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Hands-on Gear Review
Smeg 2-Slice Review
Price: $150 List | $146.95 at Amazon
Pros: Great toasting performance, incredible bagels, stylish looks
Bottom line: The perfect choice if you love bagels and unique design
The brightly colored, throwback styling of the Smeg 2-Slice makes it an attractive accent on any countertop, but this thing has more than just looks. It led the scoresheet in almost every one of our testing metrics. It made the most evenly toasted and delectable toast, blew us away with bagels so good that mere words can't do them justice, and served up frozen waffles so good that we didn't mind eating them with fake maple syrup. This performance made it the clear winner of our Editors' Choice Award. At a list price of $150 the Smeg certainly isn't cheap, and it doesn't have the fancy leverless technology of the other high-end models (like the Breville Die-Cast), but if you want the best toast and something that looks like it was designed by someone that went to rISD, then the Smeg is for you.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The graph below compares the Smeg 2-Slice's overall performance in our testing (shown in blue) to the overall performance of the other models we tested.
Read on to find out how the Smeg fared in each of individual tests.
Bread Toasting Quality
The Smeg 2-Slice was the top model in our bread toasting tests, earning a score of 9 out of 10. This put it a good bit ahead of the worst performing model, which scored a 5.
The toast that the Smeg produced in our testing was near perfect with nice crisp outsides that yielded to slightly softer insides as we bit through them. Bread faces were toasted almost perfectly evenly, with just a hint of a cold spot towards the bottom of most slices. Additionally, the Smeg was able to produced everything from just lightly browned to blackened all around. So whether you like to make your toast with a delicate touch or a heavy hand, the Smeg has you covered.
Ease of Use
The Smeg has a simple, easy to use interface that earned it a 7 out 10 in our ease of use testing. This was a solid performance in a metric that had scares ranging from 3 to 8.
The Smeg has six shade settings that are selected with the use of a knob on the front of the toaster. Within the knob is a prominent 'Stop' button for when you want to cancel the toasting cycle. Two buttons on either side of the knob let you turn on the bagel and defrost modes. Both of these buttons clearly light up to indicate which mode is on. The lever feels solid and can easily be engaged. We wish it that you could use the lever to push items a bit further out of the slots, but alas you cannot. This can make it a bit difficult to get short items after the toaster, but generally is not a problem. The crumb tray is sturdy, easy to clean, and has a push to release latch that secures it in place.
Bagel Toasting Quality
The Smeg was nothing short of a revelation in our bagel testing. It earned a rare perfect score of 10 out of 10, well ahead of the low score of 4 (excluding models that can't toast bagels).
In our testing the Smeg took plain old grocery store bagels and turned them into mouthwatering ambrosia. The toasted faces were almost perfectly even and the backsides were nice and warm, but remained doughy and chewy. Slap on some cream cheese and you've got a spectacular, indulgent breakfast. This is the only slot toaster we've found that can make better bagels than a toaster oven, and is the only model we'd suggest to the pickiest of bagel aficionados.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Qaulity
The Smeg was one of the top scorers in our frozen food testing. It shared the top score of 8 in a metric that saw scores as low as 3.
The Smeg maintained its high toasting quality when preparing frozen slices of bread, still producing absolutely stellar slices. It also met all the challenges associated with toasting frozen waffles. It made the waffle pockets nice and crispy and perfectly browned the ridges, all without burning a single square inch. Our only complaint was that the defrost button didn't seem to add that much time to the cycle, so we often had to adjust the shade setting up a bit when making frozen items. This is certainly not a deal breaker, but was a slight annoyance to some of our testers.
The Smeg 2-Slice's list price of $150 put its on the far high end of the price spectrum, but this price feels worth it if you covet quality and stylish design. If you want something high-end that would fit into a kitchen with a more modern aesthetic, you would find a better value in the Breville Die-Cast or the OXO On. If you're not fussed with aesthetics and just want a good piece of toast, the Oster Jelly Bean is a much better value.
The Smeg 2-Slice offers top notch performance and Paris runway quality looks, at a correspondingly high price. Those not concerned with aesthetics could get nearly the same performance at one-fifth the price with the Oster Jelly Bean.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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