The Most Influential Products of the Past Decade

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A decade is an eternity in the fast-paced world of consumer products and services. It can be hard to put it in proper perspective. But if you step back, as CRs editors recently did, and take a look at all thats changed in the past 10 years, you realize that before 2010, almost no one ordered mattresses online, or turned on the lights with their voice, or worried about how much their thermostat knew about them.

The innovations from this decade brought conveniences many consumers never even knew they needed, as well as some privacy and safety concerns few of us expectedsometimes all in the same product. As these new capabilitiesand new riskshave emerged, CR has adapted along with the products we test, changing the way we evaluate new ones, examining privacy and data security, and prioritizing innovations that improve safety or efficiency.

We've compiled a list of products and services introduced in the past 10 years that have changed the way many of us shop, cook, drive, sleep, and entertain ourselves. Not every item on this list wowed CR testers (although some were top performers), but through innovation, clever marketingor boththese gadgets, appliances, and new business models have disrupted industries and worked their way into our lives and our culture.

One note: We chose not to rank these items because, frankly, their relative importance is a bit subjectiveone persons life-changing gadget is another persons frivolous eccentricity. Thats why wed like to hear what you think. In each category, weve embedded a poll asking you, dear reader, to vote on which of these innovations had the most impact.


Amazon Echo (2014)
When the Amazon Echo launched in 2014, it seemed weirdly limited. It was an interactive speaker without a screen, with a voice-based digital assistant named Alexa that was no smarter than the iPhones Siri, and sound that was plasticky and processed, according to CR testers. But consumers loved it, and Amazon has added capabilities to Alexa over time, and introduced multiple new Echo models. Now, tens of millions of households routinely ask Alexa to set kitchen timers, report on the weather, and tell dad jokes. Some consumers and privacy experts worry about data collection as some household conversations are beamed to company servers, but many more people have embraced the Echo and its competitors as convenient, easy-to-use household tools.Allen St. John

Apple AirPods (2016)
At first, Apple Airpods were met with some resistance from reviewers who balked at their unusual design. But those misgivings soon gave way to a full-blown revolution, and Apples wireless earbuds have become the most popular wireless headphones in the world. The AirPods success has helped Apple justify its removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit and cementing Bluetooth headphones as an indispensable accessory. When it comes to sound quality though, Consumer Reports tests found them a bit lacking, and they didnt score high enough to earn our recommendation. (The new noise-canceling AirPods Pro does better.)Thomas Germain

Apple iPad (2010)
Attempts at making a consumer-friendly tablet computer date back to the 1980s, but Apple nailed the formula with the iPad. Pitched as something thats between a laptop and a smartphone by Steve Jobs (the iPad was also one of the last products he unveiled before his death in 2011), the iPad popularized a new product category and influenced smartphones and laptops, too. Laptops began to resemble tablets, gaining touch-screen displaysand in some cases allowing users to remove the keyboard or fold it awaywhile smartphones began to phabletize as people hungered for a bigger screen.Jake Swearingen

Eero Mesh Router(2016)
Even the best routers can leave WiFi dead spots in many homes, especially bigger ones with old masonry construction. Enter Eero, which introduced mesh routers for mainstream use in 2016. Mesh routers differ from traditional routers in that theyre made up of multiple units instead of a single one. These units work together to spread WiFi throughout your home. That way, you can place one unit in, say, the living room and another on the far end of your home so you can reliably watch Netflix in bed. Eero wasn't the first mesh router, but its performance, ease of use (including a handy mobile app), and attractive designheres a router that doesn't look like a tarantulamade it the one to beat this decade. (Here are our test resultsfor Eero's latest model.)Nicholas DeLeon

LG 55EC9300 OLED TV (2014)
We tested the first OLED TV (it stands for "organic light-emitting diode" screen technology) back in 2008, but Sonys XEL-1 was more of a prototype than a real consumer productit cost $2,500 and had an 11-inch screen. We saw a couple more OLED sets in the following years, including one from Samsung, but the first one to make it into CR ratings was LGs 55EC9300, launched in 2014. It was expensive at $3,500, but for that price a consumer could buy a 55-inch set with essentially unlimited viewing angles and even deeper black levels than the best plasma sets. Skip forward to today, and OLED TVs, available from LG and Sony, now top our TV ratings. Theyre still expensive, but prices are gradually coming down. You can find a 55-inch model for around $1,500.James K. Willcox

Samsung Galaxy Note7 (2016)
The first Galaxy Note, which launched in 2011, was notable mainly for its honking big screen; at 5.3 inches it seemed absurdly large back then but would look downright puny today. The big screen and the stylus made the Note a somewhat specialized device that developed a base of dedicated fans. If you werent among them, the Note you remember is the Galaxy Note7, which had a short, fiery life in the second half of 2016. Battery fires were first reported soon after the phone reached consumers in August. After a complicated recall, an evacuated Southwest Airline flight, and an over-the-air effort to brick the phones, the Note7 saga left Samsung with the task of rebuilding an iconic line of phones, and consumers with a fresh appreciation of the potential dangers of the lithium-ion batteries that power most modern gadgets.Jerry Beilinson

