Providing good all-around performance at a reasonable price, you can't really go wrong with the BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD. It makes good toast, handles frozen waffles quite well, and preps a surprisingly good bagel. The only downside is that the Oster Jelly Bean provides slightly better performance at about the same price. If you can't find the Jelly Bean or can find the BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD on sale, it is a great low-cost option. But, if you have a choice, we would suggest the Jelly Bean.
BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD Review
Pros: Good toast, decent bagels, inexpensive
Cons: Hard to clean crumb tray
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD has all the functions you really need in a toaster: backlit buttons, bagel and defrost modes, and quick heating elements. The one place it really falls short is its crumb tray, which can be a bit of a pain to empty.
The BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD did quite well in our testing, but fell a bit short of the elite performers.
Bread Toasting Quality
Bread toasting is likely the most important aspect of performance for most people, and the BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD did quite well in our testing, earning a 7 out of 10. This put it comfortably above average and just a bit behind the top scorers.
The TR3500SD was able to get a nice crispiness across the entire face of the bread that we toasted, resulting in a piece of toast that was delightfully crunchy in every bite. However, each piece also had some seemingly random hot spots that were a bit crunchier than the rest. This didn't negatively affect the taste too much, but it wasn't quite as amazing as the perfect golden fields that some of the best models were able to produce (the Oster Jelly Bean, for example).
Ease of Use
BLACK+DECKER nailed the interface but fumbled a bit on the crumb tray, resulting in an average ease of use score of 6 out of 10.
The shade knob and buttons on this machine feel solid and supple. The buttons are conveniently backlit, making it very clear whether or not bagel mode is on. Our only real complaint is the crumb tray. instead of the slide out trays that most models use, the TR3500SD opts for a hinged trapdoor style tray. This necessitates lifting the entire toaster to get the crumbs out, rather than just sliding out a little tray.
Bagel Toasting Quality
We were pleasantly surprised with the TR3500SD's bagel toasting performance as it earned an above average 7 out of 10. This is one area where it actually outperformed the Oster Jelly Bean. However, if your main concern is good bagel on a budget, you might want to check out the KRUPS Breakfast Set.
The backsides of bagels made with this machine were slightly warm but still soft and gooey, just the way they should be. The front side were toasted well with no burned spots, but one side tended to have one side much darker than the other. We'd put these bagels on the right side of acceptable, but certainly short of great.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality
The TR3500SD again earned an above average 7 out of 10 in our frozen food testing, putting it just behind the group of top performers.
The defrost function worked quite well, thawing all of the frozen pastries all the way through before actually toasting them. Similar to its toasting performance, it did produce some random hotspots in frozen pastries, leaving some bites much crunchier than others. It did a bit better with frozen waffles, getting most of the ridges just a bit brown and leaving the pockets on the fluffier side.
All-in-all the TR3500SD is quite good for a toaster that lists for just $40. However, the Oster Jelly Bean is appreciably better in every category except for bagel toasting, and lists for $35.
The BLACK+DECKER TR3500SD provides great performance given its $40 price, but it is handily outdone in the budget toaster battle by the $35 Oster Jelly Bean.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata