Toasters: Ratings of Sources
Editors at ConsumerReports.org conduct extensive testing on an array of toasters and outline their specs and features. Two-slice toasters and four-slice toasters are included in this report. The toasters are ranked and rated against each other, and each entry in the ratings table includes a link to a more extensive review.
Brendan Nystedt conducts 18 hours of research on toasters and 12 hours comparing products side-by-side, assessing "slot size, ease of use, batch-to-batch consistency, features, controls, countertop footprint, and toast tastiness." He names the Oster Jelly Bean Toaster his top pick, with the Breville BTA720XL listed as a recommended "upgrade" option.
CNET tests six toasters on a few different criteria: slot size, consistency of browning, power usage, toasting speed and heat sensor effectiveness. In addition, the article highlights the toasters' key features and presets. The author concludes that you don't gain all that much in useful features by paying for a premium toaster like the KitchenAid Pro Line, and ultimately recommends the $30 Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome 2-Slice Toaster.
The Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) tested 36 toaster models, checking for evenness of browning on each setting. Next, they tested five batches for consistency and looked at ease of use by popping up English muffins and bagels. Their overall winner was the Frigidaire Toaster FPTT02D7MS, but the Dualit NewGen, Krups 2-Slice, Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome and Breville The Bit More BTA720XL also received high scores. Some of these are older reviews, dating from 2013, but many of their conclusions are still relevant.
The editors of Cook's conducted extensive testing on 10 two-slot toasters. They tested over several years, and with thousands of slices of bread, bagels, toaster pastries, English muffins and frozen waffles. While even browning is their top criteria, they also test for repeatability, both over the short term -- 3 quick batches in a row -- and the long term -- 50 slices.
The toasters listed on Amazon.com have garnered hundreds—sometimes thousands—of owner reviews. Many of these reviews are quite comprehensive, detailing customers' experiences with the products over the course of several months or even years. This is a great resource for finding out how toasters hold up in real-world, real kitchen use.
Like Amazon.com, Walmart.com contains a wealth of owner reviews for toasters, with some earning hundreds. Reviews tend to be thorough and often include pros and cons. Owners can also specify whether they would recommend the product to a friend.
BestBuy.com is another popular destination for appliances, and several toasters earn hundreds of reviews. Major brands such as Oster, Breville and Cuisinart feature prominently here, and reviewers can say whether they would recommend the product to a friend. BestBuy.com is a particularly good source for appliance reviews, because they make it clear that their reviews are all unique to their site.