High-definition screens, web-enabled controls, smart capabilities—you'd expect to find these features on the latest televisions and tablets. But increasingly they're also on thermostats, as manufacturers look to up the wow factor of these relatively mundane products, while also making them easier to use. These features, which were on some of the top-rated thermostats from our latest tests, are also on new models introduced by Lennox and Honeywell at the International Builders' Show.
A vessel sink rests proudly atop a bathroom counter or cabinet, practically begging for your attention. When it's made from bronze and looks, well, a little misshapen and very artistic in a rustic sort of way, then it's no longer just a sink. The 963 Chalice Bronze Vessel Sink, $695 from MR Direct, is on display at the International Builders' Show and turning heads.
For all those times that you told the kids not to write on the walls, scolding them for doodles left magically by markers, now Sherwin-Williams has created Dry Erase 2K Waterborne Clear Gloss. In other words, go crazy, kids. The Dry Erase coating transforms a wall into a surface for messages and artistic expression and is on display at the International Builders' Show.
Glass doors provide views to the outside while allowing natural light into the home. Come nighttime however, they're a window into your home, unless you install curtains or blinds. Simpson Door Company is unveiling another option at the International Builders' Show, a full-lite door with electric glass that can change from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch. Part of its Custom Concept line, the doors will retail for about $2,000, not including installation.
If you're like most people, the idea of a hands-free faucet still conjures up frustrating visits to the airport bathroom. But Kohler says it has fine-tuned the technology, saving you time in the kitchen—plus preventing the potential spread of germs and bacteria. We tried it out at the International Builders' Show.
Looking for a distinctly American look for your home? A new Armstrong flooring line showing at the International Builders' Show, American Scrape, is a richly textured floor that comes in domestic hickory and oak. Inspired by "the American landscape," as the company claims, the wide-plank solid- and engineered-wood floors attempt to invoke our nation's heritage. A portion of sales also benefits veterans.
Sherwin-Williams ups the ante for greenest paint claims with the unveiling of its reformulated Harmony Interior Paint with "Formaldehyde Reducing Technology," at the International Builders' Show. The company claims it's the first of its kind in the coatings industry.
If you've ever shopped for wood-framed windows, you know that "sticking" refers to the interior edge where glass meets wood, not the resistance you hit when trying to open an old window. Shoppers seeking a contemporary design expect modern choices down to this very detail. Now Marvin Windows and Doors has added a squared-off look to its product line.
For composite decking without the mold issues that plagued earlier products, Trex is showing off its latest line, Trex Select, at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Also on display is a new tropical color for the premium Transcend line.
The best washers in Consumer Reports' tests are frontloaders, thanks to their superb performance and efficiency. But they require a lot of bending over to load and unload laundry, unless you spring for the pedestal available with some models. Enter GE's new ergo-friendly frontloader, whose integrated risers lift the door to a more comfortable height. The washer and matching dryer are on display at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas.
Our team of editors, market analysts, and television producers departs today for the 2013 International Builders' Show, which takes place January 22-24 in Las Vegas. With the housing market in the midst of a bona fide rebound—home prices rose 4.3 percent in the 12 months ending in October, according to the latest Case-Shiller 20-City Composite—we're looking forward to one of the more energized shows since the bottom fell out of the market in 2007.
The performance of robots that take on such mundane chores as vacuuming the floor, mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters has too often been disappointing. But the dream lives on in the new Winbot 7 window-cleaning robot from Ecovacs Robotics that was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Intended for home use the white bot mesmerized attendees as it traveled across a pane of glass, cleaning as it crawled.
At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas you can find connected appliances that turn on from a smart phone, refrigerators that let you know when the milk is sour and washer-dryer pairs that talk to each other. But you won't find any of these whiz-bang innovations at the Bosch booth. The company, known mostly for its dishwashers, said it will forgo those features until smart apps are smart enough to talk to all brands of appliances.
The lobby at last January's North American International Auto Show featured a Craftsman CTX lawn tractor touting an 8-mile-per-hour ground speed, a race car compared to the usual tractor, plus a feature more common to automobiles, traction control. The trend of mowers sporting car features is growing, according to what we saw at the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo).
Anyone who has a walk-behind lawn mower with electric start tends to like that feature, with two exceptions. Electric start doesn't relieve you of the need to maintain the mower. and the little battery powering the electric start periodically needs recharging. If you didn't think to do it before storing the mower for the winter, early-spring temperatures in some parts of the country aren't warm enough for an overnight charge to work in your garage. That used to mean a few weeks of pull-starting until Honda came up with a better way.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: