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Hands-on Gear Review
Black and Decker 2-Slice TR1278 ReviewPrice: $30 List | $14.98 at Amazon
Cons: Hard to push buttons, poorly designed crumb tray
Bottom line: Makes decent toast, but very bad bagels and the controls are finicky
At the time of this writing the TR1278 was the top selling toaster on amazon. We believe this is largely due to its low price. While it produces decent toast, its controls, design, and flimsy construction resulted in a rather frustrating user experience for our testers. There are certainly much better options in the same price range. If you're on a budget we recommend you break away from the amazon herd and look elsewhere, such as the Best Buy Award winning Oster Jelly Bean.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This chart shows how the Black and Decker's overall performance in our testing compared to that of the other models we evaluated.
Read on to find out how it did in each of our individual tests.
Bread Toasting Quality
The TR1278 brought home a slightly above average score of 7 out of 10 from our bread toast testing. Scores in this test ranged from 5 to 9, placing the TR1278 right in the middle. The toast it produced was crispy and pleasant, but did have some noticeable inconsistencies. It tended to toast the tops of slices a fair bit more than the bottoms. It also often left one vertical side much darker than the other. While these inconsistencies were conspicuous, all but the toast connoisseurs of the world would find them acceptable.
Ease of Use
The TR1278 received the lowest score in our ease of use testing, earning a 3 out of 10 in a metrics that saw scores as high as 8. Our biggest gripe was the lack of feedback on the controls. Pushing the bagel or frozen button results in no noticeable change; no light turning on, no noise, no button staying down, no nothing. So we were never positive that we actually had bagel mode or frozen mode engaged. The TR1278 is very light and doesn't have rubber feet, so it is almost impossible to push any button without sliding the entire unit backwards. Similarly, if you lift the lever up to push smaller items farther out of the slot, the entire unit ends up being lifted as well. Finally, it is the only model we tested with a crumb tray that opens on a hinge rather than sliding out. So cleaning requires picking up the unit, holding it over a trash can, and opening the crumb tray. We felt these attributes represent design shortcuts that bring down the price, but also create unnecessary annoyances. And the morning is the worst time for annoyances.
Bagel Toasting Quality
In our testing no model was able to admirably cope with the toasting challenges presented by bagels, execpt for the exceptopnal Smeg, and the TR1278 fared the worst. It scored a 4 out of 10, which put it well behind the top score of 10, and ahead of only Darth Toaster, which wasn't able to fit bagels into its slots. The TR1278's bagel function continued to toast both sides of the bagel, robbing us of that crispy doughy combination we were looking for. It also toasted one half of the bagel much more than the other. So we were able to get one half of each slice toasted to the right level, but had to choose whether we wanted the other half underdone or burnt. While the TR1278 was the worst performer in our bagel testing, that shouldn't be held as a huge strike against it. No model that we tested was able to produce great bagels. Even the top performing KRUPS felt just slightly below par. There are a number of reasons not to buy the TR1278, but bagel toasting is not one of them. If you're really concerned about bagel quality you'll probably want to abstain from buying a traditional slot toaster and opt for a toaster oven, or spend some big bucks on the Smeg.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality
The TR1278 again turned in an average performance in our frozen food/defrosting test, scoring a 5 out of 10. Scores in this metric ranged from 3 to 8, if anything putting the TR1278 slightly closer to the bottom than to the top. Its frozen setting avoided scorching frozen waffles, but did over brown some areas, and seemed to dry out the waffle pockets. This was particularly disappointing, since we wanted those pockets nice and fluffy so they could soak up all the maple syrup. It produced decent toast from frozen bread, but with similar inconsistencies to toasting room temperature bread.
With a $30 list price the TR1278 is the cheapest model we tested. It also feels like the cheapest model we tested. Apart from feeling flimsily constructed it also has the most frustrating user interface that we experienced. The Hamilton Beach Keep Warm and the Best Buy Award winning Oster Jelly Bean both performed far better in our testing and were much easier to use. Both of these models list for only $5 more than the TR1278. Accordingly, we don't feel the TR1278 represents a good value.
The TR1278 has seemingly gained popularity by offering low prices on amazon. However, the Black and Decker was one of the lower performing models we tested and far and away the most frustrating to use. It is possible to get big improvements in both of these categories by spending just a little bit more. So unless you really don't want to spend that extra $5-10, we suggest looking at one of the other inexpensive models we tested.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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