With sophisticated sensors and advanced controls, even the simplest kitchen gadget has grown up. We tested four of the latest models by lining them up, loading them to full capacity, and setting them to all levels so we could compare each model's bread for color, consistency, and texture. We also evaluated each model's independent features and build quality. Here are four we liked best, though, like all appliances, each had its drawbacks.
Cuisinart Two-Slice Long-Slot Motorized Toaster
This 7.4-pound toaster's namesake single slot is long enough to fit two pieces of regular bread or one slice of an oddly sized baked good. It has great build quality, and we liked its deep feature set (seven shade settings, bagel mode, silent automatic lifting/lowering, an LED countdown meter) but found that, unless you really tweaked it, the toaster had trouble making medium-brown toast, often producing batches of barely brown or burnt-to-a-crisp slices. [$100; cuisinart.com]