Sling TV (2015)
Consumer Reports surveys repeatedly show that cable TV providers are among the least-loved companies in most peoples daily lives, a source of ever-rising prices, hidden fees, and poor customer service. And until the launch of Sling TV in 2015, there was a severe lack of competition. In many locations, consumers had only one or two providers to choose between. Sure, Netflix could provide a selection of movies and TV series, but that wouldnt get you traditional cable channels and live broadcasts. Sling was the first cable-replacement service, letting you watch real TV delivered entirely over the internet anywhere in the country, for $20 a month, making cord cutting much more attractive for many more people. At the time, Consumer Reports said:After less than a week with Sling TV, its hard to draw any firm conclusions about whether it could truly replace cable or satellite television for most users, but if nothing else, Sling TV adds a little healthy competition to a marketplace that sorely needs it.Jerry Beilinson

Home and Appliances

The Casper Mattress (2014)
Casper wasnt the first company to market vacuum-sealed bed-in-a-box mattresses that could be shipped to your front door, but it popularized the trend. Witty marketing, 100-night free trials, and mattresses that have nearly always tested well in CRs ratings make Casper stand out. It disrupted the mattress market by allowing customers to bypass the hard-sell brick-and-mortar mattress stores. But it seems things have come full circle: The company now has stores where people can go to try out their mattresses.Haniya Rae

Google Nest Learning Thermostat (2011)
The Nest Learning Thermostat revolutionized the thermostat category by changing how we expect this humble little appliance to work. It uses sensors and algorithms to learn our routines and make temperature changes that both save energy and keep us comfortable. It also prompted the rest of the HVAC industry to follow suit with their own automated thermostats.Daniel Wroclawski

Instant Pot (2010)
The Instant Pot wasnt initially advertised on TV or in print and yet it's become a runaway success, thanks to Amazon, where it was first widely sold, and to food bloggers and chefs who raved about it. The company's founder, Robert Wang, has said his goal is to follow the example of Bill Gates and put Instant Pot in every kitchen (a nod to Gates famous promise to put a computer in every home). And it's working, especially if you count all the copycats that have emerged since. In 2019 multi-cookers had an estimated household penetration of 26 percent (more than double what it was in 2017). For comparison, auto drip coffee makers had a household penetration of 58 percent in 2017.Perry Santanachote

Ring Video Doorbell (2014)
For better or worse, the Ring Video Doorbell ushered in an entirely new category of home security cameras that let us keep a digital eye on one of the most important parts of the home: the front door. While great at discouraging potential burglars and catching porch pirates in the act, this doorbell has also raised significant privacy concerns due to its data security measures, as well as for Ring's Neighbors feature, an app-based neighborhood watch social network that lets owners share video with each other and the police.Daniel Wroclawski

Ryobi RY907022FI Generator (2018)
The carbon monoxide (CO) from generators is invisible and dangerous. From 2005 to 2017, more than 900 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while using portable generators, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer Reports has long advocated for stronger safety standards for these potentially deadly machines, and Ryobi rose to the challenge with a model that has the most robust safety features weve ever seen. Its generator has a built-in sensor and safety shutoff that turns off the machine automatically when CO builds to dangerous levels, and it produces way less CO in the first placejust 10 percent of what comparable models produce, according to Ryobi. Performance is stellar, toothis model has the top spot in our ratings of portable generators. Its our hope that the Ryobi will be the first of many like it.Paul Hope

Tide Pods Laundry Detergent (2012)
P&G launched a whole new product category when it rolled out Tide Pods. These little packets made measuring detergent a thing of the past; just pop one into the detergent compartment of your washer. But the pods also pose a safety hazard. Young children find these small colorful packets of liquid detergent appealing, and some have eaten them and wound up in an emergency room. Folks with dementia have mistaken them for candy, too, and a few have died. Still, the convenience of laundry pods makes them increasingly popular. (Consumer Reports currently doesnt recommend any liquid laundry packets because of the hazards they pose to children under 6 years old and adults who are cognitively impaired.)Kimberly Janeway


Apple CarPlay (2014)
At the start of the decade, car infotainment systems were a convoluted mess. They were slower, more complex, and less powerful than the phones we carried in our pockets. Plus, they were often obsolete as soon as they went on sale, incapable of being upgraded. But that all changed when Apple CarPlay debuted in 2014. (Googles Android Auto became available the following year.) Instead of forcing users to deal with a cars built-in software, CarPlay and Android Auto put a familiar phone interface and car-specific versions of popular audio and map apps on a cars dashboard. Drivers got access to real-time traffic and navigation, a vast library of streaming audio, and one less excuse to pick up their phones while driving.Keith Barry

Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise (2018 model year)
This advanced version of adaptive cruise control from Cadillacs parent company General Motors first showed up on the 2018 CT6 sedan. The system adjusts the cars speed and distance to cars ahead for the driver based on surrounding traffic, and steers the car when traveling on pre-mapped, limited-access divided highways. But its the small infrared camera trained on the drivers face that makes Super Cruise significant, because it assesses whether the driver is watching the road. If Super Cruise determines that a driver isnt paying enough attention, he gets red warning lights on the steering wheel, audible alerts, and/or a pulsating seat alerting him to pay attention or take control before the system slows the car down. The driver-monitoring aspect is part of the reason Super Cruise tops CRs Partial Automation rankings.Mike Monticello

Tesla Model S (2012)
Tesla Motors upended the auto industry when it rolled out its breakthrough Model S sedan in 2012. This luxurious electric car showed that an EV could have rapid acceleration, sharp handling, and extended range. The Model S also could be updatedeven repairedthrough over-the-air software updates. It topped our road-test ratings when it debuted and continues to stand tall in our tests and with owner satisfaction, based on CR member surveys. Reliability has varied over time, but the influence of this sedan hasn't wavered. Some of Teslas innovations have been controversial due to fatalities, injuries, and on-the-road accidents attributed to drivers relying too heavily on its Autopilot driver assist feature. The companys aggressive approach to self-driving tech has forced regulators to rethink how they should police industry claims and research around the technology.Jeff Bartlett

Volvo S60 With Pedestrian Detection (2010)
More pedestrians died on U.S. roadways in 2018 than at any time over the past nearly three decades: 6,283, a 3.4 percent increase over 2017. Pedestrian detection systems can help. They use cameras, radar, and other sensors to detect people coming into a vehicles path, triggering automatic emergency braking (AEB) to either avoid or reduce the severity of a collision if the driver doesnt respond quickly enough. The first commercial pedistrian detection system launched on Volvos S60 sedan in 2010. Even though current systems have room for improvement, they have the potential to save many lives. We feel so strongly about this tech that a model no longer gets credit for standard city-speed AEB in CR's Overall Score unless it also includes pedestrian detection. And starting with our April 2020 Autos Issue, we wont award a CR Top Pick to any vehicle that doesnt have it as standard equipment.Mike Monticello

Health and Food

The Beyond Burger and The Impossible Burger (2016)
The 2010s could be dubbed the "plant diet decade," with more people looking to get more of their protein from nonanimal sources for health and environmental reasons. The Beyond Burger and The Impossible Burger changed the idea of veggie burgers forever by offering patties made from plants that actually looked, cooked, and tasted like beef. CRs verdict: Both are impressive imitations of real beef. But while the starting materials are plants, the main ingredients are all highly processed concentrates, oils, and flavors. And our food-safety experts have raised concerns about the lack of evidence showing that soy leghemoglobinan ingredient in the Impossible Burger that comes from the root of soybean plants and gives it some of the taste, texture, and bloody look of beefis safe to eat.Trisha Calvo

Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated Meal Kit Delivery Services (2011-12)
Multiple meal kit delivery services hit the market around the same time in the early part of the decade, promising to take the stress out of making home-cooked dinners. The idea appealed to consumers who didnt have time to grocery shop, werent confident in their cooking skills, were tired of takeout, or simply needed some culinary inspiration. You pick the meals, and a box of fresh ingredients along with the recipes are delivered right to your door. Since then, even more competitors have emerged. CR tested all three of these meal subscriptions, as well as a few others, in 2016, and found that most offered healthy, appetizing meals (though they tended to be high in sodium).Trisha Calvo

Philips Airfryer (2010)
Does healthy fried food sound too good to be true? Philips has proved its possibleand delicious. Any appliance that comes with the promise that you can enjoy crispy food without all the fat is sure to be a big seller. And sales of air fryers have increased dramatically since Philips released the first one (first in Europe, later in the U.S.). Since then, other manufacturers have introduced their own versions. The air fryer invites Americans to rethink the way they cook and has redefined what was a guilty pleasure. Here'swhat we thought of the Philips HD9230/26 Digital Airfryerwhen we tested it in 2017.Kimberly Janeway

Trader Joes Riced Cauliflower (2015)
Cauliflower was quietly in a race to replace kale as the it vegetable, but it really took off when Trader Joes started selling packaged riced cauliflowersimply cauliflower reduced to rice-sized piecesfrozen and fresh. Today you can find riced cauliflower in supermarkets everywhere, and cauliflower itself is in a multitude of products, including crackers and frozen pizza. Its appealing to people following gluten-free and low-carb diets as an alternative to mashed potatoes, rice, and wheat flour, as well as those who just want to work more vegetables into their diet. CR looked at innovative frozen vegetables in 2018 and gave the highest marks to Green Giants riced cauliflower and Cauliflower Risotto Medley.Trisha Calvo

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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