You know that saying “It cut like a hot knife through butter”? We think the Wüsthof chef knife served as its inspiration.

Best overall knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($106.50, originally $119.99; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

First things first: Of the 11 knife sets we tested, this was one of the cheapest. At just over $100, you might reasonably expect they’d be lower quality than their more expensive counterparts. You’d be wrong. We were blown away by the sturdy construction, comfort of use and reliable execution that came with each piece in this all-inclusive set. True, there were sharper, higher-quality knives in several of the other sets we tested, but when it came to overall rankings, performance and consideration of cost, the Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set was the clear champion.

One big plus: the whopping 17 included pieces. Besides the classic — and heavy — chestnut-stained wood block, you get a 7 3/4-inch chef’s knife, 7 3/4-inch serrated bread knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 5-inch santoku knife, 5-inch utility knife, 3 1/4-inch paring knife and eight — yes, eight! — 4 1/2-inch steak knives, plus a sharpening steel and chop assist. The only thing missing is kitchen shears, but you can add a pair like these OXO Good Grips Multipurpose Kitchen Scissors ($17.95; amazon.com) to your utensil drawer later.

The forged blades are made using high-carbon, rust-resistant stainless steel. The ergonomic handles could be a little small for those with big hands, but we found them to be just right. At first blush, we didn’t think we’d like the poly padded handles, but they were actually extremely comfortable and kept the knives from slipping, even after they had just been hand-washed. And, yes, tempting as it may be to throw your knives into the dishwasher, this set, as with pretty much all the knives we tested, should be carefully hand-washed to preserve longevity.

Among the four core knives we tested, the chef’s, paring and utility knives got average points for slicing through onions, carrots, tomatoes, apples, herbs and everything else we threw at them. But the Chicago’s serrated knife was a standout among all the sets we looked at. Its length makes it versatile and useful for all sorts of kitchen projects. Plus, it is exceptionally sharp and took practically zero effort to drag through a few-days-old loaf of crusty bread, take the rind off a cantaloupe or slice uber-thin pieces from a tender tomato or peach, earning it more points than the Zwilling or Wüsthof versions.

Another bonus: These knives stay sharp. As part of our testing, we compared the knives we used during our rigorous tests to a second identical set straight out of the box. After plenty of chopping, slicing and dicing, the Chicago Cutlery knives remained as sharp as their brand-new counterparts. We also did the paper test, where the ability of the knife to easily slice through a piece of basic printer paper without snagging or catching shows it’s properly sharpened. These knives passed with flying colors.

Also putting Chicago over the top were all the extras: The steak knives performed great while slicing through grilled filet mignon and the two santoku knives were handy for slicing cheese, mincing garlic and scooping everything off the cutting board. (Santoku knives, by the way, are similar to chef’s knives, but are thinner, with no tip and often have small divots on the edges to keep food from sticking to them. They’re great for chopping soft or sticky things like meat, veggies, herbs and cheese and for scooping food off your cutting board, thanks to their wide blade.)

In a sentence: If price point is as important to you as quality, add this knife set to your shopping cart, stat. Again, there are higher-performing individual knives on our list, but, as a whole, we were impressed by the completeness and overall execution of this wallet-friendly set.

Runner-up: Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set ($329.95; target.com or amazon.com, or $349.99; homedepot.com)

Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set
Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set

When you’re seeking out knives that are super sharp, durable, ergonomic and will last a lifetime, we highly suggest you stop and give this standout set a good look.

Complete with an 8-inch chef’s knife, 4-inch paring knife, 5 1/2-inch prep knife and 8-inch bread knife, plus shears, a sharpening steel and a 16-slot hardwood bamboo block, it received excellent scores on performance and quality.

This set, made in Germany by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, which was founded back in 1731, also takes into account the benefits of both Western and Asian knife design. For example, the chef’s knife blade has a broad curve to allow for a Western-style rocking motion, but a straight back that aligns with the Asian chopping style.

