I hate toasters. Love toast. But hate toasters.
The reason for my pathological hatred of toasters is that no matter what toaster I have bought, no matter how much it cost or what brand name is etched on the side. What ever toaster I have bought always goes in the way of the big toasting heaven in the sky... or more the recycling pit down the road. So in my life time of toasting bread I have probably used more toasters than Katie Price has used men.... And that's going some.
One toaster I was quite happy with, whilst it did what it was designed to do, was a rather fetching toaster from a well known company called Russell Hobbs, with the full name for this particular toaster being Fred... no, I mean it's the Russell Hobbs 9379 four slice toaster.
* What does this toaster look like..?
Well, to be honest, it's a bit of a monster, in the toaster world of monsters that is, being a four slice unit measuring about 210mm high, 250mm wide and about 300mm long.
The top and sides are rather curvy and a dull shine gives it a rather fetching look, although can you really describe it as a dull shine? Do those two words actually go together? But that's the best way to describe it really.
Anyway. The main housing is made of stainless steel and the walls are known in the trade as cool walls, (not the cool wall on Top Gear mind you). Which means that they can be touched even whilst the toaster is working, although the walls do get warm to the touch.
On the front, or side, or back, which ever way you have it, but I'd say the front. But on the front there are two little black knobs, or levers, running up and down two slits in the metal housing. These levers are for lowering and raising the inner baskets.
The lower section is made of a black plastic material which encircles the base giving it a more formal look. The controls are housed on the front edge of this black section, sticking out on a lovely sized little ledge.
This control area looks like a small section taken from the Starship Enterprise, sort of. Having buttons and dials in order to control the toasting that is going on inside the toaster. These button and dials aren't as complicated as they first appear, with two buttons and a dial being used for each two slot side of the toaster.
The dials are on the outer edge of the ledge type area, with numbers around the outside of the dial ranging from a '0', for barely touched toast, or just warm bread really, to number '6' which could leave your bread almost burnt and as black as a piece of coal. but some people actually like burnt toast don't they, but not me.
Anyway, on the inside of the dials, sandwiched sort of, are the buttons, which are for 'defrost' and ' reheat', two buttons for each function which means a button each for each two slot side of the toaster.
And that is what we have for the controls of this toaster.
On the underside, opposite the control console, there are two crumb trays which are designed to catch the crumbs but to be honest they only manage to catch a fraction of them, leaving most of the crumbs on the table or worktop, leading to a clean up after every use.
Also, on the underbelly, there are what look like a few little catches, knobbles and bits of plastic that look as though they've been left there by mistake. These are actually where the mains lead wraps around and into so that you have just the right amount of cable sticking out from the toaster and, when you've finished with the toaster and it has cooled down properly, you can wrap the cable around the bits and bobs on the underside and store the whole lot away properly.
* What does it do..?
It toasts bread, as any toaster does really, using the array of small metal elements inside the toaster that glow and heat up in order to slowly burn the bread that you slot inside it.
It has a few settings that you'd expect of a toaster these days, the usual settings being reheat, defrost, and cancel, these setting are on each side of the toaster. These functions are used via the buttons and dials that are on the lower front, or side, or even back, depending on which way you look at it.
It has variable browning, which is a posh name for a little dial that is used as a timer for how long the bread stays inside the toaster, the longer it stays in the toaster the browner it becomes, and vice-versa.
The reheat function simply allows you to pop in already toasted bread that has gone cold so that you can warm it up again without burning it to a crisp.
The 'frozen' function simply mean that you can defrost bread without actually beginning the toasting process.
The slots are what the posh people call variable which means that the inside has a sort of basket frame type thing that the bread sits on. This basket thing can be lowered into the slots using the handle on the front of the unit. The frame thing is designed to move in and out, trapping the bread inside without squashing it, but it is also designed to allow a thick slice of bread as well as a thin slice of bread, with the walls of the frame moving in and out with ease.
There's also the extra lift feature, which is simply where the levers on the side can be lifted up higher in order to get such things as crumpets, muffins and those smaller slices of bread out of the slots without burning your fingers.
