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~ Lloytron Travel Kettle ~
It's no secret that I suffer with mobility problems which are an unfortunate side effect of my debilitating health problems, and as a result I am often very weak and suffer with weakness in my hands. This means that there are a lot of times that I struggle to lift anything particularly heavy, and in fact I often struggle to lift anything heavier than a filled mug or cup.
As a result, I am very clumsy with heavier items such as saucepans and appliances, and there have been many occasions in the past where items have been broken as a result of me dropping them or stumbling when carrying them. Things came to head near the beginning of this year when a full kettle of boiling water accidentally fell from my hand, and not for the first time. I was lucky to escape serious injury, particularly as I was wearing shorts at the time of the incident and could have sustained significant burns to my bare legs and feet... as it was, I got off rather lightly, only suffering from a badly burned hand.
Unfortunately, my husband didn't share my rather laid-back attitude to this injury, nor the circumstances surrounding its occurrence and insisted that our kitchen kettle was NOT an appliance that should be used by myself when he was not at home. Instead, he decided, a better solution to my tea-drinking obsession must be found.
Thus, he decided there and then that a new travel kettle would be purchased with the main intention of it being a sort of 'stand-by' kettle for me to use when he was not at home. You see, travel kettles have a tendency to be rather lightweight and of course, their capacity is not as great as their 'mainstream' brothers and so they are much easier to fill, use, pour and most importantly for me - lift, and carry. Not only that, but our last travel kettle was looking rather worse for wear and my husband had been grumbling about its impending demise.
I had a look around a few online stores and sites before making my decision. I had some criteria, though not many. Firstly, I wanted a travel kettle that included cups for the simple reason that when my husband and I holiday abroad we don't always book self-catering accommodation and so we saw little point in buying a Travel Kettle that did not contain cups or beakers of some sort. What would be the point in having a fully functioning kettle in our hotel room, but no cups in which to brew our coffee..?
Secondly, the travel kettle had to have a reasonable capacity. This is because it's main function was of course, to act as a 'miniature' version of the real thing for me to use when my husband is not at home. Our previous model had a capacity of only 0.5 litres, which I insisted was not big enough to cope with the copious amounts of hot drinks that I heartily consume on a daily basis.
Thirdly, I didn't want to spend more than about £15. This is mainly because I have found some travel kettles that I have had before have not been particularly long-lasting, presumably because of the below-par element contained in their small-ish frames. Either way, having spent a small fortune on an attractive matching (full-sized) kettle and toaster set to accessorize my kitchen a while back, I wasn't prepared to spend too much on this little extra.
These three criteria were met easily, with several choices being available. I finally decided on the Lloytron Travel Kettle 0.9 Litre from Amazon, which seemed to tick all of the boxes for us. I paid around £11 at the time, with a couple of quid added on for postage charges. This seemed like a reasonable enough price to me, although I will admit to feeling a slight wave of trepidation as I had not had an appliance from the "Lloytron" brand before, so wasn't sure how it would fare.
When the kettle arrived, I was suitable impressed. Not only was the kettle's sleek black design slightly more contemporary than I had expected it to be, but I thought the pair of plastic cups supplied with the kettle were rather generously-sized, being what I would actually describe as a 'neat' or small-ish mug, rather than a cup. I was further impressed to note a draw-string bag had been supplied with the kettle for travelling and storage. First impressions were good.... Very good.
Using the kettle has proven to be an absolute dream and I wonder how I ever managed without it! I find it extremely light-weight, as you would expect with most travel kettles. That is not to say I find the plastic 'casing', nor the flex or even the plastic cups are overly flimsy with quite the opposite found to be true. When filling the kettle, it doesn't feel overly cumbersome or heavy which of course is the main reason for its purchase, and is no doubt down to its "Ultra Light Construction." The kettle has proven to be surprisingly robust, and has survived a good few knocks and drops at the hands of my ever-waning strength... Alas, it would seem that even lighter kettles will be put to this unfortunate test.
Even though the kettle's hinged lid cannot be lifted off the base completely, I do like the way the lid 'flips up' and closes easily, with even the lightest touch. The lid 'sits' open by itself, with no help required from me, and I like the fact it 'flips' open at a perfect angle to reveal a large opening into which I can pour my water. This opening actually covers about three quarters of the size of the kettle's top which makes it very easy to fill up, particularly as I am used to our old model, which revealed a very small 'gap' allowing for only a trickle of water being poured into its cavity at the time of filling.
Furthermore, the overly-neat 'gap' on our old model felt cumbersome and 'fiddly' when filling the kettle, especially when using it on holiday and having bottled water and things to negotiate. A final noticeable difference presented itself when I had to use my walking stick at home the other day. I realised that our new travel kettle had the advantage of the lid staying firmly 'open' when it was situated in the open position, whereas our old model would continually have it's lid falling down whilst the filling process was underway. Not ideal, particularly when trying to do the task one-handed.