One thing that truly sets this set apart from our top choice is the ice-hardened, precision-honed blades. They’re forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, making them harder and sharper than many other models. Lasers are then used to angle the edges of the blades for precision sharpness, and the process seems to have succeeded. The chef’s knife, which was our favorite from the Zwilling set, for one, practically dropped through a head of lettuce, and easily sliced through carrots, onions, herbs and more. The chef’s knife is typically the most used knife in a home cook’s block, so the fact that this was the standout piece in the set shows that Zwilling knows what matters most.

The paring knife, at 4 inches, was bigger than most versions, and the height of the blade seemed gigantic — basically twice the size of other paring knives. In fact, it seemed more like a utility knife, and the oversized blade, while very sharp, made it difficult to core a tomato or hull a strawberry. The utility knife, meanwhile, cut easily through apples and avocados, but wasn’t quite as sharp as the paring knife. And the serrated knife, our least favorite in the set, didn’t cut easily through bread.

The box promotes the fact that the knives are designed with a unique ergonomic and curved bolster (where the knife meets the handle) to support the “professional pinch grip” — where your thumb and index finger rest on the blade for safer cutting. This was read aloud to us while we were chopping, and we looked down to see we were, indeed, holding the knife just so. That attention to craftsmanship and user experience is a detail worth paying more for.

The factors that ultimately kept this set from being our winning pick? It includes only four knives for its hefty price, and the extras it comes with ー a sharpening steel and a pair of shears ーwere uncomfortable to use and seemed oddly mismatched with the rest of the set (read: different, lesser quality). Still, the quality of the knives and handles means this set is likely to last a lifetime — making the investment worth it.

Best luxury set: Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Walnut Block Knife Set ($399.99; macys.com or $449.95; amazon.com or bloomingdales.com)

Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Walnut Block Knife Set
Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Walnut Block Knife Set

Elegant, sophisticated, ergonomic, sharp as hell.

There’s just so much to appreciate about this German-made, handcrafted knife set that includes the four basic knives that a serious home cook needs: an 8-inch chef’s knife, 3 1/2-inch paring knife, 6-inch utility knife, 8-inch bread knife, plus come-apart kitchen shears, a 9-inch honing steel and a 15-slot cherry block. This knife set has it all and looks great doing it. It’s got history, a classic design and high-tech, high-quality craftsmanship that comes with a lifetime warranty (on workmanship and materials under normal conditions).

The full-tang (meaning the blade is a solid piece of metal from the tip all the way through the handle), triple-riveted polypropylene handles are made for serious wear and tear yet look sleek, with a double bolster that gives them an impressive balance. Thinner than other knives we tested, the handles fit perfectly in a woman’s hand, but our male tester wished they were a smidge more substantial.

The blades, meanwhile, are a point of differentiation from the other sets. Sure, they’re precision-forged from a single piece of tempered high-carbon stainless steel, making them stain- and corrosion-resistant. So are a few other sets in our testing pool. But their special PEtec edge is created by robots sharpening the blades on a whetstone to a precise and consistent sharpness, making them a self-proclaimed “20% sharper with twice the edge retention,” which means you’ll hardly ever have to sharpen them.

The chef’s knife, or “cook’s knife” as Wüsthof calls it, has a lot of heft, making it a wise choice for chopping vegetables, meat and more. It glided through onions, potatoes and tomatoes, took the corn off the cob with ease and sliced through the tough rind of a pineapple like it was nothing. The paring and utility knives fit comfortably into our hands and easily sliced everything we tested them on: limes, oranges, strawberries, carrots, zucchini, radishes, you name it. The serrated bread knife drew right through our baguette loaves, making us dream of a second career as an apprentice in a French boulangerie.

As for their performance when tested against the same never-been-used blades? We couldn’t suss out any difference in sharpness by touch, performance chopping up onions, carrots and tomatoes or from the paper test, of which both used and new Wüsthof knives made mincemeat.

