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.
KitchenAid Two-Slice Manual High-Lift Toaster
We like this toaster's simple looks and such features as digital shade control, a countdown meter, and a done chime. And its thick 1.5-inch slots were able to handle sliced baguettes and bagels easily. Even so, its manual lift-lower mechanism was inconsistent: In a number of instances, it didn't latch into place and start the toasting cycle. And despite its thick stainless steel walls, this toaster gets hot to the touch. [$90; kitchenaid.com]
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco