When it comes to kitchen appliances, I'm always tempted by a classic design, generally with a stainless steel or brushed aluminium finish. It's the same with kettles, and the model that I currently own fits squarely into the above criteria. My Philips HD 4600 is actually five or six years old now, but it has been an incredibly effective and reliable model. Costing under twenty pounds, and constructed primarily from steel with a high-grade plastic base and handle, the kettle is undoubtedly a nice looking appliance. However, unlike the majority of its water-boiling siblings, it's actually not a cordless model, although a cordless version is available (HD 4601).
The kettle features a red light at the side of its base which illuminates during boiling and lets you know that something is actually happening. The appliance is activated via an easily accessible red rocker switch found at the rear, which sits just above the power cord entry point.
Inside the belly of the metal beast...
Looking inside the kettle, the first thing you'll notice is a slot which allows you to slide in a gauze filter, thus preventing any limescale from entering your cup when pouring a drink. I actually removed the filter on my kettle as it furred up quite quickly, and the gauze part started to fall apart. That said, it was my own fault, as it is recommended that the filter is replaced every so often, and spare ones can currently be purchased from amazon.co.uk for £9.
The only other thing of note inside the appliance is a black plastic marker which is designed to inform the user of the kettle's maximum fill capacity (1.7 litres - equivalent to around six medium sized mugs). When full to capacity, the kettle takes around five minutes to boil, which may sound like a long time - however, if you only fill the kettle to the halfway point, then the boiling time is reduced to around only two minutes. Besides, from an environmental perspective, you should only boil the amount of water that you intend to use.
Tarnish my good name
Although it's lovely and shiny when new, the metal sides of the HD 4600 go dull fairly quickly (within a few months of purchase) and will never regain their sparkling glory. However, the slightly tarnished look works well for the kettle, and is by no means unpleasant. I often find that a quick clean with a bit of wire-wool brings back a certain amount of sparkle, albeit for a limited time period. Similarly, the inner base of the kettle (the heating element) scales up quite fast, and if you don't de-scale every couple of months, the boiling time will be impaired. I personally recommend Kilrock-K descaler, as it's a fast working and highly efficient product.
Design features of note
The kettle's handle is located directly on top, which makes it very easy to lift when full of water. I find that jug-style kettles are much harder to lift, as you're picking up from a point which is essentially to the side of the water. Even when full, the 4600 doesn't feel too heavy, and as such should be applauded for its lightweight and efficient design.
The kettle is filled by removing a small rounded lid which sits just under the handle, similarly on top of the appliance. I often find that some kettle lids (especially with this classic design style) can be a little difficult to remove, yet the HD 4600 has no such issue. One thing that must be noted however, is the importance of ensuring that the lid is fully down when the kettle is boiling - if it isn't, the auto boil cut-off won't work, and the kettle will keep going until it boils dry.
Overall then, If you're looking for an affordable and reliable kettle, the Philips HD 4600 is a great place to start - it's easy to lift, boils quickly, and looks pretty good too - the only real downside is the fact that it isn't cordless - highly recommended nevertheless.
Short name: Philips HD4600