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NEW YORK – As Top 10 list season winds down and awards season cranks up, Good Housekeeping named some winners of a different sort Tuesday.
A handful of gadgets, gizmos and gear that saved us time and made our lives easier in 2010 received VIPs, for "very innovative products," after hands-on testing by the white-coated folks at the magazine's research institute.
The iPad topped the annual list of 10, but the wildly popular tablet was joined by a few less obvious choices: Coleman's Instant Tent, Dyson's bladeless fan, Method's highly concentrated laundry detergent and the Goody Spin Pin, an inexpensive corkscrew bobby pin to secure updos with ease.
The researchers and engineers started with about 2,000 products that hit the market last year, from cell phones to anti-aging preparations. They actively tested about 60 for durability, performance and safety, sometimes relying on non-experts to weigh in on assembly and ease of use, said Rosemary Ellis, the magazine's editor-in-chief.
"We really look carefully at everything that's coming down the pike," she said. "How truly innovative was it? Does it really solve a problem that hasn't been solved before? That could be a huge problem or a niggling, smaller problem. They have to work as promised. We put them through the wringer."
— The Dyson Air Multiplier. Chosen for its sleek, bladeless design that makes it child and pet friendly — and easy to clean. "The blades and front grille of a traditional fan are magnets for dust and tough to access. Here, one wipe and you're done," Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute's home care director, said in a statement.
— Mint. The self-propelled hard-floor 'bot is less than 10 inches wide and will sweep or mop with any dry or wet, disposable or reusable cloth. "Others don't do dry and wet. They're bigger and can't get into as many places," Ellis said.
— The GE Profile front-load washer with an overnight ready cycle. Throw in up to eight garments. They're washed and dried in one place. You can delay the start for wrinkle-free clothes in the morning.
— Method laundry detergent. The formula is eight-times concentrated. A 50-load container is the size of a small soda bottle. "Other concentrates still come in huge plastic bottles that you have to lug home and are hard to measure," Ellis said. "With this, four pumps and you're done, and it's a green cleaner that cleans well."
— Goody Spin Pin. Ellis said she rolled her eyes at the notion of including the pin until she tried it for herself. "I have very fine, very straight hair. Nothing keeps it in place." You twist it in for an invisible look. They come two to a pack for $6.
— HTC Evo 4G. Sprint made it the first U.S. smartphone to use a 4G network — before the iPhone. "It was a game-changer in terms of speed," Ellis said.
— Sunbeam Convertible Iron and Steamer. It converts to a handheld steamer by turning a dial to detach the iron plate.
— Zoku Quick Pop Maker. Freeze healthy pops in under 10 minutes.
Good Housekeeping asked readers to help choose a product for the magazine's Hall of Fame. They did: Tupperware. "It kept food fresher for longer for middle class American women who were looking to stretch their food dollars and keep food in their refrigerators," Ellis said. "It was a great idea that resonated, probably all over the world."