I don't really use the toaster that often, we sometimes have toast for breakfast and the odd round of bread toasted to put with boiled eggs but that's really about it. The last toaster we owned stopped working completely after less than 12 months, so I really didn't want to spend much on a replacement incase the same happened again. Plus the fact that most of the time it just sits in the kitchen doing absolutely nothing.
I visited the range store near our home a couple of months ago and came across this Russell Hobbs toaster - the price was £19.99 and seemed like a good buy, after all it was Russell Hobbs, a name I associated with quality and at that price seemed like the perfect replacement. I admittedly just bought it there and then, no review reading or price comparisons first. Unfortunately though, it became pretty clear early on, that it wasn't going to live up to my expectations.
The toaster came boxed and as soon as I lifted it out, I began having doubts about it's quality. Maybe I was expecting too much, after all, it did only cost me the best part of £20. The finishing on the toaster just felt a bit plastic if I'm honest, even though the main part is actually made of shiny stainless steel, with sections of black plastic at the bottom and around parts of each side. The Russell Hobbs logo is printed on the sides on top of the stainless steel. The stainless steel looked lovely at first, but soon started to look a bit dirty with fingerprints and crumbs, even though it was regularly wiped. This is a problem I usually have with stainless steel though and I have a good specialised cleaner that works well on it. It is a two slice toaster and therefore has two compartments for the bread to be placed into. The two compartments for slices of toast seemed to be very flimsy when I took the packaging away and the whole thing was very light to pick up out of the box, not really something I associate with fantastic quality. I usually find that the heavier something is, the more robust it is and this item certainly didn't prove do be an exception to that rule. Apart from endless amount of packaging, all the box contained was the toaster itself and a set of instructions. although it is quite a basic model and doesn't have many fancy features so was pretty quick to get used to. It measures 18.8cm x 18cm x 29.5cm so is quite compact and doesn't use up too much space.
The toaster comes with a dial on the side that goes from 1 to 6 to allow the user to set the degree of toasting, 1 being very light and 6, in my words, being burnt to a singe, with the others being somewhere inbetween. There is also a defrost button on the side for frozen bread to be toasted and a cancel button that allows the user to stop the toasting at any time and release the bread. There's also a high lift option to help remove the bread from the toaster and a bagel setting too, although I can't really comment on how well this feature works as I've never used it. A light appears on the side when the toaster is in use. There is a crumb tray underneath the toaster that can be pulled out when necessary to empty any excess crumbs away that it collects. The crumb tray works well, so that's a positive. It's a shame that I haven't got many more positives to tell you about. The toaster actually looks good on the worktop too, so that's another, but to me the cosmetics of the toaster are secondary - it's the way it's toasts that's the primary function and this is where things went wrong.
This, in my view can be summed up in two words, not good. I use the toaster usually for toasting bread, two rounds placed in either side. I use setting 3 because I like them toasted at an average level, not burnt, but not so it just comes out looking like when it went in. This is not usually what I end up with though. What I do end up with is a burnt side on the side facing outwards and an underdone side on the side facing inwards. In addition to this if I use bigger pieces of bread, the parts of the bread at the bottom of the toaster end up much more toasted than the parts towards the top, meaning I get such a very inconsistent toasting. I've now started to use Danish malted bread for my toast, just because it toasts better in it than any bread with bigger slices, the bigger one I tried originally was the well named 'toastie' bread! This did make me laugh a bit, a toaster designed too small to toast a very popular 'toastie' bread properly. Anyway, with this bread, I can use it but I have to cancel the toaster halfway through and flip the piece of bread over and also back to front. This leads me on to the flashes.
I first noticed these after pressing the cancel button one morning about a month ago, a flash appeared from the toaster as it popped the bread back up. This made me worry and a lot more wary of using the cancel button, so much so, that I've stopped using it unless I really have to. It looks like the same flash I've seen before from putting a plug in a four way adaptor sometimes. Since I've stopped using the cancel button, I've seen the flashes again. I noticed last week that it happened again, even though I never touched the cancel button this time, it was just the end of the toasting cycle and was automatically popping the toast back up itself. I've now stopped using the toaster completely and will be replacing the toaster as soon as I can with another model.
Although I keep thinking that perhaps it's because I didn't pay very much for it, it still should be fit for purpose and in my view, I don't think it is really. It could just be that mine is faulty, but the flashes that I've seen should not be happening and it should be able to toast a piece of bread properly and on both sides equally, it is described as a toaster after all! I give the product 1 star unfortunately, I don't recommend this product and I for one will be looking at other brands before choosing Russell Hobbs again. It's a shame really, because the products I've had from Russell Hobbs in the past, including a previous toaster that lasted a few years, have always been high quality and reliable. I'm afraid I can't say the same for this model.
Thanks for reading :o)
Short name: Russell Hobbs 18098