In our testing the Keep Warm was the definition of average, scoring a 5 in every one of our testing metrics. Considering its low price this average performance is fairly admirable. Its namesake 'keep warm' function is great for those who tend to find themselves absorbed in grinding coffee beans or making a sandwich for lunch when their toast pops up, as it will keep your toast warm for a few extra minutes.
Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice ReviewPrice: $35 List | $21.91 at Amazon
Cons: Keep Warm function is a bit confusing to use
Bottom line: All around average performer, no specific strong suit
Dimensions (L x W x H): 11" x 7.3" x 7.8"
Standard/Long Slot: Standard
Manufacturer: Hamilton Beach
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Below we further discuss the Keep Warm's performance in each of our individual tests.
Bread Toasting Quality
The Keep Warm made decent toast in our test, albeit with some of the common inconsistencies. It tended to toast the tops of slices a bit darker than the bottoms, and to brown one vertical crust much more than the other. It was also slightly inconsistent between cycles, but nowhere close to the degree that we observed in the CPT-420. The Keep Warm's toast also seemed to be a bit drier than toast from the other models we tested, not to a terrible degree, but enough that the toast felt just a tad too crunchy. The Keep Warm's score of 6 out of 10 puts it right in the middle of a metric that saw scores ranging from 4 to 9.
Ease of Use
The Keep Warm's controls are fairly easy to use and all the mode buttons light up once pressed. The shade knob is a bit stiff and does not click into individual settings. The mode buttons can't be engaged until after the lever has been pushed down and a cycle has been started. This isn't a huge issue, but it is a little counterintuitive at first. The keep warm function works well, but again can be tricky to figure out upon first use. Pushing the keep warm button after a cycle has started will retain the toast in the slot to keep it warm for three minutes after the cycle has finished, beeping loudly every minute to remind you that it's ready. This is a nice feature for people who seem to always be engaged in another task when their toast is ready. The crumb tray removes from the back, and it's a bit finicky to get out.
The Keep Warm is nothing if not consistent. It again scored a 5 out of 10 in this metric. While operating the Keep Warm never left us frustrated, it just wasn't as enjoyable to use as the top performers in this category. Additionally, its titular keep warm function isn't self explanatory, we had to go to the manual to see what exactly was going on when we pushed that button.
Bagel Toasting Quality
The Keep Warm scored a 5 out of 10 in our bagel toasting test, putting it toward the bottom of the score sheet. Our bagel testing produced scores falling from 4 to 10. The Keep warm actually toasted the faces of bagels fairly evenly, leaving only a few light spots around the edges. It slipped in the scoring because of its inconsistencies between slices. In our tests it often toasted one slice to a greater degree than the other. It's bagel mode was able to leave the backsides untoasted, even on the over toasted slice.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Toasting Quality
The defrost setting on the Keep Warm simply adds extra time to the cycle. It does not slowly thaw and then toast frozen items. Subsequently, it did not fare as well in our defrosting tests as other models that use the two stage technique. When toasting frozen bread it was able to keep most of the slice even, but often left patches adjacent to the top and bottom crusts conspicuously white. It churned out acceptable frozen waffles, but it repeatedly burned edges. This performance earned the Keep Warm a 5 out of 10 on our defrosting test, putting it in at the midpoint in a field of scores spanning from 3 to 8.
The Keep Warm offers reasonable performance, and with a list price of just $35 it's hard to be disappointed. However, the Best Buy Award winning Oster Jelly Bean offers better value at the same price.
The Keep Warm is a reasonable performer that offers a unique keep warm feature that some users may find useful. Considering its low list price many will be satisfied with its performance, but there are better performers, namely the Oster Jelly Bean available at the same price.