A light tap secures the lid back into place, where it remains firmly throughout the water boiling process. Similarly, the lid has never loosened or become even slightly ajar whilst the water has been poured from the kettle's neat spout.
The kettle holds a generous capacity, being 0.9 litres and I find this is absolutely ideal for my own needs, providing a few cuppas with each fill. In terms of the small mugs/cups supplied with the kettle, I find I can obtain four generous cupfuls with each fill, with a small amount remaining in the kettle.
One point I would mention however, is that the black colouring of the kettle's plastic does make it slightly more difficult to keep an eye on the water level and the black spout contained within its plastic body. As there is no external water level indicator on the outside of the kettle, we must rely solely on the "Min" and "Max" level indicators that are located on the inside 'wall' of the kettle's body which can be difficult to see, given they appear in black font on a black background.
This point hadn't occurred to either my husband or myself prior to purchase, and to be fair it is not something that would deter me from recommending the kettle, but for those consumers who have difficulties with their sight, the markings on the inside of the kettle may prove to be too dark and small to read easily.
The Lloytron Travel Kettle boasts several safety facilities, which is a welcome addition given our previous model had nothing of the sort, so a watchful eye was needed as the boiling reached its crescendo, requiring us to manually switch the kettle off to avoid overheating. The Lloytron alternative needs no such attention, taking care of it's boiling contents all by itself via it's "Automatic Switch Off" when it's task is done. I believe also that this function kicks in if the kettle has accidentally been allowed to run dry, or if the kettle has been switched on whilst empty, although I have never tested this claim for obvious reasons!
Similarly, there is a "Manual Override/Off Button" located at the top of the kettle's handle, and this is not at all difficult to find as it is located directly underneath the ON/POWER button. I don't think I've ever had to manually switch the kettle off, but consumers may well feel reassured of this facility being there.
It could be argued that the 'Indicator Lamp' comes under the umbrella of security features, but for us this has proven to be more of a convenience, than anything. A small 'dot' light situated next to the ON/POWER button at the top of the kettle's handle indicates at a glance that the kettle is switched on. This lamp goes off when the ON button is reset automatically to OFF and this occurs by itself when the boiling has ceased from within the kettle.
The last winning point for me is in terms of the product's flex length. Our previous model - AND, for that matter, several travel kettles that we have encountered in various stays at hotels within and out with the UK - have contained a ridiculously small flex, being something similar to that contained on a child's toy, perhaps. This is probably designed to make the respective kettles more 'compact' and of course, lighter as a result. The Lloytron Travel Kettle, on the other hand has a generous enough length of flex attached to its posterior, so that the kettle can be moved and, of course, poured with ease. I have found that some kettles with small flexes can make them feel cumbersome and awkward to pour from which isn't a great point for me given the clumsiness I suffer from as I mentioned previously. Whilst the Lloytron's flex is more generous than most other models in my experience, this has taken nothing from the kettle's compact nature, nor has it added much in terms of weight etc. Even if it had, I'd much rather have an extra bit of 'give' in the flex and compromise a little in the product's weight.
We have taken this kettle with us on holiday a few times now, although it is used regularly within our home as I mentioned previously. We have found no difficulties with using the kettle abroad, and it has proven to be the ideal travelling companion due to its lightweight design. A further convenience was discovered when I first took the kettle on holiday and discovered the two plastic mugs fit neatly inside it's plastic body, even though they need to sit alongside the kettle's metal element which is fully exposed. Storing these little mugs inside the kettle reduces the risk of them becoming broken or smashed as they are, after all, made of thin plastic. I thought this was highly convenient and as the kettle fits snugly inside it's little carry 'pouch' I have found there to be nothing fussy about taking the appliance away with us. I am assured by the kettle's operating manual (supplied in its generously-sized cardboard storage box) that the model features "Universal Voltage" and so is suitable for worldwide use. It "conforms to BS EN Safety Standards" and I have never experienced any difficulty with using the kettle abroad when combined with the appropriate plug adaptor, and although I admit that I have not used it outside of Europe as yet, I wouldn't hesitate to do so.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with this little kettle and it has never let me down even though it is used almost every day. Even though I was unfamiliar with the Lloytron brand, I have found my kettle to be a worthwhile purchase that has proven to be surprisingly robust and it has been a little gem when travelling or going on holiday. The product comes with my full recommendation as a result of my findings, and I do feel it is deserving of full marks in the product rating score too.
As @ November 2012, you can purchase the kettle (Model No E886SV) from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of only £11.25 with free delivery.