Among makers of electric knife sharpeners, Chef's Choice offers more than a dozen models, several of which earn high marks in professional comparison tests. The best rated of the lot is the Chef's Choice Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120 (*Est. $135), a perennial winner in professional tests. This electric sharpener features three separate slots: one for rough grinding, one for finer honing and a third for stropping and polishing. It can be used with both straight and serrated blades, as well as sporting knives.
One cooking magazine gives it top marks for both performance and ease of use, and testers at the Washington Post say it "gave us the truly sharpest blades, no matter what kind of knife we put through it." However, CookingCache.com and the LA Times are a little more moderate in their praise, saying the sharpener produces only "acceptable" edges -- though they agree that it's quick and easy to use. This sharpener also gets positive reviews from more than 200 owners at Amazon.com, who say it produces a great edge without taking off too much metal (a common hazard with electric sharpeners). However, some owners complain that the sharpener can leave scratches along the length of the blade. Most say it's easy to use once you get the hang of it.
The Chef's Choice Professional Sharpening Station 130 (*Est. $150) is similar in appearance to the Chef's Choice 120. However, where the 120 features "pre-sharpening," sharpening and stropping stages, the 130's three slots are for sharpening, stropping and steeling. One foodie magazine calls this "the Rolls-Royce of sharpeners," saying its guides make the process foolproof. We found more than 240 reviews for this knife sharpener at Amazon.com and Cooking.com, most of them highly enthusiastic. Users say the Chef's Choice 130 produces a great edge quickly and is very easy to use. Their most common complaint relates to its confounding instruction manual.
While the Chef's Choice 130 does a great job with traditional Western cutlery, it's not ideal for Asian knives, which typically have a narrower edge. In one test, the 130 put a 20-degree edge on an Asian knife designed to have a 15-degree edge -- a subtle difference, but noticeable to an experienced cook.
For those whose cutlery collection includes both Asian and Western knives, Chef's Choice offers the 1520 AngleSelect Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener (*Est. $155). Like the 120 and 130, it has a three-stage process with diamond-honing disks, but unlike them, it's designed to sharpen either Asian or European knives. Testers at a cooking magazine say it accurately ground both types of knives "to like-new sharpness in a matter of minutes," and Sylvia Anderson of the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press raves that its angle guides eliminate "all the guesswork or need for skill in sharpening knives." Roughly 40 owners at Amazon.com agree, saying this sharpener produces a great edge for both Asian and Western knives, though one adds that it doesn't offer as many sharpening options for Western blades as the 120 and 130.