Wüsthof proudly makes these blades in Solingen, Germany — the steel manufacturing capital of the world — where it has been headquartered since its inception 200-plus years ago. The fact that the set includes just four knives and comes with a $450 price tag kept it from being our overall winner or runner up. If you have the money to invest, however, we think the classic, elegant set will not only look like a crown jewel on your kitchen counter, but also continue to dazzle for a lifetime. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself continually seeking out new things to chop.

How we tested

We spent weeks testing these knife sets, comparing each model by the same criteria, including overall performance, build quality, added accessories and warranty, taking detailed notes on how specific knives functioned based on everything from sharpness and materials to heft and hand-feel to how they looked and the usefulness of any included extras. We ordered two of each set so that after spending several days slicing and dicing our hearts out, we were able to compare the used knives’s sharpness to their just-out-of-the-box twins.

As avid home cooks, we already spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen, but as our dining room table became overtaken with woodblocks filled with knives to test, we quickly found ourselves continually looking for things to chop. Who wants an apple peeled, cored and diced? What can we make with minced garlic and minced onions? Need another slice of crusty bread? But ultimately a decision had to be made. Here’s how we broke down our evaluation:

Overall performance

  • Chef’s knife: This standard tool is made to take on most of the bigger jobs in the kitchen. Its weight makes it easier to chop up loads of ingredients in one go, say, for a big pot of soup or to roast a bounty of potatoes and vegetables. We tested chopping through meat, onions, carrots, herbs and more, noting the knife’s design, grip, weight and general feel. We noted the ease of drawing the blade through different food items, and also whether the knife glided through paper or snagged.
  • Paring knife: A paring knife needs to be nimble, precise and feel good in the hand. So, for this knife, we cored and peeled apples and tomatoes, and minced shallots and garlic to evaluate its performance and feel.
  • Utility knife: These knives are made to take on all of the random jobs where no other knife feels right — the chef’s knife is too big, the paring knife is too small. Too many items to list, including tomatoes, hard cheese, oranges, carrots and salami, were used to test how easily this knife could live up to its name.
  • Serrated knife: Serrated knives are made to cut through things that you can’t press down on easily, like crusty bread, angel food cake and cantaloupe. We looked at ease of cutting through difficult foods, as well as how thin we could slice something softer, such as a tomato.

Build

  • Quality: We took into account the quality of materials, including blade and handle construction. Forged knives, for example, are typically stronger than stamped, which are cut from a flat metal sheet. Some knives use laser technology, resulting in extra-sharp blades. Full tang, meaning the blade extends through the handle, helps create balance and overall heft. And handles varied from plastic to rubber to wood to metal.
  • Feel: So much of handling a kitchen knife rests on how it feels in your hand, so we paid special attention to the heaviness of the blades and handles, maneuverability, weight distribution and ease of sliding the knives in and out of their blocks.
  • Knuckle clearance: Not all knife handles are created equal, so we measured whether or not our knuckles or fingers hit the cutting board while chopping.
  • General looks: Aesthetics are important — especially for utensils that will sit out on your countertop 24/7. While we realize taste is subjective, we noted our general reaction to how nice they looked.

Accessories

  • Some sets were very simple with just a few items, while others included a full array of steak knives, shears, honing steels, boning knives, slicers and more. We looked at what was offered and how useful those items were.

Warranty

  • Stuff happens, so we noted warranty information (tease: most had limited lifetime warranties).

How we rated

Using the metrics described above, each knife set was assigned a score in each subcategory, which were combined for a total subcategory score and then added together for an overall total. Here’s how the scores were broken down:

  • Overall performance had a maximum of 40 points: chef’s knife (13); paring knife (9); utility knife (9); serrated knife (9).
  • Build had a maximum of 35 points: quality (15); knife feel (10); room for knuckle clearance (5); appearance (5).
  • Accessories had a maximum of 10 points.
  • Warranty had a maximum of 5 points: lifetime (5 points); two to five years (2 points); less than two years (0 points).

With a focus on value, we also considered the price of each knife set, which ranged quite a bit, from $14 to $500.

Other knife sets we tested

Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set ($399.95, originally $429.99; amazon.com)

Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set
Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

There’s no denying it: These are the sharpest knives we have ever used.

