Anderson Cooper tests our VIP winnersOf all the appliances, gadgets, cleaning formulas, clothes, and other items GHRI pros reviewed in the past year, these breakthroughs - guest-tested by Anderson Cooper - stood out for the ingenious ways they solved everyday problems.
GE Profile 36" French Door Refrigerator ($3,000)
This futuristic fridge has the only refrigerator filtration system that removes 98% of five common pharmaceuticals - from painkillers to hormones - and an easy-access filter that makes it more likely you'll change it on schedule. Also cool: The hands-free "Autofill" water dispenser uses sound waves to detect and fill a glass, bottle, pitcher, or coffeepot - no hovering!
Samsung LED 8000 Series Smart TVTV on Command
With its ability to respond to voice commands and gestures, this TV is truly a first. It lets you go remote-free (but comes with standard and touchpad ones), offers full Web access, and has an arsenal of apps. Other pluses: its crisp picture and clear sound.
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Method Dish + Hand 2-In-1 SoapFantastic Plastic
Method Dish + Hand 2-In-1 Soap ($5, amazon.com)
Motivated by an environmental problem - up to 80% of the debris in the world's oceans is plastic - eco-oriented Method developed this new product. The innovation: creating bottles for its multitasking dish-and-hand soap from plastic trash washed up on Pacific Ocean beaches (10% is ocean plastic; 90% is post-consumer recycled plastic). The odor-eliminating soap comes in two scents, Sea Minerals and Sweet Water.
Lands' End Iron Knee PantsKids' Pants That Last
Lands' End Iron Knee Pants (starting at $29)
With children's clothes having frustratingly short life spans, the seam-to-seam knee patches built into these jeans, khakis, and cargo pants practically pay for themselves. Reinforcing polyester patches provide extra protection in a notoriously vulnerable spot and are undetectable from the outside, soft and pliable from within. Our strength, shrinkage, and abrasion tests proved that the patches prolonged the pants' life and look. For boys and girls, in a range of styles.
Electrolux Ergorapido Brushroll Clean VacuumSelf-Cleaning Vacuum
Electrolux Ergorapido Brushroll Clean Vacuum ($159, amazon.com)
It's shear genius: Just press a pedal, and an internal blade slices through gnarly strands of hair, pet fur, and thread that get tangled around the brush roll, freeing them to be suctioned inside the unit. Lightweight, rechargeable, and cordless, it works great on bare floors, low-pile carpets, and upholstery - and includes a handheld vac.
Related: Top 10 Tech Trends of 2013
Mr. Beams ReadyBright Starter House KitInstant Light in a Blackout
Mr. Beams ReadyBright Starter House Kit ($50, amazon.com)
The first emergency lighting system for at-home use is a smart safety innovation every family should consider. Its wirelessly linked LED lights illuminate just after power is lost. The set includes a power-outage detector (it doubles as a flashlight), a path light, and a ceiling light.
Sarah Potempa Beachwaver Curling IronEasiest-Ever Curling Iron
Sarah Potempa Beachwaver Curling Iron ($200, sarahpotempa.com)
No more struggling with styling: This iron's automatic rotating wand winds up hair to create loose, natural-looking curls. (A left/right button reverses the rotation so both sides are even.) Longer-haired women testers found it faster, easier, and better than traditional irons. A digital temperature gauge lets you control heat, and a 360-degree swivel mechanism keeps the cord neat.
Honda LaneWatchBye-bye, Blind Spot
Honda LaneWatch (on most 2013 Honda Accord and Crosstour models)
This safety system aims to prevent some of the 5 million - plus annual car crashes in the U.S. A wide-angle camera in the right side-view mirror shows accurate real-time video footage of your blind spot on the center console screen - far surpassing radar-based indicator-light systems.
Related: Top Cooking Tools of The Year
Microsoft Surface with Windows RTA Tablet That Really Works
Microsoft Surface with Windows RT
(starting at $600 with Touch Cover, amazon.com)
Just as the iPad revolutionized how we consume media on the go, this gadget takes portable productivity to the next level. It's a true workhorse, thanks to a cover that doubles as a keyboard as well as preinstalled Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. And the new user-friendly Windows 8 touchscreen-compatible operating system makes tasks so much easier.
Kleenex2013 Hall of Fame Winner
In our poll of some 700 readers, more than a third agreed: Life wouldn't be the same without Kleenex.
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