“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times

Toasters Performance

As with many low-cost appliances, users' experience with any given cheap toaster varies. According to toaster reviews, some consumers are satisfied with the toast that emerges and the toaster's overall functionality while other users of the same model gripe about uneven toasting and durability issues.

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But if your new cheap toaster doesn't meet expectations in its first outing, try heeding the advice of experts, who say cheap toasters may need a short break-in period. In the end, though, our research indicated that most users of the toasters on our list appreciate the good performance for the budget price and many of those who think they bought a defective model note that replacing an inexpensive lemon is not a big deal.

Low-cost Toasters Design.

Aesthetics are not at the top of our list of important features, but certain design features can enhance or reduce the functionality of a cheap toaster. Take the cord, for example. Some models, like the Black & Decker T2560B (starting at $22) and Cuisinart CPT-120 (starting at $26), have slots around which the cord can be wrapped to save space. But users note in toaster reviews on Amazon that some cheap toasters, including the Oster 6307/6309 (starting at $27), have extremely short cords that limit where you can put the toaster. Other users posting on Amazon grumble about the front-side placement of the cord on the Proctor Silex/Hamilton Beach 22605 (starting at $10). The placement of dials and buttons also elicits some negative comments. A review of the Cuisinart CPT-120 on Epinions, for example, says the lever for the bread lifter is too close to the hot metal top, so your fingers get burned. If the toaster lacks a cool-touch housing, notes a user of the Toastmaster T100 (starting at $8)on Amazon, the sides get extremely hot and will burn your hands. Users also grumble about toast slots that are too short or narrow. Some reviews on Amazon report that the T-fal Classic Avante 2-Slice (starting at $30), with its slanted front, doesn't sufficiently toast an entire slice of unusually-sized bread. Poorly-calibrated toasting controls are another common critique. Users note in reviews of most models that the browning settings aren't accurate and you may need to experiment until you find the one that delivers the shade you prefer; users often suggest you start out with the lighter shade or lower number markings and then cautiously adjust upward for darker toast.

Toasting.

Burned and/or under-toasted bread is the bane of every consumer who likes their toast just so. Toasting speed is associated with the degree of browning you choose, and the degree of browning varies by model even if it's set to "light" or a low number. According to toasters reviews of the Black & Decker T2560B on Epinions, this model toasts quickly and evenly, the settings are accurate, and the lift lever rarely jams. Reviews on Viewpoints note that it's easy to burn toast with the Cuisinart CPT-120, so the best bet is to choose one of the lower settings; most users posting reviews on Overstock.com report even and consistent results and one consumer is especially pleased with the defrost and bagel settings.

Users posting toasters reviews on Amazon are generally satisfied with the toast the emerges from the Proctor Silex/Hamilton Beach 22605, but some grumble that toasting takes a long time and you can't stop the process midstream (if the toast is getting too dark) without pulling the cord from the outlet. The settings on the Oster 6307/6309 run dark and sometimes the toast is uneven, say reviews on Amazon, but others report results that satisfy their hunger for toast.

The Toastmaster also T100 gives better results at low settings, according to toasters reviews on Newegg, but toasts unevenly and needs to cool down before making a second batch. Toasted tops or bottoms, one side or the other -- but not both -- annoys users of the T-fal Classic Avante who posted reviews on Amazon.

Toasters Maintenance.

In general, users report their toasters are easy to clean and maintain, particularly if the toaster boasts a removable crumb tray. Users posting reviews on Epinions favorably comment on the Black & Decker T2560B's removable crumb tray, although a few users report that crumb trays on some models tend to be poor at catching crumbs. For example, one review on Viewpoints says the removable crumb tray in the Cuisinart CPT-120 is handy but its shallow depth means crumbs still wind up on the counter.

Review continues below

Toasters Longevity.

Given that we're looking at low-cost toasters, the durability of the product might seem questionable. An expert review on How Stuff Works notes that pop-up toasters are prone to breaking, partly because of their economical build and partly because food often gets stuck and messes up the mechanicals. Some reviews by consumers confirm the experts' assessment. One user comments on Viewpoints that the lever on Oster 6307/6309 failed after six months, so the toast didn't pop; a similar complaint is lodged against the T-fal Classic Avante, according to reviews on Amazon. Users also mention problems with heating filaments burning out on the Oster 6307/6309 and in reviews on Viewpoints and Amazon, respectively. Occasional reports also surface about casings that tarnish or discolor over time, but many users note they've owned their cheap toaster for several years without problems.

The warranty for cheap toasters varies by manufacturer.

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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