Handcrafted in Seki, Japan, the durable, beautiful and razor-sharp Damascus stainless steel blades had us oohing and aahing at their ability to perfectly slice through everything. The paring knife, for instance, was so sharp that as we used it to core a tomato, we found it was shaving skin off our finger from the slightest touch. We also swooned over how the knives felt in our hands — the pakkawood handles were heavy, but the knives remained well-balanced. So, why was this not among our winners? The pricey set comes with just three knives: an 8-inch chef’s knife, 3 1/2-inch paring knife and 7-inch santoku knife. It also includes a slim dark wood knife block, which we liked, but the included honing steel and shears felt like afterthought additions. If you’re looking for pure sharpness? Hands down, Shun is the winner.

_________________________________________________________

Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Stainless Steel 15-piece Knife Block Set ($219.99, originally $269.99; amazon.com or crateandbarrel.com or $239.99; kohls.com)

Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Stainless Steel 15-piece Knife Block Set
Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Stainless Steel 15-piece Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

First, this is just a really solid set of knives. It scored high points for the amount of tools you get (8-inch chef’s knife, 8-inch bread knife, 6-inch utility knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 3 1/2-inch paring knife, eight steak knives and kitchen shears). We were also really impressed by the unique self-sharpening block that also features a modern wood finish. Admittedly, we thought the claim that the block’s built-in ceramic sharpeners would work with each use was a gimmick, but we were quickly impressed that the knives really did seem to get sharper every time we chopped and sliced. Cool, huh? As far as performance, the all-stainless steel, full-tang knives handled well and felt balanced, although they did feel overly heavy in our hands. We also appreciated the fact that the handles are labeled so you can quickly grab the correct knife. So why wasn’t this set a winner? The metal handles were much less comfortable than the rubber- and wood-handled sets. They felt very slick in hand, making for an unsure grip.

_________________________________________________________

Cuisinart C77SS 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set ($59.99; amazon.com)

Cuisinart C77SS 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set
Cuisinart C77SS 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

These knives scored lower on performance than most models: They weren’t as sharp, the hollow metal handles felt too light, causing an imbalance, and they tended to get slippery when wet. But if you’re on a budget and moving into your first apartment, we could see how this 15-piece knife set would still seem appealing. Besides the value price, it features lightweight, dishwasher-safe stainless steel blades that will cover your cutting needs. You get an 8-inch chef’s knife, 8-inch slicing knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 5 1/2-inch serrated utility knife, 3 1/2-inch paring knife, 3 1/2-inch bird’s beak paring knife, 8-inch sharpening steel, household shears and a block to store them all in. Our favorite? No. But decent for newbie cooks? Sure.

_________________________________________________________

AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Kitchen Knife Block Set ($68.25; amazon.com)

AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Kitchen Knife Block Set
AmazonBasics Premium 18-Piece Kitchen Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

When variety is key to your cooking game but staying on budget is too, you’d be wise to consider picking up this basic but useful 18-piece set. Besides the fact that you get a whole lot of knives (8-inch chef’s, 7-inch santoku, 8-inch slicing, 8-inch bread, 5 1/2-inch utility, 6-inch boning, 3 1/2-inch paring and eight steak knives), plus kitchen shears, a sharpener and the rubber-wood storage block, the quality here for $70 is respectable. The full-tang stainless steel blades are matched with triple-riveted, ergonomic handles. And while we had to put more elbow grease into our chops than we did with higher-end models, they generally performed well — especially the chef’s knife. Overall, this is a nice starter set for those testing the knife set waters, but more serious cooks will likely want sharper tools.

