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Hands-on Gear Review
Oster Jelly Bean 2-Slice Review
Price: $35 List
Pros: Great bread toasting ability, great defrosting capability, inexpensive
Cons: Average user interface
Bottom line: Incredible toasting and defrosting performance, but somewhat disappointing bagels
Dimensions (L x W x H): 11" x 6" x 7.5"
Standard/Long Slot: Standard
In every category the Jelly Bean offers greater performance than you'd expect. It dominated our bread toasting test, taking home the highest score. The construction has the sort of heft and sturdiness we would only expect to find in more high-end models. Its controls are reasonably intuitive and easy to use. All this while being one of the most inexpensive models we tested, the Jelly Bean was a runaway Best Buy Award winner. If you're looking for an inexpensive option, you can't go wrong here.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This chart shows how the Oster Jelly Bean's overall performance in our testing (in blue) compared to the other models we tested.
Here we further detail how the Jelly Bean Performed in each of our testing metrics.
Bread Toasting Quality
The Jelly Bean surprised us by crushing the competition and picking up a 9 out of 10 in our bread toasting test. This put it at the very top of a field that had scores ranging between 5 and 9.
It produces a near perfect field of golden brown on the face of toast, even on pieces of bread with inconsistent densities. We didn't observe any major inconsistencies in toasting across different sides of the bread either. Occasionally it would leave the areas adjacent to crust corners just a bit light, but it still handled these problem spots better than any other model we tested. Its only real weak point is that the slots are a just a bit shallow, so when we toasted tall artisan breads the tops came out a bit lighter. In general we feel that the Jelly Bean is the clear choice for people who take their toast seriously, and value toasting quality above all else. Also, if you came to this review looking for a machine that could satisfy all of your stringent toasting requirements, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the low price of this top performer.
Ease of Use
The Jelly Bean has a more classic user interface, lacking some of the added accoutrements of the more expensive models, and thus received an average score on our ease of use test. However, its controls are still intuitive, and all of its buttons provide visual feedback in the form of LEDs. The Jelly bean is surprisingly heavy. Using its controls lends a sense of pleasant heft, similar to that of the Breville Die-Cast, though to a slightly lesser degree. The crumb tray is fairly deep, but removes from the back of the unit, which isn't ideal. The shade knob doesn't click into individual settings, making it a bit harder to reselect your desired setting.
Ultimately the Jelly Bean earned a 6 out of 10 on our ease of use test, a decidedly average mark in a field with scores from 3 to 8. While it is certainly usable, the Jelly Beans interface offers a noticeably less enjoyable user experience than our Editors' Choice Award winner. This difference is the only thing that kept the Jelly Bean from taking home the top overall score from our testing.
Bagel Toasting Quality
As with all the models we tested, the Jelly Bean struggled with bagel toasting. In a metric where the scores of models that could toast bagels fell between 3 and 7, the Jelly Bean scored a 5 out of 10. This puts it in the lower performance range.
In our tests it tended to toast one half of the bagel face much more than the other, a problem that was common amongst the models we tested. It lost even more points because it was not able to avoid toasting the backsides of bagels. Though the Jelly Bean was one of the less impressive bagel toasters in our test, we weren't really impressed by any particular model. The KRUPS Breakfast Set was the top budget performer in this metric, and while it was able to turn out acceptable bagels, we still felt they just lacked a certain something. None of the bagels we made in this test could compare to the ones we made in even our least favorite toaster ovens. If you're mostly looking to make bagels we suggest you look at one of these magical devices.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Toasting Quality
The Jelly Bean again led the pack in our defrosting testing, scoring an 8 out of 10, far outpacing the lowest performing model, which scored a 3.
It utilizes a two stage defrosting mode that gently thaws before it toasts. This turned frozen bread into toast with just a few more light spots near the edges compared to toast made from room temperature bread, but still stellar nonetheless. It also produced nice golden waffles with just a few over browned spots. If you tend to put frozen items in your toaster the Jelly Bean has you covered.
The Jelly Bean provides far and away the best value of any model we tested. In our bread toasting and defrosting tests it outperformed models that cost 3-5 times as much. Its construction quality also looks and feels like a much more expensive model. The only downside is that its user interface isn't quite as sleek as more expensive models, but it is still completely usable. At a list price of just $35, the Jelly Bean is a steal.
Despite being one of the cheapest models we considered the Jelly Bean was able to go toe to toe with the more expensive models in our testing, surpassing all the contenders in bread toasting quality. Whether you're in pursuit of flawless toast or someone who just doesn't want to spend that much money on a toaster, The Best Buy Award winning Jelly Bean will serve you well.
The Oster Jelly Bean is also available in a 4-slot model:
Oster Jelly Bean 4-Slice
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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