Best toasters for the money

HOUSTON Drop the bread in, push the lever down and up pops the toast. This has been happening since the 1920s.

"You'd think after 80 years, consumers could expect to get perfectly browned toast every time they use a toaster," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports.

That is not the case. Consumer Reports tested 34 toasters, assessing the evenness of browning against a color chart. While none delivered perfection, many are coming pretty close.

Some even offer features like a digital countdown to let you know when your toast will be ready.

"Manufacturers are fighting for your appliance dollars and your counter space, so they're pretty busy developing features to get you to open your wallet," said Markovich.

However, Consumer Reports testers found some features come at the expense of others. For example, the Delonghi DTT312 for $130 has a lift-out grid for warming sandwiches like these frozen paninis.

Sounds appetizing, but unfortunately this toaster is only mediocre at its main job of toasting evenly.

For much less, Haier's $30 toaster did a better job toasting. It is one of five toasters Consumer Reports named a 'best buy.'

Another, the Proctor Silex Cool-Touch Model 22203, costs just $15.

Both do a good job toasting for very little dough.

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