The best vacuum sealers suction well and seal securely. In general, countertop vacuum sealers tend to do a better job at both tasks than handheld vacuum sealers. They may also add convenience features like bag storage and cutters for creating custom size bags. Some also seal other plastic packaging in addition to the brand name bags sold for use with the device. By limiting food waste and allowing owners to buy in bulk, countertop vacuum sealers may be able to save money in the long run, but they cost more upfront.
According to reviewers, the Weston Pro-2300 Vacuum Sealer (Est. $400) is the best countertop vacuum food sealer. This is easily the most versatile vacuum food sealer thanks to its ultra-wide sealing strip, which allows owners to create custom bag sizes and seal just about anything. Moreover, the Pro-2300's seal is all but impenetrable. In a Cook's Illustrated test, the Pro-2300 was the only sealer that prevented freezer burn after two months. Of course, the Weston Pro-2300 isn't the only vacuum food sealer that seals reliably and creates custom-sized bags. At less than half the price, the FoodSaver GameSaver Deluxe (Est. $140) does the same. Amazon.com reviewers refer to this sealer as industrial and heavy-duty and say it seals well.
However, that difference in price does buy some improvements. The Weston Pro-2300 has an internal fan that keeps the unit from overheating during marathon sealing sessions, while there are reports of the FoodSaver GameSaver overheating relatively easily. The Weston is also a bit easier to use, with both manual and automatic modes. (Manual mode allows owners to lessen the pressure for crushable foods.) Owners complain that the FoodSaver may need to be pushed closed with two hands while vacuuming and sealing, which can be a pain when managing large, unwieldy packages of food. Whether these improvements make a difference depends a good deal on how often the sealer is used and for what applications.
On the other hand, both models do lack some nice-to-haves which might be expected at this price point. The Pro-2300 does not include a bag cutter, though the GameSaver does. Neither includes bag storage or seals canisters. Both come with a one-year guarantee, but Weston owners say their units last for years, while a few FoodSaver owners report breakdowns after a year or less. Bags are priced comparably for both machines, so cost of ownership isn't a distinguishing factor.
One final complaint that many owners voice about both devices is their size. Both occupy a good deal of countertop space or cabinet space. For those who don't have the space to spare, a handheld vacuum food sealer may be a better bet.