I have had this toaster for about a year now after getting it from Tesco for £15.50. I had wanted to get a Russell Hobbs toaster as I have been a fan of the brand after using some of their other kitchen appliances and being really impressed. It is also available for the same price in Asda, Argos and Amazon. It comes packaged along with a handy instruction booklet.
--- The Look ---
I quite like the appearance of this toaster as, although simple, it looks modern and a little stylish with its silver polished stainless steel surface. The classic silver contrasts nicely with the black handles and buttons. The two slots for holding the bread are located at the top, the slider that lowers the bread is at the side with 3 buttons (defrost, reheat and cancel) on the left and a knob on the right to control the burning. The dimensions measure 18.4 (H) x 17.4 (W) x 28.2 (D) cm and it fits snugly on the kitchen worktop. It is also lightweight at 1.16kg allowing it to be moved easily if needed. My only complaint is that the electrical lead is a bit on the short side so it can never be that far from a socket.
--- Features ---
This is a pretty simple toaster with standard features including a bagel and frozen function to toast bread straight out the freezer - convenient if you're in a rush in the morning, a reheat setting to warm up unbuttered toast and just in case you need to stop toasting at any moment a mid-cycle cancel function. The most useful feature for me is the variable browning control. Most toasters now have this feature and it allows you to control the degree of burning to "ensure perfectly browned toast time after time". I like my toast quite lightly browned and I've found that turning the knob to the 2 or 3 point on the dial is ideal. Another point is that the buttons light up with a red indicator light so you can see clearly what has been pressed and the slider has an extra lift so you can get even small slices out easily without the risk of getting burned.
--- Usage ---
I have managed to fit in slices of all kinds of thickness including really chunky homemade bread. It has been working really well and used to give a nice even toast until just recently when it has started toasting only three quarters of the bread. This involves a tricky manoeuvre of turning the bread upside down in order to toast the remaining part without burning the already toasted part! Unfortunately this means it has to loose one star. It is very easy to keep clean - I just give mine a quick wipe with a damp cloth every so often and it comes out looking shiny again. At the bottom is a removable crumb tray which simply slides out so you can empty the accumulated crumbs and debris every now and again.
--- Summary ---
Overall this has been a great little toaster that (until very recently) has produced perfectly and evenly browned toast. It does exactly what it should and is simple and easy to use and keep clean. I would recommend it although bear in mind the quality may start to deteriorate after a while.
I have been going through my things over the last few weeks, seeing if there was anything left worth righting about, which led me into one of the sheds in the garden, looking for garden tools, furniture or anything that I could make sound interesting. And it was whilst in the shed that I came across something that I had put in there after it 'failed' on me a while back. But when I picked it up I soon remembered exactly when and where I got it from and why I thought this would be worth writing about as I felt that, if you were after this certain item, then I would gladly tell you why you should go and get one... or not...
Anyway, this item I was holding, whilst wondering why I had thrown it in the shed and not in the local rubbish dump... aka 'recycling plant'... and I still can't remember why I had kept hold of it to this day?
But the item is in fact a toaster from a well known company called Russell Hobbs, the Russell Hobbs 18780 to give it it's proper name.
* So what does this toaster look like...?
It resembles many other toasters that I have seen, having a rounded sort of top giving a curvy look to the rest of the straight body. On the top there are two slots, which are for the bread to go into and the toast to pop out of. Then, on the side, or front, depending on which way you look at it, there are the simple to use controls, those being basically the same as many other toasters of its kind. There's a defrost button, a reheat and a cancel button. Then, we have the slider which is used to 'pull' the bread into the toaster and also to push the bread right out so you can grab it without risking your fingers.
Finally, for the controls, that is, there is the heat setting, or more the timer setting. This is a knob that has the numbers 1 to 7 around it, which dictates to how long the bread stays inside the toaster and allows you to have you choice of how dark you want you toast, from just brown on setting 1 to black as coal, (or burnt), on setting 7.
Then, right on the bottom, with a little grip edge on the opposite side than the controls, there is a crumb tray, a single one which slides from underneath the toaster, collecting the crumbs that happen to fall from the bread as you toast along.
* Is it easy to control..?
Yes, it's easier to control than my youngest is after they've had a fizzy drink or two.
There are only four buttons, a slider and a little knob. And that's it.
But in a bit more detail...
The defrost settings is as it sounds. It defrost bread if you have just take it out of the freezer. It does this by warming the frozen bread for a while instead of toasting it.
The reheat button is another one that does what is says, it reheats already toasted bread if you have let it go too cold and want it warming up.
