So, when is it a smart consumer move to pay top dollar for certain products?

Consumer Reports suggests a few categories where they say it makes sense, like LED light bulbs. Most cost up to several times more than incandescent and compact florescent bulbs, but last much longer.  LED's also consume far less energy and easily make up the cost difference over the life of the bulb.

Next, washing machines, models over $600 and up to as much as $12-hundred dollars do a better job at cleaning and are usually more efficient in using energy and water.  Also, more expensive machines often have a larger load capacity.  

And tablet computers, devices under $150 often disappoint, particularly in the quality of the display.  Consumer Reports says the sweet spot is $350 or more for full size 10 inch tablets, $200 for smaller 7 to 8 inch models.  

Other categories where you get what you pay for include kitchen counter tops, stone is a better long term investment.

Gas grills, those over about $300 frequently offer perks and better parts found on pricier models of the past.

And lawn mowers, expect to pay about $250 for a push mower and about $350 for a self propelled model for good performance and conveniences like multiple speeds and electric start.

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