Pitcher filters are popular because they're easy to use, don't require installation and can be stored in the fridge. Most use an activated carbon filter that improves water taste and odor, but many are certified to do more.
A common complaint, however, is that pitcher filters are slow. After filling the upper reservoir with tap water, it can take up to 10 minutes for gravity to pull the water through the filter to a storage tank below. According to professional tests, the Clear2O Water Filtration Pitcher (*Est. $25) is one of the fastest filtering carafes. It attaches directly to the kitchen faucet with a hose, using water pressure to push water through the filter. One owner at Amazon.com says, "I love how fast this filters water."
Experts say the Clear2O Water Filtration Pitcher does an excellent job of removing lead and organic compounds, beating out top brands like Brita and Pur. Each cartridge filters 50 gallons of water, and a filter replacement indicator light measures actual water used. Although the Clear2O is a fairly slim pitcher, it holds nine 8-ounce glasses of water.
Users with a small fridge might consider the 6-cup Brita Slim Pitcher (*Est. $10), the most popular water filter on Amazon.com with more than 600 reviews. One owner says it's slim and doesn't take up a lot of room, and the quality of water after filtration is "awesome." Good Housekeeping tests a similar Brita pitcher that uses the same replacement filter, finding that it removes more than 60 percent of most contaminants.
You can keep more filtered water on hand with a dispenser, and users say the Pur 2 Stage Water Dispenser is the best. Its sleek profile saves space and it holds up to a gallon of water, or 18 cups. With a convenient spigot near the bottom, this Pur filter pitcher is the "next best thing to having a fridge with a water dispenser," says an Amazon.com user.