As with all toasters these days you'll notice that the levers don't pop up all the way to the top of the little slits that they are housed inside. This is where the extra lift facility comes into its own as that is what the last centimetre of so of the slit is left for. So you can lift the inner baskets further up if you have smaller bread type items in there.
Plus, this toast has something called a 'Toastec System' which means that it is supposed to toast the edges of the bread more than the middle, giving you a more 'moist', or more a 'not so dry', piece of toast with a crispy surround.
* Is it easy to clean..?
Yes, it's simple really.
On the underside there are crumb trays that simply slide out of the base You then tip away the crumbs into a bin or where ever you tip your crumbs, and slide the trays back into place.
Although to be honest, as I said, the crumb trays don't really catch all the crumbs as they are not that deep really. So when you move the toaster from where ever you are using it you may just find a small pile of tiny bits of burnt bread crumbs in many different shades of brown.
To actually clean the toaster itself all you have to do is give it a bit of a wipe over with a very damp cloth as anything too wet could damage the elements that are inside the housing. And for god sake, what ever you do, don't be putting this in your dishwasher in order to give it a good clean as you'll be left with a broken toaster and possibly some rather serious household disturbance too.... And no, this is not what happened to my toaster. I'm not that daft. Well..!!!!
* What do I think about this toaster..?
This one was a fine toaster indeed, before it ended up with all the other toasters that seem to hate me. It not only managed to take four slices at once, it also managed to toast those slices quicker than most other toasters I've used, and there's been a lot of toasters I've used.
I like the fact that each side can be controlled separately so you can use this as a two slice toaster or, if you have fussy faces to feed, you can make two slices of toast a different shade of brown than the other two slices, although this tends to be a bit hit and miss once the elements start to go into overdrive and work only when they want to.
The Toastec system is a fine idea, in principle, and worked quite well for a while on this toaster, but, as with all toasters I have owned, things started to go wrong with the elements, leading to the edges being either burnt or underdone whilst the inside of the slice finished the exact opposite.
It does manage to toast all four slices of bread pretty quickly, quicker than many other toasters that I have used, which resulted in less time toasting and more time eating.
The only downside to this is the actual size of it, especially when it came to storing it away as it managed to take up almost half a cupboard by itself. But downside apart, if you want a toaster to toast lots of bread at one time then you have to put up with the fact that it is not going to be able to slot into a draw and out of the way.
* And what about the price..?
This toaster sells for about the £35 mark, give or take a few quid, but as it is a fairly old model there's a high chance that it can be found for a lot less, or maybe it can't be found at all???
* Would I recommend this one..?
I'd have to say yes on that question as this is must for those families who, like mine, love a fair amount of toast done in all sorts of different shades of brown.
This toasts the bread quickly and does four slices at a time. So, if you've got a toast loving family like mine then a four slice unit like this one is well worth looking out for. But if you don't want a massive one, (easy now....), or only have toast every so often, then the size of this may not be worth having in you kitchen as it does take up a lot of room.
I brought this toaster after my previous Russell-Hobbs broke (the 9209 Classic, the problem with that one was that the handle would not stay down and so wouldn't toast any thing). The 9379 classic has many new (and working features) on it. The main advantage with this toaster is the individual working sides. This means that you can use one side on one temperature and the other on another temperature. Both sides have their own cancel buttons as well. They both however share the re-heat function- this works perfectly on re-heating medium cooked toast, of any size. Plus both sides share the frozen function which again works fine.
The bun warmer can only be used at half temperature, but this isnt a really large problem. The other problem is that the hi-rise facility does NOT actually rise as high as the older version (9209 Classic).
The largest advantage of this is that you can fit any size of bread and even buns into the toaster. I use large home made bread and it still fits in the toast both width and length ways. The toast as well only cost around £35 which is suitably priced for a toaster which will least many years.
A premier four-slice toaster with bagel setting, bun warmer and extra fast browning facility / Suitable for use with frozen bread, it has a re-heat setting and automatically adjusts to different slice widths / Cool wall technology and hi-rise facility helps prevent burnt fingers / Short name: Russell Hobbs 9379