Now you can peek at your toast before it pops

    Consumer Reports News: February 10, 2012 09:08 AM

    Is watching bread toast any more exciting than watching paint dry? The makers of the Magimix "vision" toaster think so and for $250 you can observe your bread or bagel browning to perfection. Designed in France, the toaster is equipped with a viewing window and a button that lets you pop the toast whenever you want to. A gimmick? Perhaps but our toaster testers liked it well enough to add it to the recommended list along with a model that cost just $35 and toasted a shade better.

    In Consumer Reports toaster tests, we found that price has little to do with toasting prowess. Our two 2-slice CR Best Buys included the Proctor-Silex Cool-Touch 22203 for $15 and the Hamilton Beach SmartToast 22323, $25. What they lack in looks—both have a plastic exterior—they make up for with their workmanlike performance. The 4-slicers we recommend range in price from a $55 Hamilton Beach to a $180 Breville. Some of the new toasters have such handy features as bagel settings, a countdown timer, warming racks and tongs.

    Toaster ovens have always allowed a view of the food but some have such drawbacks as leaving stripes on one side of the bread and taking longer to toast. On the plus side, some can bake and broil a wide range of foods.

    Two Brevilles in our tests—the Smart Oven BOV800XL and the BOV650XL—were equally adept at toasting, baking and broiling and both fit a four-pound chicken. The top-rated Breville Smart Oven also offers convection but our tests have found that convection isn't as important in toaster ovens because improving airflow makes less of a difference in a smaller cavity. Five of our six recommended toaster ovens were very good at toasting but one was only middling. So if you're finicky about your toast, you're better off sticking with a toaster.

    Mary H.J. Farrell

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