Top toasters

March 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
You would think that making great toast would be a piece of cake for today's toasters. After all, the simple kitchen appliance has been around for decades.Drop the bread in, push the lever down, and up pops the toast. This has been happening since the 1920s.

"You'd think after 80 years, consumers could expect to get perfectly browned toast every time they use a toaster," Bob Markovich said.

In order to help you figure out how to get the best toast, consumer reports toasted nearly 2,000 slices of bread in its tests. No one can accuse them of "loafing around" on the job.

In all consumer reports tested 34 toasters, assessing the evenness of browning against a color chart.

While none delivered perfection, many are getting pretty close. Some even offer features like a digital countdown to let you know when your toast will be ready.

"Manufacturers are fighting for your appliance dollars and your counter space, so they're pretty busy developing features to get you to open your wallet," Markovich said.

But consumer reports testers found some features come at the expense of others. For example, the Delonghi DTT312, for $130 has a lift-out grid for warming sandwiches like these frozen Panini's. Sounds appetizing, but unfortunately this toaster is only mediocre at its main job, toasting evenly.

For much less, Haier's $30 toaster did a better job toasting. It is one of five toasters consumer reports named a best buy.

And another, the Proctor Silex cool-touch model 22203, costs just $15.

Both do a good job toasting for very little dough.