Finally, there's the eject button, which again, does what it says, it ejects the toast in mid 'toasting', just in case you need to eject the toast before it turns into charcoal.
And that's the buttons, which illuminate when they are in use so you know what buttons you've pressed.
The other controls near the buttons are the slider and the numbered little knob, which I have already mentioned I think...
* And what about cleaning...?
The main thing to remember is that you can't just drop this toaster into the sink and let it soak for a while, trying get that once melted cheese to soften slightly after you, drunkenly, thought it would be quicker to try and make a piece of cheese on toast if you turned the toaster on its side. That does NOT work, trust me,
To keep this toaster clean all you have to do is wipe it over with a very very very damp cloth, so that the brushed metal finish looks as fresh as a daisy.
Then there's the crumb tray, which slides out of the bottom, and is easily emptied so that there's no excessive stenches of burning from 6 month old bread crumbs. You can then maybe give the crumb tray a bit of a wipe over but make sure it's fry before re slotting it back into the toaster.
I also find that if you gently shake the toaster, holding it over a bin, then you'll get more bread crumb to fall out, and to be honest, you'll be amazed at how many crumbs actually can come out... it's like when the leaves fall off the trees int eh Autumn. There never looks that many on the tree but when they fall there's always thousand on the ground ten minutes after you've just raked up millions of the little brown and green horrors....
And that's cleaning this toaster.
* What do I think then..?
For simple two slice toaster this one does the job. Well, it did do at the beginning, when it was brand knew. It managed to make my toast just the way I wanted it, nice and brown without stripping all the moisture out of it so it tasted like I was chewing on a piece of old carpet that my dog had used during his early 'potty' training days.
Sadly though, as with all toaster that I have owned and used, the elements began to fade away bit by bit, piece by piece, slot by slot. Which led to only bits of the bread slices being browned whilst other sections remained whiter than a Buddhist conscience.
Don't get me wrong, I was happy with the time that this toaster and I remained in perfect harmony, being as one with each others mentality, so I'm not going to say that I regret buying this one at all.
It looks the part, having the brushed stainless steal effect which makes it look nice in most modern kitchens without a doubt. I have a black and white sort of kitchen with the flash of stainless steal in the form of certain small appliances, so this toasted didn't have to be hidden away in the cupboard after we'd finished using it so that it didn't look out of place sat on the side.
The setting dial turns smoothly, but as for the settings themselves, these change depending on what mood the toaster is on at the time. With this I mean that one day, on setting 4, I get a nice browned toast that taste exactly as I like it, but the same setting on another day will make the toast look as pale as a teenager the day after there first night out in the pub.
The crumb tray slides out of the bottom smoother than Torvill and Dean on that ice show they are on every so often, so that you don't end up with all the crumbs on the floor, which saves on cleaning up time without a doubt.
The extra lift is also a cracking feature, especially if you are toasting smaller items, such as buns, which don't quite comes to the surface on the normal lift so you can either tray and hook the things out with your fingers, or even jabbing at it with a fork, or, the safer method, lifting the slider right to the top so that there's enough of the bun showing to get a good grip on.
As for the fact that there are many different thicknesses of bread, buns, muffins, in fact, anything else you can think of toasting. Well, this toaster accommodates all thicknesses without any trouble at all due to the fact that the inside has a 'gripping' function which moves in and out as you lift the slider up and down.
Although to be honest, I thin k all toasted these days has that sort of widening/ narrowing function, but I thought I'd let you know that this one is no different.
As with most things it did have a few negatives about this toaster, such as the body is made of a brushed stainless steal material which looks nice but can look a little 'greasy' if it's not wiped over properly.
Plus, as it's only a two slice toaster, which does slow you down if you have a larger family who live on the good old warmed up and slightly browned bread. But is you only have to make a few slices at a time then a two slice toaster is ample really, and it doesn't take up much room in the kitchen either.
* What about the cost of a couple of slices of toast...?
This toaster in in the cheaper region of the toasting world, selling for about the £15 mark, give or take a quid or two.
* Would I recommend this toaster...?
I would have to say, for a cheap and cheerful way to burn your bread, this toaster is not bad at all.
It lasted me longer than some more expensive modals that I have used in the past, with the elements doing quite a good job before burning out bit by bit.
You can pick up toasters pretty cheaply these days and maybe in the past I've been guilty of going too readily for the cheap and cheerful models. These have tended not to last too long. My last toaster, I have to say, gave up the ghost unwillingly. The middle elements went some time ago, which meant that you had to toast one side, turn the toast around and then do the other side. Personally, I didn't mind this. I was quite happy to put up with the inconvenience as long as it meant that I didn't have to buy a new toaster. My daughters weren't so patient and there's only so much grief a man can take before he has to search for where he last hid his wallet.