_________________________________________________________

Dalstrong 5-Piece Shadow Series Knife Block Set ($295; amazon.com)

Dalstrong 5-Piece Shadow Series Knife Block Set
Dalstrong 5-Piece Shadow Series Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

We must admit, when we unboxed this midnight black set noted by the company for its “menacing design,” we were prepared to be underwhelmed. Our aesthetic biases had us thinking these would prove to be more flash than performance, though we know some will dub the highly stylized look as awesome. Our biases were so wrong. The geometric design of the military-grade G10 handles actually fit really comfortably into our hands and their slight texture made slippage a non-issue. The full-tang titanium nitride-coated German steel blades were razor sharp and excellent at chopping and slicing everything we threw at them. So what didn’t we like so much? The curved blade of the chef’s knife was helpful in chopping, but its thinness made it feel a bit light. In fact, the heavy handles, paired with thin blades, seemed to affect the balance of the knives. And, at a rather hefty price, it includes just five knives (chef’s, paring, utility, serrated and santoku) plus a honing steel. Then again, if your home decor is Kylo Ren meets Jacques Pépin, put these on your wish list immediately.

_________________________________________________________

Vremi 10-Piece Colorful Knife Set ($13.99; amazon.com)

Vremi 10-Piece Colorful Knife Set
Vremi 10-Piece Colorful Knife Set
PHOTO: Amazon

If you know a college student who has made the move from their dorm to their first apartment, this colorful set of kitchen knives would make a fine housewarming gift. And, as that student may have learned during a leadership course, it’s best to offer some words of praise first. These knives are pretty. They’re bright and fun and will add a rainbow of hues to any kitchen. They’re BPA-free and come with matching sheaths so they can be easily stored in a drawer, saving precious counter space. They’re stainless steel and nonstick and include a chef’s knife, paring knife, carving knife, serrated knife and utility knife. But when it comes to performance? Well, they’re pretty much worth their budget price tag. They didn’t feel especially sharp out of the box, our fingers smashed against the cutting board as we chopped and the blades felt heavy compared to the plastic handles, which threw off the balance of the knives in our hands. We also had to push hard to cut our way through crusty bread, tomatoes and more. Overall, they get a passing grade, but just barely.

_________________________________________________________

Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set ($149; amazon.com)

Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder: What one person may deem stunning, another will see as gauche. Take this knife set from Mercer. Its unique, vertical tempered glass block had one family member wrinkling his nose with distaste, two teenagers dubbing it “sick” (a good thing) and one who kept waffling between “so cool” and “trying too hard.” But whether or not you like the looks of the glass block, no one can argue that these are great knives. Nice and sharp out of the box, they’re made using high-carbon German steel, a bolster for support and santoprene handles with full tang, offering fairly even weight distribution. They feel a little light, but worked well on everything we tested them on. With the set, you get five knives: 8-inch chef’s, 8-inch bread, 6-inch boning, 5-inch utility and 3 1/2-inch paring, plus that controversial holder. Our final opinion: While we decided the glass block does look pretty cool, giving the illusion that the knives are floating in air, having to pull the knives straight up vertically to remove them means you always have to move the block out from under your cabinets with each use — not ideal. It also only contained five knives, one of which was a boning knife which doesn’t see a lot of use, and the smaller, rubber handles weren’t especially comfortable.

_________________________________________________________

J.A. Henckels International 15-Piece Statement Knife Block Set ($139.99, originally $345; amazon.com)

J.A. Henckels International 15-Piece Statement Knife Block Set
J.A. Henckels International 15-Piece Statement Knife Block Set
PHOTO: Amazon

This solid, versatile set landed in the middle of the pack. With 15 pieces — 8-inch chef’s knife, 3-inch paring knife, 5-inch serrated utility knife, 7-inch santoku knife, 8-inch bread knife, six 4 1/2-inch steak knives in addition to a sharpening steel, kitchen shears and a hardwood block — we gave it high marks for all its useful add-ons and accessories. Made of honed, stainless steel blades and plastic curved handles with full tang, the chef’s knife was our favorite, although it felt a bit light in the hand. Overall, the knives were sharp out of the box, look nice in their wood block and come with an affordable price tag when on sale (which seems to be most of the time at most retailers). We weren’t crazy-wowed, but we weren’t disappointed, either.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World

All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

Published

on

(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

Source

Continue Reading

World

Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

Published

on

Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


Will you help keep Vox free for all?

The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.

Source

Continue Reading

World

Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

Published

on

From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending