Welcome to CNN Underscored, an online shopping guide for the best in style, tech, health and travel. Our editors hunt the Web to find you the products and services we think you’ll love. Here are some of the best products we’ve tested so far in 2021.
We packed and unpacked each suitcase with a typical load, wheeled them around New York City streets and even dropped them down a flight of stairs to simulate the treatment they might get from baggage handlers, all to find the checked bags that are really worth taking along on your next long trip.
Best overall checked suitcase
With fantastic internal organization and compression, a durable exterior and comfortable handles, the Away Medium suitcase was the most well-rounded bag we tested, with a great combination of maneuverability, capacity, durability and style.
Best budget checked suitcase
At about half the price of our top pick, the Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner rolls super smooth, fits more thanks to its expandable zippers and is one of the lightest bags we tested; you'll sacrifice some style and it has less comfortable handles.
Many coffee lovers still rely on the classic, automatic drip for their daily fix. That’s why we tested the best-rated drip coffee makers using a wide range of criteria over the course of several weeks.
Best drip coffee maker overall
The Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker produced consistently delicious, hot cups of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Runner-up with a modern bent
This was, to our eye, the most handsome and minimally designed of the straightforward auto-brewers, delivering a clean, tasty cup. It lost first place only because the touchscreen may not be for every consumer, and brew time is significantly longer than the other machines we tried out.
Luxury pick for the design-obsessed
In just near five minutes, the Technivorm Moccamaster 59636 KBG Coffee Brewer turns out a whole pot of pretty perfectly brewed coffee, and the process is as entrancing as a targeted Netflix trailer.
We put nine popular blenders to the test, whipping up smoothies, soups and nut butter and pulverizing ice to find the models that produced the creamiest, silkiest textures and had the best functionality, durability and more. The bottom line: Higher cost also means increased performance and a longer-lasting machine, so if you’re a frequent blender, we think they’re worth the investment in the long run.
Best blender overall
The Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is quieter than other models. 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.
Best budget blender
Besides doing an admirable job at blending up creamy soups and smoothies, the Ninja Professional Plus Blender comes with a number of presets, as well as low, medium and high manual settings. It doesn't have the heft or quality materials of the high-performance blenders we tested, but for casual users, it won't disappoint.
To help you choose the best knife set for you, we spent weeks testing 11 of the top-rated knife sets. We chopped, diced and sliced, loading our cutting board with fruit, veggies, herbs, bread, meat and cheese to see which blades did the best job.
Best overall knife set
We were impressed by the sturdy construction, comfort of use and reliable execution that came with each piece in this all-inclusive set.
When you want knives that are super sharp, durable, ergonomic and will last a lifetime, we highly suggest you give this standout set a good look.
Best luxury set
This hand-crafted set is elegant, sophisticated, ergonomic and super sharp. It includes the four basic knives that a serious home cook needs.
Apple may have ushered in the wire-free craze with its now-ubiquitous AirPods, but these days, there seems to be an endless influx of wireless earbuds looking to help you cut the cord. Here’s our top picks for the best wireless earbuds of 2021.
Best budget earbuds
For those not looking to spend a ton, the EarFun Air rival the AirPods Pro on sound quality in the right environment and have a reliable microphone for taking important work calls.
Best wireless earbuds for Apple users
Apple's AirPods Pro deliver a wide soundstage, deliver solid noise-canceling ability and play especially nice with iPhones, iPads and Macs, with instantaneous pairing and the ability to switch between Apple devices without missing a beat.
Best wireless earbuds for Android users (and best wireless earbuds for calls)
Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro offer up a ton of great software features that let Android users fine-tune the audio and customize the controls, and deliver some very solid noise cancellation.
It’s our job to keep up on the latest trends in tech, and we’d be lying if we said we haven’t felt overwhelmed by all of the laptop options on the market today.
But finding the best of the best is our job, and we take it seriously. So for the last few months, our editors have been testing the latest and greatest laptops we could get our hands on, from Apple to Dell, and we’ve found some standout machines.
Best Apple laptop
At $999, the MacBook Air with M1 is a budget laptop that can take on any task — from web browsing to productivity to 4K video editing. And if you're in the Apple ecosystem, it will work perfectly with other Apple devices.
Best Windows laptop
The Dell XPS 13 packs a gorgeous, lightweight, slim and highly portable design for working anywhere, a nearly borderless display that makes content pop and a powerful 11th Gen Intel processor that can burn through most workloads with ease.
The upgrade pick
The 13-inch MacBook Pro adds a graphics core and a cooling system that lets it take on more intense tasks. It's a true portable powerhouse with a battery that can last for days.
To determine which bottles are truly worth their price tag, we culled thousands of insulated water bottles down to 15 contenders after reading through reviews and browsing bestselling bottles across the internet. We then put them through a litany of tests to determine which is the absolute best.
After two months of testing and drinking a whole lotta water, we narrowed down our picks to two bottles that stood out from the rest.
Best overall water bottle
The Yeti Rambler came out on top during our testing thanks to its stellar thermoregulation, amazing durability and fantastic chug cap that gives you a comfortable and quick drinking experience, while maintaining easy access to the superwide mouth.
Best budget water bottle
The 21-ounce Healthy Human Stein was a surprise standout in our testing for its durability and effective thermoregulation. We didn't love the lid, but you can add the optional Flip n' Sip lid to make the drinking experience easier. Plus, it comes in a dizzying range of colors and three sizes to fit most tastes and needs.