My eldest suggested I should buy a Dualit and kept a completely straight face while telling me how much they cost. My own thinking was that I should avoid supermarket own brands (my idea of going up market) and look for one or two extra features.
I figured that a named brand would give me more reliability (not necessarily true, I know) and if I could find something that would cope with crumpets, hot cross buns and little chunks of home made bread then that would be good too.
The solution I found was the Russell Hobbs 18780.
It's just a two slicer, but most of the time that's all I need. Even when I've got a house full it would be a miracle if everyone was down for breakfast at the same time, so a two slicer was fine and I reckoned more energy efficient. It's amazing how much of my inherent meanness I can write off to energy conservation.
~ Cost ~
They're retailing between £16.76 and £24.94 at the time of writing. I paid about £19, which I still think was good value.
~ Looks ~
The RH 18780 is quite a nice looking job with its brushed and polished stainless steel. A matter of taste, perhaps, but I like it. No doubt I would have been more popular had I been able to find one in pink, but this one did me nicely.
~ Features ~
Two Toasting Slots - these are extra wide to take thicker slices and specials like baps, buns, barms, muffins, tea cakes, cobs, crumpets, pikelets.....this is making me hungry!
Lever - as the lever goes down, and it is a nice action that gives you confidence that the thing is well made, the interior cages close in on the slices to hold them firmly while being toasted.
Removable Crumb Tray - You never get everything out, but these crumb trays do help a lot, as you just slide it out from underneath, empty the crumbs in the bin and slot the thing back in again. No need to hold the toaster upside down and shake it, which surely can't be good for its innards, can it?
Browning Control - there are seven positions on the dial and it does genuinely seem to be a quite sensitive system. With some of these controls on other toasters, no matter how many numbers are on the dial, you just seem to get three results: underdone, done and charcoal.
Frozen Bread Button - Sometimes I find I don't get through bread very quickly and if I didn't keep it in the freezer there would be a lot of wastage. The freezer button effectively provides a defrost function before toasting the bread to the desired brownness. You simply set the dial as you would normally want it, place the bread in the toaster and pull the lever down, then press the freezer button. It will light up to show that it is functioning.
Reheat Button - You know how it is - sometimes you're so busy in the morning, getting the kids ready for school, yourself ready for work; you're distracted by a text, a phone call or an infant cry for assistance.... One way or another you forget the toast and it goes cold. No problem. Pop the toast back in the toaster, leave the dial as it was, pull down the lever and press the reheat button. The toast will be given a short burst of heat and then it will pop up again. Just don't try this with toast you've already buttered!
Eject Button - if you want to stop the toasting prematurely (maybe you realise that you've set it too high), just press the eject button, the toast will pop up and the elements will switch off.
~ The Extra Lift ~
This is the bit that really sold it for me.
You know how it is when that thing you're toasting is a little on the small side; or when something that is bigger falls apart and you're left with the problem of how to get it out? You don't want to stick your fingers down into the toaster for fairly obvious reasons and the manuals always tell you not to poke anything else down there either. So how do you retrieve those tasty little morsels? Well, this toaster has an extra lift feature, which means that when it pops up you can actually lift the lever higher again to make the rest of your breakfast accessible once more. Love it!
~ Safety ~
-Keep the toaster upright on a firm stable surface that is heat resistant. It's not a bad idea to put it on a heat resistant tray, which would look after your work surface better and make it easier to clean underneath.
-Don't immerse it in water.
-Keep it away from combustible materials, like curtains.
-Route the cable safely.
-Don't cover the toaster.
-If you DO get bread jammed in there, make sure you unplug and let it cool down before trying to get it out.
-Clean the crumbs out frequently and make sure you've unplugged and let it cool down before removing the crumb tray.
-Don't use the toaster unless the crumb tray is fitted and closed
~ Care ~
To clean, just wipe it over with a clean, damp cloth.
~ Reliability ~
I've had this for about six months now, which isn't very long, but so far so good.
2 slices / 7 toast settings / Cancel function / Defrost function / Reheat function / Variable browning / Removable crumb tray / Auto shut-off / Non-slip feet / Cord storage / Manufacturer's 2 year guarantee / EAN/MPN/UPC/ISBN: 4008496729883 / High-lift function for easy removal of smaller slices of bread / Electronic and illuminated controls / By Russell Hobbs / Short name: Russell Hobbs 18780