Kmart keeps surprising us in our testing, often keeping up (and sometimes outperforming) the big brands. So should you just buy everything from Kmart? Well, no. Some products deliver premium performance at bargain-basement prices, but others are worth exactly what you pay for them.
The giant-beating Anko coffee machine
At $89, this cheap-as-chips Anko coffee machine certainly delivers bang for your buck. In our tests, it outperformed a $949 coffee machine on flavour and pumped out consistently hot coffees. And it'll pretty up your kitchen bench: it looks the business.
It's a bit fiddly to use and doesn't have all the features of a high-end espresso machine — but at 89 bucks a pop, we're not complaining.
A safe and easy playpen
Kmart's $149 playpen is one of a few playpens we tested that actually passed key safety requirements. (There's no Australian standard for playpens, but we test to international standards and in-house methods based on existing Australian standards for other baby products.)
It's also easy to set up and pack down, and comes with a latched gate so you won't do your back in reaching over the fence to pick up a heavy toddler.
Carry-on suitcase that beats big brands
So, it turns out that some of Kmart's luggage products aren't actually terrible — but you need to shop wisely, as there are a few poor performers in Kmart's offering.
The Active & Co 45.5cm soft carry-on case scored 100% in our 'lift and drop' test and 86% overall. The 45.4cm hard carry-on case scored 100% in our 'lift and drop' test, 94% in our puncture test and 86% overall. These cheap wonders were up there with far more expensive products, even outperforming luxury brands priced at more than $500.
CHOICE testers put luggage through rigorous testing
A high-performing fleecy electric blanket
Costing just $55, this fleecy Anko electric blanket received a hot 80% performance score from our testers and outperformed electric blankets costing more than twice as much.
Our expert testers didn't report any bad points about this winter warmer, but it does lack some of the features that expensive brands have, like an extra warm foot zone, programmable settings and a timer setting.
Digital blender that beat a $2200 model
Look, it's no Vitamix in the status department, but this $59 blender held its own in the kitchen, receiving a more-than-respectable 90% performance score. It certainly blitzed some of the (more expensive) competition, outclassing even a $2200 model.
Best to avoid
We've told you which products our experts recommend. Now here are the ones you should avoid at all costs — no matter how much of a bargain they might be.
Heater that's our worst scorer ever
This $55 Anko heater scored so poorly in our electric heater reviews that our director of reviews and testing rather brutally referred to it as "pretty much a warm doorstop", and extended his "commiserations" to anyone unlucky enough to buy it.
It took more than 57 minutes to raise the temperature in our test room by 5°C, and didn't even manage to raise the mercury by 10°C. It got the wooden spoon in our electric heater reviews, scoring just 38% for heating and 48% overall.
This is one product worth leaving on the shelf. Maybe stock up on Kmart's electric blankets if you're feeling the cold.
Trampoline with major safety failures
What you'll save in dollars you may lose in injuries with this $189 Kmart trampoline. It racked up four major safety failures and received a performance score of just 20%. That'll certainly take the spring out of your step.
Hard case large luggage that failed the drop test
While Kmart's carry-on luggage is a safe bet, you're better off shopping elsewhere for checked baggage if you want all your belongings to arrive together at your destination. The 70cm Kmart hard case completely failed our drop test, sustaining significant damage.
Want a suitcase that can survive being manhandled by baggage handlers? Our expert testers put carry-on and check-in luggage through their paces, dousing them in water, dropping them from a height and trying everything they can to break them.