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When my little travel kettle broke shortly after Christmas, I went on the hunt for an inexpensive one to replace it. I assumed that it wouldn't be too hard to find a basic kettle of a reasonable quality for £10-£15, but it actually proved more difficult than anticipated. After trawling through countless shops online and rejecting numerous budget kettles because none of them quite fitted the bill, I finally settled on this one. I wasn't entirely sure about it- Wahl was a brand I'd never heard of, plus it didn't look particularly attractive in its pic on Amazon- but it seemed like the best of a bad lot. On the plus side, it had received praise from other users on Amazon, none of whom seemed to have any major bugbears with it.
This kettle has a 1.7 litre capacity, with a 2200 watt element. It also has the following features:
- Hinged lid
- Removable, washable filter
- Neon power indicator
- Dual level water gauge
When the kettle arrived, I was quite disappointed by its appearance. It wasn't so much the design- that was exactly as I was expecting from the picture- but rather the fact that it looked quite badly made. The plastic around the lid wasn't completely smooth, but had a slightly ragged look, and the lid didn't fit perfectly against the kettle when closed. It was also quite hard to open- I felt like if I pulled too hard it might break off from its hinges! Fortunately it proved sturdier than it looked, and stayed put, despite requiring quite a lot of force to open it. These niggles weren't particularly major, but compared to the Kenwood kettle I'd bought around the same time (and for just £5 more), this was clearly the poor relation! I just hoped that the flaws were solely external.
The instructions recommended boiling the maximum amount of water several times before using it for drinks, so I filled it to the 1.7 litre mark and plugged it in. Getting the right amount of water was easy, thanks to the water windows on either side of the kettle on which the measurements are given in litres. The minimum amount you can boil is 0.4 litres, which is slightly less than most other kettles I've seen- perfect for when you're just making one cup and don't want to boil more than necessary. When it came to plugging it in, I was pleased to see that the lead was a reasonable length- about 60cm from the kettle's base to the plug. This was about the right length to ensure that the kettle didn't have to be placed right next to the socket, while the lead wouldn't dangle or get in the way.
Boiling the kettle's full capacity was a good way of testing it out, and I was pleased to see that it was quite a quick boiler, and not too noisy. It did wobble about a bit when boiling, however, which was quite disconcerting to watch, particularly as its rather shabby appearance didn't exactly fill me with confidence! However, my worries were unfounded as the kettle did its job quickly, efficiently and without any disasters. After the initial three boils, I started using it for drinks, and was pleased to see that the water didn't have that horrible plasticky taste that you get with some new kettles- in this respect, it was much better than my new Kenwood kettle.
This kettle doesn't have 360 degree rotation on its base, so has to be slotted in at a specific point. This isn't too much of a problem- the base and kettle have quite a loose fit so you don't have to align them precisely. Despite this, however, the kettle does occasionally stick in its socket when I try to lift it out. Fortunately this has only happened a couple of times, and on the whole it's easy to lift out and put back in the right position on the base.
All in all, I'm satisfied with this kettle, but not blown away by it. It's very much a no-frills model, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it looks badly made. For £15, I think you could get a much better looking kettle with more features. That said, it performs its job well, which is of course the main thing, so I'll give it a slightly generous three stars.
Short name: Wahl ZX682