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Hands-on Gear Review
Breville Die-Cast 4-Slice Long Slot Review
Price: $180 List | $179.94 at Amazon
Pros: Great user interface, lift and look function, aesthetically pleasing
Bottom line: Amazing design, good toasting performance, and great interface, but can struggle with bagels
The Breville looks and feels like a high-end piece of machinery. Its sheer weight oozes a sense of quality and its solidness is apparent when using the controls. Its sleek, smooth, all metal exterior can really only be described with the phrase, 'ooh la la.' The Breville performed well in our bread and frozen goods toasting tests, scoring just above average in each, but where it really shines is in the ease of use category. Its smooth electric elevator and intuitive controls made it our favorite model to use. It is the only model we tested that, at the push of a single button, will raise the toast out of the toaster just long enough for you to see how it's cooking, and then immediately lower it back down to finish the cycle. Good performance combined with amazing construction and a 4-slice capacity earned it our Top Pick for 4-Slice award.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The graph below compares the Breville Die-Cast 4-Slice's performance (shown in blue) to the performance of the other models we tested.
Read on to find out how the Breville did in each of our individual testing metrics.
Bread Toasting Quality
The Breville scored a 7 out of 10 in our bread toasting tests, putting it slightly above average and well ahead of the worst score of 5, but behind our 2 tops performers, which both scored 9.
It toasted fairly evenly across sides, but slices tended to be a bit darker towards the bottom than at the top. The long slots are able to handle 2 slices in each slot, for a total of 4. This is great for families or people who often host overnight visitors. However, if you're only going to be making 1 or 2 slices of toast at a time we found that the vertical edges burned when toasting a single slice in each slot. This problem almost disappeared when toasting 2 slices in each slot. So, if you want to use the Breville to toast two slices of toast we suggest you put both of them into the same slot. Most people won't mind these slight inconsistencies and the corresponding dropoff in quality from the top performers to the Breville. If you are especially particular about your toast you may want to consider the Oster Jelly Bean or OXO On, but all others will find the Breville's toast perfectly acceptable and delectable.
Ease of Use
In most of the metrics we tested the Breville scored in the average to slightly above average range. Ease of use is where it separated itself from the crowd. It shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric with the OXO On, putting it well above the bottom score of 3.
The crumb tray can easily be removed from the front with one hand, and its deep channel avoids any mess on the way to the trash can. All of its controls, except for the shade dial, sit on top of the toaster where they are easy to see. LEDs illuminate a ring around the buttons when they are pressed, giving you clear feedback. The toast/cancel button glows blue before toasting when pressing it will initiate a cycle, and glows red while toasting when pressing it will cancel a cycle. It utilizes a sliding adjuster to select the shade setting, which is indicated by a number of LEDs. Those same LEDs function as a countdown clock while toasting.
This is all great, but the creme de la creme is the lift to look button. One simple press lifts the toast out of the toaster, revealing what crispy shade of brown has been obtained, and then quickly lowers it back in, all without interrupting the cycle. No more guesswork, if you think your toast may be close to done just take a peek without having to cancel the cycle and readjust settings. It was the Breville's seamless lift and look function that finally quelled our trepidation about using a leverless toaster with an electric elevator. The Breville also has a 'bit more' button. If your toast comes out just slightly too light for your liking you can push this button the toast will lower back down for a short cycle to finish this off. While this is an interesting feature to have, we did not find ourselves using it that often in our testing.
Bagel toasting quality
The Breville produced decent bagels in our testing, scoring a 6 out of 10. The models we tested that could actually fit bagels in their slots scored between 4 and 8, so this puts the Breville towards the middle of the group.
Its problems with burning edges were magnified when dealing with bagels. It often left one side scorched while the other was still fairly white. It did slightly redeem itself by managing to warm up the backside of bagels without actually toasting them. This performance was acceptable, but much worse than even low end toaster ovens, and a far cry from the top scoring Smeg.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality
The Breville again scored 6 in our defrosting tests, which works out to about average in a test that had scores as low as 3 and as high as 8.
It produced decent toast from frozen bread but, as also occurred in our bagel testing with bagels, its problems with burning edges seemed to be somewhat magnified by the added challenges. It had similar results with frozen waffles, thawing and toasting them all the way through but with a good amount of burning and scorching at the edges. The Breville's defrost setting simply extends the cycle time rather than utilize the two phase thaw then toast technique of other models. This is most likely the reason it was outperformed in our defrosting tests by the Oster Jelly Bean and OXO On. However, despite its less than optimal setting it was still able to perform better than the majority of models we tested.
With a list price of $180 the Breville is the most expensive model we tested. This price point represents a different value for different consumers. For someone who just remodeled their kitchen and wants something that will fit in with all their shiny new appliances, the Breville is a great value. Its all metal body exudes a sense of modernness and quality, and models with a similar aesthetic from other manufacturers can cost upwards of $300. However, if you're someone whose main concern is toasting quality, the Breville is not a great value. In that case you would be better served with the OXO On, which lists for $100, or the Oster Jelly Bean, which lists for $35.
The Breville Die-Cast is probably the most visually stunning model we tested. It's the toaster all the other toasters want to ask to prom, but are too intimidated to do so. On top of its aesthetics the Breville offers the best user interface we experienced. With its higher price the Breville isn't for everybody. But if you don't mind spending a little extra, want something on your counter that looks like a monument to quality, and want to be reminded of that quality every time you use it, then the Breville is the clear choice.
The Breville Die-Cast is also available with standard size slots, in both 2-slot and 4-slot models:
Breville Die-Cast 4-Slice Smart BTA840XL
Breville Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart BTA820XL
— Max Mutter and Steve Tata
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