Russell Hobbs 13973 Toaster
I am currently living in a lovely serviced apartment which means that I have access to lots more gadgets and gizmos that I can review. The toaster in my kitchen is a Russell Hobbs model number 13973 in silver.
The toaster is made predominantly of stainless steel, which I personally do not like buying for my kitchen purely for the fact that it is so hard to keep looking clean and removing smears and water marks from the surface. Saying that, the stainless steel used on this toaster is a dark and almost tarnished looking steel that doesn't show up marks too badly. This stainless steel is used the line the outside of the toaster apart from on one side where the on and off handle is. The Russell Hobbs branding is on the bottom left hand corner.
The toaster is rectangular shaped with curved edges on either side and is quite a compact looking toaster that will fit well in both small and large kitchens. It's size is about the same as my Samsung 10 inch tablet and a depth of about 12 cm which is perfectly reasonable. The toaster has two slots for toasting and is operated by a lever on the right hand side. One thing that definitely put me off this toaster is it's weight, it is very light and moves about far too easily on your workshop particularly when you press the handle down, which to me does not shout quality product and could potentially be quite dangerous! The toaster has a mains plug that has a cable length of around half a metre.
On the front right hand side of the toaster are three buttons that are horizontal LED lights which glow blue when pressed to indicate that the setting you have chosen is turned on. These options are Reheat Frozen and Stop, which are pretty basic settings. Below the lever is a heat setting knob that you can change by turning it, with 1 being the lowest heat and 6 being the highest heat setting.
To toast your food of choice you simply put it into the caged slot and press the lever down until it clicks into place. Having chosen your heat and limited toasting options. The toaster slot are quite wide and so allow thick pieces of bread as well as bagels to be toasted, without getting trapped. However the depth of the slots is not particularly great, with normal slices of bread hanging out of the top of the toaster and not getting toasted as they should, which really frustrates me. This means that I end having to manually cancel the toasting session and turn it around, which than means that the bread is not toasted evenly.
For crumpets and bagels this is a decent toaster because it is wide enough to hold them securely. The handle also lifts higher to raise the level of the items and make removing then easier. Underneath the toaster has a pull out crumb tray that collects your toasting debris and means that you don't end up with huge quantities of chargrilled crumbs smelling your kitchen out.
The toaster is quite fast at toasting your items, obviously depending on what heat setting you have it on and does heat ithem all the way through well. I haven't used the reheat function, but it is designed to give your bread a quick and very hot burst of heat to obviously reheat something - I don't know why you would want to reheat stale toast, but it's there.
The frozen button works well, I do freeze my bread as I cannot get through a whole loaf quickly enough before it goes off, so I use this and the toaster works out the additional toasting time automatically compared to fresh bread.
So to conclude, this toaster is pretty bog standard, it has most things that you would want and expect from a mid range toasting machine. I would not say that this feels and looks amazing quality, but it toasts well enough bar normal slices of bread! You can pick one of these up on ebay for around 15-20 pounds. Overall I would give it a quite hardship 2 out if 5 stars.
I've had this toaster for a couple of years now and I'm quite happy with it. I probably chose it because it was the most stylish looking toaster in that price range. It certainly does look good in my kitchen. It has a brushed satin finish and Blue Led indicator lights for the different settings. It's smaller than most toasters so doesn't take up too much room. Despite being very light, it seems to be good quality and hasn't damaged despite moving house a few times.
The browning control has 6 different settings depending on how brown you like your toast. I find that it toasts bread well but it doesn't usually toast evenly on both sides of bread. There's not enough difference to bother me though, and I think most people wouldn't really notice.
There are three buttons on the front of the toaster. Cancel, frozen and reheat. The frozen bread setting is on most toasters now. It means you don't need to change the browning setting you usually have for your toast, and it just adds on the extra amount of time frozen bread needs. I like this as it means I don't end up accidentally burning my toast from turning it up too high. The reheat setting gives a burst of high temperature to cold toast that you just need to warm up - as long as it's not buttered yet!
If you're toasting smaller pieces of bread, bagels or crumpets, you can use the high lift function to push them up higher so you can get them out. There's also a crumb tray that attaches to the bottom of the toaster which you can remove to empty it of crumbs. I've found that this keeps the worktop space around my toaster clean and free of crumbs. I don't have to empty it very often - only very occasionally.
The cable is a good length, about half a meter, which is all you need for a toaster.
The toast slots are the kind that squeeze inwards to hold the bread while it's toasting. I've always liked toasters that do this, but it's not always good for crumpets, especially really thick ones because they can get a bit stuck to the wires. I've never had a big problem getting anything out of this toaster though. Bread never gets stuck in it. The slots have been designed to take thick pieces of bread as well as thinner pieces and they're a good size.
The speed of the toaster is great. It takes less than half a minute to toast two slices of bread. I've had toasters that take three times that.
The only thing the toaster isn't well designed for is fitting tall slices of bread. They stick out at the top so some of it doesn't get toasted at all. Of course you can always just flip it around half way through but that's hassle and it's not going to be even. It would be the perfect toaster if they just made it big enough for taller slices.
Cleaning the toaster is easy. The crumb tray is handy and very occasionally I tip the toast upside down to get the crumbs that are stuck in the toaster itself out. The exterior is made of a material that's easy to wipe any dirt off. The bottom doesn't have any bits that mould clings too, like some appliances. It doesn't have the best grip on my kitchen worktop though. If that's something that bothers you, then this might not be the best choice, but I really don't mind if a toaster doesn't grip surfaces very well.
Figuring out how to use the toaster is really easy. It doesn't have any complicated functions and the buttons have little pictures next to them that are self explanatory. This is a good two slice toaster that's lasted me well so far.
Short name: Russell Hobbs 13973