As you meander down the appliance aisles at Big W, you'll come across a multitude of choices when it comes to branded products.
The department store's Contempo range of kitchen appliances stands out for value. But does it stand up to the competition for quality, too?
Over the past year, our CHOICE experts have tested some of Big W's Contempo products in our labs. We reveal which items tick the right boxes and which ones to be wary of to ensure you not only get the best price, but also the best quality.
Very good buys
If you're looking for some bang for your buck, the Contempo hand mixer costs just $15, but scores a perfect 100% in our performance, beater and whisking tests.
And with its dishwasher-safe accessories and simple controls, this product scored the same overall as some of the more expensive branded hand mixers on the market.
The blender's only real downside is its average 'ease of use' score, owing to its slightly uncomfortable handle without a non-slip grip and slight vibration while in use. It also doesn't have cord storage and its air vents could potentially accumulate food.
CHOICE members can see how it stacked up against other models in our hand mixer reviews.
Slow cookers are ideal for the budget savvy, as they can turn cheap cuts of meat into delectable dinners. At $24, Big W's Contempo 5.5L slow cooker won't break the budget, plus it ticks many of the same boxes as the more expensive slow cookers.
It received top marks for high temperature slow cooking and 80% for low temperature slow cooking. Our expert testers were also impressed with its 'keep warm' setting and large D-shaped handles, making it easy and safe to lift.
However, it lost points for its basic instructions and the fact its internal cooking bowl has small handles and no grip, which may make it difficult for users to lift when loaded with food. It's also quite large, which may make it difficult to wash in a domestic sink.
But with an overall score the same as a big name brand that's around six times more expensive, we think it's still a very good buy.
See our full slow cooker reviews.
It's one of life's little ironies – you go to the trouble of trying to remove the wrinkles from your clothes and your iron barely flattens them.
Happily, our testers found the Contempo steam iron is good at ironing organza, denim, linen and wool, and very good at silk. It's also lightweight, easy to use and, at just $19, it's one of the cheapest steam irons we've reviewed.
Where it loses points is on its propensity to drip water during use. But when you consider it scored the same overall as another big name model that costs three times as much, this $19 Contempo steam iron is one to seriously consider.
For a full breakdown on all the models we tested, see our steam iron reviews.
At $79, Big W's Contempo 5-in-1 pressure cooker was one of the cheapest multicookers we looked at, yet it scored higher overall than some of the pricier models from certain big name brands.
Our testers found this product did a good job of pressure-cooking chilli beef (90%) as well as browning (95%) and cooking jasmine rice (90%). It has an easy to clean non-stick cooking bowl, pre-programmed settings, removable cord and accessories included. It also impressed with its manual settings that let you adjust temperature and time, its keep-warm function, and a delayed start function for planned cooking.
But our experts found it just OK when it comes to ease of use, sautéing and searing. There's also no high setting for slow cooking, a limited surface area for searing larger cuts of meat, and it doesn't have a start button – instead it turns on automatically after a few seconds.
But it does the job and, for its low price, it's a good product. Find out how it compared to 14 other models in our multicooker reviews.
Some of the microwaves in our latest test cost more than $2000, so if you're on a budget we wouldn't blame you for considering Big W's Contempo microwave for its $99 price tag alone.
But it has more than just price going for it. After putting it through our rigorous and independent testing, our team of experts found it was very good at cooking broccoli and defrosting mince and chicken. It also has a bright and clear digital display and a large pull-door handle.
There were some downsides, including a just OK rating for ease of use, and an average ability to manually reheat solid foods. In addition, it doesn't beep to remind you to turn and shield with small amounts of foil during defrosting, and the manufacturer provides only basic instructions.
CHOICE members can exclusively access more information in our microwave reviews.
Products to be wary of
Our latest blender reviews compare products ranging in price from $39 to $1299. While years of CHOICE testing has found that more expensive doesn't always mean better performance, if you're considering buying Big W's $39 blender you should know that you're only going to get an OK product, not a great one.
Downsides include its noisiness, a glass jug that's heavy when full, and general instability. It's also not dishwasher safe, there's no 'on' indicator light, and it's not suitable for crushing hard ingredients or ice. The manufacturer also recommends users hold the lid while the blender is in use – which certainly doesn't make it hands-free.
On the plus side, it scored excellently when blending soft liquids and chopping, but fared poorly in our kale test – scoring just 2%.
While the Contempo blender is certainly inexpensive, some similarly priced models were recommended, so be sure to do your research before you buy.